Many Fridays I feel philosophical, as my weeks chess improvement efforts all get catalogued and scrutinized- just before my weekend; which sometimes is quite chessic; with lots of gameplay and study (Club night is Sunday) and other times can see very little effort, as other family activities take center stage.
I also wanted to rush to print a new chess blog; because sometimes writing the blog has taken too much time and effort; and becomes distracting to my study. I’m Not an author, and I don’t get either fame or income from my writings. Fundamentally, The “great Patzer” is just that! A Patzer! The title reflects the truth that my take on chess and chess improvement are all just guesses (however shrewd), and that I speak with no authority on any this.
The Point of Blogging. So with that said, one might ask what is the point of blogging then. Well, its IMHO truly not to assume airs, boast, or build a following. Blogging, for me is quite personal. Fact is, its not so easy to routinely give an average of an hour + of rigorous study to chess. And Most books, frankly, have pretty covers compared to the monumental effort it truly takes to really make their insights your own. In my mind, then Blogging, is about creating a personal narrative, and holding yourself to a public standard. Comments and questions I’m sure are always appreciated any where in blogosphere, but the magic is to commit yourself, to all the world, to give an honest attempt at your best effort in improving in this game. In that regard, carefully scrutinizing what you intend to do- and making the best effort to do it, makes you “great” irregardless of your elo score.
Nevertheless, a few blogs have got me thinking; and one I can’t help to shout out about. Pawn-to-rook-4 has passed his anniversary with an Elo increase of 700 points. http://p-r4.blogspot.com/. Which is absolutely an incredible achievement IMHO! It is Always inspirational to see success of a fellow blogger.
Personally Speaking; This is a time of a lot of tweaking. As you might remember I have pretty intricate and different system for tracking my effort- and motivating me to keep up with my studies. The whole system might be worthy of a post of itself- but – lets just say that recently we’ve been tweaking things pretty good. my system is meant to create a motivational ELO scored, from all the effort that I put into it. There’s a lot of “wild guess” factors in it; and I’ve been looking at them and messing around with the factors.
I see Two important attributes (broadly) of a successful chess improvement system.
The first is that, a chess improvement system must have Balance! Its absolutely not enough to just Play this game and hope to make sustained improvement. Sooner of later the effort to internalize some set of principles will merely create habit. And an attribute you wanted in your game will become a limitation in your effort to improve beyond that. I find the concept of balance Challenging; because I am naturally a passionate guy. If I find something engaging- I can totally blow it all out of proportion.
The second is that a chess improvement system must be revolutionary. That is if we don’t take big steps and reach towards an entirely different way of looking at the game; inevitably the law of declining rewards kick in. one soon gets lethargic and small minded about the game. perhaps a sense of comfortableness settles in. Other people’s “big insights are, of course, off and not Right for me.” It just reeks of a big plateau! To get beyond it, we are going to have to do some unlearning. We are generally going to have to accept that the game is bigger that our limited repertoire of ideas, patterns, strategies,and tactics allow.
The Two together Form something of a Dichotomy. That is, how do I expand my vision without jettisoning current efforts to internalize what I know? But as I see it, the real answer is that we must reach for knowledge that is beyond us, and skill we don’t currently have. The ideal, perhaps, force of this is a coach. And I have confidence that a good trainer has the experience and develops the ability to help his students Reach new understanding in the game, by building upon what he knows.
Barring,a coach, we must look to some Resource (or resources), to find insight beyond our set of skills. Books are perhaps the least expensive and universal means to get this. (though in our increasingly digital world, there is insight available in many media). But a listing of good and useful books; is Far beyond the scope of this blog.
I want to reach towards my books and look for way to solidify what I know and bring new insight to the game! Posts for a different day (after a have more experience to offer).
The NEW revolution for me; Annotations. Again PTR4 brought it up; and he has impressively read through thousands of annotated games. Contained in all those games is many practical and useful insights; I lack. It’s not just enough to note that I can’t predict the winning play of an instructive game from Fisher and Capablanca. The bigger point is that I don’t even understand the point of their play.
So this brings me to two points about playing through master level games A) I need to continue to work through these kinds of games, since they clearly represent a measure of positional skill I do not have and B) I need to Look for Annotations and preferably instructive ones at that- to seek to understand WHY they played as they did.. Strait up unexplained analysis can be miserably un-instructive.
Oh and C) (I can’t count just not today!)… I need to make playing through annotations a permanent and repetitive learning experience. I have been too guilty of just accepting that need to do them and putting them off.
Annotated Games are my Third revolution (and need to follow,)
· tactical puzzles- started in August and still going on strong)
· CC- specifically Turn based chess; started in Nov/Dec and has encouraged me to take analysis to new heights.
As I said, blogs are a personal commitment and I commit to working through annotations, at least, every 2-3 days.
I want to lastly add, that this is not necessarily about whole game annotations; I have seen some great miniatures in several books. What I’ve not done is take them seriously enough. Until now.
CHESS LAW #the next one. Regularly Looking through Annotations, for insights beyond your rating, allows you to leap beyond your current limitations, while solid efforts call for the constant practicing of what you already know.