Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Calculation and cold medicine don't mix

Still going along fairly well considering I feel like I'm lost in a fog.
Missed 2 in the second set of 100.
Of course I would have to miss number 200.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2021 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 99% (So far)
200 exercises completed 839 remaining in circle 3.
73 days down 36 to go.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Circle 3 begins with a noticeable improvement.

Well after running into another suspect variation in the Level 70 exercises I finally decided to call it quits on the last 3 levels. (70,80,90)
I probably will do a set of mini-circles containing just those 3 levels after I finish the remaining circles with Levels 1-6.

I started the 3rd circle today. I only need to average 65 problems per day to cover all 1039 exercises. But I have to agree with Michael de la Maza's approach. Start strong and leave yourself some breathing room on the harder problems.

Anyway onto what I consider to be the good news.
I noticed a definite improvement in my pattern recognition. At first I was giving credit to what I thought at the time was just plain memorization of the material. But then I found myself spotting patterns based off the proximity of my pieces to the enemy King. I began looking automatically for mating nets that could occur with each group of pieces I had at my disposal.
Another thing was happening as well, I would quickly spot weak points in a position. I could see at a glance which pieces were overworked. Which squares were under defended. Here’s the weirdest part of the story, sometimes I imagined my pieces as magnets, with the ability to both attract and repel enemy pieces. I would see them pulling an enemy piece out of its vital defensive position, away from key squares.
Other times I would imagine them dragging the enemy King into an area where it could be mated. There was even one exercise where I envisioned my Queen bumping the opposing King away from his escape square where he was quickly mated in two forced moves.

My focus is slowly shifting away from just seeing pieces and more towards how squares are being controlled.

I know what you are thinking... Sancho is becoming Twilight Zone material.
If anyone has had similar experiences or even noticed small changes in their board perception please let me know.

Fortunately I didn’t screw up once with these first 100 problems.
I found myself back in grade school, double checking my answers
towards the end of the series.
I just knew I was going to goof up on something simple,
and miss out on a gold star.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 1845 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (So far)
100 exercises completed 939 remaining in circle 3.
72 days down 37 to go.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Massage and more exercises.

Posting from my new Shiatsu massage chair given to me by my wife for my birthday.
Trying to figure out how I can take this to my next tournament and use it during my games.

I realized that I only had a few problems remaining in the Level 60 exercises so I went ahead and polished those off.

Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 69% (Completed)
Level 60 - 63% (Completed)
1051 exercises completed 158 remaining in circle 2.
71 days down 38 to go.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Too many inaccuracies

I had planned on going the full 1209 problems distance with the CT-Art 3.0 program ala Michael de la Maza, posting my score as I went.
But after hitting yet another problem in the Level 60 exercises that just didn't hold up under cross examination. I'm going to truncate the score keeping with problem 1028 for this circle. This will tie in with 1,000 problem mark as recommended in the tome of tactical improvement de la Maza. I will work through the remaining problems but I'm just not going to worry about keeping score. I'm just going to try and absorb some of the combined strategies on the problems that have forced solutions.
I may do a score keeping series of mini-circles at a later date with the remaining 209 upper level problems. But right now I don't have the free time or the patience to work through the occasional abstract problems that are open to interpretation.
I'm beginning to think that pattern recognition plays a larger part in these exercises than I originally thought.

ELO 2360
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 69% (Completed)
Level 60 - 63% (So far)
1028 exercises completed 180 remaining in circle 2.
70 days down 39 to go.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sluggish and then some

ELO 2320
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 69% (Completed)
Level 60 - 57% (So far)
1004 exercises completed 205 remaining in circle 2.
69 days down 40 to go.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Level 50 complete

ELO 2315
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 69% (Completed)
Level 60 - 60% (So far)
974 exercises completed 235 remaining in circle 2.
68 days down 41 to go.

Monday, December 20, 2004

If I get one more drawing variation...

