Monday, December 10, 2007

A Bit Demoralized

I've had another post almost ready to go for a couple weeks now, and haven't gotten around to wrapping it up and posting it. I've been a bit demoralized, and for what should objectively be a trivial reason: my ICC blitz rating.

I've gone on jags before where I play lousy, my rating tanks, then I get serious again and it returns to normal. I've never really obsessed over my rating before. However, in the last two weeks I've had a losing streak the likes I've never seen. My rating plummeted to over 400 points below its highest, and 300 points where it normally resides. Normally I just knuckle down, focus, and my rating returns to normal. I've played a LOT of games now. It's entrenched. What makes it harder to understand is that it's not simply a matter of increased blundering...I'm feeling much stronger resistance from lower rated players.

Assuming that there hasn't been a sudden ratings deflation, I can only assume that this is psychological in origin. So, I think it's time to just quit blitz cold turkey for now and work on other things. I keep putting off the #1 thing on my list of things to do to improve: play slow games against a dumbed-down Fritz, and write out my analysis. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need.

I received some DVDs for my birthday (the first Daniel King Power Play that I had skipped getting, plus the second and third Karsten Muller endgame DVDs). I hope to go through all of them before leaving for Christmas, so I may be reviewing them soon.

Let's see how long I can stay on the wagon.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me for being blunt, but if you're looking for a break from ICC blitz, why not play in a real chess tournament? You seem to study chess a lot and you're obviously frustrated that you're not getting any better at blitz, but blitz is not chess. You might see the progress you've made if you try a slower time control. And don't play Fritz: it just makes random blunders if you put it on a handicap. Humans still make blunders, but not random ones!

Grandpatzer said...

The key phrase from my article is: "...for what should objectively be a trivial reason: my ICC blitz rating."

I am completely aware that blitz isn't real chess. My point was that this is something I shouldn't care about, but it was still demoralizing.

I do play real tournaments when I can. I don't like to travel too far for them, but when they're within 30 mi or so I try to catch all that I can. I also go to a chess club every week. I mention in my sidebar that I do have a C class rating (USCF).

The point about playing Fritz is to work on reliably playing what Dan Heisman calls "real chess" on every move of the game, which is something I've written about. There are other ways to handicap Fritz besides letting it make random blunders. One possibility, although somewhat artificial, is to limit its search depth to, say, 5 ply. Then it shouldn't make any one or two-move blunders, but fall victim to the same level of tactics as in Chernev and Reinfeld's book (subtitled "How to See Three Moves Ahead). Someone (Alburt? Heisman?) recommended setting the computer to a level where you can beat it about 10% of the time, which is what I'm shooting for.

My idea is to force myself to write out my thoughts and analysis while I play the game, to make sure I'm following a proper thought process and to force myself on every single move not to get sloppy or impetuous. My weakest links right now are playing "real chess" and efficient calculation, and this exercise should help both.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough; it's just that your post sounded as if all you had to judge your chess progress with was your blitz rating, which doesn't correlate with your actual chess ability at all in my experience. Don't take the strange blunders you make in blitz (which you've posted about before) seriously: mental mistakes like those happen both in blitz and in chess. The difference is that in a real chess game, you usually have time to catch a mistake in your analysis before you actually play your move.

I guess the training you're trying to do with Fritz is something you can't do in a real game, so I'd be interested to hear if it works out. Good luck!