Saturday, August 26, 2006

Simplify Man!

Whew boy have I been busy.
Work is and will remain wide open, but I have managed to learn how to keep it within the confines of the 40 hr work week. Each Friday afternoon around 2 pm I consolidate my project list, write everything down, and head out the door. That way work related thoughts don't manage to weasel their way into my weekend. I'm amazed at how effective I have become at being able to shut out work and restart on Monday simply by reviewing my list.

I had to do some major overhaul work on my computer and decided it would be a good time to wipe everything and reinstall from scratch which has taken a little over a month here and there. I just reconfigured Chessbase this past week.

Joined a gym back at the start of July, most of my free time has been spent working out trying to regain some fitness and eliminate the accumulated desk job fat. I have been really pleased with the results. I’m about 7 pounds from my goal weight and have lost over 27 pounds in little less than a year. 10 of it over the past 2 months! My energy levels and attitude in general have improved tremendously. Now that I have a good schedule established it’s time for me to refocus on chess.

Openings- Gone are all of the sharp/razor’s edge openings that I have played in the past. I want good solid development with plenty of strategic opportunities. That’s not to say I’m not noting mistake-lines that I encounter. (Never pass up an advantage!) I’m just getting away from the systems that require tremendous amounts of memorization and computer like precision to remain unscathed.

I have a friend at the chess club that wants to join up to review and study. Our plan is to play solid stuff and focus on learning the themes, plans, and positions for each opening. Mapping the connections from middle to endgame. To do this we are going to review games in their entirety and compare notes.

Tactics- One can never get away from studying tactics. I continue to work through the PCT modules. But by studying games I get to see those lessons applied. More and what I consider most import you get to see how those positions are created. I can’t stress this enough. Learning tactics is a necessity, but unless you understand how those positions are nurtured along from a given opening you might as well be peeing in the wind and hoping what hits you is rain. I’m not saying that one doesn’t benefit from studying positions out of context. Of course you are going to benefit, because you are learning the building blocks. But at some point you have to move from learning the alphabet to learning how to spell complete words, then towards actually constructing sentences, and from sentences to paragraphs. You get the point.

Endgames- Understanding endings is just as important as any other phase of the game. Often I’m amazed how many times I save lost games and win the drawn ones just by utilizing what little I do know. Thank you Karsten Mueller!!

My question to the Knights Errant with ICC or Playchess accounts is how many of you would be interested in setting up some sort of group study session working on some key themes or standard endgame positions? We could post a new diagram each week and the following week compare notes. Several different viewpoints is always enlightening.