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.