Today I ran into one of those problems that really ticked me off, it is a Level 50 exercise.
As I'm playing through the variation, actually struggling would better describe my play. I notice that I'm not finding a move/theme/glimmer of an idea that makes any sense. Every move I enter comes up being wrong. Finally after enough of these moves I'm able to work my way through to the "solution". It turns out to be a drawing line, according to ICCF Grandmaster Maxim Blokh's analysis of best play for both sides. While I think Mr. Blokh has presented some really great examples of saving swindles throughout the entire CD. I just couldn't buy this one in particular. I kept thinking through the entire exercise all White has to do is give back the material, none of this is forced. Plus who in the heck is going to look for a drawing line with all material still on the board? Add to this no immediate mate threats, or any forced loss of material that would lead to a decisive imbalance for one side or the other.
So I threw in my red flag, made my call for the upstairs official to review the play. So after further review Mr. Fritz called malarkey on ICCF GM Blokh's analysis and sided with me. While I lost some points I was able to keep my time out and regain a small bit of my dignity. Not that there is much left after the trouncing I have been taking during these exercises.
This brings me to my next idea about the software being used for this course of study.
It seems to me that a beginning player would benefit more from a CD that was focused on mating patterns and direct attacks against the enemy king. Than they would from a smorgasbord that does a great job of smothering the student with a whole lot of different themes but really doesn't allow focus on one particular idea until he has it down cold. This CT-Art CD kind of reminds me of the old "Jack of all trades, master of none" saying. Please don't get me wrong, it's a great CD. Yes I know it will allow you to select exercises by theme as opposed to degree of difficulty. But there are times when I feel like I would benefit more from a specialized CD. Maybe saving the CT-Art CD for the second run of the 7 circles once I have a solid foundation in mating patterns.
Someone pass me some cheese for my whine.

ELO 2290
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 68% (So far)
940 exercises completed 269 remaining in circle 2.
67 days down 42 to go.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Still going...

ELO 2289
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 71% (So far)
908 exercises completed 301 remaining in circle 2.
66 days down 43 to go.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Tis the Season

Yes I admit I have fallen off the path the past couple of days.
It is not because I have wanted to shirk my training duties, but more because of all of the events taking place in my life at this particular moment. This has to be the most demanding time of the year as far as scheduling goes. Not just for myself, but the entire populace.
I'm trying to juggle family, work, and training. Sometimes they don't mix as well as one would hope.
Family will win every time, work is necessary because it provides resources for my family. At least until I invent a better mouse trap and become independently wealthy. So that leaves chess training as a distant third. I understand that anything worthwhile takes time. I do find playing chess to be a worthwhile endeavor. But it pales in comparison to time spent with my family, and friends. So do I feel the slightest bit of guilt for abstaining from the exercises?
Nope! Because I will complete the course of study, and will continue to try and improve as a chess player.
Taking the little break did help with the level 50 exercises, I started out on fire. But when I tried to press to make up for the missed days is when I started to give away points.

ELO 2277
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
Level 50 - 73% (So far)
878 exercises completed 331 remaining in circle 2.
65 days down 44 to go.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Level 4 Complete

Missed last night's exercises due to the office Christmas party.
Felt good to have a much needed break, that didn't involve renovations, packing, or moving.
ELO 2203
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 76% (Completed)
819 exercises completed 390 remaining in circle 2.
64 days down 45 to go.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ah good to be back.

Completed the move in record time, still unpacking though.
It was nice to comeback to the exercises somewhat refreshed. I still feel like an extra day off would have recharged my batteries even more. Oh well.

Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 78% (So far)
788 exercises completed 421 remaining in circle 2.
63 days down 46 to go.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Mini-Vacation of sorts

I haven't missed a days training yet. But I will be forced to take the next two days off. Tonight's event other than this brief blurb consists of the final packing getting ready for tomorrow's move.
You can tell who your friends are by the ones that volunteer to help. Fortunately we have been blessed with a ton of people that are going to contribute to the cause. So hopefully we can knock this out in about 6 hours or less. Sunday I plan on kicking back and relaxing by unpacking the essentials and setting up the library. The circle exercises will resume Sunday evening. Who knows maybe this mini break will be a good thing, because I was definitely flat last night.

