Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Training Diary #2

Since my last entry, a lot has changed.  First of all, I've decided I just really don't like How to Reassess Your Chess.  I cannot get through it.  The more I tried, the more I remembered I just really don't like it.  I could get into the reasons for this, but that is probably better for a different blog entry or article.  I have spent some time looking for other things and settled on a course I had forgotten I even owned.  Igor Smirnov's Your Winning Plan, which was suggested to me by a very strong player a few years ago.  While sampling all the resources I had trying to find something to replace How to Reassess Your Chess, I found myself riveted by this one.  So, that is my new tome.  Hopefully, I won't be getting into the rut of starting book after book without finishing.  I will try not to do that.  So far, I like this one so much I'm committing to finishing it without even alternating weeks with the endgame book!  I've also got pages of notes I've taken on this course alone.  Those are definitely good signs.
I have been plugging away with tactics and openings, also.  In my last post I mentioned that I would be trying to find a way to detail my progress with the basic tactics that I drill for speed and recognition.  I use Anki flashcard software for that purpose.  I have a set of 1001 tactics from a popular tactics book called "Tactics Time" that I am converting into flashcards.  So far, I have 250 of them converted and I'm drilling those using spaced repetition in Anki.  If you are familiar with Anki, these stats may make sense.  If not, it may be gibberish, but here they are so far, current as of today:

The other side of my tactics training has to do with Chess Tempo.  I solve problems there daily, but I don't have a set routine of how many or anything.  Basically, I just go do some problems whenever I feel like it.  I should improve this by making some sort of schedule or quota, but so far, I haven't.  It's somewhat easier to track my progress with that, because the rating graph will make more sense to more people.  The thing to remember with these is that I do not focus on speed here.  I focus only on accuracy--calculation/visualization, etc.  The pattern recognition I build up with past Chess Tempo problems and the Anki flashcards should help as well, but I do not use Chess Tempo to assist in building patterns primarily, it's just a side-effect.
I have been playing long games as often as I can, both online and over-the-board.  I have committed to analyzing at least one game per week as fully as I can.  Sticking to this one isn't hard because it's something I like doing, anyway.  Some examples of the analysis I've been doing:
Just snippets of the full analysis.  I'm still working out how I want to format the analyses for actual publication.  The latter example is a pdf created with Open Office.  It looks very nice, but it is very time-consuming to make.  Analyzing in Scid vs. PC is fine, but it doesn't look as nice and there's no way to publish it without just pasting a PGN file somewhere (not ideal if you want people to actually read it).  Still working on this problem.
As always, comments and encouragement are appreciated!


  1. so first welcome to the community. I see you are passionate and determined. awesome!

    I LOVE comparing notes with other people who are studying. FWIW, I have Silman's reasses your chess. (BTW, Silman's the Amateur mind is better). I haven't touched it in ages. it might have a good message, but the format is unapproachable to me. I'm clearly not as technological as you are-- but I have totally hit my tactic puzzle books real hard. easier ones like bain and polgars book are turning to stuff that includes some more challenging material. recommended is Alburt's 300 most important positions and Pandolfini's endgame chess challenge...

    both offer stuff that isn't quite so obvious as tactics time. I think this good-- not only for the pattern recognition but to work on trying to fix basic issues with my thought process and working on getting better at calculation.

    there's also been a LOT of effort in both playing (G30) and espacially looking over my games for weakness. I think i have an freeware version of Fritz- its doesn't matter. any engine is strong enought to show missed and missplayed tactics.

    as far as authors; I REALLY love any advice you can get from heisman. yes- a heck of a lot of good stuff is looked behind a paywall on a website. but he does have books. they are awesome. there's SO much good content that I have picked up- there simply isn't the time to devote myself to much of it. so I do the best I can. one week I'm thinking about an specific opening- another I'm striving to learn more about the endgame.

    but every week; consistantly I play, I do SOME tactics puzzles and I look over games. I figure if I'm not doing those three things- I'm not really even trying...

  2. I did finish Amateur's Mind a long time ago. It was good and taught me a lot. Something about Silman just doesn't work well for me. The best description I think I can come up with is that there is some sort of disconnect between his thoughts and his examples that I don't experience with other authors. It's almost as if the examples aren't even trying to demonstrate his concepts a lot of the time. He may just be trying to teach in a slightly different way than I'm expecting or something, but whatever it is, it's troublesome. I just can't make any headway in his books, Amateur's Mind aside.

    I have the Alburt book but not the Pandolfini. I have a different Pandolfini book that was only okayish, so I've never been too keen on getting anything else of his. I plan to basically memorize the Alburt book at some point down the line.

    Yeah, free fritz is fine. I personally use Lucas Chess and Scid vs. PC with Stockfish and/or Critter for analysis. I have all of Heisman's stuff from back when it was free. I read a few articles and thought I should grab them all so I could have them to read anywhere. So I did. Glad I did now, though I've seen some zip files claiming to contain all of those articles being offered here and there.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Hello there :) Just came across to your blog. Can you share with these anki cards you've made? I've just started to play chess using Lucas software, but I'm already familiar with spaced repetition, so it should really help :) Thanks in advance.