Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Adding to the tactical toolkit

Based on a suggestion from my coach, I have been playing more blitz to give me more experience playing chess and hopefully improve at tactics. Each day, in addition to my Circles with CTB, I am playing a minimum of three blitz games at ICC and analyzing them afterwards with Fritz. Not closely, not deeply. I analyze them solely for tactical oversights on my part (blundercheck mode). When I find them (usually there are a couple per game) I study them for a little bit. This Patrick MethodTM of studying tactics in the context of games, indeed my games really burns them into my head. Mistakes stand out much more when they are your own rather than those of some dead white dude.

So far, there are two weaknesses that consistently pop out. When my material is pinned, I often play as if it weren't. I don't flat-out move the pinned piece, but I don't take the pin into account when considering moves of other material, moves that will ultimately affect the pinned piece. Second, I don't consider checks enough. Often a check is the perfect way to break a pin or to flush out the enemy king for a clever series of forced moves. 'Patzers sees check, patzer makes check' may be true, but so is 'Patzer doesn't consider check, patzer doesn't make check.'

I should finish minicircle 3.2 this week. That means in a couple of weeks things are going to get very intense, with 100+ problems a day and eventually 300 problems a day.


Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Chesplayer: we'll see if it helps. I just started this week. Doing it the way I'm doing it, going over things with Fritz quickly, shouldn't hurt too much I hope. I'm hoping it teaches me to be more efficient in my search for tactics.

Fritz also has some cool training functions, like click the attacked pieces, or click all the pieces that can deliver check, and it is timed so you compete with yourself.

2/14/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Edukator said...

When teaching reading there are generally two different approaches (and I'll link this to chess in a second). The first is Phonics which asks kids to disect and practice the sound-symbol relationships of our language...much of it out of context of actually reading (perhaps similar to how 'circles' practices skills independent of games). The other way is often coined "holistic" which often has children read and then attempts to have them use context to solve any difficult to read words...often leaving kids without strategies they could use when they get to words they've never actually heard before.

Ultimately balanced programs seem to work the best but clearly some kids benefit more from program or another. I'm guessing that there is something similar with chess where pattern recognitions (similar to how adults do not merely sound out every letter they read...they recognize the whole word) reign suppreme. I could be wrong but perhaps your new regiment could be similar to a balanced approach?

I've enjoyed reading your blog...I plan to try my first tourney next month ... much of the courage based upon reading many of your experiences. I look forward to reading how the coaching pans out.

2/14/2007 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

edukator: that is a very interesting analogy with reading acquisition. I bet there is something to it. Also, thanks for the kind words on the blog, and good luck in your first tournament!

2/14/2007 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger Schereschevsky said...


I'm playing 2/5 blitz. I've found it optimum for my intention. I also check blunders after the game with fritz, allowing him no more than 1 second per move. But, I also use it for opening learning ! I usually check them with a database, sometimes with shredder online (
If I find an interesting ending, then I use it to study in detail.
My coach and I agree with your coach, the thing with blitz, and specially with this 2/5, is that you gain a lot of experience and practice what you've studied.

2/15/2007 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

What time control are you playing? I try only to play 20 + 6. Do you own a recent version of Fritz ? if so your serial number gives you one year of play on
Then the games are automatically saved in Fritz. I am currently reviewing a year of my past 2 knight games for themes.

Please let's not forget some of those dead white guys could really play some amazing chess.

2/15/2007 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tak: I usually play 10 0 or 2 12. The goal isn't to learn during the game as much as to try to win (and not blunder) and then to learn what my tactical blind spots are by seeing what I missed. For my "long games" I prefer 30 30 or more.

It is quite amazing, much more memorable than looking at a puzzle pulled out of context. This morning when I woke up I found myself actually thinking about a position from last night, and was able to reconstruct it (almost) perfectly from memory. This never happens for me from studying a puzzle pulled out of thin air in a convekta program, at least not with the degree of detail this one did.

Takchess, don't you know that all dead white males are evil and never did anything useful? Jeez! Einstein, Newton, Darwin? IDIOTS!

2/15/2007 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


You sound pretty conservative and I know for a fact you are in the middle of Liberal Central.

You gotta be going crazy with some of the PC nonsense that goes on around there. . .

2/15/2007 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: I'm pretty moderate, which probably makes me somewhat conservative for a college campus (I'm a sort of libertarian with a social conscience: registered independent).

During the lacrosse scandal here at Duke things indeed got weird. Initially, I took a detached stance, refusing to condemn the lacrosse players for "what they did". This was met with some suspicion and hostility by the more vocal liberal elements on campus, like I was being a racist simply by not assuming they were guilty. They were acting like not being angry was condoning the raping of black women by rich white boys. Man it was annoying.

2/15/2007 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So after everything that has happened, what are the liberals saying now?

2/16/2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

At this point pretty much everyone thinks the escort is a lying psycho. Many of the previously outspoken liberals are saying that the event still points to an unresolved tension between the black lower middle-class Durham majority and the white privileged minority associated with Duke. I think they are right, but I also think the tension will not be resolved, and that it has less to do with race than with class. If it were a bunch of lower middle-class white people in Durham, with crappy public schools and the like, there would still be tension. It just wouldn't divide so neatly along racial lines.

2/16/2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So your adherence to the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" didn't teach them all a lesson in American justice?

Typical. . .people are loathe to admit their failure to reason - especially on a university campus. . .

2/16/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Something the academic left needs to overcome is their tendency to use the "Argument from the incredulous stare." It may work when applied by a professor to undergrads, but it doesn't work in the real world.

2/16/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Liquid Egg Product said...

What about if you study the games of a dead black dude instead of a dead white dude? :D

2/18/2007 11:07:00 AM  

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