Thursday, August 04, 2005

Progress Report

First, I'm still plugging away at Tasc Chess Tutor for my first Pre-Circle. I'm about to start my fourth mini-circle on some problems in Step 2. My percentages keep going up, but in these two sections of Step 2 there are some tests on which I scored below 80%. ALMOST done with this set of 200 problems, though.

Second, I am going to add a new pre-circle to the Divine Tragedy: Sierewan's 'Play Winning Chess.' First, he assumes you know it for his other books, and my next pre-circle was going to be his book 'Winning Chess Tactics.' Also, he goes into very basic strategy stuff that I need to learn more about (pawn structure, time, and space). I noticed the other knights know a lot about this stuff that I have really not given much attention to. A few months ago, when first starting on this journey, I bought 'Pawn Structure Chess'. Holy shit, was that way out of my league! Tons of variations and very little explanation. It will serve me well on a cold night when we run out of firewood.

Third, I have started to play higher rated players online. To my surprise, at least at ICC, the 1200 rated players really aren't that much better than the 1000-rated players. In fact, my impression has been that overall, the 1000 rated players are stronger in tactics than some of the higher rated players. I'm not sure what this means: it could be a sampling bias on my part and not a real effect. Or, there could be sandbaggers at ICC trolling the lower-rated players to try out new stuff.

To my surprise, I rather easily beat a player rated 1210 tonight: I strangled him with a very strong pawn structure and then he left his rook en prise when he tried to mate too early. Snatching this rook with my queen put his King in check on the back rank, and he had nothing to usefully interpose. It was sweet. Partly, I think reading Silman's 'Amateur's Mind' has helped me better consider strategic imbalances in pawn structure, which side of the board to attack on, as well as knight-bishop relative strengths and weaknesses.

Before I get cocky, I should remind myself that I am only rated 1000, the guy was probably half asleep, and I still suck eggs at chess. I am having more fun now than ever losing, though!

9 Comments:

Blogger DreadPirateJosh said...

Congrats on that win. I've been enjoying my games more lately too, no matter if I win or lose (and I've been loosing horribly the past few days). I wonder why that is? Any ideas why you've been enjoying them more?

8/04/2005 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger DG said...

DPJ - I suspect that as you learn more about the game, you come across more situations and positions that you can appreciate (because you now comprehend them at a deeper level than before).

Of course, winning is still fun!

8/04/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Good job. I think you are taking the right path on the training. I probably could have benefited from doing a lot of the training you are doing now.

You'll find that as you progress, you'll look at games from just a month or two ago and think "WTF? How lame is that?"

Then you'll know you are really making progress. Keep the faith!

8/04/2005 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Just wait till you bag your first 1400!

I am guilty of playing sleepy myself. |-o <(Zzzz)

I am not surprised by the seemingly contradictory rating v. challenge factor your encountering. I remember several low rated players who were only able to throw the kitchen sink, tactically speaking, and were unable to play without a huge activity advantage. I have seen a few kids play like that - very dangerous if your not on your toes.

Players slightly higher up seem better defensively, and try mating threats and tactics less often but more accurately. It was a noticeable trend, especially with serious-minded opponents.

I find the whole psychology of what happens when people get up in rating rather interesting. A 200 point boost can leave a player overly cautious and passive, merely reducing the game to a waiting period before the other guy screws up. It's quickly alot less fun, and probably slows improvement too.

I think of psalcido's games as sort of the opposite. He usually had alot of ideas going in his games, and he didn't give up his style as he got better ratings.

Another common psychological pattern is the lazy high-rated player v. focused low-rated player. It's plain overconfidence, as if a rating advantage inexorably leads to one easy victory after another. This happens at all levels. I know of one 2100+ player who got into a lost position against a 1550 player, but luckily for him his opponent who blew his lead in time-pressure.

8/05/2005 04:43:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

This past months Chess Life had a game in which Hikaru Nakamura, THE wonderboy of the United States, dropped an internet game to a 1600ish opponent during a scholastic tournament. Nakamura was playing light a lightening bolt, the lower rated player was slowly eating up the clock, looking for good moves. After dropping a pawn, the underdog eventually equalized to a drawn position, and then Nakamura made a mouse slip, and lost a whole minor piece. Even without the mouse slip, the underdog did a good job, and the master showed overconfidence and payed for it. Nakamura was forced to resign. Steady focus and earnest concentration can allow any David of the chess board to take down Goliath.

8/05/2005 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Qaundoman said...

So share this game with us, man. I love a game where someone is put to death by the lowly pawns; makes me think of the final position of the famous game McDonnell v Labourdonnais, 4th match, 16th game, London 1834--the unforgettable Black pawns on d2, e2, and f2.

8/06/2005 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I am sure the game has a million mistakes. I am black.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. O-O Nf6
5. Nc3 O-O
6. d3 a6

My first time trying one of these pawn end-file pushes early in a game. For some reason, I usually leave them there. I am pretty happy with this one, and will start considering such moves more in my games, I think.

7. Bg5 b5
8. Bd5 Qe8
9. Bxc6 dxc6
10. Bxf6 gxf6
11. Nd2? Be6

I felt like I got a free move when he did that Knight maneuver.Maybe he was defending against something I didn't see.

12. Qf3 Bd4
13. Qg3+ Kh8
14. Nf3 c5

I was very happy with this pawn structure. Also, after reading Silman's rule to 'attack in the direction your pawn chain is pointing' I thought I might soon try attacking on the queen side.

15. Nd5 Rd8
16. Nxc7 Qe7
17. Nxe6 fxe6
18. Nd2 Qc7

That Knight retreat again. I felt good about my position at this point: I seemed to have a space advantage.

19. Kh1 c4
20. f4 c3

Trying to sqeeze him in a little more.

21. bxc3 Qxc3
22. Nf3 b4
23. Nxd4 Rxd4
24. fxe5 f5
25. exf5 Rxf5
26. Rxf5 exf5
27. e6 Qxa1+
{White resigns} 0-1

I'm sure I made a bunch of mistakes. Feel free to point them out. :)

8/06/2005 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Qaundoman said...

Cool. I think it will be fun to look at this game. I'll put it up on my chess blog with comments on how I veiw it (remember, I'm a beginner too), and hope that some of those stronger players out there, such as DG, will add there illuminating remarks.

8/07/2005 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That sounds fun, if not a bit scary. I am still pretty embarassed by my play, but go right ahead if you want to spend time on one of my games I would certainly appreciate it!

8/07/2005 11:52:00 PM  

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