Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seeking Clarity

I've been trying to finish a couple posts on endgames, but each time I try to wrap it up I find interesting twists. I'm going to push to get them done this weekend.

In other news, I've been playing at the local club and I'm fairly pleased with my play. A few things are clear though:

  • I really need to summon the gumption to play long games against Fritz to ingrain my thinking technique. The last game was a complex one, but I lost a winning game against a strong player because on just one move I inadequately answered the question, "what does my opponent's last move do for him?"
  • Don't skimp on "easy tactic" drills. In my last game (g/60 + 5 sec increment, which is still too fast for my liking) we were down to 13 minutes each, and I was trying to keep the thinking time short enough to allow for a possible endgame. My opponent's tactic should have been picked up in a few seconds of scanning the board.
  • Don't skimp on "hard tactic" drills. This is probably the most important. I'm finding that a lot of the times I'm calculating tactics that I end up with fuzzy impressions rather than concrete answers. These are cases where the tree of variations has a number of branches, and I have to calculate multiple responses for both my opponent and I. Later, with Fritz, I'll see that it the answer is clear, when I should have been able to achieve that clarity myself.
The last two are reminiscent of my "Mental Muscle" article, and show I need to do more weightlifting.

In addition to master games and playing Fritz, a few resources strike me as being particularly good material for practicing calculation:

  • CT-ART (natch), the Encyclopaedia of Chess Middlegames, and the Anthology of Chess Middlegames have some problems featuring forcing lines, but a lot of the problems require calculating multiple defensive resources. In particular, Part I ofECM seems to be about the right level for me. I would probably use it more if it were more legible (faded, out-of-print copy).
  • I've seen players using Hall's Endgame Challenge! book, and these endgames seem like excellent training, especially if you can play them against someone else or, failing that, the computer.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chess Tempo (Tactics Webpage)

I found out about an alternative to the Chess Tactics Server today (hat tip to BDK from his comment on Polly's blog here). I've added it to my sidebar.

Besides a better layout, it has separate ratings for accuracy and speed of solution. One of my beefs with the CTS is that you have to solve the problems within a few seconds, so if you're trying to train yourself not to make hasty moves it can be counter-productive.