Sunday, December 11, 2005

Quick Update

Like most of you I have been really busy lately. Holiday season and work always make things interesting.
Anyway I'd like to welcome a few new Knights (**********, and funkyfantom) the return of an old Knight (Salcido) and a new friend to the Knights Ilan.

Still plugging in moves but I'm really scaling back the depth for each line, and trying just to hit the main lines. This is a really involved project so I had to figure out a way to be able to start playing long games again and continue with the opening book. I think I have hit upon a happy medium, by reviewing my games I get to refine my openings and work on my "in game" thought processes.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pruning Lines

(Creating a Master File) brought us to the foot of the mountain, now we start our ascent.
Here’s where you will have the opportunity to spend a tremendous amount of time pruning lines from your master file if you so desire.

While it’s tempting to try and be prepared for as much stuff as possible you have to draw the line somewhere. We are trying to get our books down to a size that we can use for review. You can always add a line to your book at a later date if you encounter something new from one of your opponents.

This is where reviewing your games is crucial. (A completely separate subject and one for a much later date.) Making mistakes and finding new ground are all part of the game. We just want to try and avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.

If you have a good reference book(s) on openings you may want to keep it/them near by.
(MCO, ECO, Nunn’s, BCO, individual books on a particular opening, etc.)

For this exercise I’m going to use CB9’s “Reference Feature” to do the majority of my decision making on the lines to keep. If you don’t have CB9 you will have to search through your personal library and hope that you get all of main lines that your opponent can throw at you.

We are only going to cover the first set of Black’s possible responses after 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3
The possibilities were shown in the previous post as what to expect. Once you see how this is done you will see how easy it is to repeat the process for each of the branches.

Ok fire up the recently created Bookup file we called “E4-E5 Work”.
Crank up CB9 (Chessbase 9), open a new board.

Enter the following moves into CB9 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 hit the “Reference tab” and wait a few moments while CB9 compiles a list of games. (It will take a fair amount of time in the early lines it gets noticeably faster the deeper into each line.)
This is basically a reprint of my earlier post no need to reinvent the wheel. :)

“My database contains 286,513 games

The report tells me that Black has played the following:
2...Nc6 (237,048) 83%*
2...Nf6 (31,153) 11%
2...d6 (14,147) 5%
2...f5 (1,904) .006%
2...d5 (938) .003%
2...Qe7 (533) .001
2...Bc5 (318) .001

* These are percentages that I have added to help throw some perspective on what to expect at this point. (Times occurred divided by total games found will give you the percentage) Example 2...Nc6 237,048 divided by 286,513 = .827 or 83% rounded up.

And even more moves than I have shown, but the number of times those moves have been seen in tournament play lessens significantly the farther we get from the top of the list. Does 2...Qg5?? Really need to be prepped?”

Ok now tab over to Bookup, it will probably be easier to resize the program windows so that you can see both the “CB9 board with reference tab info” and Bookup, unless you are really good at using Alt +Tab and remembering lots of info. But around my house it is nearly impossible. Those with children understand. :)

Now when you look at the starting position of the Bookup book/file “E4-E5 Work” we created you will see some lines for White that show possible transpositions.

Example: 1 d4 & 1 Nf3
You can delete everything but 1 e4. The same goes for everything found for Black’s replies except for 1...e5.
Now do the same with White’s second moves, delete everything but 2. Nf3 this way our
Opening book will match the move order of our current CB9 board.
Now switch your attention back to our CB9 board w/reference report.
As you can see this is a ton of information to digest and it is now time to start pruning heavily.
Obviously based on the frequency of occurrence we can expect to see the following
replies from Black.

Just because
Haven’t occurred in a lot of GM games doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have something prepped. The Latvian and Elephant Gambits do happen quite often at the club level
and since this is our present fishbowl we might as well keep them in the mix.

So now I arrange and trim my “E4-E5 Work” file to match the report generated by CB9,
keeping just those 5 Black responses. I use the (Alt + U) to arrange the candidates in the same order as they appear in the CB9 reports. Make sure you set CB9 to prioritize the moves by number of times played. Simply click on the “Games” sub tab to make this happen.

Now in the CB9 “Ref Tab” selecting the top candidate (based on highest frequency) I click on 2...Nc6 and wait while it generates a new report.
It now gives me a long list of moves played by White.

I’m only interested in 3.Bc4 [The Italian or Guioco Piano (Pianissimo)], so I click on that move in the “Ref Tab”. While I’m waiting for a new report to be generated I toggle over to BU (Bookup “E4-E5 Work”) click on the move 2...Nc6, then I proceed to delete all of White’s 3rd moves except 3.Bc4.

Once this is done I tab back over to CB9 and see what goodies Black has in store for us.
This is where it starts to get interesting. Black has a variety of very solid responses with a veritable who’s who of GM supporters for each one of the moves played.

We could spend hours at this point trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.
Fish or cut bait?
Keep all of the moves played above a certain ELO?
Pick a hypothetical number of lines?
Calculate the frequency played percentages?

All of this depends on you and how much time you are willing to invest.
I’m after main lines, since I’m using CB9 in this case as my primary guide. I pretty much have to look at each group of responses independently and truncate the lines once I establish a noticeable drop in frequency of occurrence. It’s either do it this way or spend a lot of time searching through other resources.

Like I said earlier you can always add lines at a later date if you face something new.
Our mission is to create an operational opening book that allows us to practice our new found knowledge. We aren’t trying to become a theoretical expert on any particular opening. We are striving for solid lines that allow us to direct matters into areas we understand.

For the sake of brevity I keep the top 4 responses for Black, and adjust my BU file accordingly.

I now click on the move 3...Bc5 in CB and allow it to proceed with a new report, while waiting I make that same selection on my BU board.

White’s 4th Move

Here is where knowing what you want to play saves you a lot of time.

Since I’m creating this book from White’s perspective I only want one move in my BU file in any of my openings. (Why add extra burden and additional study time, just having to worry about Black is enough work already.)

I know that I want to continue with 4.c3. So I click on that move in CB and while I’m waiting for the next report to finish I return to BU to trim away all moves except 4.c3 as White.

So far in this line we have played the following moves.

1 e4 e5
2 Nf3 Nc6
3 Bc4 Bc5
4 c3

Black’s 4th Moves

Now there is a considerable drop in the diversity of responses from Black.
I’m prepping for the following:

Continuing with my trend I update my BU file to match this move order, and select 4...Nf6 in CB to generate a new report.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now at some point we will have to return to
cover the other branches. By making these adjustments now I save time when I come back through here again.
It also makes it easier to take the highest move in the first pass, work through it until we hit a certain depth. Then back up one ply to solve each of the sub-variations.

White’s 5th Move

5. d4
Once again I enter this move into CB9 first and trim lines out of BU while I wait for a new report. (It doesn’t take long for a new report to be generated once you get past move 3.)

I think you begin to get the idea, nothing fancy just a lot of work.

The main trick is to remember where you stopped, usually once I complete a line I will mark it in Bookup with a red, green, and yellow color code that I can later go back and remove under the commands option.

The other trick is to decide how far to take these lines. It all depends on your opponents
and the particular opening you are researching. You can always go further with your knowledge, because these opening books are something you can keep and modify.

Hope this has been helpful!
If you have any tips or suggestions please don't hesitate to add them here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Creating a Master File

Okay enough procrastination on my part...

This is more along the lines of a how-to manual instead of my regular drivel. So I guess this should be filed under “How-to Drivel” or something equally impressive.

If someone happens to have a suggestion/short-cut/alternate route/or much needed improvement please don’t hesitate to post it here. The Knights are about feed-back and shared ideas. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Creating an opening book is really easy if you know what kind of positions you like to play. The hard part is doing enough research to have an understanding about which openings lead to said positions. But then again the best way to find out what you like is to play through the openings. You also have to decide whether or not you plan on playing the mainlines or do you plan to play systems in an attempt to reduce study time. There are pros and cons to both methods and I’m not even going to set foot in that territory.

Ok, with any cook book you need a list of ingredients:

(I’m using the following, but there are a variety of programs that could be substituted to achieve roughly the same results.)

