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.