Some of the best content is in the comments, so a big thank you to all contributors to the blog.
Practical chess improvement
- A chess improvement plan for beginners (**): for the true beginner, a program for improvement.
- Things to remember before I play (*) : a practical list of simple principles to follow in games. I read it before every slow game. Contributions welcome.
- Revised Fine's rule: (*) a twist on the old slogan "If you see a good move, look for a better one." The new slogan is, "If a move looked good when you imagined it N moves ago, look for a better one on the board in front of you!"
- Lessons from blitz (*): an enthusiastic description of important things I learned about patzer chess during a month of playing blitz.
- Blunderstanding: don't just smack your forehead when you blunder: take the time to understand the reason for the blunder. Includes a list of positions in which I tend to blunder.
- How do you play when ahead?: a reminder to continue to play aggressively, not like a timid mouse, when ahead.
- Analysis of data from chess tactics server: examines whether more problems at CTS improves performance at CTS. Data is interesting, conclusions are speculative.
- FOVEA (**): a method for quickly learning a large set of tactical problems. This is perhaps the most helpful thing I discovered while doing the circles. I discussed an additional component of the method here.
- The importance of positive reinforcement and analyzing wins: I argue that at patzer level, analyzing wins is important, and also that positive reinforcement should be considered an important component of chess improvement. Follow-up here.
- Piece activity: (*) A practical definition of piece activity that breaks it up into three components: mobility, freedom, and coordination. I have found this quite useful in practice.
- Accidental and coordinated threats: Describes two types of threats you can make. One, basic tactics, the other a coordinated attack against the King.
- Combinations and narratives(*): I discuss the nature of combination classification, and more importantly discuss a cool experiment that reinforces the practical importance of constructing narratives (or to normal people, 'explanations') about positions.
- Guided pattern recognition: on finding tactical patterns. In theory it's a cool practical tool, but in practice I haven't worked it into my games too much.
- How to increase your rating fast: if you are rated less than 1400 at ICC, read this.
- Who should do the Circles, and how? (*): there is this strange method of doing tactical puzzles over and over again. Who will it help most, and what is the best way to approach the tactical circles?
- What good is a thought process?: a summary, after much debate, of what a thought process is good for. I asked Heisman and he agreed.
- Chessplanner thought process: (*) My chess thought process for use in the middle game. The detailed description of Chessplanner can be found in PDF form here (**) and the abridged (two-step) version can be found here.
- Why start by looking at threats: (*) A justification of having the hunt for threats be the first thing you do after your opponent moves.
- Analysis: when and how much?: (**) GM advice on the types of positions that call for deep visualization and those that don't. Very useful in practice.
- Four visualization techniques: a summary of Soltis' views on various candidate move analysis techniques from his book 'How to Choose a Chess Move.'
- Tactics: space, time, or spacetime?: defining tactics as moves that will gain material unless your opponent is given extra moves.
- Error probabilities for combinations of various lengths: a semi-mathematical analysis of how easy it is to make mistakes when thinking through long combinations, with practical consequences.
- Pins are not tactics: an argument that pins aren't really tactics, but only increase the potential for tactics.
- Counting rules: an algorithm for solving counting problems, in which a series of exchanges at one square must be settled.
Scientific studies of chess
- Eye movements in chess: some interesting things I noticed about eye movements while solving problems led me to discover an interesting paper that tracked people's eye movements during games.
- Psychology of chess improvement: reviews techniques that psychological research suggests is best for chess improvement. Some of the conclusions are surprising.
- Learning patterns as planting seeds: discusses the psychology of pattern recognition as it applies to learning chess tactics problems.
- Confirmation bias and chess memory(*): a description of two studies, one a comparison of thought processes in beginners versus masters, the other a study of the limits of human memory.
- Cheng's Practical Chess Exercises (**)
- Silman's Endgame Course and Greet's Ruy Lopez (*)
- Stean's Simple Chess: not really a review but a beautiful excerpt on when someone should start studying positional ideas.
