Monday, January 31, 2005

Quick 25

Forgot about the meeting last night. D'oh!

Tonight we hosted a Birthday party for my Father-in-law, after everyone left I managed to sneak in about 25 problems. I guess a little is better than nothing.
The first problems of a new level are usually the easiest, but I found myself taking more time than usual. Trying to look at each possible move and see the continuation before I made my guess. Time consuming but makes for better results.
I doubt I will take that much time again, unless I want to move the completion date back to April.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2152 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 93% (So far)
422 exercises completed 533 remaining in circle 4.
89 days down 13 to go.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The madness continues...

Still going wide open in every area except chess exercises,
just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
We have a big project at work that has to be ready first thing Monday morning.
Spent all of the past week crunching to make sure that it will go out the door on time.
I have about an hour or two left, but I will be able to sketch everything out on paper
tomorrow and enter the calcs when I go back to the office.
Needless to say I really haven't had the desire to sit down in front of a computer at home, after being in front of one for the majority of the day. Besides I have to sleep sometime, did I mention food and shower?

I can now predict how the night is going to turn out based off the first few problems.
On the off nights I find myself disregarding the opponents possible replies, along with not taking the time to make a check list of threats or looking for the squares that will fall under attack after a piece moves. Evenings that start out like this are going to be rough. So I need to develop a check list and start practicing going through the steps until it becomes second nature, or just not play those nights. :)
Anyway I'm hoping to make the Sunday night meeting of the Knights Errant on Pogo.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2121 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
396 exercises completed 559 remaining in circle 4.
88 days down 14 to go.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Quick Post

Yes I am still going, just in the middle of another crazy week.
Started last Thursday when my internet went out, but that's another story.
Fortunately I was able to reroute my line in time to make the first meeting of the Knights errant.
That was a lot of fun; we need to do that on a regular basis.

Knocked out the first 200 problems, these are getting so easy that it is becoming a reflex.
I have to attribute the ease of the exercises mostly to memorizing the patterns and not so much the actual answers. Reminds me of the way a new player struggles with how the knight moves, but over a period of time they begin to become comfortable with the L-shape and start to relax. So I guess the mini combos are an extension of that feeling. Which is good! That means it is something one can train with relatively simple exercises. But it is also something that can accumulate rust. No magnets this time, not even a ripple. :(

The few goofy problems that snagged me in the past do seem to stick out more, like pot holes on a familiar road so to speak. The drop off point is rapidly approaching. I seriously doubt that I can maintain my success once I hit the higher levels, certainly not with the time limit. It will be interesting to graph the impending drop. I'm finishing the Level 20 exercises in about 20 seconds on average.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2022 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 99% (So far)
200 exercises completed 755 remaining in circle 4.
87 days down 15 to go.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Circle 4 on Friday

I ended up scoring lower on the Level 50 exercises than I did in the prior circle.
Oh well, I guess this won't be the last drop, as I start packing on the number per day I'm sure
that this will become the trend. Wonder if this is the start of some really bad habits or some sort of break through in calculation? I will know when I get to the end of Circle 7.

1550 (Start) -> 2304 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 82% (Completed)
Level 50 - 68% (Completed)
955 exercises completed 0 remaining in circle 3.
85 days down 17 to go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Level 50 then Circle 4

The ride stops at problem 955, then on to Circle 4. I think placing a time limit as suggested by Don is a good idea too. I am finding myself spending more and more time on the higher levels while trying to improve on the previous circles stats. I think I have hit the curve for time versus results, it might be time to let the higher level results fall where they may and just not worry about it. I did 40 tonight and it took me every bit of Don's 2 hour time limit. So that was 3 minutes per problem, which was a squeeze.

Sunday night at 10 works fine with my schedule.

1550 (Start) -> 2307 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 82% (Completed)
Level 50 - 70% (So Far)
925 exercises completed 30 remaining in circle 3.
84 days down 18 to go.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Knights Converge!

I think J'adoube is worried that we will start throwing tomatoes or something, and that is simply not the case.

Don't worry Jim you haven't started a mass exodus. I have been close to the edge of switching material for some time now. Just read through some of my archived post for the month of December. Heck I should release some of my "almost post" drafts that I refrained from unleashing, at the time I felt they were too negative and I didn't want to rock the boat by being too critical of the software. But had we held a vote back then I would have voted "Aye" on switching instantly. Even though it would have meant starting the circles over from scratch.

