Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Are the Knights truly dead?

Question from a reader:

Hi BlueDevil,

I would like to join the Kights Errant. It appears as though the secretary is inactive? Can you help me? Your post reminds me of some some comments that I read about Lasker on having a great "Geometer", looking around for features and only then calculating.


What's going on, Knights?

Sorry smiteknight this is all I can do, but I fear the Knights are pretty much dead....Perhaps the FAQ site should reflect this fact, or we need a new Secretary Knight who will take up the responsibilities.


Blogger From the patzer said...

It seems it not only the knights that are dead, the entire chess blog world seems to be in a slump, atleast the blogs i read.

11/05/2009 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger hugo said...

Who is would in interested in getting the knights started again?

11/05/2009 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

DEAD? Dead you say? Am I not alive and breathing... are YOU not posting? I may not be circling, but I have "evolved" to a different level.

The essence of the Knights errent was in the spirit of Adult Chess Improvement seeker ( ACIS). Mind you, the self falgulations of the seven circles of hell was a fad-like method for delivering one aspect of tedchnique for ACIS.

If it were not for the history tour, I might consider the secretarial role. But I think the time has come for an evolution beyond the MDLM "fad". Expand the concept to ACIS.

11/05/2009 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Great idea, BP!

11/05/2009 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

A 3rd youth isn't exactly death. Maybe overdue. . .
It is sad to see that the youth misses the hatred against windmills and the stamina to fight against them which is so essential to come any further in this work. Thus leaving us alone in the ranks of the elite.

11/05/2009 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

IMO Maza's book/method was overrated from the start. Did anyone come close to duplicating his success?

11/05/2009 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Pearson said...

BP's comments made a light bulb go off in my head (or maybe I was flashing back to that mushroom trip in an abandoned mine), ANYWAY, ACIS, it's time to evolve, man.

It's interesting to note that there are some guys out there, like James Stripes, who have made significant ratings gains at an "advanced" age and long after the "seven year window" that's supposed to represent the plateau of one's chess career.

A way of looking at things that could be a step toward reviving those slumping blogs.

11/05/2009 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Liquid Egg Product said...

I would haved liked to join the Kights Errant as well, but all I could find were these posers called the Knights Errant.

11/05/2009 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I was not around during the knights heyday, but I've kind of jumped in near the end. I think chess blogs have changed a lot in terms of what people write about, and how they write about it. When I first started reading various knights bogs there was a lot of emphasis on what circle they were at, and what improvement they had made up to that point.

Now I see evolution in some the "knights victorious" blogs including the very one we are currently reading. What we're seeing people are doing more thoughtful pieces on the process thinking and planning involved. Brute repetition of tactical themes can be useful, but I think to evolve to a higher level of thinking in chess one needs to look at the process itself.

Blunderprone's historical retrospectives of different periods has been very fascinating. Though often I don't play out the games he's shared, I find the behind the scenes historic information quite interesting. I've learned a lot about the different eras.

Even my blogging has changed since I started. Yes I still have a few "train wreck" stories about my encounters with kids, and my reports of some the various tournaments I've traveled to. However I'm finding myself thinking more about why the "train wrecks" are happening, and the thought processes behind them. I'm still just trying to put it down in words, and hopefully I can describe it in a way that might help the ACIS people out there.

Blunderprone is right, we need to go beyond self flagellation of the 7 circles. There is more to chess improvement then tactics. Yes, I need more tactical work, but I don't see myself ever going the knights route.

There are other issues. All of us have some issue or another that hinders our progress, or in some cases maybe leading to regression. (I admit the latter in my case.) Sharing and discussing resolution of these issues is beneficial. Perhaps the chess blogosphere is like a virtual AA meeting. "Hi I'm Polly and I'm a chess player in a rut." HELP!!!!

11/05/2009 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger LinuxGuy said...

There is one problem with Jeremy's criticism of MDLM, and that is that so many hours spent studying or playing chess will lead to so many rating points.

I know many people who were rated higher than me that I eventually left in the ratings dust, and asked me how I made the jump. Sadly, I think some of them even felt worth less because I leaped them and stopped coming to the club. In fact, I was once at that same spot, dropped out of chess for many years, twice, and saw their ratings blaze past mine. The thing of it is that they have played many more OTB games than I have and were playing before I even started, and I am talking decades here.

Just like a million monkeys banging on keyboards in tandem will not break some genetic code of DNA, or launch a rocket into space, so is chess improvement not a given.

Also, there are some other factors involved. One of them is stamina. The better you get, the more chess stamina you should have. That 7 circles would be about building stamina, if it were about nothing else. Stamina and focus are closely related, IMHO.

Another factor is a chess-coach, these should save you a lot of time, if ratings were a major goal and money was no object. Look at some of these wonder-kids. Show me the one that doesn't have a coach. "One day I picked up a copy of My System and the next I was a GM." yeah, fat-chance, in our dreams.

11/05/2009 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger wang said...

