Friday, February 28, 2014

Games #16, #17, #18

Game #16 is from the final round of the 8PM ICC February G60 Open.  I was sitting at 2/3 points.  Since I started the tournament as a provisional player I wasn't eligible for the U1700 class prize (I started with a 1382 rating).

Didn't get the win I was hoping for, but a 2.0 score was good enough for 7th place in a field of 29.  The average elo of my opponents was 1844.  I was tied for 1st for the U1700 class prize, but since I started as a provisional player I wasn't eligible for the 6 week free membership.

Game #17 is from the final round of the 11PM ICC February G60 Open.  I was sitting at 1/3 points although I got a full point bye.

Finally a win in the night owl's section, although it wasn't very satisfying since he basically just played a poor sacrifice early in the game.  I finished 11th in a field of 39.  The average elo of my opponents was 1708.  Funny how I did worse against worse competition. :)

Overall my ICC rating went up 250 points due to the two tournaments.

Game #18 is from the DHLC Slow Chess Weekly.

Don't think I played particularly well in this game, but I'll take the win.

Still falling back into bad habits of taking too much time in the opening phase.  Still having visualization errors when analyzing lines.  Overall you could say I'm playing well, but the spots I'm not playing well concern me. I've been actively trying to get more standard games scheduled and I think my opponent from game #18 would be willing to play me, although he's not quite in the rating range I'm looking for.  OTOH, he's played a lot better than some other people who were rated 200 points above him.  I've gotten away from my endgame studies since I finished the Pandolfini book and only got 1 chapter into the Howell book.  I intend to finish that book by the middle of March.

My current stats:
Class E: +3 -1 =0 75%
Class D: +4 -0 =0 100%
Class C: +2 -2 =2 50%
Class B: +3 -3 =0 50%
Class A: +1 -2 =0 33.3%

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Games #14 and #15

Game #14 is from round three of the 8pm ICC February G60 open.

Game #15 was played in the DHLC Slow Chess Weekly.

Another week of not getting into time trouble and still playing good moves regardless.  Maybe I've turned a corner ever so slightly.  I overlooked some tactics in game #15 which could've been enough to get the win.  I didn't miss any tactics against me at least.   Frustrating, but encouraging.

I've had a mediocre two weeks of playing blitz since I last checked in.  18 games with a score of +7 -10 =1 in that span.  I'm in the bottom 25% of blitz on, and in the top 10% for standard.  Go figure.

My current stats:
Class E: +3 -1 =0 75%
Class D: +3 -0 =0 100%
Class C: +2 -2 =2 50%
Class B: +2 -3 =0 40%
Class A: +1 -1 =0 50%

I've now played 20 games since I've been back, I guess that's enough to not be provisional anymore. :)

I've been a bit lazy about trying to schedule slow games on ICC outside of the standard tourney.  If I could arrange two more, I'd be averaging 5 games per week or the equivalent of an OTB tournament.  This is going to be a top priority for me in the coming weeks.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Al Woolum - Chess Tactics Workbook Revision 1 Complete

Based on some training data from Bright Knight, this book is the next logical step difficulty wise after Bain.  It contains about 60% checkmate problems, many trivial one-move problems and several more difficult two and three move problems.  A few of the problems aren't usually valid in terms of problems since they call for things like en passant captures and castling.  Also close to 10% of the problems have some errata listed.  All of that aside, it's a good problem book for your money and is definitely more challenging than Bain.  On to my results.

As expected, I significantly improved at problems that I had already seen, so I won't list any charts for that.  For comparisons sake, after my 6th pass I was able to complete 74.4% of the problems in under 15 seconds vs 86.3% for Bain.  And just like Bright Knight, I was able to improve on problems I hadn't seen before also.

Here's the chart showing the percentage of problems I completed in under 15 seconds for each pass.

As you can see, I was able to improve from 30-38% on the first pass of the first 3 sets to 50% on the first pass of the last 3 sets.  My improvement in subsequent sets seems to have leveled off after the 4th set.

Like in my Bain revision, I identified 182 problems that I wasn't able to complete in under 15 seconds at least twice in my last three passes.  I've broken these up into two equal sets of 91 and will work them like they are a new problem book.  I'm starting to feel like Chess Hero is either a better tactics trainer than Anki or just better at getting accurate times.  After 3 passes through my 1st supplemental set, I'm already at a 92% solve rate in under 15 seconds.  And these were problems I struggled mightily with before.

My next tactics set will be Dan Heisman's - Back to Basics: Tactics and it will be done entirely in Chess Hero, although there are a couple problems that aren't really meant for solving as a pure tactical puzzle graded by the computer.  I am scheduled to start that training set 2/26/2014.

