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.)