After hearing feedback from the some of the other Knights my leanings are toward remaining with the current software program with a serious trimming back on the number of Levels/problems attempted. I am just going to work through Levels 10-40 for the remaining cycles, and yes an asterisk will have to be placed beside my name. Meaning that I seriously modified MDLMs suggested course of study to be able to complete it. I have a good handle on the sketchy problems and will just have to stomach those while holding my nose.

We have all spent a great deal of time getting this far, to give up this close to the end would be in hindsight silly. I am only 15 days away from the end if I am able to squeeze all of the suggested material into said daily efforts. Plus finishing it will give me a better direction on my next course of action.

I really think a training program requires balance, so far over the last 80-90 days I have placed all of my proverbial eggs in one basket. Yes I realized that this was going to be short term, and that I could resume studying the other phases of the game on completion. I think it is ok to try concentrated forms of training in short burst. Sometimes it is required. It gives the student a chance to see things from another perspective while at the same time the student is hopefully breaking something down into its most simplistic mechanical elements. Then by eliminating wasted motions, he/she becomes efficient and precise. Going from guessing the answer to knowing the answer.

Also I certainly don't consider my time spent to date as a waste, if anything I'm quite pleased with my results, and the results of the other Knights. I have caught glimpses into new levels of play that I never would have encountered if not for MDLMs book. Plus I wouldn't have come this far if not for the encouragement and perseverance of our fellow Knights.

So this brings us to setting up a rendezvous, we have had a couple of suggestions.
There are probably a dozen options that we could use, but I think the biggest obstacle will be setting a meeting time that allow us all to participate. I don’t mind acting as the club secretary/ clearing house, so feel free to email me with your schedules and suggestions. I will forward them to all parties involved. Howard G. this applies to you and DG as well. (I think he’s still on vacation.) Thursday nights are out of the question for me since I run the local chess club, and I think Don plays at his club on that night also.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Emperor wears no clothes.

I'm still trying to decide my next course of action, should I stay or should I go on with the program.
Now the exercises have me combining lyrics from The Clash and A Tribe Called Quest. Go figure.

J'adoube is finding out how much the software sucks, it has kind of been treated as a given, and both Don and myself have tried to overlook it. I have even gone as far as trimming the Level 70 and above exercises out of the Circles, to alleviate a bunch of the messier problems.
J'adoube however is really grilling each problem with deeper analysis under the ever watchful and ever defensively resourceful Fritz.
His assessment has further confirmed my leanings towards changing software packages, and going with forced lines.
It may be time to call to order the first meeting of the Knights Errant, and give some serious thought as to what next.
Like I said one approach doesn't fit all, and it would probably be impossible to agree on what material to study, given the variety of playing strengths. But maybe we can layout our guidelines on how we will approach our individual training at least. Then continue to use the blogs to compare notes, definitely strength in numbers. Plus the moral support is really nice.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Very close to parking the bus.

Even though I’m this close to the end of the 7 circles I am probably going to revamp this program to make it more realistic for people that have a life. The only positive side to approaching the 7 circles exercise thus far is that it has given me a tremendous amount of insight into designing my next course of study. It has drawn a pretty accurate sketch of my strengths and weaknesses, while allowing me to get a taste of what works best for me.
There is a fine balance between progression and burnout.

While Michael de la Maza's approach has had some immediate benefit it is not tailored to meet the demands of the individual who has a full time job and a family, namely me.
What works for one person doesn't always work for the next. A one size fits all approach to improvement in any endeavor is rarely successful. I certainly don't think Michael de la Maza had that in mind when he wrote the book. I think he was sharing an account of what was helpful to him at the time and the approach he used to get there. Showing us that it is possible to obtain an Expert ranking just through studying tactics.

The exercises in the early stages were fun and not very time consuming. About an hour max. I could easily fit this into even my busy schedule, I didn't have to do it all in one sitting, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, etc. But as I go higher up the mountain, 2 plus hours each day is a little steep. With each following circle the time demands are becoming more impossible to meet on a Monday through Friday work schedule. I have serious reservations about being able to complete circle 4, circle 3 has been demanding enough, sure I could gloss over the exercises, and my scoring percentage would be in the low 20s along with my ELO rating, even more importantly my confidence would probably match. It has been a goal to improve my scores with each pass, not go through the motions. But that is exactly what this is becoming, a continuous cycle of going through the motions.