Chessbase 9 (CB9)
Bookup 2000 Pro [Build 25] (BU)
Fritz 8 (F8)

Reference Material
Encyclopedia of Chess Openings A-E (ECO)

Reconnaissance and “Rough Draft”
As White I play 1. e4, of course after pushing my King’s pawn two squares forward
my opponent gets his/her say in the matter so I want to try and be prepared as much as I can.
Since I don’t know who my opponent is and what they might play I now start with the first of a seemingly long list of possibilities.
For this example I’m only worried about 1...e5
I meet 1...e5 with 2. Nf3. Using the ECO index I know that 1.e4,e5 falls under the C grouping. I’m not worried about possible transpositions at this point, I’m after information. So I fire up CB9, open a new board, and enter the previous moves then I hit the reference tab. This is when the fun begins, CB9 proceeds to scan the database that I have chosen to be used as my main source of information. (I’m using Megabase 2005, since it contains the most games and strongest players.) After a brief moment or two (depending on your computer speed) CB9 starts giving me a report of what I can expect to see as Black’s second move in order of frequency played.
The reason I use the “reference tab” as opposed to an “opening report” is because the “reference tab” will find transpositions and is faster for the needs of my rough draft.
If I want more detail I can do an “opening report”.
My database reports 286,513 games are found with this position. Notice I didn’t say move order because the position could in theory be reached by several move orders.
(1.Nf3, e5 2. e4), (1.Nf3,e6 2.e3,e5 3.e4), etc. [I just threw this tidbit in now because it is easier to explain transpositions with a simple example than trying to show something 6 moves deep. Now forget that I mentioned transpositions, and that we are looking for a list of Black’s second possibilities. :)]

The report tells me that Black has played the following:
2...Nc6 (237,048) 83%*
2...Nf6 (31,153) 11%
2...d6 (14,147) 5%
2...f5 (1,904) .006%
2...d5 (938) .003%
2...Qe7 (533) .001
2...Bc5 (318) .001

{* These are percentages that I have added to help throw some perspective on what to expect at this point.}

And even more moves than I have shown, but the number of times those moves have been seen in tournament play lessens significantly the farther we get from the top of the list. Does 2...Qg5?? Really need to be prepped?
Since I want to get through with this sometime before the turn of the next century
I need to establish some guidelines on as to how far I’m willing to prepare.
Where do I draw the line? That’s a tough one to answer, because the variations will continue to fluctuate along with the frequency. So it is at this point that I reach for my ECO for a little additional guidance. (I would probably skip the first step and just head straight to the ECO if it weren’t for the fact that some of the data in the ECO assumes you have the previous editions.)

Since the first five have the highest occurrence percentages I will start with them.
1.e4, e5 2.Nf3, Nc6 is shown as group C4. Turning to the C4 chapter gives
me a list of 10 diagrams that are numbered in succession C40-C49.
Here is where knowing what openings you want to play helps, and if you don’t know
this is a great place to gain some exposure.

C40 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3
C41 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6
C42 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6
C43 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4
C44 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6
C45 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 ed4 4.Nd4
C46 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3
C47 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6
C48 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5
C49 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4

The only codes that apply to me at the moment are C40, C41, C42
C40 covers all of the offbeat responses such as the Latvian, and Elephant Gambits.
C41 covers the Philidor lines.
C42 covers the Russian/Petroff Classical lines

The rest head into lines that I don’t happen to play at this moment, such as the Two Knights defense, and the Scotch.
All five of Black responses have been addressed except that I don’t see my response to 2...Nc6 in this group.
I meet 2...Nc6 with 3.Bc4. It must be in another set of ECO codes (C5 Group), so back to the book repeating the above process. Fortunately since I am trying to head into Guioco Piano
waters I get to eliminate ten tons of theory by avoiding the vast expanse known as the land of the Ruy Lopez. [Thank You Predrag! :)]
(I could also find each of the ECO codes using CB9 by selecting Tools/Opening Classification. I would have to scroll through each of the move orders, which would take some additional time. The advantage would be that is gives me the name of the general defense. There are plenty of on-line resources that list the moves with the related names
in great detail just do a search on “Openings classified by ECO code”. I usually just grab the code first and eventually the name.)
Now I know what ECO codes I can use to find or filter games.
Whether I create the files myself with CB9 or just download the games it really doesn’t matter. The main thing is that I want them in .pgn format because they are ultimately headed into a soon to be created Bookup file/book.
So now I gather all of the .pgn games I can find for each of the necessary ECO codes.

It’s not really important to have the most recent games or the strongest players for this part of the book building. All I’m really after is a lot of variations to create a master file for 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 ... It is faster to prune lines out of an opening book than it is to add them. I learned this the hard way.

Now I fire up Bookup 2000 Pro and create a new Book called “E4-E5 Master”, you could call it anything you wish, it doesn’t really matter as long as you can keep track of it.

Select PGN/Import Games/ ->select the .pgn file. ->Reduce the number of plies to import
Down to 24 (12 moves deep, is plenty for my level of play.) De-select Highlight novelties->Click Ok and repeat the process for each of the needed .pgn files.

Once this accomplished there are just a few steps remaining before I can say that I’m finished with the Master file. Commands/Select “Clear Assessments”->Ok. This strips any numerical assessments from all of the positions in the book. (This may or may not be necessary, but I do it anyway.)

Now back to Commands/Select “Clear Rate Symbols”->Ok. This is necessary to clear the stray evaluations, and give you a clean slate. While doing the previous two steps you will have plenty of time to grab a beverage or a snack between commands.

You will want to back-up your newly created “Master” file. I just create a sub-folder for each master and copy the Bookup files into it. Just be sure that you get all of the files for each “Book” because Bookup uses a multitude a files.

After making a back-up Book of the “E4-E5 Master” as a safety check I would close out of all of the new “Books” and then reopen them one at a time to make sure they function properly. After they check out close the “Back-Up Master” and now rename the Book something like “E4-E5 Work”.

Finally... if you have managed to make it this far give yourself a pat on the back because that was a lot of work, and we have only reached the foot of the mountain.

We will start pruning lines in our next installment.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Opening Approach on Hold

Sorry for the long delay, I'm caught in the middle of revising my approach.
(Not the tools that I use, just some of my opening selections that I had chosen to play.
I will expand some more on the features that Jim mentioned us using while reviewing some of his games.)
BTW This is a work in progress. :)
I reserve the right to modify or make adjustments anytime I find something faster and more efficient. This holds true for things I discover on my own, or stuff that is pointed out to me by those who happen to know.

I have started taking lessons from IM Predrag Trajkovic. I wasn't in the market for a chess teacher it just kind of happened.
One day while watching the FIDE World Championship matches on ICC. [I actually think FIDE got it right this time, with the double-round robin format. Now whether or not they follow through with anything remains to be seen. P.S. Congratulations to GM Topalov on his outstanding performance, the word amazing is an understatement. 6 wins, 0 losses, 10/14 points]
There was an announcement made about an open lesson from an IM, and all interested parties were welcome to watch. I had a few moments to spend before I had to head out for dinner with my wife so I decided to drop by and check out the lesson.
It turned out to be one of the most instructive events that I have witnessed. IM Trajkovic had a seemingly equal position setup on the board. He then asked for opinions on how to proceed from the given position. He then played through the suggestions move by move covering the pros and cons of each of the suggested ideas. You learned why the idea might not be as good as some of the kibitzers had hoped, by his solid explanations. He didn't slam the door on any of the audience’s ideas, or act like any suggestion wasn’t worth covering. (Like I have seen some Titled players do in the past.) He then proceeded to explain the best method to exploit the slightest of all weakness. It was something that a tactically minded individual such as yours truly would have never found in a million years. Had I encountered that position OTB, I would still be there trying to use dynamite when something as simple as pouring water would be enough to win. Unfortunately I had to take off for dinner before the lesson ended but I had seen enough from Predrag to be impressed with him as a teacher.

So much in fact that I decided to do my own research and check into the feedback reports left by his students, apparently the lesson I witnessed was just his standard approach to teaching, informative and straight to the point. So I decided to ask him about providing lessons for me. He had me email him some of my games to get a feel of where I was strength wise a few days prior to the lesson. During the lesson we started with some endgame basics which I thought I knew cold, but didn’t. He then explained the key themes in such a manner that I do know them now. More importantly I know them at a glance without have to waste anytime calculating line after line of move orders. He simplified the positions into their absolute basic elements. It feels like a load has been lifted when I think about those types of positions.

Now that I’m back from my mini-vacation I can hardly wait for the next lesson to begin!

All of those interested in finding a really great teacher should ask him about lessons.

His handle on ICC is PTrajkovic.

PS You can’t beat his rates!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Opening Approach (Part 2)

Sorry about the delay, been kind of busy as of late, still steadily working on my opening book though.

Source materials for the compilation, I'm not following any one person’s opening book. I’m using several sources, it could be from opening books on a particular line that I play or using any or all of the following, ECO (Encyclopedia of Chess Openings), MCO (Modern Chess Openings), NCO (Nunn's Chess Openings), BCO (Batsford Chess Openings), and last and certainly not least. The item I feel is the single most important component in the arsenal of any aspiring chess player, a database program. I own, love, and swear by my Chessbase 9. (Matter of fact here recently it is what I have been using the most.)

To me it is worth its weight in gold. If I had to pick between having access to a library that had every chess book ever printed or using Chessbase, I would choose Chessbase.

Most of the opening books that you see on the market are nothing more than a collection of games with very little if any original ideas, with just some text thrown in for good measure.

The “Opening Report” feature in Chessbase will do the same thing those books do and more.

Enter in a series of moves from a particular opening that you are interested in learning, “Right-Click” on the board, select “Opening Report” then stand back because it will give you more information than you can imagine.