The Woolum sets were 132 problems each, and I'm feeling like that might be too much when trying to learn tactics patterns.  The ~65 problems per set in Bain was much easier to deal with.  Going forward, I think I am going to try to keeps the sets under 80, even if it would take me twice as long to do a complete revision.  Also complicating things was converting all 792 problems in Woolum into pgn format.  My method up to this point had been to load a pgn into Chessbase and copy diagrams into Anki for flashcard use.  That proved very time consuming for Woolum since no pgn file already exists for this book.  I'm also going to prefer books with pgns out there somewhere to ones without.  I don't consider it unethical in the least to download a pgn version of the book when I've already bought a copy as well.  It's just making my use of the book more suitable for my needs.  I guess this is making my conversion to doing software based tactical training all the more likely, but I like the old-fashioned progression through increasingly difficult chess books.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Games #11, #12 and #13

Games #11 and #12 are from round two of ICC's February G60 Open. Another game against a Class A!

Well I proved to myself I can still make good moves without using so much time in game #11, but I was back to my old slow ways in game #12.

Game #13 was played in the DHLC Slow Chess Weekly.

Left a lot of points on the table this week.  Turned a draw into a loss and a win into a draw.  Looking on the bright side, I got my first class A scalp. :)

I continue to dedicate one day a week to playing some blitz.  I've played 9 more games of blitz since my last set of games, going +6 -3 =0 in that span.  I'm now +13 -15 =0 overall after a pretty horrible start.

My current standard stats:
Class E: +3 -1 =0 75%
Class D: +3 -0 =0 100%
Class C: +1 -2 =2 40%%
Class B: +1 -3 =0 25%
Class A: +1 -1 =0 50%

I need to focus on playing games against people in the 1400-1800 range.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Games #8, #9 and #10

Games #8 and #9 were played in the open section of ICC's monthly 4-round G60 tournament. They feature similar themes and game #9 is my debut against a Class A player.

Overall, I think I made good moves, especially in game #9.  I wasn't intimidated by my opponents and was going for the win the entire time.  If I could make the same moves and use half as much clock time I'd be in pretty good shape.

I'm generally pretty terrible at blitz. At the time games #8 and #9 were played, I had played 11 blitz games with a record of  +2 -9 =0.  And this wasn't against highly rated people either.   And unsurprisingly, even in games when I was up a piece, I'd lose on time.  So with the idea of getting better at seeing the board and playing quickly, I decided to dedicate some time to blitz.

Two of my weaknesses are playing too slowly and not getting fully developed in the opening.  So I decided to focus on those key things using blitz.  My mentality seemed somewhat different going into the games.  I was just going to get my pieces out and look for tactics when my gut said to.  Since game #9, I played 8 games of blitz going +5 -3 =0.  This is against similar competition that I was losing to previously.  I was just trying to get my pieces developed aggressively at all costs and I wasn't afraid to sac pawns to open lines against a king stuck in the center.  It seemed to work out really well.

Game #10 was played in the DHLC Slow Chess Weekly against someone more in my range rating wise.  This was my first game since playing blitz and I made it a point to move quickly when possible and not agonize over simple moves.

I felt like I was in control pretty much from start to finish, even in an opening I was mostly unfamiliar with.

My current game stats:

Class E: +3 -1 =0 75%
Class D: +3 -0 =0 100%
Class C: +1 -2 =1 37.5%
Class B: +1 -2 =0 33.3%
Class A: +0 -1 =0 0%

I definitely need to make it a point to play more people rated over 1400. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Torsten Mattsson - Basic Checkmate Patterns Revision 1 Complete

I blogged about this book about 5 weeks ago. I was looking for a pattern based book of basic checkmates and this appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. 204 problems for $2.99 is a pretty good deal. There are 64 different "patterns" broken down by combination of pieces, followed by a series of mate in N, N+1, N+2 checkmates from a game so the student gradually builds up to a mate that could be 4-5 moves in length. Most of the problems are white to move, but there are a few black to move as well.  Here's an example from the Queen and Pawn pattern:

What I also like about this book is that he provides the entire pgn of the game as the solution.  I found some of the mates interesting enough that I wanted to play over the entire game to see how it got to the finish.

I only found 2 errors out of all the games provided.

Now for the statistics, in Bright Knight style.  There are 204 unique problems of various difficulty.  I divided the problems into two sets.  Any problems that only went up to mate in 2, I placed the mate in 1 in set A and the mate in 2 in set B.  For anything 3 or higher, I placed the first 2 in set A and the remaining in set B.  This means that set A should be significantly easier than set B, although it should aid in solving problems in set B.

Unsurprisingly, the set A problems are pretty easy.

The set B problems were much harder for me.  They are around Bain in terms of difficulty.  There were 19 problems that I was unable to complete in under 15 seconds 2 of the last 3 repetitions, so I will do a supplementary revision with them.

Anyone looking for a first checkmate problems book should definitely consider this one.