Monthly Archives: October 2010

Weekly Progress Report #2

The target this week was ten hours again.  Like last week, I exceeded it, doing about thirteen hours; like last week, the intended subdivision of the time was not exactly followed.  For the coming week I will have the same target, but I will attempt to include some ‘visualisation training’ (e.g. here or here), possibly eating into the tactics allowance a little.  A breakdown of my week’s training follows:

Monday 18th: 40 minutes ICC TrainingBot (tactics problems), 30 minutes looking over Najdorf games (in a database sent by Blitz-King), 20 minutes playing a 15 0 game

Tuesday 19th: 30 minutes TrainingBot

Wednesday 20th: 30 minutes TrainingBot, 2 hours 20 minutes playing a local league game, an hour and a half in the ‘Woody’ (local pub) going over the evening’s games – I have divided this time by three according to the formula Useful training time = Total time / Number of pints consumed + 1.

Thursday 21st: 30 minutes TrainingBot, 25 minutes playing a 15 0 game + brief analysis

Friday 22nd: 30 minutes TrainingBot, 100 minutes playing 3x 15 0 games + brief analysis, 10 minutes PlayChess tactics training, 30 minutes writing notes on the French Defense Tarrasch variation after 3…Nc6

Saturday 23rd: 10 minutes TrainingBot, 15 minutes visualisation training, 2 hours at Durham uni chess society (most of which was spent playing strong opposition, including FM David Eggleston)

Sunday 24th: 10 minutes PlayChess tactics training, 35 minutes blitz with GM derfel, 40 minutes video: Recent Trends In the French; Tarrasch by IM Thomas Rendle

A post about my last two league games, both of which I won, but neither of which I won by playing well, will follow soon.

Weekly Progress Report #1

The target this week was ten hours, to include half an hour of tactics problems a day.  I exceeded the target by a decent margin, doing eleven and a half hours (after excluding chess-related time of no real training value), but fell half an hour short on the tactics over the course of the week.  Here’s what I did:

Monday 11th: 30 minutes ICC TrainingBot (tactics problems), 20 minutes blitz with GM derfel, 1 hour lesson with GM Damian Lemos

Tuesday 12th: 30 minutes TrainingBot, 20 minutes video: The Four Knights Opening: Intro! by Roman Dzindzichashvili, 40 minutes playing weak opposition at St. Cuthbert’s Society chess club – not included in count

Wednesday 13th: 20 minutes TrainingBot, 90 minutes at Durham City chess club (60 studying rook endgames, 30 playing blitz against a strong opponent), 45 minutes studying with chessdi: blitz game & analysis, plus a rook ending

Thursday 14th: 35 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 10 minutes reviewing mistakes, 45 minutes analysing a complex GM game position with chessdi

Friday 15th: 20 minutes PlayChess tactics training, 20 minutes blitz with GM derfel, 25 minutes video: Shankland Teaches the Najdorf: 6.Be2

Saturday 16th: 30 minutes PlayChess tactics training, 2.5 hours at the university chess society (only counting 40 minutes as training, which was spent playing a tough game), 30 minutes independent analysis of the GM game position mentioned above, 60 minutes analysing a problem with chessdi and playing a guess-the-move GM game (Lputian – Kasparov)

Sunday 17th: 15 minutes TrainingBot, 30 minutes playing a 15 0 game plus brief analysis

I have had two unexpected bonuses on the training front this week: derfel(GM) on ICC has been playing blitz games with me, and chessdi on ICC has been acting as a coach and been very generous with his time.  Thanks to both of them.  The target this week will remain the same, as I have my dissertation to be getting on with.

Tactical Vision

I’ve been doing lots of tactics training this week, and hope my tactical vision is improving.  The same cannot be said for my ocular vision.  I’ve got a double organometallic chemistry lecture over lunch this year, and the lecturer is rather unreasonable with his lunch breaks.  Today we were released ten minutes late and told to be back in seven, so I rushed to the café to grab something.  Unfortunately all the good things were gone, and in severe time trouble I made the dubious choice of a chicken, jalapeño and cheese panini.  Upon my return to the lecture I decided that the jalapeños needed to be picked out, before rubbing some sleepy dust from my eye.  Chilli in the eye is not a pleasant experience, and my immediate attempt to wash it out with water from my bottle proved unsuccessful as I’d already used all the water to quench the fire in my mouth.  Fortunately my friend Nicola was on hand with another bottle, and I spent the remainder of the lecture trying to wash my eye, and pouring most of the water into my lap.

Anyway, on to the chess.  I’ve been doing tactics training in two different ways so far: with ICC’s TrainingBot, and with Playchess’s Tactics training.  The former consists solely of mate problems, and gives you 20 minutes to solve them (so essentially unlimited time).  I’ve been trying an interesting method promoted by Jim Grange, where as soon as you make a single mistake you erase the record of which problems you’ve done and return to the start.  The idea as I understand it is to ‘hard-wire’ common tactical motifs into your brain, so that seeing them becomes automatic.  His video can be seen here (may not be working at the moment), and an interesting article about a similar technique for the game Go can be read here.

Playchess’s Tactics training is a little different.  You are presented with tactical problems – sometimes mates and sometimes just the winning of material – and given a minute to solve them.  After solving each you are immediately presented with the next problem.  In addition to the minute for each problem another clock is counting down from five minutes, and when this reaches zero the session is over.  The aim is to solve thirty problems within the five minutes, but I haven’t come close yet.  This approach puts you under pressure and forces you to try to think quickly, but on the other hand I am sometimes obliged to ‘guess’ the right move rather than calculate everything out (generally calculating everything until you are sure is what I hear recommended).

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of each tool, your opinion of ‘hardwiring’, and tips for removing spicy things from eyes in a hurry.

Training Schedule

After some consideration I have decided to dedicate 10 hours a week to chess study during term-time. “10 hours a week?”, I hear you cry! “10 hours a day would not be sufficient!” Well, perhaps it’s not enough, but I think it’s important to start with a manageable plan. If I find I’m coping easily, I can increase it. Conversely, during exam period or when I have big assignments due in, I can decrease the number of hours. The one thing I don’t want to do is start trying to cram chess into every waking moment, only to burn out quickly and stop abruptly. I know from experience that my ‘8-hours-a-day revision plans’ mean nothing will get done, but with a more modest aim then constructive work can be achieved. As for the other objection, that 10 hours a week is too much as I have a degree to pass; well, that still leaves 30 hours of the working week, which is more than enough for any degree if used efficiently.

I intend to split the time up roughly into one hour every weekday, and two and a half hours each day of the weekend. Half an hour each morning, before I go to lectures, will be spent on solving tactics problems. I still make lots of blunders, and my calculating ability really needs to be improved, so I think this may be the most important thing to do for a while. Every evening I’ll spend at least half an hour playing online games, or doing bookwork. Bookwork at the moment will consist mainly of working through Silman’s ‘How To Reassess Your Chess’, Maurice Ashley’s ‘The Secret To Chess’, or video lectures which I’m currently trying out. The extra time at the weekend will be spent on longer games, more bookwork or preparing for my weekly lesson with GM Damian Lemos.

Each week I will post a summary of what I have achieved, either on the main page or on a separate page made for this purpose, in order to hold myself to account. Comments or suggestions on my schedule are very welcome.