Friday, March 30, 2007

Tactics Update

I finished the fourth and last circle on level 2 today. I solved all the problems (297) in 90 minutes and scored 98,3%, so I think I'm ready to move on to level 3 !

Level 2, circle 1 : 90,9%
Level 2, circle 2 : 94,3%
Level 2, circle 3 : 95,3%
Level 2, circle 4 : 98,3%

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Plan for improvement, part 2 : play chess

I'm fully convinced of the fact that playing lots of games is an essential part of chess training. It's important to learn to use your tactical skills in real game situation. For some reason this isn't as evident as it sounds (for me it certainly isn't). An example :

This position is from a game I played on FICS today, white's last move was Bb2. If this position would be a tactical problem I wouldn't hesitate and play Bxf3 (you can't even call this a tactic, it's just taking the exchange). Believe it or not, but for some reason I did not see this in the actual game. When he moved his bishop I only thought "oh no, he's attacking my bishop, I have to move it!". So that's what I did, I played Ba5. He then played Rg3+, I lost the g7 pawn, his rook is on the 7th rank, the beginning of the end... .

So beside my tactical training I'm trying to play at least one slow game per week. I'm playing these games on FICS (SD/30) or at my chess club (club tournament, time control 40/120 + 1 hour KO). I'm analysing each game, hoping to learn from my mistakes. I'll try to post some of my best games / blunders on this blog.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Plan for improvement, part 1 : Tactics

Chess improvement, where do I start ? One thing's certain : tactics are the foundation of chess. Since I'm far from a tactical genius (I don't drop pieces all the time, but my game analysis often reveals missed (simple) tactical opportunities) it seems like a good idea to start with tactics, tactics, tactics and some more tactics.

I'm using the Brunia / Van Wijgerden books for tactical training( For those who don't know the books, the TASC Chess Tutor (TCT) borrows its problems from these books. The past year I solved all the problems from level 2, 3 and 4 three times. Most of the problems are sorted by theme (double attack, pin, skewer, x-ray, discovered attack, mate in 2, ...) so I assume that I'm pretty familiar with the basic tactical themes by now.

I recently bought the extra exercise books for levels 2, 3 and 4 (extra books only available in dutch). Each of these books contains 300 mixed (not sorted by theme) problems. I'm now using these 900 mixed problems for further tactical training. I'm doing this in a circle-inspired way : I'm looping through each level until I achieve a +95% score. I started with the level 2 problems one month ago, the third circle started yesterday.

Level 2, circle 1 : 90,91%
Level 2, circle 2 : 94,28%

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Let me introduce myself...

Hello world ! I'm a 28 year old belgian (amateur) chess player who's desperately trying to improve his game.

I started to play chess on january 2006 by joining the local chess club. Today, one year and three months later, my (provisional) belgian rating is 1396. I try to study chess each day , but I think I'm not doing it the right way. There's so much to learn (tactics, opening, endgame, positional play, study master games, ...) but so little time (I'm married and have a little son, so 1 hour of study time a day is all i've got !)... .

I've been reading the knights errant blogs for a while now, and I decided to give their study approach a try. So this is my plan :
  • Study lots and lots and lots of tactics each day. I don't think I will do the circles in the true sense of the word (250, 500 or 1000 problems a day will not be possible with 1 hour of study time a day), but I will try to solve a lot of tactical problems repetitively.
  • Building a tactical (gambit?) opening repertoire.
  • blogging about my chess study (and improvement ;-))