- Pandolfini's Russian Chess: a strategy-focused annotated game collection.
- Two books on how to respond to 1. d4: Aagaard versus Rizzitano
- Two excellent tactics books from the Brits: Nunn's 'Learn Chess Tactics' and Littlewood's 'Chess Tactics', the best beginner tactics books out there IMO.
- One hundred chess book reviews (**): a portal into my eight Youtube videos in which I reviewed every chess book I owned.
- Chess visualization course (Book 1): a unique method for improving visualization skills.
- Blogotypes (**): A sarcastic analysis of the different personality types you find in the chess blogosphere. Still quite relevant. Which one are you?
- Howard Stern's take on the Kramnik blunder: A recording of Howard's take on the blunder of the century.
- An unbeatable new gambit: A comic.
- Cigar manufacturer caters to knights: A Knights Errant cigar!
- Openings, thinking, and time management: a dialogue between Sensei Dan Heisman and a patzer.
- Just Say No to blitz: (*) A public service announcement from Nancy Reagan.
- Monday funnies: another comic strip.
- A letter to the Knights Errant from Michael de la Maza: it turns out de la Maza is now doing the Circles with Tic Tac Toe!
- Zombie chess: the most insane post on my blog, written when I was incredibly sleep deprived.
- Grand prix attack: assets and liabilities
- Scandinavian analysis (*): an analysis of the common responses in the 2...Nf6 Scandinavian.
- The Soller Gambit: a fun gambit line for black against 1 d4.
Circles training and progress
- Dante's discontents: (*) a compilation of all the criticism of the original Circles technique from the early Knights. Basically a list of links to such criticisms, sorted by Knight.
- First day on program: starting with knight vision drills. A prescient quote that day in April 2005: 'I feel as if I've started to fall into a deep well.' Little did I know...
- My regimen: a description of my entire training program, which ended with the Circles.
- Done with precircle 1. Post when I finished the first 1500 problems in TCT with at least 90% correct. It feels like so long ago!
- Starting the circles
- Changing way of doing circles: A change in my approach. I decided to do mini-circles of 300 or fewer problems. Also contains little discussion of pattern recognition in chess.
- Sick of Circle 1: glad I didn't give up.
- I suck at chess: one of many posts discussing how much I suck at this game. Oh, the ups and downs of chess!
- Intense tactics: near the end of Circle 2, doing 200-300 problems a day, unique kinds of errors come up which I documented here.
- Circles Done!: What a relief it is.
These posts are really fun to read, as when I started I was so earnest about hoping I could reach 1200.
- Hitting 1000: I was all scared that my rating was inflated. I said, "I feel my rating is too high as many of my wins have been lucky." 1000 too high? Wow.
- Hitting 1100: 'Someone call Pat Robertson, I'm in the 1100 club.'
- Mistakes get me to 1200: I didn't believe it was accurate (too high!), but did have hope, saying 'I now feel fairly confident that when these circles are over, and I reliably use my thought process, I should be a solid 1200 player.' I was right.
- Breaking 1300: not a lot of fanfare.
- Hit 1400: from the post, "I feel very happy, as my goal when I started this was to reach 1200."
Knights Errant related
- Reflections on the Knights Errant: this was right after a big explosive conflict erupted over at J'adoube's blog and someone left the Knights Errant.
- Seven Circles Software list: list of software that people might consider using in their Circles madness.
- Passing on the scepter: lots of reflections on the Knights Errant, how they were, what we're becoming.
- How I got my name: J'adoube dubs me Blue Devil Knight.
- Knights errant FAQ: originally a post on my blog, before I finished in my role as Secretary Knight I turned it into its own free-standing blog.
- Chess in Don Quixote: chess is mentioned once in our favorite novel. The quote, slightly modified, is here.
- Questionnaire answers: answers to a reader's questionnaire about my experiences with the Circles.