Chessbase spits out the following, all of course reflecting the database selected. (You can use anything you want as a reference database, from correspondence games, entire games collections, your own particular games, Internet (Log file) games, whatever you happen to have or decide to create.)

It gives me the following information, along with the number of games found.

1) A brief history of when it was first played, by whom, latest GM game, and latest game. It also shows a graph Number of games/Years played.

2) A list of “Strong GMs and Notable Players” that used this line, and their win/loss records.

3) The Statistics, performance levels, percentage of White wins, draws, Black wins and the average length of each.

4) Moves and plans.

That was just one small example. (Chessbase does tons more, do a web search for Steve Lopez’s Chessbase articles to get a way better example.)

The amount of time it saves me is incredible, not to mention you can easily pop open Fritz or some other GM strength chess engine and review positions, games, etc.

I couldn’t afford to purchase, let alone store the amount of opening books Chessbase replaces. It would take me months of time, a full time research team and a stack of “Chess Informants” to cover all of the games CB finds with a few quick clicks of the mouse.

End of Part 2.

(Next installment I will actually get to my silly approach.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Opening Approach (Part 1)

JavaManIssa left the following comment to my last post.

"How are you going through the opening book? It's not good to memorize lines, understanding key ideas behind openings is what should be done. In the end not only will you have memorized the mainlines (without trying..) you'd also be able to go out of the book and still be fine! :)"

While I appreciate his concern I guess I should clarify my approach to opening study.

I never have once planned on or believed that “memorizing lines” is the key to successful chess, chess doesn’t work this way. What opening preparation does if approached correctly is give you insight into why moves are played. Study enough openings and you will come to the same realization I had.
{Even now J’adoube is paying good money to learn what I told him for free. [grin]
1) Screw CT-Art and start studying mating patterns.
2) Chess playing is about piece activity.
Seriously Jim I was really glad to read that Dan was stressing those points, it made me feel like I wasn’t off the mark with my own approach to gaining the most benefit in my training. Especially since I was one of the first Knighted de la Mazan’s to scrap the “sacred” approach. }

What I do believe is that opening preparation will solidify my understanding of developing with a plan. It will provide me with a frame work of moves that I can play without hesitation until my opponent branches into unfamiliar territory. Thereby saving precious time on my clock that can be used in other areas, I would rather enter into an equal middle game position, but with more time than my opponent any day.
Ideally chess should flow seamlessly from one phase to the next. Before I can say I have “learned” an opening, I have to understand the themes involved. What are the key squares, which minor pieces thrive in this pawn structure, any long term weaknesses and strengths, is maintaining pressure critical to my or my opponent’s success? What long term plan was used successfully in the past? Why was it successful?
I'm not saying I can do all of those things yet, but it is something I'm working toward.
End of Part 1.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Internet Jones

Glad to report that everything is intact after a recent visit from the lovely Hurricane Ophelia.
The area was very fortunate to have escaped with just lots of wind, rain, and relatively light damage.

I did have my internet knocked out until today from a chance meeting of a wayward pecan tree and a 20,000 volt power line. Minor stuff in the grand scheme of things.

Still slogging through the opening repertoire book.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fall Cleaning

Went through my links and moved some folks to the M.I.A. spot due to either 404 or inactivity.
Added a few new players to the list of Knights Errant, Smith-Morra, Phorku, and DutchDefence, Welcome to family, and have fun!
I even played around with some font and color settings trying to make things easier to see. The color changes will probably continue to happen until I find a nice even balance.

My opening training is paying off in unexpected ways. Even in openings that I haven't studied I'm beginning to find myself reaching favorable positions on a more frequent basis. I seem to have lost that tendency to saddle myself with structural weaknesses and inactive pieces. At the club this past Thursday I would even go as far as saying that I played my best "positional" games ever.
There weren't any tactical fireworks, because my opponent tried his best to play openings that are about as exciting as watching paint dry, which is his usual approach during our games. He tries to keep things as quiet as possible and I normally try to drag him into the deep end of the tactics pool. I'm always joking with him telling him that he would rather push a pawn than mate someone. Typically I try to blow things apart, but this time I decided to give him all the rope he wanted. I allowed him to over extend his position, all the while maneuvering my pieces into locations that allowed me create multiple attack points simply by shifting threats until his pieces literally tripped over each other. As soon as they stumbled I would pounce and win a key pawn and grind him off the board. Honestly it was as satisfying if not more so than crushing someone tactically.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Slogging along

Not much to report, still working on my opening repertoire. I should complete it around the year 2055 at the rate I'm going.
I guess I'm going to have to create a schedule and stick to it. 45 minutes a day or something.
I need some cheese for my whine. :)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cool DVD

I recently picked up "Game Over:Kasparov and the Machine", way cool movie.
All I can say other than watch it, is that IBM and its team of experts (Joel Benjamin) included
are pretty much lying sacks of $#!% unless they can come up with the log files that prove that the move 26. f4 in Game Two was played by anyone other than a GM.
After watching the movie I no longer think Kasparov was just sour over his loss, as I kind of did before. If IBM didn't manipulate the move selection why hide the files? The match is long since over, and Deep Blue dismantled. Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your machine alone bested Kasparov.
As a test I ran the position through every computer I could find old and new and not one of the following: Fritz 5.32, Fritz 6, Fritz 8, Junior 9, Crafty 18.07, Crafty 19.01, Chess Tiger 14.0, Gambit Tiger 2.0, Comet B27, and Comet B50 even glanced at the move.

Things that make you say hmmm.

If they ever release the log files I will then edit this post. :)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cease Fire, Truce, Timeout...

I'm just kind of firing this off the top of my head, so if I step on any toes, or bruise any egos it is completely unintentional. Trust me, if I were speaking directly to anyone. The individual(s) would know it.

I generally like to observe the goings on and interaction between the Knights and our friends. This is my refuge and release, a place to relax and read about the trials, tribulations, and successes of other like minded souls. It has served on more than one occasion as a lift for the spirits of those weary travelers plodding Caissa’s path.
It has always been light hearted and positive in the past.

Recently things have slowly started to take a turn towards a direction that I personally don't like, nor care to see appear on our friendly pages. The writing is on the wall. I'm here to erase it.

I am tremendously proud of this group. Never before has a community of chess players existed where everyone was helpful to those around them. Regardless of skill, experience, age, nationality, race, religion, all are welcome. Our Grail so to speak? The quest for chess improvement. Those seeking such improvement are always welcome no matter what methods they employ.

We have never established any set standard of rules or any criteria for joining other than a friendly introduction. There was never any conscious or premeditated plan. What started as two has grown into the ever expanding family we have today. We exist simply because we have unknowingly held ourselves to the highest standard.


In doing this we have not only improved our skills as chess players, but even more importantly as people.

Let us all try to take a moment and remember what brought us here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Not much going on, still logging moves into my opening database.
It is way too much fun... I'm kidding of course.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Long slow process

I have just about completed one opening for White, only 7 or so more to go.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Post Cycle Update

I have actually been really busy since completing the Cycles. My focus has been solidifying my opening repertoire and creating my "playbook" so to speak. At first it seemed overwhelming, with so many lines and sub-variations then it dawned on me, it was sitting there the whole time in full view.
The single most important thing that I noticed while studying the various lines and inputting moves is the common thread all the time tested openings share. It doesn't matter whether I'm looking at King's Gambit lines or Nimzo-Indian lines it is all the same. The thread you ask? Piece activity/development with a plan, plain and simple. Increase your piece activity while making moves to limit your opponents. I have yet to see an opening that helps the opponent develop.

The moves are what they are because they have to be, a response to maintaining a balance. Give and take.

There comes a point when I'm inputting the moves where I have to truncate the lines. Realistically unless I'm playing a particularly sharp line where the theory is so well known that move 10 is the starting point (for example certain variations in the Sicilian Dragon) what’s the point of taking something out to move 25? At my level of play my opponents will most certainly deviate long before then, so why waste time. My plan at the moment is to memorize lines up to the point where all of my pieces are developed, learn the relevant themes involved of each opening concerned and try to steer the game down paths where I have some sort of strategic clue. To do this I will have to play through the games of the greats plain and simple. It all comes back to the pattern recognition. Openings are patterns to get you through the mine field, and middle game planning involves the strategic patterns. Knowledge of past master games is the way to learn what constitutes an advantage and how to capitalize on said advantage. Endgames are where you bring home the bacon. An advantage is useless if you can't capitalize on it.
I plan on absorbing/studying some endgame technique while playing through the master games.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Mission Accomplished", and who turned on the light?

Late last night kind of by accident I decided to go ahead and tackle the final Cycle which was the "final review" of all 1,000 problems. If I had given it any real thought I would have waited until sometime today when I was rested and relaxed before attempting the final lap. But the real test of whether you know something or not is how well you perform while being exhausted.
Since I'm recovering from a wonderful summer cold and was already sleep deprived, last night at the time seemed like a good idea.

