Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog highlights

In this survey of my favorite posts, I indicate my favorite with asterisks and my very favorites with two asterisks. The survey is broken up into several categories.

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?

Thought process
  • 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.'

Chess Theory

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.

Book reviews



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.

Rating milestones
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
On blogging


Blogger transformation said...

the Japanese have a word which describes this: Kimben. it means effort, or extreme diligence, the heart or core of the culture there.

it seems to me that this post perfectly embodies Kimben. thank you for your hard work, says a lot about you, your regard for us, and offers great resources to those who follow in your footsteps in the ranks.


11/01/2007 12:44:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks DK. You're a mensch.

11/01/2007 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger Nezha said...


thanks for the greetings blue. im just too swamped with work. I was supposed to be a technical staff, but somehow found myself doing software development again *shivers*

plus im getting addicted to lusternia. I am know there as.. nezha. haha.. :p

see you.. and congratulations on finishing the circles..

youre the man

11/01/2007 04:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the hours of work that you've put into your blog. I know I'm not alone when I say that I always enjoy taking part of your profound thoughts.

My favourite is Zombie Chess. I didn't know how to reply to it then, and I don't know how to reply to it now. :D


11/01/2007 06:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice list, I already found some interesting food for thought in it. But most important of all: now that you are done with the circles I hope you are not done blogging! Looking forward to the next two years of posts here.

11/01/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks everyone! I plan on continuing to blog. As long as I keep trying to improve I think I'll keep blogging about it.

11/01/2007 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I don't know how you chose the DC metro map, but thanks for the reminder of my youth. :-)

This is a nice catalog of great moments in chess blogging history.

11/01/2007 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

LOL loomis. I love the DC subway system. I didn't actually realize this was it: I didn't even look at what it was a map of...:o

11/01/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

I just read your first post! Still play 'Hex'? ;-)

Seriously, its ridiculous to see all those posts laid out like that. A stupendous amount of work. Congrats.

11/01/2007 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Joe: I haven't played hex in a while. So in that sense, this experiment worked. It gave me a game to play that people actually play!

11/01/2007 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind me not to read your blog at work. Prefer not to get fired for not working.

11/01/2007 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

LEP: it would probably be a good thing if they blocked all blogger URLs at my work :)

11/02/2007 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Pearson said...

First, what a good digest of great material; thank you for posting it for all of us to read over the last couple of years!

Second, looking at the games you've been playing lately, and your current rating...maybe it's time to change the name of the blog! Admittedly, "Confessions of a Pretty Good Chess Player" doesn't quite have the same ring to it...

Congratulations on your hard work and progress!

11/02/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Warheit: lol. Thanks for the note.

11/02/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

Great list of posts. I may not make it to anyone else's blog today if I don't stop clicking on links.

I had no idea there was so much in the chess blogosphere, and that it's been going on as long as it has.

Keep up the good work!

11/03/2007 06:29:00 PM  

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