Monday, July 7, 2014

Heisman and Polgar Tactics Take 1 Complete

I thought I had completed my writeup for Heisman already, but checking my archive shows that I didn't.  How embarrassing. So this post will be 2 for the price of 1.  I completed my 6 repetitions through Dan Heisman - Back to Basics: Tactics on April 14th and Susan Polgar - Chess Tactics for Champions on June 4th.  Both books heavily emphasize double attacks, pins and removal of the guard.  Both books also spend a chapter on defensive tactics and on traps/failed tactics.  When I told Dan that the Polgar book was like his, he became interested and added it to his "to review list".

Heisman has 434 problems which I divided into 5 groups.

Here are the charts for my 1st pass through each group and problems completed in < 15 seconds in my 1st pass:

Only a modest improvement, if there was any at all.  Rather disappointing really.

Final chart of all 6 passes through Heisman completed in < 15 seconds.

Not surprising that I got better doing the same problems over again.  Of some interest is that my overall clear rate after 6 passes was better than Bain which has much easier problems.  I averaged 91% and 90.3% on passes 5 and 6, respectively.  My best pass through Bain was 86%, although I'd estimate a few points higher based on the timing issues I had when using Anki.  Even better, my "problem child" set in Heisman only represents ~5% of all problems.  Bain was almost 15%.  So maybe I'm making a different kind of improvement.

Polgar has 570 problems, which against my better judgment, I only divided into 5 groups.  I've mentioned before that I feel like anything over ~80 problems per group feels tedious and counter productive.  But I wanted to try to complete this book faster.

Here are the charts for my 1st pass through each group and problems completed in < 15 seconds in my 1st pass:

It looks like I got worse over time.  Set A is missing because Chess Hero crashed on me halfway through and you lose all statistics on your current session.  Excluding set E, I actually did slightly better on average with Polgar than with Heisman.

6 passes through Polgar in < 15 seconds:

Average of each pass in < 15 seconds:

D4 is missing because of a Chess Hero crash.  Similar to Heisman, I averaged ~ 88%, which was better than Bain.  My problem child set is a modest 6.4%.

Up next is Ivaschenko - Chess School 1b.  I vow to divide these problems into at least 6 groups, maybe 7.  I haven't been successful in finding a pgn or cbh of this book and  I haven't been able to find a way to group problems the way I'd like in either the Peshka or legacy version of Chess Tactics for Beginners, so it appears I'll be making another file on my own.  On the plus side, I've started using the excellent Chess Capture v2.3 software, which makes this task much easier when you actually have a diagram it can recognize.  PDFs of this book don't work, but the diagrams in Peshka work with minimal issues.  There also should be less chance of user error, which sometimes causes Chess Hero to crash or not load the diagram.


  1. Sorry if it has been mentioned elsewhere, but how do you measure your % done in Hans Kmoch's book ? It has no exercises.

    1. For non problem books, I'm just going by chapters complete. Not as accurate as page count, but close enough.