I am really happy with the results. It took me less than 3 hours to cover all 1,000 problems. What I am even more pleased with is the pattern recognition. It seems as if I have increased my own little stock pile of mating patterns that I can call up at a glance, which is really nice. During the review I noticed my focus was on the proximity and classification of my pieces in relationship to the enemy king and not trying to recall the exact answer. I would see a familiar set-up and then I would check the correct move order. Basically I would identify the possible theme(s) available and then go from there. All in all it was pretty easy, no muss, and no fuss just clean efficient regicide.

I wasn’t sure what to expect until I had completed the final cycle. I didn’t know if I would have to relearn/resolve the problems from scratch or if I would just remember the answers. Finding out that I was primarily recalling typical patterns is nice to know.

So now seeing the benefit of just learning simple mating patterns is making me realize how important pattern training really is to becoming a better player. Of course developing calculation muscle is equally important along with a host of other ideas and I don’t plan to neglect those either. But until now I had never really thought of chess in this particular light.

Whether it is the opening, middlegame, endgame, or even particular strategies it is the patterns that we know and understand that influence our decision making. I really think up to this point I have seriously neglected the importance of keeping things simple.

I couldn’t see the forest for all of the trees.

I plan on changing that.

Cycle 1
-Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
Cycle 6-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
Cycle 7-Completed. Points Reached 4404/4428=99.46%
Cycle 8-Completed. Points Reached 5355/5400=99.17%
Cycle 9-Completed. Points Reached 5364/5400=99.33%
Cycle 10-Completed. Points Reached 5346/5400=99.00%
Cycle 11-Completed. 988 problems correct out of 1000=98.80%

7,000 down-0 remaining
141 Days down 0 to go

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Cycle 9 Complete

Couldn't help myself, got on a roll and just went with it.
Getting ready to do the same thing to Cycle 10.
Then the final review all 1000 problems of the course material. Just to see how well I remember what I have hopefully learned.

I cannot wait to "graduate" from the Cycles/Circles and this particular part of the tactical training.
Roughly I figure up to this point I have completed at least 9,000+ tactical exercises with another 1,600 yet to go. This of course includes the 3,500 or so that I did with CT-Art until I could no longer stand the percentage of error filled problems that are inherent to the program and I decided to switch course material.
It doesn't include the number problems that I revisited or practiced over and over again until I had the pattern etched into my memory.

Cycle 10- 0 Down 600 to go.

Cycle 1
-Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
Cycle 6-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
Cycle 7-Completed. Points Reached 4404/4428=99.46%
Cycle 8-Completed. Points Reached 5355/5400=99.17%
Cycle 9-Completed. Points Reached 5364/5400=99.33%
5,400 down-1,600 remaining
126 Days down 15 to go

Friday, July 01, 2005

Cycle 8 Complete

Running a little bit behind on this cycle, probably would have finished sooner if it hadn't been for Mousetrapper's latest find.

  • The Chess Tactics Server
  • Which is the equivalent of electronic crack. So be warned all who dare enter.

    Hopefully I will get a good jump on this next set of problems over this long holiday weekend.
    I want to get started on my next project which is entering moves into the Chess Position Trainer. That is going to take a serious amount of effort, but it will be well worth it.

    Welcome our new group of Knights. Zeon, Silver Dragon, Dread Pirate Josh, and Ed G.

    Cycle 9- 0 Down 600 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
    Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    Cycle 6-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    Cycle 7-Completed. Points Reached 4404/4428=99.46%
    Cycle 8-Completed. Points Reached 5355/5400=99.17%
    4,800 down-2,200 remaining
    112 Days down 29 to go

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Still Going...

    Just a quick blurb, don't want anyone to think that I caught the sniffles. :)
    Work has picked back up, plus I'm in the midst of trying to learn some new software that will hopefully make the design process a little easier. It cuts out a ton of the tedious functions that I used to do by hand. Plus anytime in the past someone made a change I’d have to restart from scratch, looks like that is quickly coming to an end.

    Still slogging through the Cycles...

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Cycle 7 Complete

    The Mate-in-3 problems really aren't that hard, not that I would spot all of them in a blitz game or anything. But it does teach one to focus on the squares around the enemy King. Quite a few of them aren't a series of checks which I imagined they would be when I started. Lots of them contain waiting moves or the sealing off of key squares before the final checks are delivered.

    Welcome our newest Knight Druss.

    Cycle 8- 0 Down 600 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
    Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    Cycle 6-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    Cycle 7-Completed. Points Reached 4404/4428=99.46%
    4,200 down-2,800 remaining
    98 Days down 43 to go

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    Cycle 6 Complete

    Little over half way through the exercises, and well over the half way mark for the days/Mini-Cycles. I get my first taste of the Mate-in-3 problems this Cycle. It's going to be fun!

    I did find a few errors in the Mate-in-Two problems. But unlike CT-Art, Chessbase will allow you to correct the errors in the database. Cool Stuff.

    Cycle 7- 25 Down 575 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
    Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    Cycle 6-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    3,625 down-3,375 remaining
    85 Days down 56 to go

    Sunday, May 29, 2005

    Cycle 5 Complete

    Cycle 5 Complete

    Now to explain some of the cool things happening from doing these simple little mate exercises.

    1) There are only so many patterns that occur in the mates-in-two. It really gives you a good way to practice learning how the pieces interact and support each other while constructing mating nets.
    2) While working through the problems I was amazed to see how many examples where both sides are threatening mate. Neat to see top players going for each others throats only to see one move decide the outcome.
    3) Time and time again while searching for the mating combinations I spotted variations that would force the second player to jettison decisive amounts of material just to stave off mate. There were tons of examples that even if the second player were given the luxury of moving first or I found a move that on closer examination turned out to be second best, they would still have to jettison decisive amounts of material to avoid the mate. It just goes to show how important it is for players to recognize mates and mate threats.

    In conclusion I’m really starting to view these problems as just an extension of the inherent abilities of each piece. Let me rephrase that last sentence and hopefully make it less confusing. No longer do I have to search and waste time thinking about whether or not mate exists in a given position. I now know the answer. Just view the Mate-in-X problems as a form of "check" (of course not all mate threats start with check) that will force your opponent to respond accordingly. If they don't see the threat then it just makes the execution of your plan that much easier. (I’m not talking about playing “Wish” or “Hope” chess.) Because the longer I practice these simple little exercises the faster I begin to see them, and continue to learn ways to utilize just the threat of mate to my advantage.

    Cycle 6- 0 Down 600 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
    Cycle 5-Completed. Points Reached 3582/3600=99.50%
    3,000 down-4,000 remaining
    70 Days down 71 to go

    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Cycle 4 Complete

    Can't wait to explain the cool things that are starting to happen from just doing these simple little mates.

    Cycle 5
    - 0 Down 600 to go.
    Points Reached 151/151=100%


    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    Cycle 4-Completed. Points Reached 3640/3660=99.45%
    2,425 down-4,575 remaining
    57 Days down 84 to go

    Sunday, May 22, 2005

    Cycle 3 Complete

    Cycle 4- 400 Down 200 to go.
    Points Reached 2420/2440=99.18%


    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    Cycle 3-Completed. Points Reached 3624/3648=99.34%
    2,200 down-4,800 remaining
    54 Days down 87 to go

    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    Finally the Weekend Arrives!

    I haven't had much free time to post, but still chipping away at the exercises.

    Cycle 3
    - 200 Down 400 to go.
    Points Reached 1198/1222=98.04%
    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    1,400 down-5,600 remaining
    36 Days down 105 to go

    Monday, May 16, 2005


    Note to self, impulse movement is bad.
    Cruising along nailing the problems, then I grab the wrong piece.
    But I do seem to wake up after these incidents.

    Cycle 3- 50 Down 550 to go. Points Reached 309/315=98.10%

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    1,250 down-5,750 remaining
    30 Days down 111 to go

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Cycle 2 Complete

    I figured I might as well smoke these problems too.
    Officially out of the flatlands and starting the ascent.
    Maybe a good rule of thumb for assigning a level of difficulty for Mate-in-X problems would be to count each move in the solution as a level.
    For example a 1 move problem= Level 10, 2 moves=Level 20, etc.
    Because the level 10 and 20 exercises from CT-Art were equally easy on the whole, but I will say that there are some of the CT-Art problems that are seriously mislabeled, even in the first two levels.
    The only sad part to doing this means the material I'm using doesn't break Level 30.
    On the other hand I plan on raising the difficulty for the next 1,000 problems. I may continue the three levels at a time approach. I just didn't want to try and skip over something that may appear easy or assume that I couldn't learn anything from the lower level mates. In fact it has been a really good exercise in seeing the pieces in action. What’s turning out to be a quick refresher course of sorts, but still educational. Well I say refresher but I haven’t hit the Mates-in-3, which is sure to be lots of fun for opening up new areas of thinking. All of the mates on the CD are from actual games Master strength and above. I'm sure the majority were resigned long before the final moves were played out, but none the less if GM's are walking into these kinds of patterns what harm can it do for players of lower levels to use them as study guides?

