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.


Blue Devil Knight said...

Looks like a smart plan. Patrick, at Chessforblood, has probably gained more points faster than any of the knights, and his study is focused intensely on studying full games. Even his favorite book on mating (Art of Checkmate) consists of full games leading up to mate. I find the book very boring (get to the point, main!), but I think it may point to the power of studying things in context rather than isolation as you mention.

I'd be interested in studying positions at ICC. I am a total endgame patzer.

transformation said...

thank you for your post. this is all very smart, i am resolved to view your posts more often. unfortunately perhaps, i have all my links in rank order of having added them, and you are half way down!

when and if i reorder them, i must put you up there!

your admiration society. :) david

Unknown said...

Study group works for me!

Let me know when and where - I belong to ICC and Playchess. . .

Sancho Pawnza said...

Thanks for reminding me about Patrick's site. He has a lot or really good stuff on there. Yes "The Art of Checkmate" is a must have in every library. You are guaranteed tactical improvement once you master those mating themes. I'm still a firm believer that mates should be the first step in learning tactics.
1. The calculation is pure.
2. The patterns teach you how the pieces support one another.
3. You are forced to focus on covered squares. This teaches you that squares are targets too.

Welcome aboard! I hope my ramblings
are if nothing else entertaining.
You might want to read this disclaimer first:
“The management assumes zero liability in the loss of any rating points, tournaments, chess games (otb, internet, variants, and correspondence included) for those that attempt to follow any of this nonsense. Unless of course your rating happens to sky-rocket. Then we (in the royal sense) will require some form of compensation to be determined at a later date by said author.
Usually in correlation to setting in which they transpired.
Internet Games
Play Chess=Ducats
OTB Games
Coffee House=Coffee (Whole Bean) and a picture of your vanquished opponent for my
outdoor fridge. (Pictures are cheaper than painting.)
Rated Event involving Monetary gain= Donation to charity of my choice
Rated Event involving Trophy= I keep the trophy at my house 2 weekends out of the year. (You are responsible for all shipping and taxes where applicable)
Rated Event involving points only= Open to suggestions on this one.

This post explains how this giant snowball gathered with the meeting of these two flakes.
I'm going to have to take a day and read through both of your blogs in their entirety.

Tuesdays, or the weekend allow the most flexibility in my schedule.
Let me know.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I prefer How to Beat your Dad at Chess: why study an entire game to learn one checkmate pattern? It seems very inefficient (I know, I provide one answer to my question above, but I don't care: I don't have the patience to study an entire game just to learn some mating patterns!).

Sancho Pawnza said...

Some of the examples contain complete games, but most are basic positions with very little play involved.
The longest game I encountered was 26 moves. Typically they average 10 moves in length and almost always supply you with the name of opening variation.
This is the only source that I have found to ever classify and define the mating patterns. Some of the themes I had encountered but was surprised to learn they occurred with such frequency that someone took the time to name them.

I highly doubt that reviewing a game is an inefficient way to study. I have never once witnessed any instructor in any field ever demonstrate a new idea without at least giving a working example.
Very few people remember an idea unless they have a way to tie it
to an application.

Another way to look at is like this.
Imagine you found a treasure map, but the only legible portion remaining is where "X" marks the spot. Without a point of reference
or some other landmarks you will know that there is treasure somewhere around but you will have a hard time finding it.

wormwood said...

the thing is, with complete games you're learning a lot more than just a mating pattern (which in a way, is not that important once you've built a winning position, it's just A way to end it).

Sancho Pawnza said...

Yes indeed it took me a long time to
understand the value of studying games.
Game study is a lesson in applied principles.
The mechanics are necessary but at some point one must learn how to put it all together.

A player must be able to finish off
their opponent. It's no different
than a basketball player getting a free look at the basket, or a golfer
facing a 4' putt.
Another cool thing about learning the mating patterns is utilizing the idea of a mate as a tool to gain material or worse case scenario using it to better one's own position by exploiting your opponent's loss of time spent on addressing your threat.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I find the whole setting it up boring. Are there any good master game collections, with really good annotations, for the computer?

It seems geared to turbo-charging the experience of going through master games (colorful lines and arrows, ability to turn on a chess engine and play through variations, etc).


Sancho Pawnza said...

If you own Chessbase you can find plenty of annotated games. A quick
search found 54,000+ games in just Megabase 2005 alone. There are plenty of CD's geared towards that kind of thing. Even CD's that focus
on specific players.

I enjoy playing over book annotated games while using both my chessboard and having Chessbase open on the same game. I try to cover up the moves and figure out what was played and why.
Then if I see something that I feel
might be a good idea I load the position and fire up Fritz to see whether it works or not. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't but the main thing is I learn why or why not after the smoke clears.
Another reason I like using an actual board is because it reinforces the whole process by adding a physical element to the learning experience. I'm also very careful to try and recreate a tournament setting as far as the height of the table and my vantage point overlooking the board.
It may sound weird but I find it helps.

Pawnsensei said...

Oh no! Not another book! Must resist......must not give in.....*sweating*

"But PS, it's a Dover book. It's only $9.95!"

"No! Shut up you!" *slaps face* "It's because of you that I have a shelf full of unread chess books!"

"Oh come now! You know that was Mr. Mastercard's fault. And you already bought The Art of Attack anyway. This checkmate book should be read before that one."

"No! I refuse! I promised myself I wouldn't buy another book until I finish the ones I bought last week."

"Tsk tsk. It's not my fault that you are buying them out of order."

"Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhh!!" *runs off to Amazon Prime*