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.


King of the Spill said...

Ok, I have a good idea now. As someone who is about to get CT-Art, I feel forewarned. It's not perfect, but I really need a system that is going to help my lackluster calculation.

Maybe if there was a list, like "Avoid Exercises 269, ...." that would make it less annoying.

Temposchlucker said...

I did the Chess Tutor CD from Tasc a few times. What I wonder is: can you read Dutch? Because to my knowledge there is only a Dutch version. Or did you only do the exercises? After this I did the CD intensive course tactics by George Renko. On this the tactics are grouped by theme, and of slowly growing difficulty. It works more as Chess Tutor in that way.
Of course it has it flaws, the same as CT-art I assume. But it has more low level problems. If you really like it more difficult you can opt for Killer Moves by George Renko.

Jens said...

Temposchlucker, No this material has been translated. Just look at this review at CHess Cafe:
Incidentally, the KNSB step system workbooks now also exist in German, English, and French. I am sctually in the process of reviewing these for Chessville. Did you use the system yourself?

Sancho Pawnza said...

kots-Don't be afraid of using CT-Art, I give a 7 on a scale of 10. My issues
with it are just because of some questionable lines played in the higher levels. Along with the fact it won't allow a mate in one or equal candidate move unless it is one that was preprogrammed.

temploschlucker- Sadly I cannot read Dutch, wish that I could. (Trying to learn Spanish seeing how it is the most common language in the USA second to English. My French is rusty to non-existent from lack of use.) The CD allows you to select one of several different languages on the version I own. I think the option is in the install files.

jens- What is the name of the series you are reviewing. I'd like to find some workbooks for a few of my students.
P.S. The Chess Cafe article has "For some reason it didn't catch on in North America".
It really is a shame that it didn't catch on, the lessons are excellent. I haven't seen a more fundamental approach to teaching the building blocks of tactics. It's cool to see the kids eyes light up once they grasp any of these concepts.

Don Q. said...


I'd like you input in particular on my recent posting on Adsense. Most likely making a big deal out of nothing, but I value your opinion in this matter.

Anonymous said...

I would very much like to get the George Renko programs. Can we work something out?