Sunday, June 29, 2014

6 month anniversary

Well, more like 6 months and 2 weeks now.  Hard to believe it's been 2 months since my last update. This past month I finished the Polgar training (blog post coming soon) and moved several hundred miles away for a new job.  I haven't been able to keep up with my training at the same pace, but I've been keeping it up nonetheless.  Hopefully I can get started on Ivaschenko 1b in the next couple of weeks now that the dust has settled from my job change.

For this post, I'm mainly going to look back to when I started to see how close I am to meeting the goals I set for myself back then.

I've set a short term goal of going through 10,000 speed training tactics problems not including the repetitions.  That will probably end up being about 20 tactics books.  I have 11 on my short list right now, so I just have to find 9 more.

 I've gone through 5 different tactics books totaling 2,387 problems.  Being able to do ~5000 problems 6x in a year is a nice start.   I only have 2 tactics books remaining on my list: Ivaschenko 1b and the Blue Coakley.  I'm considering attempting 1b via Peshka's CT for Beginners software if I can easily figure out a way to keep stats and do a consistent set of problems in a spaced repetition.  After I finish the Blue Coakley, I plan on moving to CT-Art, followed by Ivaschenko - Chess School 2 (Chess Tactics for Intermediate Players).

For endgames I want to study an endgame strategy book and an endgame tactics workbook to reinforce the strategy with spaced repetitions. I don't have any goals for amount of endgame tactics to go through, but I want to constantly be doing them.

It's safe to say that I haven't been constantly doing endgame training.  For me, there seems to be a better ROI on tactics and game books.  Most of my games are over before the endgame, and the ones that get to a fairly even endgame are because of missed tactics previously.

I plan on doing spaced repetition for strategy as well, but it won't be timed.  My idea is to take selected positions as the question and make the author's evaluation/key points as the answer.

I haven't done any of this, and I don't foresee myself doing this anytime soon if at all.  I've read some books on strategy and made flashcards out of terms and ideas, but nothing this elaborate.  I do intend to do some Stoyko exercises at some point.

For the Instructive Anthologies, it was suggested to go over 10,000 master games.  At around 30-50 games per book, that's going to take a while.  Of course, going over annotated games in other books counts too.  But that's a lot of games to go over.  I think 2,000 would be a nice start.

I'm at ~300 master games here and am working on my 8th book.  Hitting 2,000 may take 2-3 years.  Reading annotated game collections is one of my favorite chess things to do.  It's generally pretty easy and fun.  I'd also say it helps me with candidate moves during games.   You play over enough master games and you start considering moves that would've looked weird or unplayable previously.

For the spaced repetitions, my weapon of choice is Anki.  It's free and has a version for Android. 

I've since moved on to Chess Hero.  It does 90% of what I want it to do and is much faster than using Anki for problems.  I still use Anki for non tactics related flashcards though.

It's not easy to get OTB games where I live, so I will rely on and others to get my games in.  But I don't plan on playing any games for a little while longer until I feel like I have a good grounding in basic theory.  I also plan to get a tutor if I end up sticking with this.

My move has placed me within striking distance of several clubs that meet weekly.  I started playing in 2 different clubs last week that meet on Monday and Tuesday.  There's also a club about 5 miles from me that meets on Thursdays and a club that has quads on Saturdays.  I have plenty of opportunities for OTB play.   I can easily be playing 6 OTB games a week now if I choose.  I've really cut back on my online play; I'm down to just a weekly T4545 game on ICC now.

I've also been working with a coach the last 5 months.

Unsurprisingly, my plans have changed over time, but I've really stuck with tactics and reading game books.  My results have obviously been good up to this point.  I'd really like to gain another 500-600 rating by the end of the year but I'm not sure how realistic that is.


  1. Hi,

    I'm impressed by your dedication, and I'm sure it will yield great dividends in the near future.

    I'm a member of a small online club dedicated to adult OTB improvement. We share ideas, experiences, OTB games for analysis, and try to support each other in this long quest. There are people both from Europe and from the US in this club, with skills ranging from near-beginner to expert players.

    If you're interested, we'd be very happy to have you :



  2. You may like this for spaced repetition