Monday, May 30, 2005

Chess improvement: patience a cardinal virtue

I've starting slowing everything down in my chess training, realizing after all the feedback on my previous post that I was Quixotically trying to get good quickly. I was trying to rush through Tasc Chess Tutor (TCT), doing ~40 problems a night and not being careful enough. I've started to really take my time to think through the positions; for instance, when I find what I take to be a good move, I chill out and try to find a better move, and to think through counters to the move. Now I am taking almost a full 10 minutes for a lot of moves, so I can only do 1-2 tests (10-20 problems) a day in TCT. This has pros and cons, mostly pros I hope. I see more, I do better, and I hope that the patterns will be more embedded in my memory. When I don't understand the move by TCT, I export it to Fritz and study it. The major con: I was hoping to finish TCT, Precircle 1 in the Divine Tragedy, in 10 weeks. I think I need to recalibrate things and accept it may well take me longer. Quality, not quantity. Patience, not exam cramming mentality. Hopefully it will help!

Perhaps for bad reasons, I have modified this TCT precircle slightly. Instead of requiring 85% correct for all tests, I have lowered my standards to 80%. This is in the interest of enjoyment and moving on to the actual Circles a little more quickly. Eight-five percent seemed a bit too stringent: basically I could only miss one problem per (ten question) test, and I am having a bit more fun with it with the slightly reduced standards. We'll see if my conscience lets me keep things at this percentage: it certainly won't stop me from learning a lot!

In my rather radically revised Thinking Drills, I am starting to make new mistakes. I take this as a good sign. At this stage (Stage 1), I write down all my vulnerable pieces after my opponent's moves and right before my own moves. I have now started to write down threats that aren't there! That is, before my move, I write down pieces that were threatened before my move, but which would actually be safe after my move. At first I wasn't counting this as a mistake, but it clearly is: if I think I am in more danger than I actually am, then I might overlook a strong move!


Blogger Unknown said...

What's the best way you analyse a played game in Fritz 8?

5/31/2005 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger JavaManIssa said...

This sounds interesting.. i wonder whats more important quantity of quality tactics wise!

In Deep Fritz 8 there should be a full analysis option which is pretty good.

Note: It's good but takes a long time for a good analysis!

5/31/2005 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I'll bet the right formula is something like:
rating change ~ quality^2 * quantity
Quantity of games/practice certainly helps, but quality time helps more (assuming the same amount of time).

My friend, for instance, was able to get to ~1400 just by playing TONS of games (like 10 a day for a year), and he read no chess books, did absolutely no improvement work, but could still kick my butt.

Heisman has said that two people (with same abilities at start) who spend the exact same amount of time on chess, with one doing slow careful analysis for most of that time, and the other just playing blitz, the former will improve faster.

One prediction I can make with some confidence: doing nothing doesn't help :) As long as we are having fun, that's most important. I saw Searching for Bobby Fischer last night, for the first time. Very good movie! I liked its emphasis on not turning chess into an excuse to become a humorless recluse.

5/31/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

The major con: I was hoping to finish TCT, Precircle 1 in the Divine Tragedy, in 10 weeks.

That is really a silly way to look at it. A thorough study of TCT will help you to a rating of at least 1600. Which you are not gonna make in 10 weeks. Nor in 20.
So you are on the right track now. Take your time for deep unstanding and work things out. You will have to learn the important things anyway, with or without (=after finishing) TCT. So it's only reasonable to do it with.

5/31/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Slow and steady does the trick. . .use this advice in as many areas of life as you think appropriate. . .wink, wink. . .


5/31/2005 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger knightwiz said...

I'm also going through TCT, and have also decided to slow down. I think a good understanding of the positions now will help more, leting the "fast" aspect to the circles.

6/02/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

It is good to know that chess improvement takes most people some serious time (JavaMan notwithstanding: damned whippersnapper prodigies!! :)). I am slowly weaning myself off the exam crammer mentality, and relaxing to enjoy this a little more. As Knightwiz pointed out, I will be able to worry about getting faster once I start the later Circles. Maybe I won't start the actual circles for 6 months! Oh well. I am now down to solving 10 problems a night: no more blitz problem solving with TCT.

Who knows, maybe by then I will be ready for CT-Art! Hee hee. Just kidding. My goal is still to reach a solid 1300 by the end of all this: I know that sounds really lame, and my rating is very embarassing. However, in my defense I am no spring chicken (35 y.o.), and I literally got into chess about 3 months ago: at that time I didn't know en passant, I couldn't tell you what combinations of pieces would win against a lone king, and I thought bishops were as good as rooks. After 3 months I am a much stronger player: I destroy people I used to struggle playing when I first began.

6/02/2005 05:54:00 PM  

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