Well to Blunder's point, I've never been a Knight nor affiliated with them in any way, but I am part of the ACIS blogospere.

Having the circles be the cornerstone of you chess activity was bound to die out, or transmogrify if you would. They just weren't fun, and I don't know of anyone who had the kind of success (rating jump) that MDLM did. Of course the rest of the Knights had jobs and stuff to attend to as well so the masochistic circles could never be completed in the way that the founder intended.

When I'm gearing up for a tournament I use CT-ART and do seven "circles" of simple level 1 or 2 problems to get the tactical juices flowing, but 1,000 problems 7 times? I can think of no better way to make yourself hate chess or get burnt out on it.

The Knights aren't dead, just formed a new order if you will. "We" (I am including myself in here now) blog, complain, share ideas and use different study methods, but we all love the game and support one another in our shared obsession.

Mayhaps we choose a new snazzy name for the ACIS group?

11/06/2009 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I think this ACIS idea is great and would promote it. If you thought of a good name :) Or maybe a good name would turn people off.

There are still lots of chess improvement blogs, and they are quite different from the news blogs (Mig), or game dump blogs (here's this game I played), both of which have their place. It would be helpful to the improvers, especially the new improvers, to have a circle of links to be added to (just need some kind of system in place to block the link-leecher ad types).

11/06/2009 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Liquid Egg Product said...

A couple blogs have mentioned recently the decline of the chess blogs. One thing that could help is for chess bloggers to show interest by leaving comments. Old-timers will fade away, and we need to encourage the new blood to continue. It's hard for new bloggers to want to continue if they don't feel they are getting any feedback or support. If one of the old-timers gets a contact from a newbie, let others know, even with a short post recognizing their existence. I've been slack here as well -- despite being a faithful reader of many blogs, I don't make enough effort to demonstrate it.

Mayhaps we choose a new snazzy name for the ACIS group?

"The ACIS Group" could come straight out of Dilbert, but we could go with Adult Chess Improvers Driven To Really Improve Practically (A.C.I.D.T.R.I.P.). Maybe not a good example for the kids, but we'd get chessloser back for sure.

11/06/2009 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Hey... I was so inspired... I am parking the Delorean for a brief period and am blogging about my journey as ACIS. Check out my new post.
at my original:

and mirrored on

Let's start hearing about how others might approach this logically.

11/06/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

Katar > Did anyone come close to duplicating [MDLM]'s success?

Fair question. But did anyone come close to duplicating his study regime? The list of Knights Victorious is populated with people who completed a modified set of circles. As someone who didn't even set out to complete the circles, I can't say I blame anyone for modifying them -- you have to do what fits in with your other life commitments.

But, I did work through all of CT-Art, and I did repeat the first 4 levels several times to the point I was doing them quickly and scoring nearly perfect. My rating results? Up from about 1720 to 1920 in the last 2 years. MDLM put in more intensive work on harder problems and went over 2000.

I should add that the biggest change in my rating came after I had the chance to play in 3-10 rated games per month.

One of the reasons that I don't blog regularly anymore is that I stopped following a regular plan. When I was doing CT-Art repetitions and CTS, blogging helped me track and maintain my regime. Now that I do "a little of this" and "a little of that" blogging about it is less natural for me.

So it may take more than just being an adult chess improver to maintain a blogosphere. It almost has to be centered on something that lends itself to periodic writing.

Warheit > It's interesting to note that there are some guys out there, like James Stripes, who have made significant ratings gains at an "advanced" age and long after the "seven year window" that's supposed to represent the plateau of one's chess career.

I've heard this "you have seven years to improve and then you're stuck" conventional wisdom before and I don't buy it. I'm roughly in year 10 and have tacked on over 100 points to my rating in this past year. And as Warheit points out, there are others.

11/06/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Smite said...

Thank you for you post BlueDevil. I am in favor of the ACIS as I have been working on chess study for 9 years now. Like professional athletes, it is important for improving chessplayers to incorporate periodization training. Even marathoners need to train with sprints a few weeks out of the year. MDLM method is a geat regimine for tactics periodization even though I tailor it to make it pratical with daily obligations. I don't think that the circles are all that important as if you read several tactics books you'll see the same classics over and over again. I think documenting a training regimine can inspite others to keep up with their training. Anyone care to join me?

11/06/2009 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

LMAO at ACIDTRIP! Good one Donnie!

11/06/2009 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband keeps being reported as dead, but he is still alive. His chess status I can't confirm though since he doesn't post often.

Mrs. Chessloser

11/07/2009 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe we dont improve because we are pleaced with our confort zone "no pain no gain". sorry for my bad english I hope you understend the meaning

11/07/2009 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Chunky Rook said...

"A.C.I.D.T.R.I.P." is a gem. Inspired me to write yet another improvement blog post. I think LEP's also spot on concerning commenting as a huge motivating factor for bloggers.