See you Sunday!


Started the evening by missing 6 straight exercises in a row.
It gradually got better but not by much. I'm mentally and physically drained at this moment.
Hopefully after this weekend I will get some time to relax.
We have been going non-stop for the past three weeks doing renovations on our new home.
Thanksgiving weekend was spent operating a floor sander. For three straight days back and forth over the same patch of real estate until everything was level and smooth.
But much like these exercises it has paid off. The finish coats of polyurethane we applied have given us a floor that shines like a reflecting pool. After that it was a weekend of setting tile in the kitchen, and painting the remaining rooms. My wife has done a terrific job with all of the painting. She is great with color schemes and even better at finding colors that are warm and vibrant tying the entire house together while giving each room its own identity. It has been really nice to see my Grandparents enjoy the improvements almost as much as we do.
The "new" home has been in our family for close to 100 years. There is a to-do list a mile long but I really enjoy working with my hands, I do land planning and design work during the day so any chance I can get to get up and move around after sitting behind a computer is a welcome change.
We finally get to move there this weekend. It will allow me to spend more time with both my parents and Grandparents (They are in their 80's and I think the world of both of them.) Plus it will allow me a chance to start dating my wife again with surplus of babysitters we now have on hand. I think my 3 year old has some sort of radar that allows him to detect any kind of foreplay within a 500 foot radius. We have tried jamming it with various combinations of Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, etc. The early attempts were successful, but here recently darn near impossible. Its uncanny.

ELO 2208
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 77% (So far)
756 exercises completed 453 remaining in circle 2.
62 days down 47 to go.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Day 61

At least my ELO bar graph is making some pretty color combos.

Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 80% (So far)
707 exercises completed 502 remaining in circle 2.
61 days down 48 to go.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Day 60

ELO 2218
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
Level 40 - 84% (So far)
662 exercises completed 547 remaining in circle 2.
60 days down 49 to go.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Day 59

To loosely quote Fred Sanford "I've been burning the candle at both ends, up the middle and around the sides."

Welcome to the family Orange Knight!

ELO 2156
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 85% (Completed)
617 exercises completed 592 remaining in circle 2.
59 days down 50 to go.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Day 58

Did I mention this software has some issues?
Identical problems, with different numbers?! It won't recognize a mate unless it was preprogrammed??
It won't allow transpositions that end with the same result?!
Some of the solutions contain the absolute worst possible defense imaginable??
I hope they fixed these minor flaws with their next release of Total Chess Training 2.

Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 86% (So far)
571 exercises completed 638 remaining in circle 2.
58 days down 51 to go.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Day 57

Both my ELO and scoring percentage remained the same. Since the problems are rated at a 1900 ELO degree of difficulty, one slip will undo 4 correct problems.
I’m finding myself seeing the solutions at a much quicker rate than I did at the beginning of circle 2.

The exercises that have posed a problem seem to require some sort of waiting move deep in the variation, or have been one of the “pain in the rear” games that end in a draw. Some of the draws have been awesome examples of saving lost positions, but a few resemble the "Hey let's go grab a beer as soon as I force you to repeat the position for a third time" kind of things.

I‘m going to make an adjustment on the number of days remaining in the 7 circles exercise since I accelerated the training program during the first circle. Technically if I adhere to the recommended schedule for the remaining problems I only have 52 days until completion of the remaining circles. I have some plans for the next phase of my training that will involve opening preparation.

ELO 2148
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 86% (So far)
526 exercises completed 683 remaining in circle 2.
57 days down 52 to go.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Day 56

ELO 2148
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 86% (So far)
482 exercises completed 727 remaining in circle 2.
56 days down 99 to go.

Putting along...

