Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sacrifices feel so...wrong

I am at a section of the Tasc Chess Tutor (TCT) program titled 'Mate in 2 (access)'. In other words, get access to the castled enemy king by sacrificing a beloved piece and then mating. I am unbelievably bad at this: I really need to overcome my aversion to killing my queen when it is for the good of the monarchy (err...for the bad of the enemy monarchy?). One problem is that I (rightly) do not trust my ability to calculate when a sacrifice is well-advised: so often in real games I think I have a brilliant sacrifice, when in fact it turns out to be a pointless, easily defended sacrifice that loses material. Because of this, I tend to avoid sacrifices except in very simple board positions when I can be sure I am not making a blunder...in other words, never.

At any rate, TCT is excellent: just when I was getting a little bored repeating previously taught lessons, it has thrown things into high gear and introduced a bunch of new stuff. (For those working on TCT, I have finally started Step 3).

On a completely different topic: I didn't see any chess boards at the refugee camps in Texas or New Orleans. Perhaps chess could take people's minds off their problems for a little while. The kids, especially, would probably stay distracted for hours with a couple of dozen chess sets.

19 Comments:

Blogger DreadPirateJosh said...

So does TCT have endgame problems as well? It sounds very good.

9/07/2005 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

It has a bit of everything (openings, tactics, endgame). It starts out ridiculously easy, even for me (e.g., introduction to how the pieces move and algebraic notation), and works up in difficulty. Right now I am working on the section on king-pawn endings.

I have't seen much positional stuff yet (e.g., pawn structure), but maybe that will come later. King of the Spill is in circle 3 with it.

9/07/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Sacrifices feel so...wrong

I'm very surprised you are allready so materialistic. I allways thought that people got a materialistic view in chess after years of being punished for risky play.

9/07/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Overcome your want of material. . .a Jedi craves not material. .only then can the Force flow through you, young padawan. . .


ROFL!!!

9/07/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger The Closet Grandmaster said...

we've all been there. Do you get that nervous feeling just before you play the sac?

9/07/2005 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Druss said...

I've found that all this tactical training has made me more likely to make dodgy sacrifices. I've become accustomed to solving tactical problems where you just throw your queen away in a mad attack on the king.

It is all very well doing this in training, but in a real game when you haven't quite calculated all the options it can be quite another thing. Especially when it doesn't result in mate and you are a queen down!

Didn't someone once say something along the lines of a sacrifice isn't a proper sacrifice unless the position is a little unclear ... or something like that?

9/08/2005 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

When the King is under enough pressure, all bets are off. Material amounts to hand tools to crack open the treasure chest of King safety. In those mate problems you might want to adopt a extremely contrarian attitude, almost like you get bonus points for the most material sacrificed ;-).

To be perfectly frank, I think "Access" is poor word to use as a description. To me these problems would be in the categories of decoy, distraction (a.k.a. deflection), and destruction. I personally break it down further, thinking I am doing one of those 3 type of sacrifices for the purpose of getting the King on a vulnerable square and/or away from a safe square, opening a line to a King, removing a defender at all costs, or even for multiple reasons simultaneously. It's like a mechanical puzzle to me, not based on whose materially ahead but what influences your opponent's vulnerable squares. It's almost like an artificial physics environment (link) .

Josh...Sancho and Tempo has finished TCT, so they could give a better review of it.

I would say TCT explains positional basics, but doesn't really test you much on it without conjunction with other themes.

9/09/2005 03:28:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Step 1-5 are available on CD,
step 6 is only available in bookvorm (at least in Dutch, I don't no about other languages). Step 6 is more positional oriented.
step 7-10 are only available as training for talented youngsters by the Dutch Chessfederation.
Have a look at http://www.stappenmethode.nl/stepsmethod/index.html

9/09/2005 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That is very interesting, Tempo : I didn't realize the origins of this funky program, and am surprised to hear it has additional levels 6-10. Do you think it could get someone up to a rating of 1800 or better by level 10.

Sounds like Scientology, with all these levels, some only to be revealed to certain enlightened ones.

9/09/2005 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

There is a commercial reason for that too. Step 7-8 are given by chesscoaches from photocopied papers and is not published.
Further they think children can't work their way thru the material without a coach. First there was only step 1-5 as book (and CD). The revenues of sales gave no reason to think there was a need for higher steps. They didn't realize the sales were so low because every chessclub bought only 1 set and copied them themselves for all childs (the dutch were always economical). So it took 9 years to bring out step 6 (only as book)There are to groups, the originator of the course and the publisher of the CD. The latter disappeared lately from the web (was www.tasc.nl) I couldn't trace where they have gone, but there are some rumours it is sold to a company with a name ending on -soft.
Step 10 is of masterlevel as far as I know.

9/10/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Step 7-10 are given by coaches, I meant.

9/10/2005 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That is very cool. It really is a sweet program. Tempo, what a great service it would be for someone to translate step 6 into English. :)

9/10/2005 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

You are very economical too, I see:) If enough people send those guys an E-mail, then they realize that it is commercial viable to do so.
That way they made step 6 available in dutch in the first place.
There are other developments too.
The Dutch Chess Federation has made step 1 and 2 available on the internet for an economical price (Chessacademy). The other steps will follow.

9/10/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

I found http://www.cajunchess.com/ to be the official reseller in the USA.

9/10/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

I think you're overdoing it. You need one good tactics book/software and one book of annotated games by the masters.

Personally i'd go with Chernev for both: "Winning Chess" (Fireside edition, out of print) and "Logical Chess Move by Move".

Those 2 books are all you need until you're at like 1400 USCF. Besides, it's a lot simpler than all this semicircle hoopla.

9/10/2005 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Patrick said:
I think you're overdoing it. You need one good tactics book/software and one book of annotated games by the masters. [That's] all you need until you're at like 1400 USCF. Besides, it's a lot simpler than all this semicircle hoopla.

I appreciate the suggestion, and will think more about it. If I ever become convinced that another plan will help me improve faster, then I will change my plan. I am constantly revising the plan. In fact, the only part that is fixed is what I have already done, which is the vision drills (very helpful), and presently the Chess Tutor program.

At any rate, right now I'm actually kind of following your advice: I'm just slowly working through one program, Tasc Chess Tutor, and repeating lessons that I don't do well on. I am finding it very helpful, challenging, and instructive so far. I have been seriously considering making it the centerpiece of my training, rather than a mere initial way to learn some chess. That is, I am considering working the Seven Circles on the Chess Tutor program.

The Thinking Drills have unfortunately taken a back seat. While they are very helpful, and I still like what I said in that post, I need to figure out a way to work them into my training in a sane way.

There is a very helpful dicussion of the merits of working through master games at Caissa's Confabulations. Because of it, I plan to work through a book of master games once I have a little more basic experience with chess under my belt. I will use A First Book of Morphy, as suggested by Quandoman. It is a fantastic book, and will deservedly become a classic of chess pedagogy.

9/11/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

So tempo, TCT is based on the Dutch "Stepsmethod"? So those "Lekker schaken" books from 1 to 5, offer the same material TCT offers? Is that it? Cause those "Lekker schaken" books are also based on the "Stepsmethod" i'm told.

9/12/2005 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

That's correct DD.

9/12/2005 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

keep an open mind on how to improve. I'm not sure what the right method is. If tactical training did one thing for me, it is that it made me think and review positions daily. That can't be bad.

9/12/2005 11:23:00 PM  

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