Monday, May 4, 2015

Self Assessment; May

AN ASSESSMENT;  where as I stand as of May 1, 2015

So… as of May 1 where do I stand?

In the Month of April I have approximately played…

            394 Tactic Puzzles…
            20 chess Games
            72 correspondence moves &
            59 hours of chess study

HOW does this compare to other Months?   April has been a Very good month; where I have put a new Record amount of Study time!

My theory is that BOTH ones ability to concentrate during a long game and ones ability to Study get better during persistent practice.   So not only is YOUR GAME get better; your ability to learn and understand Increase as well… Your mental muscle(s) are growing at an increasing rate!  Key to this increase is that the strain to think of good moves and understand key concepts decrease;-  thus I don’t pewter out so badly during my study time and I cover more ground.

The CONCEPTS that have made me what I am today?   I know I’m not (yet) necessarily a strong player, but I’ve made ground and its good very GOOD I think; to go over what truths I have learned from where I started till now…

            Don’t chase pieces that are ‘on the move’  That’s big!  One of the bad habits I would have is to put an obvious threat to a piece- that can easily (and probably always was) destined to move to a better square.   Not only is this a waste of time; frequently my moves weakened squares.   Also the possibility of counterattacks; can allow your opponent to gain even MORE time- leading to a least an excellent position; if not an outright tactical advantage.

            Don’t ignore a move that “Refutes” the tactic, even if you feel that the opponent might not figure it out.   Essentially, if you can see it, so can he/she.  Often a promising tactic is compromised by a key defensive move… this is where a healthy hesitation is Very good for your game.  Perhaps your “good idea” will wait; is there any way to squash his counter-ply BEFORE it is played?!   You want to picture your opponent as grabbing the PC when you get him in a good tactic;  would even the PC have to lose the piece?  And how “forced” is that forced mate??   To err is human, yes… but worse is to simply HOPE that the opponent doesn’t see it! (because basically you knew better).
Strange openings and quick tricks don’t do many magical things when your opponent has the time and the wit to play carefully.  I see a lot of “Blitz” mentality in peoples internet game.   There are people rated only 1000 that ‘fear’ the theory of popular openings , the French, the queens gambit….  They would play the “Perodactyl” to get “out of the book”.  This is crazy logic!  If you are 1000 (and probably equally true for 1500);  you so unable to play with a masters technique- I fail to see how any ‘theory’ could possibly help you- no matter how much you memorize.  So Play the Sicilian (and other ‘theory heavy’ opening) as the theory isn’t going to your opponent.
            Instead the greater issue is whether you can develop without creating serious tactical advantages for the opponent. … and IMHO, by going to bizarre openings and premature speculative tactics- you’ve only increased the possibility that a patient opponent whom gets his pieces developed and coordinated could quickly knock you out of the game….

            There’s just a few matters of technique you should ‘know’; and it’s a great idea to know it very very well.  for example can you win the QK versus K; no matter what?  At 1000 the novice players all struggle- to get further along you should know it COLD!   The same kind of thinking permeates tactics.   Some deep combination might elude you- but a fork should “stick” out like dirty dinnerware on a clean table.  

The BOOKS that have made me what I am today….

Books are great…. it is easy to collect quite a few- but I find that many, most of the time, MISS the mark.   I think BOOKS have their own time and place as well  (fyi; I have perhaps 30-40 chess books).   so, perhaps in the future some of the books that are just lying in the bookshelf; might become very major parts of my study. 
For now though, I want to mention just two… that have really made a major mark on my game.
            The complete chessplayer” by  Fred Reinfeld.  YES. Its in descriptive, yes its old, yes chess has evolved a lot since its inception, and perhaps most of all- yes it covers a lot of ground, not really obsessing over any one thing.    But I’ve had it for years and I think its well chosen “miniatures”;  that is a sequence of several moves that illustrate a principle the author is trying to make… are very instructive and well done.  They illustrate the idea that chess weakness can have lasting effects for many moves; creating position after unpleasant position for your opponent where you carefully keep your advantage alive; until you can enforce checkmate  (or the opponent loses all hope of counterplay). 

            “Champions guide to Chess Tactics” by susan polgar.  By first and best loved chess tactic books now nearly tattered by an intense repetitive effort to solve the puzzles…   I suppose I could have done something similar with several different books; but to date, I’ve not seen a better book for ‘tactics’ practice—showing good diversity and reasonable complexity , while at the same time keeping it strait forward and relatively simple.   A simpler book by Bain is “well read”, too—but perhaps a bit too simple, and definitely showing too many hints on the page… you have to make sure you ignore stuff on the sheet- and that can lead to accidental peeking.

The PHILOSOPHY that has made me what I am today…
I feel adamant that to get strong in the game means to develop a “masters mentality”;  not to be know-it-all; but to become a serious and long-term student of the game.  You Want to understand all the hidden subtleties of the game.   Be intensely curious of world-class chess; and try to understand how one the World chess Champion out-grinds his opponent.  You goal is to “master” the game… not to chase a rating or win against all you play.  chess has the fascinating ability to turn on the victor; and give hope to players in dire straits.   If you can find a draw that frustrates your opponent in the hour of apparent victory; or shatter an impregnable castled position…  This is a great achievement.   And when you are the one being shattered, bear down, do all you can to hang into the game.  and .. be amazed at your opponents combination.  Try to understand it in your head, and make his victory instructive and strengthening for you.

I’ve always felt that winning as an amateur was over-rated.  And you CAN get joy out of a go hard-fought fight, even if it is you being battered.  The joy of creativity drives the game for me.  They key to enjoying the lose; is a little like in fishing (my OTHER hobby);  a slow day could have been great one at any moment… if you can’t take slow days you’ll never experience the awesome ones.  And if you can’t take defeat you’ll never know the joy of hard-earned victory.

ENDNOTE…  yes, I want to continue onto my blunder thoughts.  But temporarily , I’m doing less blunder checking.  We’re a little unbalanced AGAINST gameplay.  Keep in mind I do A LOT of “turn-based” chess- that takes easily 75% of my time (as I don’t play it fast).   I don’t want to abandon tactics either….

The goal moving forward is to play more games and keep good notes so I can’t check it out.  The PC helps in that regards!  I simply ignore all the centipawns… “explain all moves” will point out when one of my moves offers the opponent serious tactical advantages…

Anyways, I hope to do a blog posting the ‘kinds’ of blunders that I have.  Why do I make them?

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