Welcome to the fray Pale Morning Dun
Don and I shall have the official welcoming party shortly.
I'm not sure if the Ring of Fire is still part of the initiation ceremony or not.

Off to a slow start on the Level 30 exercises.
If it hadn't been for a series of easy problems towards the end I would have scored in the low 80's. But on the upside, I am beginning to see the tactical themes much faster.

ELO 2152
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (Completed)
Level 30 - 88% (So far)
436 exercises completed 773 remaining in circle 2.
55 days down 100 to go.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

54 days

ELO 2116
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (So far)
375 exercises completed 834 remaining in circle 2.
54 days down 101 to go.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Day 53

Lost a few points on the "draw" exercises.
I need to remember to relax a bit after work before I jump into these.
Dinner before hand would probably be a good idea too.
ELO 2095
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 96% (So far)
319 exercises completed 890 remaining in circle 2.
53 days down 102 to go.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Day 52

Started getting sloppy on a few of these.
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (So far)
254 exercises completed 955 remaining in circle 2.
52 days down 103 to go.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Day 51

ELO 2015
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 99% (So far)
191 exercises completed 1018 remaining in circle 2.
51 days down 104 to go.

Day 50

Taking more time on this set of exercises. I'm trying to visualize myself playing in a rated game as I work through circle 2. I found myself getting lazy towards the end of the first circle with my potshot method. I want to eliminate my bad habits not start a bunch of new ones. Time to flex what Don calls the "calculation muscle" now that my new bag of tricks is beginning to runneth over.
I think I may go as far as setting up a real board while I solve the problems.

ELO 1912
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99% (Completed)
Level 20 - 100% (So far)
130 exercises completed 1079 remaining in circle 2.
50 days down 105 to go.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Day 49

Pleased and ticked at the same time. I missed one move in the Level 10 exercises.
It placed a blemish on what would have been a perfect score.
Enough whining, now for the upside. After getting hammered by the Level 8o and 90 exercises in the first circle, it was nice being the hammer for a change. It took all of 20 mins to cover the first 65 problems of circle 2.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 1773 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 99%
65 exercises completed 1144 remaining in circle 2.
49 days down 106 to go.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Circle 1 Completed

Had a nice day spent with family and friends enjoying the holiday.
Tomorrow is the start of circle 2.
I still plan on posting my ELO dynamics and scoring percentage totals.
It should be interesting.

1209 exercises completed 0 remaining in circle 1.
48 days down 107 to go.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Day 47

1200 exercises completed 9 remaining in circle 1.
47 days down 108 to go.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Day 46

Yes I could easily go ahead knock out the remaining problems.
But once I do that it will open the Pandora's Box named Circle 2.
Now that I have a better grasp on the tactical themes I plan on using more time per exercise than I did in the first pass, and search through the variations in their entirety.
1190 exercises completed 19 remaining in circle 1.
46 days down 109 to go.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Day 45

1180 exercises completed 29 remaining in circle 1.
45 days down 110 to go.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Day 44

1170 exercises completed 39 remaining in circle 1.
44 days down 111 to go.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Day 43

1156 exercises completed 53 remaining in circle 1.
43 days down 112 to go.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Day 42

I apologize for the cookie cutter format.
I have a full plate at the moment and it doesn't look like that will change for the next month or two.
1144 exercises completed 65 remaining in circle 1.
42 days down 113 to go.

Day 41

1130 exercises completed 79 remaining in circle 1.
41 days down 114 to go.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

40 Days

1115 exercises completed 94 remaining in circle 1.
40 days down 115 to go.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Day 39

Entered the Level 80 exercises.
It's going to be interesting to see what the lower level exercises will feel like on the next circle after going through these beast.
1100 exercises completed 109 remaining in circle 1.
39 days down 116 to go.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Day 38

I find myself starting to look for moves that I would have previously discarded in the past.
Must be a good thing.
1084 exercises completed 125 remaining in circle 1.
38 days down 117 to go.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Day 37

Didn't get the chance to do my normal "Football and a Laptop"TM
1060 exercises completed 149 remaining in circle 1.
37 days down 118 to go.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Day 36

Entered into the Level 70 exercises.
Now it's about stringing several of the ideas together.
Glad to see Don recharged and excited about the quest.
1043 exercises completed 166 remaining in circle 1.
36 days down 119 to go.