    Anyway Cycle 3 starts tomorrow.

    Cycle 3- 0 Down 600 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    Cycle 2-Completed. Points reached 2052/2052=100%
    1,200 down-5,800 remaining
    28 Days down 113 to go

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Cycle 1 Complete

    I went ahead and finished Cycle 1.
    Probably spent more time today creating the 2-2-2 spread sheet than I did on the remaining problems total, I may go ahead and romp through the next Cycle too. Seeing how the material load is light.
    Cycle 2 contains 86 Mate-in-One problems, and 14 Mate-in-Two problems.

    Cycle 2- 0 Down 600 to go.

    Cycle 1
    -Completed. Points Reached 1838/1842=99.78%
    600 down-6,400 remaining
    7 Days down 127 to go

    Friday, May 13, 2005


    During the weekend I may go ahead and squeeze in some more problems especially since these are just mates-in-one at the moment.
    The main ingredient to the modified Circles Plan is scoring percentage coupled with volume and not just sheer repetition alone. I can't really see where doing more would hurt as long as I continue to maintain the required success rate. (Anything less than 90% equates to repeating that particular Cycles subject material.) If I start to falter, then of course I back off. As I move up to the harder problems I imagine I will just stick to what is required, no need to press. I'm in this for the long haul.
    I am going to tweak the 2-2-2 plan even further by adding one more Cycle. But this additional Cycle will include a review of all 1,000 problems in one day. This will give me a good measuring stick to gauge my overall understanding and retention of the course material.
    Also it will bring the number of problems completed to 7,000. This is my acknowledging nod/tribute towards what Michael de la Maza’s plan called for in its original inception.
    Seems fitting, for without his initial inspiration there wouldn’t have been any Knights Errant. Plus what better way to end the exercises than by having a final exam?

    Cycle 1
    - 150 problems completed. Points Reached 459/463=99%
    150 down 450 to go in Cycle 1

    150 down-6,850 remaining
    6 Days down 135 to go

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Cleaning out the cobwebs

    I’m now a firm believer in doing some sort of tactical exercises every day.

    Whether it is some sort of set program or just doing 20 problems a day I can see a difference in my performance even after just a few days back. Even tired as I am now after a long work day, I saw things faster than I did yesterday. It feels like some sort of fog has lifted from the chess board. It’s either that or hunger, off to dinner.

    Cycle 1
    - 100 problems completed. Points Reached 228/232=98%
    100 down 500 to go in Cycle 1

    100 down-5,900 remaining
    4 Days down 136 to go

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Trying to create a checklist

    I started out the day by reminding myself to really start taking my time. I found myself getting back into forming a loose checklist before I make the move. Then I said what the heck, I have never actually written down a checklist so now would be a good time to do so and get in the habit of using it.

    At first I thought I could take a few liberties with the position such as not bothering to see if I was in check, and jumping ahead to focus only on the targeted King and his surrounding squares since the problems are just the Mate-In-One variety and the exercises are timed.

    So I started out with this abbreviated checklist.
    1) Which side has the move?
    2) Look to see if any of my pieces are pinned to my King.
    3) Find the targeted King.
    4) Look at which squares are presently off limits, and which are possible escape squares.
    If the King is immobilized then I know a simple check will be enough.
    5) Look for pieces that can deliver check to both the King and the escape square(s).
    6) After I find a piece or pieces that meet the above criteria, I then look to see if the piece can be captured if I play the move I'd like to play.
    7) If it appears it can be captured make sure the defending piece isn't pinned, which would allow my “Candidate Move”.
    8) If my “Candidate Move” is nullified move to the next piece.
    9) If my “Candidate Move” is safe, check to make sure that it is legal, and then play it.

    While my initial “Checklist” maybe ok for problem solving Mate-In-One exercises what is it going to do when I hit Mate-In-Two, Three, Four, etc? That lead me to thinking about what ultimately is the deciding factor. Which has to be what is my training going to do for me in game situations? Where there are no helpful guides or game indicators. That is when I realized all I had done for the most part with my first draft was create a situation that would cause me to use shortcuts in a position when I should be looking for ways to accurately find the best move for both sides. Shortcuts are good to know and sometimes a necessity. But they are not something that I want to have to rely on using with any regularity. Nor do I want to create a checklist that reinforces using them. Just focusing on one side all the time will cause me to overlook my opponent’s threats.

    What I need to find or create is a good solid approach that will allow me to focus on what is relevant in any position. This further reinforces my belief in doing these simple little exercises. Because without a solid foundation understanding the basics how does a player expect to accurately and quickly assess positions? Anyone can find the occasional good move, but I want to be able to find them every time and quickly.

    Anyway this is where I am at the moment, revising the checklist. But I’m sure once compiled it is something that will not remain static for any period of time. I’m curious to see what kind of list the other Knights use.

    Cycle 1
    - 75 problems completed. Points Reached 228/232=98%
    75 down 525 to go in Cycle 1

    75 down-5,925 remaining
    3 Days down 137 to go

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Oh the Humanity

    I missed a mate-in-one??
    Serves me right for impulse answering.
    I did get it right on the second attempt, lol.
    49 out of 50 is 98%, but the database has its own scoring system.
    So currently I'm running 152/156 for 97%
    Time to take it slow, the word for each day should be accuracy.

    Speaking of which "Cycle" should have read "Mini-cycle" yesterday.
    There are 200 problems (100 Exercises X 2 Passes) in each "Mini-cycle".

    Cycle 1- 50 problems completed. Points Reached 152/156=97%
    50 down 550 to go in Cycle 1

    50 down-5,950 remaining
    2 Days down 138 to go

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    The Return of 2-2-2

    It's been awhile since I have had the opportunity to work through the exercises with any regularity.
    But there comes a time when one just has to push all the extra crap aside and just make time to do the things one enjoys. I love studying chess. In some form or another, I feel like it is something that helps me to relax. Even my wife has noticed a difference since I quit following my own program, and has encouraged me to restart the exercises! How cool is that?
    So to gather any kind of feedback on whether the 2-2-2 plan was working I feel it necessary to restart the program and maintain it for the duration.
    So without further delay... Welcome Back Mr. Pawnza!

    Focus Material- "1000x Checkmate" by Ftacnik
    Cycle 1- 25 problems completed. Points Reached 78/78=100%
    25 down 175 to go in Cycle 1

    25 down-5,975 remaining
    1 Day down 139 to go

    For those wondering the "Points Reached" stat is one that is generated by Chessbase. Right-click on a database, then select "Training" to gather the information.

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Opening Repertoire

    I think the Lopez/Kasparov method (hence forth the LK method) of organizing openings makes the most sense for what I want to do. Basically enter the name of the variation into the game header, and add games to the particular lines that I play, versus entering a game and adding tons of variations at each possible branch. It makes finding the deviations so much easier. Regardless it is still a ton of work. There are mainlines and critical sub-variations for every opening. Fortunately I have worked very hard on finding out which openings suited my particular style of play and worked to streamline the possible responses of my opponents. One also has to keep in mind the possibilities of transpositions from one system to the next. I had already pretty much established those lines prior to beginning the Circles exercises. (I think the only thing I haven’t done is researched in depth what I want to play versus against the English as Black. The symmetrical variation has served me well in the past, but I know there are some sharper lines that offer more counter play for Black.)

    So anyway I started reading through several of the Chessbase USA "T-Note" archives to get a better grasp on more of the hidden features Chessbase has to offer, also to avoid shooting myself in the foot when I’m further down the road.

    I have found in the past that the case with most software is the user manages to utilize only a small fraction of the software’s capabilities. Of course I’m guilty of doing this too, but I have also noticed that if I take the time to read through the tutorials, and various message boards it will make my life simpler in the long run plus I get a better grasp on the product overall.

    Of course entering all of these variations into Chessbase is just a piece of the puzzle, only a small step in the journey. The real work begins once I start drilling these systems and it will give me a reference point for all of my future games.

    Wish me luck.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Data Entry

    I have just begun compiling my opening repertoire into a tangible form which will allow me to review and study my particular lines. I guess in today's world note cards are a thing of the past.
    Several different options of software are available and various methods to approach this monumental task but the results will be well worth it. Once entered, being able to search and update your opening lines with just a few clicks will be worth its weight in gold.

    Currently Steve Lopez the "How To Guru Extraordinaire" of Chess Base fame is running articles on his approach to creating such a study book. Really cool read if you have the time.

    Since this post is starting to run long I will have to continue this a bit later.

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Return to Caissa

    Ok I promised to give a brief run down of my extended absence once I had the time.
    March was fairly normal until my Grandfather passed away. He was 94, his mind was still sharp but his body was just worn out. His health had been on the decline since January. Anyway I spent some time away from chess after his passing. Time with my family was and is way more important. Since my father and mother had been spending every waking moment by my Grandfather’s side this is the first chance we have had to see them in over 3 months even though they live 400 feet away. It's been really cool getting to hang out with them, and watching my son play with my dad.

