Thursday, July 20, 2006

Starting point

The starting point of this blog is class B, USCF. If that doesn't have any meaning for you, there are masters, experts, class A, B, C, etc. These are all national titles in the US. I don't recall if life master is still a title in use, I don't suspect I'll ever reach that level anyhow. The national master title is still less than the international titles of FIDE master, International master and Grandmaster. All of this is to say, I'm a little better than average, with a lot of room to improve.

For better or for worse, I've never had a structured learning environment for chess, or any consistent plan of self study. Along with that, I've had significant lengths of chess inactivity, though for the last 9 years nothing long enough to cause a major setback. I would like to use this blog to help me organize my own study methods. I did take a few lessons with a local master about a year ago, and it's possible I'll resume that.

It's hard for me to grasp how it was that I came to be a class B player. It almost seems like magic. I've never learned an opening, though I do know the principles of the opening and I know a lot of opening moves and the people they're named after. I've solved a lot of mate in 1, 2, and 3 problems. I've read books that demonstrate all the tactical motifs (pin, skewer, double attack, discovered check, etc.) I've looked at a lot of endgame problems, though I'm not sure any learning was involved. And I've played roughly 25000 games of blitz and lightning chess.

Other than the mass of games, nearly all of the above was done before I was a class D player. I clearly remember my days as a D player and having real struggles against other D players. Between then and my current rating, I've only gotten anything out of 1 book, Jeremy Silman's How to Reassess Your Chess. I think that's a fine endorsement of that book, but you will not learn much about tactics from that book. Since it is common knowledge that tactics is everything (more on this fallacy another time) at my level, I need to have a tactical regimen to improve my results.

I have read several of the blogs of the "Knights Errant," who are each following study plans inspired by Michael de la Maza. Though I don't intend to undertake such a plan, I do agree with the philosophy of repeating the same tactical exercises. Temposchlucker has a very nice blog, one of who's motifs is the pattern recognition ability of master level players. I believe the repitition of the exercises is where we can develop this from.

Currently I am working on problems at the Chess Tactics Server. They have a really good system of rating your tactical solving ability and challenging you with tactics problems at your ability. There you'll repeat the themes at your level until they are ingrained, and upon success, you will be moved to more difficult motifs.

I fear this is a lot for one blog entry, but hopefully a little context will make future entries easier for me to write.


At 8:29 PM, Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Hello Loomis!

I came across your blog via Takchess's blog. I'll add you to my sidebar and bloglines list and keep track of your posts. Take care!

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks for the intro. It will be cool to follow your progress.

I won a game today, partly because of the analysis you gave last week on my game. I was more primed to attack, and I finally got a kingside attack that didn't backfire on me!


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