Friday, November 12, 2004

5 Weeks

1012 exercises completed 197 remaining in circle 1.
35 days down 120 to go.

Day 34

958 exercises completed 251 remaining in circle 1.
34 days down 121 to go.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Day 33

Ugh... Fighting off a cold.
915 exercises completed 294 remaining in circle 1.
33 days down 122 to go.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Day 32

882 exercises completed 327 remaining in circle 1.
32 days down 123 to go.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Day 31

Hang in there Don!
Take two Fosters and call me in the morning.

842 exercises completed 367 remaining in circle 1.
31 days down 124 to go.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Football and a laptop.

Watching football and working the exercises.
This seems like a really good way to kill two birds with one stone.
Completed the level 40 exercises.

I read Don's view on building "Calculation Muscle". I understand and respect his approach, but I'm still holding to my plan of attack. It just makes more sense for me to gain exposure to the various tactics at my disposal before trying to waste over 100 hours (5 mins per exercise approach) on stuff I obviously didn't grasp before hand. I still spend about 5 mins total on each problem, it's just that I make a move at the 1 minute mark regardless. Then if my guess is correct I proceed with the next move. If it's incorrect I spend another minute before I take my next attempt/potshot. Once I have reached the correct solution I replay the exercise from the beginning to drill it once more into my memory.
On the second circle my idea is to be able to see the entire sequence from beginning to end before making any moves, this will work the "calculation muscle" but at least with that pass I will have a better understanding of where I should begin my search.
I also plan on posting my ELO dynamics and scoring percentage total.
822 exercises completed 387 remaining in circle 1.
30 days down 125 to go.

Day 29

765 exercises completed 444 remaining in circle 1.
29 days down 126 to go.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Day 28

Reached the level 40 problems. These seem easier than the level 30 problems.
Makes you wonder.

630 exercises completed 579 remaining in circle 1.
28 days down 127 to go.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Day 27

Don's been wondering how I'm able to complete so many of these exercises so quickly.
Well it's not from any giftedness on my part, but more in part to how I'm approaching this first circle. The first two levels were easy. The level 30 problems of course are way more difficult as expected. I'm allowing myself about a minute max before I make a move. I'm not going to beat myself up trying to solve these puppies. Either I see the win automatically or I don't. If I could see the solutions then I wouldn't need to do these exercises. Bottom line I'm here to learn and hopefully get better. As I work through the problems I'm able to apply some of these new found techniques to solving these exercises that I would never have been able to do before this suffering began.
Let's face it, some of these exercises are so screwed up that I doubt many players below Master could solve them.
Especially the problems that aren't forced mates and require you to see all of the subtle in between variations that are about 6 moves deep and lead to the capture of a pawn at the end of a sequence that is played out automatically by the computer side.
Drift back to the days when you were in school and the teacher presented you with a problem that seemed impossible to solve. That was until the teacher worked through the solution by showing you how to break the problem down into smaller easier to digest blocks of mini problems. Then you realized how easy it was to solve all along. Well the same applies here with the CT-Art problems. You have to get that moment of "Ah-Ha!" so that's how it's done. Then start worrying about being able to solve the problems correctly each and every time you do the following circles. I'm not going to allow my ego to dictate my dedication to completing all 7 circles. I check it at the door by kicking frustration to curb each and every night before hammering away at this stuff.

On a lighter note, I did manage to win a rated Game 90 at the club tonight against an 1847 player. I didn't blow him of the board with any tactical brilliance; he got into time trouble and walked into a mate in one, while in an equal position. Those level 10 exercises paid off.
But seriously I'm just happy that I didn't self-destruct. So I guess if not dropping a piece is a start on the road to chess improvement I will take it.