    Work, work, and more work. I have a stack of stuff with no end in sight. I even went in today to try and sketch out a plan of attack. Not that I'm stressing over the work load, I refuse to stress.
    My boss has always taken good care of me, and I do what I can to make sure that his job is to never have to do any of my jobs. Anytime I can I try and take the strain off of him. Seems to work out really well for both of us.

    The Chess Program.
    I have resumed the 1000X CD where I last left off, and will continue to work through them until the Circles are completed.

    Opening Study.
    I'm spending a little bit of time each evening working on my opening repertoire.
    Basically condensing main lines of the openings I play into a study database.
    I take 3 or 4 sources and compile the database using the various assessments given by each of the authors. Time consuming to say the least, but it really paints a true picture of what can and can't be played in certain positions. Neat to see GM's disagree on what constitutes a favorable advantage.
    The trick is to find out what kind of style you possess and the positions you like to play. Then find openings that fit your style of play. Some things you can force some you can't. If you don't know what your style is just pick something and learn it. The main thing is to avoid jumping from one opening to another just because you lose with it a few times. Just learn and have fun by getting a feel for the opening. It is amazing what it will do for your confidence level.

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    Time Off

    Been away from the exercises the past week and a half.
    Had to take a break, too much stuff going on to even try and explain.
    Anyway, it is now time to get refocused and resume the exercises.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    New Math?

    Leave it to me to add up the number of problems incorrectly. It only took one complete cycle of problems longer than it should have for me to catch the error. I am actually doing 600 problems each cycle instead of the 500 I gave in the original layout. I was beginning to wonder why I was a couple of nights behind heading into the second weekend. Figured I had taken one too many nights off. Then it dawned on me that the original idea of taking a rest day each week wouldn't fit within the 2-2-2 plan, if I wanted to maintain the same start and stop days. I even have it on paper as not working in my sketch pad of ideas. In my haste and desire to allow for the club night I somehow managed to view the second grouping of 50 problems as just one pass when I was adding up the totals. That's what I get for trying to squeeze everything into a 2-week time frame.
    Sorry for the confusion. So here is the corrected version which allows for time off if you don't mind starting and finishing on a different day with each complete set of 100 problems.
    Really it hasn't been a problem to tackle the problems on club nights, and it actually seems to serve as a warm up. I think the only night I can remember not doing problems prior to playing at the club was this past week, which may explain why I wasn't seeing anything at the board.

    (4 nights x 25 problems=100) 2 passes = 200 problems [200 completed total]

    (2 nights x 50 problems=100) 2 passes = 200 problems [400 completed total]

    (1 night x 100 problems=100) 2 passes = 200 problems [600 completed total]

    Here are the results of the previous 2 cycles.

    Cycle 1 96% success ratio

    Cycle 2 97% success ratio

    1,200 completed 4,800 to go.

    How do I miss mate–in-one exercises? Well it’s easy if you start to push on how fast you can complete the task. Normally I can do them inside of 10 seconds, the fastest has been 2 seconds. The average is 5 seconds per problem. It takes about a second or so to get your bearings with the side move, and just locating the enemy King. Yes I know rushing is a bad habit, but it something I wanted to try just to see how fast I could solve these easier problems. Back to solving before moving now that I’m into the Mate-in-2 problems. I promise no more blitz!

    Also I started working through Jacob Aagaard & Esben Lund’s “Right Decisions” CD.

    This really is an excellent CD, I picked it up after purchasing Aagaard’s book “Excelling at Chess Calculation” which I’m currently reading. (I think I mentioned that I had just purchased the book during our first online meeting of the Knight’s Errant a few months ago.) This is the first time to my knowledge that this has ever been done. (Averbakh’s “Comprehensive Chess Endings” gets honorable mention.) Meaning a CD created by the author to further reflect his ideas of his written work. Where Aagaard differs from Averbakh is in the fact that he mentions the companion CD in his book, and not the other way around.

    Just imagine if Kasparov published an interactive Chessbase version of his “My Great Predecessors” works showing all of his analysis while personally talking us through the games. It would be huge.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Thoughts continued...

    First Welcome Back Jim! And I finally got around to updating the links of the ever expanding list of family and friends.

    Here is something else to think about. When Don and I first started the Circles, my success rates were slightly higher. We never once looked at this as a competition, we only added our success ratios because one the readers requested that we do so, plus it made perfect sense to keep a record to use later for a reference point.

    But as the Circles reached the higher levels Don's calculation muscle kicked into high gear. While I could still solve the problems matching or bettering my earlier success rates, my ability to solve them more quickly with each consecutive pass didn't improve as dramatically as Don's. He soon left me in the dust with his success rates when it turned to the critical portion of timed exercises.

    In hindsight I believe it was because Don took great effort to use his full amount of time per exercise in the lower circles. I saw or guessed at the answer and moved on, all the while growing increasingly displeased at the random order of themes involved, thinking of CT-Art as a sloppy way to learn tactics. Of course I was spoiled by my earlier exposure to the excellent training CD made by TASC called “Chess Tutor”. I later found out that this was a highly successful 5 step method pioneered by Rob Brunia and IM Cor van Wijgerden. It breaks tactics all the way down to the fundamental elements. For example when describing and teaching pins it gives the themes of King + Material, Material + Material, Material + Square. I cannot give this CD enough praise, every beginning to intermediate player should own it, or at least be exposed to its methodology.

    Anyway there I was, focusing on a pattern recognition/theme approach because at the time I thought that was the key to improved tactical ability and the basis of Michael de la Maza's plan. Now I realize that I couldn't see the forest because of all the trees. But until the Knights were formed no one had really thought about the difference between pattern recognition and "Calculation Muscle".

    So really Michael de la Maza owes his rating increase largely in part to a heightened ability to calculate variations quickly and accurately. That is not to say his ability to find the correct move wasn't intact, because I have a feeling he was very good at seeing patterns, nor am I dismissing what he achieved as an easy feat of accomplishment.

    While he stresses the benefits as tactical improvement, he really should be calling it an improvement in calculating accurately. Because CT-Art used as he prescribes certainly serves no other function better than a calculation exercise. If you wanted to use it in another capacity you should switch the setting to either 1. Tactical Methods, or 2. Combinational Motifs.

    Once I reach that portion of my training where I want to work solely on calculation muscle I will certainly consider the MDLM version of 7-Circles. I will still be hesitant about using CT-Art but you never know...

    Actually it would feel kind of good to slay that buggy piece of work. Technically I guess
    I could finish my remaining circles but that would kind of miss the point. If I’m going to do something I want to do it properly.

    I'm wondering if this post breaks the "obtuse" barrier.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Congratulations Don! and Hang in there J'Doube

    Way to go Randy!
    That was a pretty arduous task!

    I certainly understand your frustration with the program material. I certainly wasn't happy with it. I felt it was too broad in nature for actually mastering specific tactics. But what I have come to understand after taking a step back from the program and keeping a watchful eye on the other Knights/Non-Knights is what purpose CT-Art serves really well. It came to me while reading a post from Takches about pattern recognition versus calculation muscle. That really got me to thinking about the importance of each, and their dependence on one another. Mainly it got me to thinking about what would be the best way to train each of the disciplines effectively. This is where CT-Art in a sense is useful. Not the best of applications mind you, but used with MDLM's training plan it will bring about improvement results.

    CT-Art and the 7 circles build calculation muscle, plain and simple, and of course it does help with pattern recognition too. (If one really wanted to train calculation muscle exclusively the study of endgames would be a great way to start.)

    This is something Don and I differed on initially approach wise. I like you, found CT-Art full of holes with the programming errors, duplicate exercises, etc. Drove me batty. I had little faith placing that much effort in something so flawed and at the time seemingly haphazard in its ability to teach patterns. Impatient was I, to the dark-side I turned... oops, wait wrong story.

    I simply chose to take the path of training pattern recognition first, and what turns out to be calculation muscle second.

    This is not to say one way is better than the other, you have to have a solid grasp on both if you want to make it past a certain level of playing strength. Matter of fact I don't believe either one would last very long without the other.

    I found starting with something simple as a basic forced mates CD and working through that also holds the ability to train calculation muscle.

    Of course the variations are much shorter, and the number of candidate moves one has to list is much smaller. But is this really a bad thing?

    How can one isolate and identify a thought process error if he/she is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities present. Likewise how can one build a check list of search patterns/to-do list unless you can clearly identify the strongest move or threat in a given position? Doesn't it make sense to hone one's ability one move at a time? Then expanding the depth of search move by move. Studying mates allows you to filter out the “noise” found in the position. Personally I don’t mind solving exercises with the same mindset as practicing scale patterns a million times, or shooting a million free-throws if it gives me the ability to do said exercise blindfolded and upside down. As long as I get the correct answer and without hesitation.

