Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tough Guy

Tomorrow I’ll be taking part in ‘Tough Guy’, which claims to be the world’s most demanding one-day survival ordeal.  As pushing pawns is about the most physically demanding thing I’ve done since leaving school, I expect it to be, well, Tough.

It consists of a cross-country run of about six miles, followed by a two mile obstacle course called ‘The Killing Fields’.  The Killing Fields feature 25 increasingly unpleasant obstacles, which require you to climb, jump from heights, be electrocuted, run through fire, crawl under barbed wire, and swim through freezing cold underwater tunnels.  The frequent submersions in cold water are the bit I’m most scared of.

One possible interpretation of why I’m doing this is that it’s an expression of my determination to become a Grandmaster.  Another possibility is that it’s a result of my lack of sanity (which some argue I sacrificed when starting this blog).  I have been doing some training in an effort to make up for the last two and a half years of inactivity, and you can see me jumping in the River Wear here.  I’m raising money for Tough Guy’s own charity, H.A.W.K, which stands for Heroes, Animals, Wheelchairs, Kids, and as far as I can tell teaches limbless veterans and fully-limbed children to work with animals in a sanctuary.

Wish me luck!

Weekly Progress Report #15 and Term Plan

This week was disappointing, as I only managed a little over half of my target time, with 5 hours and 15 minutes.  I did have a fairly big piece of uni work due in, but still, with better planning I could have managed 10 hours.  The breakdown follows, and as usual I haven’t counted time spent following super-GM tournaments (Tata Steel):

Monday: 15 minutes CT-Art 4.0, 5 minutes playing a blitz game, ~30 minutes analysing and playing moves in my correspondence games (spread over the week)

Tuesday: 30 minutes playing blitz on PlayChess

Wednesday: 10 minutes watching GM Daniel King’s analysis of the recent game between Vishy Anand and Wang Hao

Thursday: 30 minutes playing online blitz

Friday: 40 minutes opening preparation

Saturday: 10 minutes CT-Art, 45 minutes playing a strong player at the university chess club, 20 minutes analysing an endgame position, 25 minutes opening preparation

Sunday: 40 minutes playing a 15 5 game + analysis

In addition to not fitting in enough hours, there’s also clearly been too much blitz this week, so I’m setting myself some rules for this term’s study.  I think my holiday training plan was a good one, so the rules (listed in order of precedence) are based on that.

Rule 1: 30 minutes of tactics training (mostly CT-Art) per day – no other chess can be done on a given day until this is complete, with the exception of scheduled events such as league games or lessons.

Rule 2: The next chess I do following a serious game should be analysis of that game.

Rule 3: At least 1 hour of opening, middlegame and endgame training should be done per week; until these are complete no other chess can be done (with the exception of that specified by previous rules).

I’ll be aiming for 10 hours a week for the next two weeks, increased to 12 hours thereafter.  I’ll also be cutting the number of sources of study material down to one for each area, in an effort to make good progress with that source.  As you can see, these rules make it significantly harder for me to whittle away the hours playing online blitz!  Let me know your thoughts.

Weekly Progress Report #14

I did about ten and a quarter hours of chess study this week, meeting the term-time target of ten hours. The next three weeks will be fairly busy with university work, but after that I hope to be able to increase the number of hours per week somewhat. Here’s the breakdown:

Monday: 15 minutes CT-Art 4.0 (which is finally working, and seems very good!)

Tuesday: 20 minutes CT-Art

Wednesday: ~2 hours researching and playing moves in a series of correspondence games with a friend, designed to target important areas in both of our opening repertoires (this time was spread throughout the week to an extent, but was mostly on Wednesday)

Thursday: 15 minutes CT-Art, ~2 hours analysing and annotating games from the London Classic

Friday: 15 minutes CT-Art

Saturday: 5 hours 10 minutes of opening preparation (watching Jan Gustafsson’s new DVD – not the most balanced day’s training, perhaps, but once I had started watching I was quite unable to stop)

Sunday: Some time watching the games from Wijk aan Zee with live commentary, but I’m not counting that towards my total.

