Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Update

This week the regular Friday update is back on Friday. I'll spare the table this time because it just doesn't seem required. I only did a few challenges from Chess Mentor and only one of them was new, I continued reading Chapter 6 from Winning Pawn Structures and I'm almost through that chapter. Most of my time was on CTS.

I was interested to see what would happen after taking a full week off. Sure enough, my rating dropped fairly steadily from 1641 to about 1620. However, it only took another day or two for it to climb back into the 1640's and then to a new high of 1653. Overall I'm pleased with my progress on CTS, I'm definitely getting better at it (rating going up, % success is roughly 81% of late).

My rating there is currently 1646 after 11,826 tries. I've gained about 100 rating points in the last 10000 tries or 1 point per 100 tries. According to the problem distribution chart, increasing from 1540 to 1640 means the window of problems has increased by about 3000. That is, I am currently solving 3000 problems that I wasn't solving 10000 problems ago. I don't know if these ideas are meaningful to anybody who wonders about repetition and improvement, but it can't hurt to record them.

Personally, I don't think repetition is as important to improvement as active learning. By this I mean identifying and correcting ones weaknesses actively. Simply doing problems is not enough, one must use what they learn from their failures to motivate their work. I've given examples of this in the past (double attacks by the queen, especially checks; long diagonals) and I'll give a more recent one now. I noticed I had been having trouble with "Clearance" problems. That is, one move clears the path of a piece and the next move takes advantage of the increased scope. I had been working very hard on seeing everywhere pieces could go, but I realized I was only seeing where they could go right now instead of seeing everywhere they could go. This also has a cousin, but I'm not sure the name of it, I would call it relocation, it might be called triangulation -- what I mean is where a piece moves from one square to another on one move, then changes direction taking advantage of its new scope on the new square to go somewhere else on the next.

Once the weakness is identified, the process is to focus on never missing this idea in a position. E.g. if you don't want to miss double attacks by the queen, make sure you look at every possible queen move, especially checks and pay close attention to moves that attack undefended pieces. Continue to do this until you see these queen moves first before conciously doing the exercise. For working on clearance tactics, I extend the movement of all pieces beyond their obstacles to see if there are useful squares that could be reached after a clearance. Eventually I begin to see these ideas -- and how to achieve the clearance! -- before doing the entire concious exercise.

This is related to Blue Devil Knight's post on eye movement. First, we must recognize which eye movements are not already part of our natural habits, e.g. queen checks, long diagonals, clearance, etc., then we must train our eyes until this eye movement becomes a natural reaction which Blue Devil compares to reading or recognizing a face -- you don't think about every letter or the details of someone's face, you recognize and understand. (Interestingly, when you read, you don't even think about the exact positions of all the letters in the word, see this explanation.)

Lastly, I have a tournament in about a month, so I'm looking forward to that. Hopefully all this study will begin to pay off in the rating department!

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At 3:07 PM, Blogger SamuraiPawn said...

It's exciting times. Many of us knights are taking part in tournaments within the next month. I have one coming up in only 9 days. Be sure to keep us posted with your games. Good luck and give them hell!


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