Thursday, July 05, 2007

Answers to questionnaire

My answers to the questionnaire (see previous post for info).

Tag: J'adoube is it. No tagbacks.

1) Blogger name and URL?

2) How did you learn about the Circles?
I had just started to play chess, and after a couple of months was sick of getting my butt kicked. I was browsing the chess section at the bookstore, and found this book "Rapid chess improvement: a study plan for the adult player." This caught my attention. I'm an adult. I want to improve quickly. Then I read the book and it made sense to me: pattern recognition is they key to good chess. One way to learn patterns is via repetition of the same patterns. And voila, the Circles! It is an elegant idea that resonated with what I knew about human expertise in other areas. I bought the book and devoured it that night. A couple of months later, I found the Knights on line and decided to start the Circles.

3) When?
February or March 2005.

4) How long have you been going through the Circles, or if you have finished, how long did it take?
I have been doing the Circles for about 14 months now.

5) How is your progress?
I am about 80% through. I should finish in 3-4 months. As far a chess progress, I went from around 950 to 1400 at ICC so far.

6) Would working with the Circles alone work well in terms of chess improvement, or does it help more to join the Knight Errant to monitor and discuss the Circles?
It depends how independently motivated you are. The Circles are a very strenuous program of study, and finding the motivation to finish them can be tough, especially given the need to work full time and spend time with my family. What the Knights Errant have been helpful with is sharing their experiences with the circles, and especially encouragement in those instances where I have simply been sick of doing tactics. It is nice to be able to come here and say "I'm fucking sick of this shit and want to play tiddley-winks." People here can understand and are typically very helpful.

7) Are you a scholastic player?

8) Would you recommend this method, the Circles, to scholastic players?
I'm not sure. Kids' brains are so much more malleable than adults, they may get better by just playing a zillion games and absorbing the tactics passively.

9) Do you use other chess training methods along with the Circles? If any, could you summarize them?
The most helpful training I have had outside the circles is going over my games with my coach. That may even be more helpful than the circles, but it is impossible for me to tease apart the contributions from each training method. Also helpful has been working on applying a thought process in my games, and my meager dabbling with endgame study has been very helpful too.

I have also done way too much opening study, which I am trying to quit, and which has probably been detrimental to my game.

10) Any general comments about chess training or the Circles you'd like to provide?

If you need a tactical intensive care unit, the Circles might help. They have helped me a lot. However, I think the best way to improve is to play lots (and lots) of games and do post-mortems with a strong coach, especially going over your losses. A good coach will evolve with you, he will notice trends in your play that you don't see, trends that Fritz will never find (and even if Fritz could find them, it wouldn't know how to explain them in a helpful way). In every discipline the people at the top are there partly because they had good mentors: sports, science, the arts. It is no different in the game of chess. Sure, it takes hard individual effort to succeed, but couple that with a good coach and the work will yield more results more quickly.

That said, the problem is finding a good coach. Someone you respect, someone you get along with, someone who is a good teacher that is sensitive to your chess level and needs, and someone who is a good communicator (the latter is especially hard to find with chess players, who tend to be on the autistic side of the sociability spectrum). Note that the biggest name might not be the best teacher: Bobby Fischer, I would wager, sucks as a chess coach. Also, don't be scared to shop around. You are paying this person hard-earned cash: if they are not helping, if they are not paying enough attention to your individual needs, get someone else (with the caveat that no coach can work miracles so be sure your expectations aren't unrealistic). There are plenty of starving IMs out there who will be willing to coach you. Perhaps even try getting two or three and trying them out for 2-3 sessions before deciding who your "permanent" coach will be. That could be a lot of fun.


Blogger J'adoube said...

I pinged Tempo. He's it.

7/05/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger phorku said...

5000 completed problems between CTS and CT-Art.

7/05/2007 09:10:00 PM  

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