Personally, I find the chess blogosphere in good shape. Temposchlucker's back, for example, although I must admit his recent posts are a tad too arcane and technical to me, what with his jargon and all :) Not to discredit his methods or anything -- after all, I'm advocating abstract thinking in chess as well -- but in this case I am reminded of the legendary pawn book by Kmoch suggested to me by Chesstiger, in which Kmoch invents all sorts of fancy names for every pawn structure imaginable.

Come to think of it, maybe one ought to take personality types into account as well when talking chess improvement. After all, there are different learner types. According to the MBIT, for instance, I'm an INTJ, a personality type that tends to have a knack for general abstractions while struggling with concrete details.

Be that as it may, the response to this post proves again that chess improvement in the blogosphere is far from dead.

11/08/2009 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger wang said...


INTJ huh? I find that curious because it's the rarest personality type. It only occurs about 2% of the time. I find it especially curious as I too am an INTJ. I wonder if there are certain personality types that are attracted to chess.

11/08/2009 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Chunky Rook said...


No doubt about it. recently made an MBTI survey; the site's populated by computer geeks, and there was an overwhelming amount of INTJs. I'd be surprised if a survey among chess players didn't score similar results.

11/09/2009 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Pearson said...

Great thread--a few things; ACIS is pretty cool, you just pronounce it like "axis" not the Berlin-Tokyo-Rome Axis but the Jimmy Hendrix concept:

Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready,
But wonder why the fight is on.
But they're all, bold as love.
Yeah, they're all bold as love.
Yeah, they're all bold as love.
Just ask the Axis.

Okay, got that people?

It's to be known as "The ACIS" and it's not a replacement for the Knights, it's just a wider net, we can all say "I'm a member of the ACIS" and be with the Cool Kids and report on things on the blogs under "The ACIS Report" or similar.

Thanks Blunderprone and BDK, you guys are cool.

11/09/2009 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking to move the conversation forward, re the exchange between Chunky Rook and wang.

If the INTJ personality type tends to have a knack for general abstractions while struggling with concrete details, how can it be successful at chess?

A chess player who is good only at the general abstractions of chess but who struggles with the details of a position or with calculating moves typically has his head handed to him in a game.

With regard to computer people, as referred to by Chunky Rook, I have less experience, but doesn't writing a program that works require exacting attention to the concrete details of computer language?

11/11/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger transformation said...

someone might not believe me, but having been 'away', today i was thinking, 'whatever became of the knights errant? i just finished 50,000 tries at 90.1% and sure that qualifies, but still don' want to join...'

my very exact thought.

glad to see u blogging, still. marvelous stuff... i chatted Nakamura at ICC two days ago, and we agreed to meet for coffee, since Yasser told me he now lives in Seattle, having thought he was still in vancover. years ago, i thought i knew more about chess than he knew about investing and trading, but probably not true any more or at least a solid wash=. should be interesting. check out this crazy video link of him playing rabjabov.

keep up the good work, and as arnold says, 'I'll ve bach'

11/11/2009 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon that is pretty much me: good at general abstractions, but crap at the game.

11/12/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Chunky Rook said...

@Anonymous: First of all, I might have given a false impression of the INTJ profile. Check it out at Wikipedia.

I may have overstated the "inabiltiy" to cope with details in the INTJ. It's just that abstraction comes easier to him than fleshing out the concrete details. It's not that he or she is incapable of processing details.

11/12/2009 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger LinuxGuy said...

I've been tested as INTJ before.

Details can be learned, just as can abstractions. No substitute for simply playing hard at the board.

11/14/2009 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

to be clear, yes, the INTJ or Scientist does occur in 1% of the population. But three others fit that one percent bill:

INTP or The Architect
INFP or Questor
INFJ or Author.

I dated a Questor once, and she was fine, fine person BUT supremely capable of dreamy impracticality to the point of ruination. That was compensated by great idealism, and loving kindness. the main characteristic is great indefiniteness, or FJ is feeling that never gets closed.

I am very ENFJ, the The Pedagogue at 5%. I am very J and like things resolved, fast. Very N & F means i feel, and know things often that cannot really be rationated, but with surety often times.

Three profiles make up 39% of the population, so that the bottom four make up 4%. Thus, nine profiles are the mean at 56% 6% each.

INTJ seems to be pretty close to the way BDK occurs for me, a man who doesn't fool around and gets stuff done, a macro-thinker.

11/15/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

11/16/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Chunky Rook said...

@transformation: Thanks for clearing that up with the personality types. "Does it work?" is really one of the most important traits in the INTJ, and I glossed over that earlier. I think it's a very useful trait, but sometimes its pragmatism clashes with romantic notions, especially with INFPs. I'm in love with an INFP, and sometimes it feels a bit like I'm Sancho Panza dating Don Quixote ;) But she's absolutely gorgeous and wonderful, an insanely good person and has shown me things I'd never have come to experience otherwise. Alright, back to chess now!

11/17/2009 04:14:00 AM  
Anonymous komik izle said...

knight online u really funny :)

12/17/2009 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous knight said...

knight got h1n1 virĂ¼s :)

12/17/2009 06:40:00 PM  

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