Saturday, February 24, 2007

1650 On CTS

Another milestone reached. I just did about a hundred problems staying on the 1645-1650 level, even though I had slept only three hours last night. My eyes felt weary, but it was like the pins, skewers and double threats were flying at me, and I solved a lot of them in less than three seconds. Still, I got only 6 wrong of the last 50 problems. That's a solid 88% success rate. Weird.

I had been forcing myself to look for my own king safety first for a couple of days, which felt very awkward and difficult to maintain. It also slowed me down quite a bit, and didn't seem to make that big of a difference. So now I just went with the feeling, mostly not concentrating on the king safety. And I just flew through the variations, spotting all relevant aspects in the positions like they had big, red lights blinking on them. I hope this isn't an isolated incident.

Feeling quite tired with my CC games. I divided them in three and now try to force myself to run through a group on most days. But I've clearly overdone it, and I'll need to cut my gameload down. Once again. There's also the 7/14 Clan Leagues starting in a week or so, which will apparently land me another 18-20 games playing board two. Which will probably mean the opponents are rated 1600-2000 depending on the clan.

I don't even have much energy for the 30 30 games, so I've slowed that down as well. Not to mention CT-ART and PCT. No sense in doing them until I have the necessary energy back.

Started going through Kasparov's KID games though, which seems nice and interesting. Taking maybe 30-45 minutes a game, not trying to wreck my brain or anything. Just getting some easy fun. I'll probably be trying KID out myself on 30 30 games soon.

CTS: 1650, 77546, 77.6%
RHP: 1822
FICS standard: 1623 (1662), wdl 28-2-16

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kicking Ass Threshold

Another motivational post. TommyC just posted this link on RHP, How to be an expert, and the relevance of 'talent' and starting young in it. I've never believed in the concept of talent, and it now appears there's some scientific evidence to back that up. I find the graph especially hilarious.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Concrete Chess

I ran into something Rashid Ziatdinov has said about chess. It's pretty much what I've been thinking, when I've seen people analyse games far more convincingly than I ever could, yet they're rated hundreds of points lower than I, so I thought I'd post it here.

"Students sometimes lament that they cannot apply their knowledge during a game. They cannot apply their "knowledge" because they really don't have any knowledge! What they have instead are shortcuts to chess language, what I call "chess magic spelling" (like "open the position if you are more developed", "the two bishop advantage", "don't move the queen out too early", etc.). These shortcuts are useless generalities. Chess can only be expressed with concrete variations. This often-ignored concept is so crucial to mastering chess that it bears repeating with emphasis: chess can only be expressed with concrete variations!

Imagine a musician who had never heard music, only descriptions and theories of music; Imagine a dancer who had never physically performed a pleat or twirl, only read instructions on how to dance. How is a chess player who relies on ideas expressed in words and theories any less ridiculous? A musician makes music, a dancer dances, and a chess player calculates variations!"

Although Ziatdinov seems a bit, umm, 'passionate', even crazy, I do think he has a strong point here. Procedural knowledge instead of theoretical knowledge. And the only way to get there is to get your hands dirty, sweat blood, and slam down variations. It doesn't matter if you were born a Kasparov or a Fischer, hard work for a decade or two is the only way to get there. Talk is cheap, 'BAM! BAM! BAM!' is what counts. :)

Now I'm gonna go eat a raw, bloody steak, chug some beer, burb, and get back to slamming down endgame variations. BAM! BAM! BAM!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

CT-ART Level 20 Complete

After the initial enthiusiasm about CT-ART, I haven't been much on it. Today I just finished level 20 after a break, that makes it 396 problems solved. I've tried to do it only when I'm not tired, concentrating on exhaustive calculation, but even one tired session brings the success percentage down quite a lot. It's really hard to fight the natural laziness and jump the gun when you're tired. But I'll try to do better again on level 30.

first round:
level 10: 96%
level 20: 88%
rating: 2007

I've also looked into the basic endgame modules of Personal Chess Trainer, which seems quite nice. Of course the interface is crap as usual, and its inability to understand anything but the one pre-set 'correct line' annoys the hell out of me. But at least there's a nice set of basic endgame problems to drill and get the theoretical knowledge transformed into procedural knowledge.