    So anyway I hope my obtuse ideas about training methods will be enough to persuade you to stick around, or at least get you thinking about coming up with your own plan.

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    Go Don!

    Don is very close to the end of the 7-Circles.
    It will be interesting to see what kind of experiences he has encountered over the last few days.
    I'm hoping he will give us a detailed report of his mental state and thought processes.

    Once Don completes this particular journey I say we all raise a glass and give a toast.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005


    Two Pizzas, Two Toppings, and a Two liter beverage Mr. Pawnza?

    No, actually it's my new method of working through tactical exercises.
    I take a group of 100 problems total then I proceed to work through them in smaller blocks of 25 problems per night for two complete passes.
    Then two passes at 50 problems per night.
    The finale consists of two passes at 100 problems per night.
    Simple and effective. I get exposure to the same problem 5 times, and I complete all of the groupings within 12 days. This allows for two complete days away from chess if I choose, or another form of chess activity. (I.e. Club night)
    Another bonus is the final two days can be tackled on a weekend if one starts on a Monday. (Including the “off” days.)
    Of course the starting number of 100 is one that I picked at random based off the material I am studying currently. (1000 x Checkmate CD)
    I just filtered the games by number of moves, and created a database that I copied to my hard drive for ease of use. Plus it allows me to track my success rate by right clicking on the DB, selecting properties, and then the training tab.
    Since I'm working through mate-in-one problems at the moment I figure 100 problems would be a manageable figure. The bottom line of course is the success rate, on which I have set 90% as being acceptable. If I fail to meet that target number I will simply have to repeat that particular set of problems again for the next 12 days.
    Fortunately I met the minimum during the test run, so it is now on to the second group of 100.
    I wanted to play guinea pig before I mentioned what I have been cooking up during my blogging absence.

    Ahhhh! It is so nice to have a life again.

    Saturday, February 26, 2005

    Life in the fast lane

    At the last post I was heading out to play at one of the local coffee shops with some new players. That was fun, went really well and I held my own against the Expert, I think he ended up one game better out of the 6 or 7 we played.
    Spent the past week doing the "1000 X" CD, and playing a bunch of blitz games on ICC and Playchess. I started out great in the earlier part of the week, and as the week wore on I found myself picking up the old habit of reacting and not thinking ahead. When I reviewed my mail stored games I was amazed at the amount of missed opportunities found on both sides. So I'm going to put a block on blitz games until my standard improvement levels out. I don't want to undo everything I have worked so hard to improve.
    Other than that it is business as usual.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Quick Review

    Things are finally slowing down, enough to where I will actually have the weekend off!
    Off translates into not having to fix anything, build anything, or be somewhere that isn't my idea of fun. First thing tomorrow morning I'm going to meet with a few players for chess and coffee.
    A couple of us from the club are going to play some of the local talent, and hopefully recruit some new members into our Thursday night gathering. The rest of the weekend I will spend bike riding and relaxing with my family.

    Review Time:
    I have been playing through the first 100 problems of the "1000 X Checkmate" CD over the past week. Along with easing back into the openings. First off I can tell a difference using the 3-D Fritz board versus the normal 2-D version. Last night at the club I didn't experience my normal adjustment period from computer monitor to OTB. I only lost 1 game the entire night, and that was to our resident Expert in the first encounter. In our second game I returned the favor to even the score. I guess the tie-breaks will be held tomorrow morning, I can hardly wait.

    Back to 2-D versus 3-D, as a test I switched the viewing board back to 2-D for the first few problems and it took a few minutes for my brain to make the transition. In fact it was so noticeable that I have no doubt that I'm one of those individuals that suffers more than the average person when it comes to this type of thing. So for now I'm sticking with 3-D.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    No I haven't quit

    To answer Pale Morning Dun's question from the previous post.
    Not by a long shot, I have simply shifted the time and material involved into a more manageable form. It would be safer to say that I have returned to Circle 1 so to speak. Tactics are still the main course as they should be for any player under 2000, but I'm also including some appetizers, along with desserts, and a few side items.
    I think Don has already proven with his success at his recent tournament, that a player doesn't have to complete the 7-Circles before they show benefit. I have already given reasons as to why I picked the "1000 x Checkmate" CD in previous posts so I won't bore you to tears with all of that again.
    Each day will contain a certain amount of tactical exercises from this CD, sometimes it will be the only thing scheduled for a particular day. Other times it will serve as a warm-up before working on other aspects. Tactics will always be a part of my training, only the percentage will change. (I read once that even Tal was known on occasion to look through books on tactics looking for something that he might have missed, though I can’t imagine he found very much.) But the focus is now placed on accuracy not accumulation. The litmus test will be my games.

    I don’t think I can be the Knight Deviant de la Maza even though I like the ring of it, since errant and deviant are synonymous. I will have to leave my new title to our editor-in-chief DG.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Pick a link, any link

    It just about takes me longer to read the through daily updates of all of the links than it does to do the exercises.
    Anyway I have added Fussy Lizard, Yet Another Patzer, King of the Spill, and finally remembered to add Logis to the list. BTW Logis congrats on your new OTB rating! Good job, and don't worry you will get out of the slump.
    Still haven't finalized my new study plan, but starting tomorrow I plan on working with the first group of 100 problems from the Chessbase CD that I mentioned "1000 X Checkmate" by Lubomir Ftacnik. Looking forward to using a 3-D board it will be so nice, and hopefully beneficial to my OTB play.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    We are going to need a larger castle...

    Don must be busy shaking hands and kissing babies. :)
    Membership continues to expand faster than FIDE can produce World Champions.
    Celtic Death, Temposchuckler, and Fussy Lizard (not yet a blogger) welcome to the family!

    Just about have the start of my new program finalized, of course I expect to make adjustments and incorporate other facets of the game periodically. (But I do happen to agree with Michael de la Maza's approach of repeating the same exercises. I think it was the crucial element in his success.)
    For starters the majority of my study plan will focus on tactical exercises; somewhere around 65% of my total time spent per week will be placed here. The remaining 35% will be divided up with end game study, opening study (Which will include playing through master games), actual play (OTB or STC) with analysis, and putting it all together.
    My approach to tactical exercises will vastly differ from MDLM's, as far as the amount of new material added to the study plan. I will refrain from adding new exercises until I have a complete understanding of the initial problem group. I liked MDLM's 1,000 problem limit, but found it silly to work on Level 70 problems when I would still choke on the Level 50's. How effective is it for math students to tackle trigonometry when they haven't even mastered basic algebra? While I'm ranting... might as well unload this concept too. For the sake of argument imagine that you have to memorize a book that contains 1,000 pages of text. Which of the following two approaches makes more sense? A) Read the book from beginning to end over and over until you had it memorized. B) Break the book into chapters and memorize it chapter by chapter, with periodic breaks for reciting the memorized chapters. "B" of course unless you are one of those rare individuals who can retain everything they ever read after just one viewing, and if you are one of those extremely blessed individuals I doubt you are hanging out in my lowly "How can I improve from class "C' to "B" "blog. Unless you find my plight entertaining. Which it is, plus I'm cheaper than cable T.V. :)

    So I will be utilizing the “Cycle” method by breaking things down into smaller manageable chunks. Think of mini cycles as chapters and macro cycles as the book or goal that I am trying to obtain.

    Still playing around with the percentages, and how much theme overlap I want to include. The focus will be on accuracy first and foremost. But at any rate I plan on sticking with the course I chart out for myself and making adjustments after weighing the results at the end of the first macro cycle.

    Stay tuned.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Avoiding the Sniffles!

    Sorry folks, once again real life has taken over.
    But the good news is I will actually start to have a little more free time.
    We managed to sell both of our apartments this past weekend. WOO HOO!
    I did spend all of Saturday making some repairs to satisfy the new owners.
    Well actually just to help them out a bit. They both purchased the units "as is" but I said I didn't mind helping them fix a couple of things if it would help in their decision making process. So of course they seemed to think it would help, so I was repairing furnaces and replacing lines to a water heater. I still have a slight bit more to do this Saturday but I don't mind. Both of the folks are really nice people and extremely appreciative. Plus it will save them some money on having to buy new items for a couple of years.

    Anyway back to chess, I just can't bring myself to fire up CT-Art and work on the exercises.
    I find myself spending more and more time working on revisions, and figuring out ways to tailor the program to my needs. Along with the tinkering I'm focusing on making the exercises more productive. I just cannot see where increasing the amount of problems and reducing the time per exercise makes any sense if I’m starting to tank. The primary concern should be accuracy. Imagine that you play golf. What good would it serve if you were to hit a thousand golf balls at the driving range if your form was incorrect? All you would accomplish is reinforcing poor technique that would have to be unlearned at a later date.

    I have a fairly good grasp on what I want to achieve, so hopefully by this weekend I should have my new study plan finalized. Returning to the equivalent of Circle 1 doesn’t bother me. I know that this is the correct course of action.