605 exercises completed 604 remaining in circle 1.
27 days down 128 to go.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Day 26

550 exercises completed 659 remaining in circle 1.
26 days down 129 to go.

Day 25

500 exercises completed 709 remaining in circle 1.
25 days down 130 to go.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Long Day

431 exercises completed 778 remaining in circle 1.
24 days down 131 to go.

Football, and a laptop.

Had a good run at the exercises again today while watching football on TV.
You'd be amazed at how many exercises you can finish while wading through the time outs and commercials.
400 exercises completed 809 remaining in circle 1.
23 days down 132 to go.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


I was able to squeeze in two practice sessions worth of exercises.
300 completed 909 remaining in circle 1.
22 down 133 to go.

Friday, October 29, 2004

3 Weeks

Problem solving is becoming addictive.
Knocked out 40 this afternoon.
200 completed 1,009 remaining in circle 1.
21 down 134 to go.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Trying to settle into a normal routine.
160 completed, 1049 remaining in the first circle.
20 down 135 to go.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rolling along

Off to a good start the past two days by finishing the level 10 exercises.
Those were a breeze. Just look for a check and the rest falls into place.
Lots of Queen sacs, deflections and overloading a square type stuff.
I did a few of the level 20 exercises just to get a feel for what was next the answers aren't as obvious, but are still fairly simple.
Going to try and catch up on some sleep.

125 problems completed 1084 remaining in the first circuit.
19 down 136 to go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

False Start !?

After analyzing my recent on-line Chess Ninja tournament game. I have come to the stunning realization that at this moment my tactics are about as sharp as a bowling ball. My recent suckiness hasn't gone unnoticed. The chess servers keep a pretty accurate record of my on-line games. I have just refused to believe the numbers shown beside my playing handle. At first I thought it was because I haven't played on-line and I drop a few points the first few days back to the realm of 2-D, but I usually rebound quickly and have always ended up with a higher rating than I held between my last break and hermit study session.
Not this time, I dropped as expected but have barely been able to limp my way back to within a 100 points of my "highest". Last night's game was just the icing on the cake. I continuously failed to even look at exploiting any of advantages that I obtained. Stuff that I would have normally pounced on, or at least would have had a glimmer of an idea to start chipping away. But I didn't even consider the good moves. My only consolation was my assessment of the position. I knew when I had the advantage, then I knew when it was even, and then I knew when my opponent had the advantage. Fortunately it ended in a draw. This sourness is not to take anything away from my opponent's play. I thought he played a great game. He completely stifled any counter-play on my part.

Anyway I have been neglecting any kind of study other than hopping pieces around the "hapless King on d5" and making lap after counter-clockwise lap around an empty chess board with my knight.
My tactical rust of course cannot be blamed on following the prescribed method found in "Rapid Chess Improvement" I haven't even entered into the "tactical saturation" chapters. I firmly believe that if anything I have a greater understanding of the pieces thanks to Mr. Michael de la Maza. I know that after just a few short weeks I do see target squares much faster and with more clarity than I can ever remember having in the past. I will continue to follow these drills.

No my rust is mainly due to neglect.
Over the last few months I haven't even bothered to review any of my games searching for improvements with Fritz humming along side offering up juicy tactical tidbits of advice or having Herr Fritz laugh at my blunders. Nor have I bothered to look up any of the deviations played by opponents while searching for improvements in my favorite openings.
This brings me to my accelerated jump in my training schedule. I fired up the CT-Art 3.0 program and started working on the exercises. I still plan on continuing with the prescribed drills but I had to get started on stopping the points slide.

18 down 137 to go.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Forced myself to slog through the exercise.
Loooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnng day.
17 down 138 to go.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Déjà Vu

16 down 139 to go.

Around the board in 80 ways...

