Friday, April 29, 2005

A Divine Tragedy on the horizon

[Note: this message will change as I adjust my plans. Once I finish, the message will remain as a description of my Tragedy. Last revised 10/29/06]
After sifting through everybody's criticisms of the the official MDLM Seven Circles, I have come up with the following chess training plan, which I call the Divine Tragedy:

Precircle 1: 04/16/05-02/12/06
Work through the first 1500 problems (Steps 1-3) of the Tasc Chess Tutor (TCT) to build up basic chess knowledge. I worked through it in chunks of 200 problems. Every 200 problems, I redid those sections in which I scored below 80% on any tests. Once I got 80% in all the tests for that problem chunk, I moved on to the next 200 problems. I also imposed an 'instant redo' rule: if I scored below 50% on any test, I could not move on to another test until I got above 50%.

I was originally going to work through all of TCT, but after 10 months I had finished Step 3, and was sick of it and wanted to move on. I probably solved 4500 problems in 10 months. In retrospect, the beginner books (see Precircle 2) are better for general chess knowledge, so I should have started withthem and postponed TCT until after the Circles. TCT focused a lot on tactics and mate, which was helpful, but after the first three steps I realized I needed more breadth in my very first formal chess training.

Precircle 2: 02/16/06-04/11/06
Continue to ground myself in more basic knowledge, by slowly reading through Wolff's The Idiot's Guide to Chess.

This was a great book, especially the chapters on tactics, pawn structure, and weak squares. The chapter on the endgame was weak compared to Tasc Chess Tutor's treatment of the same topic. I would recommend that beginners start with this book.

The Circles: Started 04/11/06
I am using Convekta's Chess Tactics for Beginners (hereafter CTB).

CTB has 1300 problems split into 5 Stages of increasing difficulty. At each stage, you can either work through the problems sorted randomly or by tactical theme. For my circles, I am working through each stage many times, until I can do them very quickly (see the answer within a few seconds), without thinking about them. The first time through, I do 5-10 problems/day. Then 20/day. I stay at 20/day until I am doing the problems with low error (95% correct). I then double the number of problems per day until I am doing the entire stage each day. I go until I am doing the entire set of problems each day, 100% correct, with no thinking. Then I will move on to the next Phase of CTB. I also go back and repeat earlier phases periodically to make sure I still remember the problems.

Postcircles: Party!!
Smoke a cuban cigar (Cohiba) while sitting on my back deck eating a Mounds bar, while serenely watching my dog Buddy chew on a nasty old bone. Three hours should be enough for this stage. After this, I don't plan on adhering to any strict chess-training regimen for some time. Assuming my rating is 1200 by then.

Realistically, I plan to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day, six days a week, on chess improvement. Day seven is slack for when I have other things on my plate.

May God have mercy on my soul.


Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Your plans are impressive. Is your price-cabinet ready?

4/29/2005 06:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finishing will be an amazing accomplishment. I look forward to many days of watching you move from a novice to skilled chess player.

4/29/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger scitcat said...

Hey at least you have a plan! And have a cigar for me...

4/29/2005 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Lol Tempo. I assume you meant prize cabinet. Though with all the money I've spent on damned chess books I think my bookshelf *is* a price cabinet.

Thanks, Julia. Everyone, meet my wonderful wife Julia. :) I hope you are still this supportive after 44 weeks :-)

As for goals/expectations for 1 year from now. I would honestly be pleased to reach a solid 1100, happy to hit 1200, *very* happy to reach 1300, and quite pleasantly surprised to hit 1400. :)

4/30/2005 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger knightwiz said...

That's a lot of work, and certainly will give you more than this 100 points/year you said. In fact, I'd bet you can get to 1200 soon, that's just about playing games, get used to the game.

5/01/2005 03:02:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

Don't forget to play, and play, and play. I think experience will play as much a part as anything else in these early stages.

5/01/2005 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Nezha said...

I saw the blog of your wife today. Nice weding pictures =>

5/03/2005 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Hi Julia. Great to see a supportive spouse.

Hey Blue. If you go through that plan you should be a lot stronger than 1200. My goodness. Winning Chess Tactics alone brought me from 1100 ICC to 1300 ICC in a couple of months. Of course playing daily helps too.


5/03/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I like your plan a lot. The "pre-circle" phase especially looks very good. I've recommended Seirawan's books to many people. Good luck with the program, and I second Pawn Sensei's comment that it's nice to see a supportive spouse (hi Julia!).

5/04/2005 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Margriet said...

Because of the Tasc-training I have won allready some medals. And I am at step 4 (circle 6). It is a GOOD program.
Hi Julia, do you play chess to?

5/04/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

How are you gonna get that Cuban cigar past customs?

5/04/2005 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

The internet is an amazing place. Check out this site. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

5/04/2005 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great plan. I am following your progress...

5/05/2005 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good plan. . .and don't heitate to change it as time goe by to adjust to your performance.

A flexible plan allows you to progress much faster than a rigid, unyeilding plan that won't give you the results you want.

5/06/2005 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks for the comments Jim. I think this plan will receive fine-tuning until I actually finish, when it will then stand as an actual description of what I did (rather than mere prediction, which is what it is now). Based largely on your posts and those of most of the more experienced Knights, I recently added the 'repeat rule' to be applied at any stage in which my performance falls below criterion. It seems most people agree that it is a useful way to improve standard MDLM.

I am starting to feel glad (as opposed to dumb) to be starting out at such a low level compared to most of the other Knights; because I am *waaay* at the bottom of the learning curve, I won't have to be quite as hard core as you guys to improve :-) Hence, my repeat rule is at 70% rather than your Nietzschean 90% goal. (As I said in a post to Pale Morning Dun, I think 2% is chance, so even 50% shows you are way above chance! :)).

Today I finish knight sight, and begin the Divine Tragedy tomorrow! I'll post an update then. I am throwing a party tomorrow night so I have to be sure to do it in the morning!

5/06/2005 09:27:00 AM  

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