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.
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.
- Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics, if you're up to a vigorous workout, or just for the schadenfreude of seeing grandmasters screw up.