The Knight Sight Concentric Squares exercise is interesting to say the least.
One just needs to explore the relationship between the two squares (home and target). There is no difference in the pattern going from d5 to d2 than there is from d5 to g5. D5 to a5, or d5 to d8 are truncated versions of the patterns created from d5 to d2.
Like Don said once you get the gist of the movements involved you can simply repeat the pattern in an overlay like fashion.
If I were really a masochist I'd try and calculate patterns of various lengths. I guess at least this would be useful in possibly creating opportunities to gain opposition or create some sort of zugzwang.
But I think the experience gained by moving around my Knight will have to do for now.

15 down 140 to go.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

2 Weeks

On to the next set of exercises, calculating all of the possible Knight Sight patterns.
14 down 141 to go.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Day 10

I really have started to notice forks and skewers much more quickly.
Now not only do I see them faster. I also know where, and where not to look.
Pretty cool stuff indeed.

10 down 145 to go.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Day 9

Still going.

9 down 146 to go.

Day 8

It now takes only 30 mins to complete the exercises.
Concentric Circle (White's Queen versus a Black's King on d5 using a Rook, Bishop, Knight, Queen, and pawn as the targets.) and the first Knight Sight drill.
I'm beginning to see the target squares in a complete series now.
This versus the hunt and peck method I was experiencing early in the practices.

8 down 147 to go.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Week 1 Completed

Still chugging along.
7 down 148 to go.

Day 6

The time required to complete the exercises is dropping dramatically.
Not sure if this is from memorization, or a difference in my visualization.
6 down 149 to go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Day 5

Noticeable ripples.
I have also incorporated the Knight Sight drill.
5 down 150 to go.

Day 4

Not sure if the squares are popping out yet, but they did seem to ripple in a few places.
4 down 151 to go.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Day 3

Slogged my way through the exercises after a long day.
3 down 152 to go.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Day 2

This afternoon I took my oldest nephew down to the local skateboard park, so he could do some skating.
I figured what the heck while I'm there I could spend some free time doing the concentric circle exercises and a little reading.

2 down 153 to go.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Day 1

Ok just completed the first exercise.
I followed Don's advice about taking it slowly through the first run. I tried to find common themes in relation to the piece(s) being forked or skewered and the home squares of the pieces involved.

The following is basic knowledge for most, but it seems to help me grasp a concept if I state the obvious. If only for my own peace of mind.

You know something along the lines of a Knight on "dark squares" always attacks "light squares."

Queen versus King and Rook.
The Queen will always attack the Rook from a Bishop's perspective.

Queen versus King and Bishop.
The Queen will always attack the Bishop from a Rook's perspective.

Queen versus King and Knight.
The poor Knight just gets hammered from all angles.

Queen versus King and Queen.
The word of the day is skewer, can you say skewer?
I knew that you could. :)
This was the easiest of the drills.
Only a few possibilities exist.

By the end of the drills I did find myself counting the checks and also running a pattern while searching for the checks.
A1-H1, then A2-H2, etc... This wasn't a conscious effort just something that evolved either out of repetition or a quest to end the madness as quickly as possible.
So to really sum all of this up, just stay off of the squares that your opponents pieces control and your Queen will do just fine.
Bet you're all glad this stunning insight is free...
I also added a pawn to the exercise. I figured why discriminate.

I started thinking about "The Seven Circles" exercise. I just wish that the CT-Art 3.0 software had a 3-D board option. Since the idea is to simulate a game environment the only way to do this is manually set-up a real board to solve the exercise. Or use a different software package that can achieve the same objective while utilizing a decent 3-D board.
I'm one of those people that have a hard time making the transition from a 2-D computer monitor to real chess set.
Yes I know I'm weird.

As Don says "1 down 154 to go."

Wish me luck!

, thanks for dragging me into this.
I think.

Off chasing windmills...

Today begins the first day’s journey of mission De La Maza.
Armed with my trusty tome of knowledge, I move into the world of tactical saturation.
Hopefully with the support of my new comrade in arms I will be able to complete the monumental
task at hand.
Learn how it all started here.