I have no events planned for January (apart from a club game or two), but in February I will be playing for Cheddleton 2 in the 4NCL and for Durham University in the British Universities’ Chess Association Championships.

Weekly Progress Report #13: ICC marathon

I exceeded the target this week, managing 32 hours.  I didn’t use my holiday training plan, but instead decided to take advantage of a bimonthly event on the Internet Chess Club, the ‘marathon’.  This is a 24-hour series of continuous tournaments, in several sections, of which I chose the 15-minute section (the longest time control).  I played in every round but one, when I missed the start of a new tournament due to an extended post-mortem with my opponent.  The rationale behind playing this event in preference to studying normally is that I hope the experience may help me to cope better with playing when very tired, such as on the first day of the British Rapidplay.

Playing chess almost continuously for 24 hours was an interesting experience, made more tiring by the fact that I used a lot of the time between rounds to analyse games from previous rounds.  My level fluctuated during the event, and I made a fair number of blunders, but I also had some good games, managing to beat a 2150+ twice and also achieving a winning position against a 2300 (which I later blew).  I finished strongly, winning the last tournament and coming third overall in terms of cumulative points scored over the course of the marathon.  I’d like to share my final game of the event:

I did a small amount of training during the rest of the week, so here’s the usual breakdown:

Monday: 30 minutes opening preparation

Tuesday: 3 hours local league game (Somerset league rather than Durham league, as I’m at home at the moment)

Wednesday: 20 minutes ICC TrainingBot

Thursday: 45 minutes studying Kasparov’s ‘My Great Predecessors, part 1’ – I’m in two minds about whether to play through the games in this quite quickly, as I’m just trying to get a general ‘grounding’ in the classics, or whether to study all the games in depth – thoughts welcome, 2 hours 40 minutes playing games at my local chess club

Friday: 20 minutes opening preparation, 10 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 5 minutes reviewing mistakes

Saturday: 10 minutes playing blitz games with GM derfel, 7 hours playing in the ICC marathon

Sunday: final 17 hours of the ICC marathon

This coming week will be disrupted as I’m travelling back up to Durham tomorrow, and will be spending some time helping my girlfriend collect river water samples for her dissertation.  I’ve been collecting canal water samples today in a very unusual way – more on that later!  Added to this I still have some of the excessive amount of uni work I was set over the holidays to do, so I’m moving back to the term-time 10 hour weekly schedule a week early.

Weekly Progress Report #12

I reached the target this week, doing 30 hours.  Most of this was time spent playing and analysing at the London Junior Chess Championships, where I played in the Under 21 section (merged with the Christmas Open due to lack of entrants).  Here’s the breakdown:

Monday 27th: 20 minutes opening preparation

Tuesday 28th: 6 hours 30 minutes playing 2 LJCC games, 35 minutes doing opponent specific opening preparation beforehand (which largely missed the mark throughout the tournament), 60 minutes analysing the games afterwards with my opponent, an engine and a database

Wednesday 29th: 5 hours 20 minutes playing 2 LJCC games, 20 minutes preparation for the games, 20 minutes analysis of the 1st game, 15 minutes general opening preparation

Thursday 30th: 7 hours 40 minutes playing 2 LJCC games, 20 minutes preparation for the games, 30 minutes analysis of the games

Friday 31st: 55 minutes analysing LJCC games

Saturday 1st: 35 minutes opening preparation, 2 hours 10 minutes endgame work (Dvoretsky’s book), 40 minutes playing blitz on PlayChess

Sunday 2nd: 20 minutes ICC TrainingBot, 20 minutes Chess Tempo problems, 15 minutes PlayChess tactics training + 5 minutes reviewing mistakes, 30 minutes playing a 15-minute pool game on ICC, 30 minutes analysing LJCC games

The training plan at the beginning and end of the week was slightly disrupted by travelling and visiting family, but it was still a good week.  I will probably be returning to uni a little early, and I have, among other things, a physics essay to write, so 30 hours may be too ambitious for the last two weeks of the holiday; we’ll see.