    Added a few links to some really cool blog sites.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Working on a plan.

    I’m going to use Don’s reply to yesterday’s blog as an opportunity to expand on what I was trying to convey. Don raises some interesting points about calculation muscle versus
    pattern recognition. So I thought I try to clarify my beef with the 7-circles.

    When I sit down to a real game I am seeing more tactics than I ever saw in the past, it might be safer to say that I can't turn the calculation muscle off. I'm flooded with tactics, I start looking at each little move, wondering what if this, then what if that? I haven't lost a single game due to a tactical oversight. But more in part to having to make a somewhat seemingly safe move which turns out to be positional weakness at a later stage of the game because of time pressure. But that is another problem. :)

    I knew that I had glazed over the muscle part in Circle 1 and placed the focus on exercising it in Circle 2.
    For circle 2 I spent almost the full amount of time, not because I couldn't find the answer, but because of double checking my answer to be on the safe side. I would find the key move fairly quickly then I would look over possibilities until I thought I saw all the "surprise" moves that could be played. Like J’adoube said don’t expect your opponent to play the “best” line.

    Where my gripe with the program lies is in the amount of time allowed for calculation of the harder problems. There are more candidate moves and more branches to examine. In the introduction to his book "Excelling at Chess Calculation" Jacob Aargaard gives this position.

    White has a King at a5, Bishop at a4, Knight at d7, and two pawns on a7 and b5 respectively.
    Black has his King on b7, Rook on a8, Bishop on h4, and a single pawn on f3. This example is "White to play and draw".

    After giving many lines of calculation Aagaard states
    that he imagines the average GM between 2500-2600 ELO would spend 10-15 to make the right choice and would occasionally fail.

    If the "average" GM is going to spend this much time on a 9 piece endgame how much time is enough for the average C player in a 20 piece middle game?

    Of course there isn't an answer, but my point is shortening the amount of time with each consecutive pass on problems that we have faced on numerous occasions just so you can cram in more problems in the same amount of time doesn't make sense. I think the focus should be placed on accuracy while using a constant amount of time through out. (Work on getting things right first, and the speed will come to you.)

    The improvement could then be easily gauged by the number of correct problems answered over the same amount of time. X amount of minutes per problem, and X amount of total time. You could allow 10 minutes per problem max and 1 hour total. (Yes I know that is just 6 problems.) Obviously we don’t have to spend 10 minutes looking at the level 10 problems, so you would just answer the problem and then move along to the next. At the end of the hour record your score, and play over any missed problems. You could work through the entire set of problems using this method. But I would prefer to limit the amount of problems to say 100 per set as opposed to 1,000. I like the idea of drilling smaller sections as opposed to volume work. This allows you to actually complete something and gain a sense of accomplishment. Volume work is like going on a long trip without a map or stopping to regain your bearings and then being surprised that you are lost.

    Placing all of my eggs in one basket may be ok every once and awhile. But I seriously believe I need to apply what I have learned to real games. This feedback allows me to make adjustments based off of my game analysis. Plus it keeps things fresh.

    I’m still a firm believer in using mates as the first theme of the exercises, because like I said the variations are pure with limited lines of calculation. I want to focus on being able to see one variation accurately, and then after mastering the technique of one line first start branching out to multiple lines of calculation.

    Anyway I have really enjoyed the dialog that has come about from sharing our opinions about training technique. It really has gotten me to start focusing on ways of trying to improve, along with forcing me to create a program that is fun as well as balanced, tailored to suit my individual needs.
    Ok off to check my mail.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Don started it...

    Don made a very good point about maybe saving the newer Knights from the agony we have had to endure in his news release called The Nine (Ten) Circle Program.
    First let me say that I like Don's approach, and agree that the focus should be on nailing the lower levels before moving up. My plans were to wait until the end of the exercises before revealing my suggested modifications to the Plan de le Maza. (Michael's 7 circles)

    Mainly because I haven’t finalized them as of today, but believe me I have been giving it some serious thought.

    These are some of the ideas rolling around, please note that my suggested modifications are based off of my particular experience with the 7-circles. They are tailored to help with my own chess improvement after analyzing my particular strengths and weaknesses that have occurred in my own games. If you think they can serve you great! If you think the plan would better suit someone else that is great too! Everyone is at a different level in their ability to play chess and training is not one size fits all. For example during the Knights Errant meeting we discussed a few topics. I mentioned that one of the problems I was having was about thought processes. My particular problem was how to decide when to stop looking at variations. Since starting the program I’m getting good games, but wasting tons of clock time by chasing down every possible move down to the nth degree.

    So where do I draw the line. I have some theories but I won’t bore you with those.

    Tonight I’m going to present where I want to go with my tactical training. Not the exact program, just where my head is at this particular time.

    Michael de le Maza's focus seems to be on just piling on a ton of exercises until either one of two things happens. 1) You get better from the shear amount of tactical themes you have been forced to stomach. 2) Your head explodes. As for the first part... of course any individual that devotes this much time to tactical exercises will see an improvement. Without a doubt in my mind you will see some sort of benefit.

    Who knows where Michael de la Maza was in his chess ability at the time he created the 7-circles, his approach properly coincided with a need to correct a deficiency in his own game, and it worked well for him.

    As for me I am seeing where my ability to solve the higher level material in the recommended time has reached its limit. To continue to plow through exercises with a dropping success rate just to be able to say that I did it would be a colossal waste of time.

    In reality you can't expect a huge payoff in any endeavor without some preparation first. You have to build a solid base that begins with the fundamentals, and then you increase your range. If you have a spotty success rate while solving a mate-in-2 do you really think saturating yourself with mate-in-7 exercises is going to have much benefit? If I tried to jump back into cycling resuming my training at the level I was capable of sustaining the last season I raced (18 years and 55 pounds ago) I would pop a lung at the bare minimum. Today of course I would have to train like I was a beginning rider. My only advantage over a beginner would be my bike handling ability, and hopefully the ability to spin a reasonable cadence in a low gear.
    Other than that I would still have to log about a thousand miles or so before starting any kind of work using a large gear, to do otherwise would more than likely result in damage to my knees. So where does that leave us now that I'm back from being on what my geometry teacher called "off on a tangent"?
    Base miles and lots of them micro cycle after micro cycle of base miles, there's joy in repetition.
    A tall building needs a solid foundation so the focus needs to be placed in creating said foundation. You have to be able to nail the easy exercises, then and only then do you raise the level of difficulty. But you do not abandon the easier exercises entirely. You still

    have to cruise over them with a periodic refresher. We tend to forget what we don’t use. On occasion I’m forced to resuscitate some archaic math formula at work. It is not that the formula is hard to solve, it is just through lack of use I find myself pausing initially until it loads itself back into my memory. Once it does it is business as usual. I can remember the formulas because I know them. But the hesitation comes from lack of use.

    Same with anything else.

    So with my tactical training I plan on starting at the beginning, all the way back to mate-in-one exercises and working my way up. I’m choosing mates as my base because they are pure. Meaning it is either there or it is not. No room for discussion, besides GM Short said it best with “Checkmate ends the game.”

    Do I think I can end every game with mate? Of course not, but having the exposure to the different mating patterns will help with calculation of forced lines. We have a 1700 player (ex 1900 in his prime) at our club who would rather push a pawn than deliver mate. Not because he can’t see a mate-in-one but more because that is where his focus lies. (Trying to promote a passed pawn.) So I want to train my focus to look for mates first and then bettering my position.

    Don is quoted with “In particular I've noticed that I have learned many mating patterns with knights and kings in the corner. I could recognize a smothered mate before, but now I feel like there are 20 or so floating around in there.”

    Once I have the patterns down then it is on to something else.

    I’m setting a limit to the amount of time to be invested each day, probably an hour on average, possibly more on certain days of each micro cycle. The emphasis will be placed on accuracy and quality, not shear volume.

    I want to include other facets of the game too. Some days will contain endgame studies, openings on others. As for studying openings, I think it is a good idea to work with a particular opening, not because I plan on trying to learn every variation but because it will give me a road map through the minefield. Plus it will save on clock time by cutting out variations that don’t require calculation. For instance 1.e4, c5 2.Nf3, d6 3.d4, cxd 4. Nxd, Nf6 5. Nc3 is played without hesitation. No one at the higher levels waste any time looking for a mistake in those first five moves. The only thing the first player is waiting for is to see what the second player’s fifth move is going to be. Then they get to formulate some plan based on what particular variation the second player chooses.

    Playing through games of a particular opening will help smooth the transition into the middle game. It will even help with shedding light on some long range plans and ideas.

    End games are self explanatory the knowledge gained through study will help dictate exchanges in the middle game. It helps to know which minor piece will be superior based off of pawn structure. Of course these are just my theories, but having a plan is better than no plan at all.

    So now I’m left with assembling a training schedule with those ideas in mind.

    More on that later, now it is time for bed.