Tuesday, March 29, 2005

When do I stop tactical training?

Papa Polgar has proven with his educational experiment on his three daughters that any child can be a prodigy with the right training.
The question is, do you have to be a child to accomplish this?
Well, it helps, but I find no reason in cognitive science why this should be the case.
My quest is to find out if this can be done at an older age.
So I find myself doing tactical exercises everyday.
It helped me to gain my first 170 extra ratingpoints.

Last summer I played two tournaments and looked seriously at the gamepoints I didn't got and why I didn't got them. 70% of the points I didn't get would I probably have won if I had more tactical abilities. 30 % of the points I could have won if I had more endgame technique.
Because of this analysis I made a serious start with endgame training, until I looked again at my games.
All of a sudden I realized that the endgames wherein I was involved only came on the board because of insufficient tactical skills.
So I dropped the endgame training and decided first to drive my tactical skills to the limits.
According to some, for instance papa Polgar, you can get a rating of about 2000-2200 maximum by this.
I looked where my tactical training flawed and came to the conclusion that the problem lied in that I didn't repeat the problems.
"Repetitio mater studiorum est". Repetition is the mother of study as the old Romans said (and the young Romans living in old times).

I'll see how far I can get with tactics.
De la Maza talked about 400 points in 400 days. Well, I don't know about those 400 days, but 400 points will bring me to the limit of my tactical skills.
In the end I always have the safetynet that I can start with studying positional play and endings to develop further.

For the moment I look only 100 points ahead, I'll do anything that is neccesary to get a rating of 1800.


  1. Hello tempo -
    So you saying we dont need to study endgames until we are at 2000 level? Anyway, have you bought "Elementary tactics by Martin Weteschnik (chessbase)"? I am seriously thinking of ordering this. Since you seem to have the largest collection of CD's, some feedback will be appreciated.

  2. Hi Nezha,

    So you saying we dont need to study endgames until we are at 2000 level?

    No, I don't want to commit the heresy to recommand what others have to do.
    It is what I'm doing with an explanation.
    I like the things clear. If I concentrate on tactics and I gain points, I know where those points came from. If I don't gain points, I know that I follow a wrong path.
    By taking things to the extreme, clarity on what works and what not comes in the fastest way. (And in case you didn't noticed, I'm an experimentalist and an extremist:)

    I don't have the CD that you are talking about, sorry.

  3. Tactics is the canvas upon which we paint our chess masterpieces!

  4. Michael De La Maza pointed out in an interview with Howard Goldowsky that if you reach an endgame situation you have missed some tactics along the way. In short, the sharper your tactical eye, the better you will be at gaining a material advantage early in the game. From here MDLM gets a little less rational when he describes his thinking technique which is surprisingly haphazard.

  5. Strategy is great, and I try to focus on all of the important stuff in all of my games, esp. the stuff that I read in 'My System', however, all of that is for waste if your opponent wins your Queen in the endgame.

    Ultimately though, you are not going to have tactics where you win a Queen, or a Rook, or the exchange in EVERY game. Therefore, tactics are probably going to be used to plant a Rook (or BOTH!!) on the seventh rank (second if you are black), or to trap the opponents king on the wrong side of the board, or to trample on your opponents pawn structure, and to prevent the same from happening to yourself.

    All the strategy in the world won't help if you lose all of your pieces in the opening, but it's still important to know.