Otherwise I've been playing 30 30 games on FICS almost every day. Mostly it's been going well, but yesterday I messed a game like a total idiot. First I declined material on the 10th move because I got greedy trying to pressure his king in the center, then got into trouble because of the previous retreat of the pinning g5-knight which gave him a pawnstorm. I was looking for the flashy win, of course, the cardinal sin in a winning position. Then a long period of adequate defending, only to succumb into a fork, only to insanely drop the queen right after. Although the end was humiliating, I'm even more pissed off about allowing that kingside pawn storm. My only hope is that the painful mistake will burn into my brain, never to be forgotten. Here's that miserable excuse for a game:

[White "wormstar"]
[Black "Versiano"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1628"]
[BlackElo "1575"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bg5 Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. Qf3 Nc6 7. Rd1 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9. Bg3 Nd7 10. d5 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 exd5 12. cxd5 Ne7 13. Bc4 Ng6 14.Bb3 b6 15. Ne2 Qe7 16. O-O Nc5 17. Rd4 h5 18. h3 g4 19. hxg4 Bxg4 20. Qe3 h4 21. Bh2 O-O-O 22. f3 Bd7 23. Ra1 h3 24. g3 Rdg8 25. Kf2 Ne5 26. Ke1 Qf6 27. Nf4 Kb7 28. Bc2 Qg5 29. a4 a5 30. Bd3 Nb3 31. Rb1 Nxd4 32. Qxd4 Nxf3+{wormstar resigns}0-1

Let that be a lesson for me.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"The Harder I Practice, The Luckier I Get"

This was one of those days when you can't do anything wrong, and your opponents get the karmic counterpunch. The race is long, and it all evens out in the end, but today was my day.

[White "BTAT"]
[Black "wormstar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1821"]
[BlackElo "1562"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. f3 e6 3. e4 c5 4. Be3 Nc6 5. Bb5 cxd4 6. Bxd4 Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Bb4 8. Ne2 Qxb5 9. a3 Bxc3+ 10. Bxc3 Qg5 11. g4 O-O 12. Qd6 Ne8 13. Qd3 d5 14.h4 dxe4 15. Qxe4 Qd5 16. Qe3 b6 17. Nf4 Qc5 18. Qd2 Ba6 19. O-O-O Rd8 20.Qh2 Rxd1+ 21. Rxd1 Qe3+ 22. Kb1 Qxf3 23. Bb4 Qxd1+{BTAT resigns} 0-1

I just hammered 1646 on CTS, with a 85.7% session. This is getting ridiculous.

FICS standard: 1620
CTS: 1646

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Standard Games On FICS

I've finally started playing standard games on FICS, after endless procrastination. It's been a full year since I played a couple of them, in my 'chess infancy' around christmas 2005. It didn't go very well, and I never got rid of being provisional.

After a couple of miserable first games, during which I played just as if I had never seen a board before, I started to get used to the pace. I've been playing 30 30 games, which seems to be a good compromise between using the whole day to a game and blitz which is just too fast for me at this time. It feels very good, and finally feel like I can fully apply the skills I've acquired playing CC for a little over a year. Nothing like the humiliating implosive disasters my blitz games have been. Today I even got past the 1500 mark, although I'm still provisional. But the people & games I've played seem to indicate I should have no problems reaching 1600's. I'll try to keep playing a couple of 30 30 games every week, and we'll see just how it turns out.

And it's also really refreshing that games start & end in one session, compared to the weeks and months of correspondence chess. You also get a better feel for the game as a whole.

RHP: 1834, 217 games, wdl 144-11-62.
FICS standard: 1518p
FICS blitz: 1226