What is the point of doing exercises if you are reinforcing bad habits? I would rather take a slower approach while studying new material, making sure that my thought processes were clear concise and error free. Drilling in a new idea or theme until it becomes a reflex. Much like a musician practicing scale patterns, over and over again until it is so ingrained it becomes muscle memory. Reminding me of the time a friend at work told me to focus on getting things correct first, and worry about the speed second. He said the speed would come to me, and he was right.

I'm certainly not jazzed each day when I face the exercises, it feels like more of a burden than a privilege, even my wife has noticed the change in my demeanor. Roughly translated this is starting to spill over into my everyday life. Fortunately my wife is extremely understanding and supportive. But like she said, why do something that you don’t enjoy, especially if it is taking the fun out of something that I used to enjoy.

Don pointed out in his excerpt about Bruce Denton, improvement is not about killing oneself with every workout; it is about consistently applying yourself each and every day.
I think taking a methodical systematic approach to study is always going to be more productive than just a swipe here and a swipe there. More important is the breaking of a larger goal into a smaller series of goals. The feedback is always faster, meaning it allows one the opportunity to see if a particular approach is working. Plus it gives a feeling of accomplishment, which is always helpful if the goal is a lofty one.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2298 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 82% (Completed)
Level 50 - 71% (So Far)
885 exercises completed 154 remaining in circle 3.
83 days down 19 to go.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Slump, Slump, Cool!

These events of this post took place Wednesday, but was I called away before I could finish the tale.

Tonight (Wednesday) started out with the slump from yesterday still lingering like some sort of tactical hangover. I dropped all the way down to 82% at the end of Level 40 and the ELO rating dropped down to 2256. I wanted to call it a night but figured I would start the first few Level 50 problems and go to number 830 at least.
Well the first Level 50 problem didn't turn out so badly, which gave me enough courage to try the second...
Rinse, repeat...
Still going.
Next thing you know I'm on a roll, I see green on my ELO bar graph with a steady incline.
Got to number 835 and decided to quit while I was ahead.
You know the whole end on a high note kind of thing.
Figured it would be a nice confidence boost for the next event.

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2292 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 82% (Completed)
Level 50 - 89% (So Far)
835 exercises completed 204 remaining in circle 3.
82 days down 20 to go.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Going through the motions

Tonight I couldn't find the answers with a map. Ugh what a horrible series, I felt like skipping the problems and trying again tomorrow night. But I managed to push through to the end without throwing up.
Thank You!
Good Night!

ELO 1550 (Start) -> 2275 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 84% (So Far)
800 exercises completed 239 remaining in circle 3.
81 days down 21 to go.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Back in the swing

Had an off weekend, too many real life tasks managed to pile up at the same time.
Instead of stressing, I just said to heck with the chess exercises for the weekend.
I still dabbled, (few here, a few there) but I wasn't about to force myself to sit in front of the computer while I had so many other things that needed to be addressed.
Such is life, you can't go wide open all of the time.
Anyway back to the program.

I'd like to welcome J'adoube to the family. I have really enjoyed reading his post. His karate analogy was on the mark, seems like he will do really well with the exercises.

1550 (Start) -> 2301 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 88% (So Far)
750 exercises completed 289 remaining in circle 3.
80 days down 22 to go.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Playing catch up.

It's been a long week and it is only Wednesday.
Tons of stuff going on at work, and still trying to recover from this cold.
But, Level 40 has been going great.

1550 (Start) -> 2252 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
Level 40 - 90% (So Far)
660 exercises completed 379 remaining in circle 3.
78 days down 24 to go.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Still on track

Recalculated the days remaining in the 7 circles.
It will be interesting to see what happens when I try to fit family, work, and exercises, all into one bag. I don't think that even the great Alan Lakein could manage that trick.
In hindsight it is nice to know that Michael de la Maza was unemployed when he tackled the original 7-Circles.
Otherwise I'd feel like an underachiever.

1550 (Start) -> 2202 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 91% (Completed)
617 exercises completed 422 remaining in circle 3.
77 days down 25 to go.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Getting more into the habit of repeating the exercises that I miss.

1550 (Start) -> 2174 Current
Scoring Percentage
Level 10 - 100% (Completed)
Level 20 - 97% (Completed)
Level 30 - 92% (So Far)
451 exercises completed 588 remaining in circle 3.
75 days down 33 to go.