Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cutting the knot.

Today I finished the 7th circle of the 1355 "Direct Hit" problems of George Renko's CD Intensive Course Tactics. With TCT that is a total of 3035 problems I have done 7 times now. Though I am not quite satisfied with my performance I deciced to stop at this moment. It's always possible in a later phase to implement a circle 8 and 9. There will come a moment that I will repeat TCT anyway.

For long I was hesitant about "what next?"
In my previous post I adressed my latest findings in the middlegame.
I got useful advice from Scitcat, Jim and Sancho.
But I think I need more investigation, research and analysis of my games to develop the right approach for my problems in this area. The postmortem spreadsheet I got from King Ots will be of much help here.
The area is very difficult and wide, and I am sure the most points can be gained here. But taking the wrong approach would mean the spill of an enormous amount of time. So I am gonna take my time to work things out.

I read the latest post of CD and cut the knot.
I am going to study endgames.
Because my endgame-treatment is really bad, not to say non-existent.
I'm a strong believer of the principle not to divide your energy about too much items.
Which means that further tactics training is postponed for undetermined time. Though not a tactical genius by birth, tactics are by far the strongest skill in my play now. Studying endgames will balance my play a little.
Of course I continue my research to adress my middlegame problems, but the workload will exist for 95% of endgames.

Allthough the path I am going to follow isn't totally mapped out, I have already done a lot of pre-work.
I will work with 4 sources:
  • Secrets of practical chess of John Nunn.
  • Theoretical and practical endgames of GM Max Euwe.
  • Papa Polgar's endgame brick.
  • Chess Endgame Training of Convekta.
The first book is a guide to keep things practical, since it is easy to err around in endgame study for years without learning something that has a probability > zero that you will encounter it in a real game. Within a lifetime that is.
To survey the book:
  • Opposition.
  • Reti manoeuvre.
  • Triangulation.
  • Rookendings.
  • Most useful information of minorpiece endings.
  • Queen Endings.
  • Common endings without pawns.

The book of Euwe is rather dry and theoretical, and he has the bad habit of putting the less common items first, but it contains the background information I need on how to treat a certain endgame. So I use it as a sort of encyclopedia.

Papa Polgars book with 171 types in 4560 endgame problems has an interesting approach.
Usually endgame-books are written with regard to the distribution of the pieces. Polgar has similar motifs, ideas, types and strategies in seemingly different positions bundled into individual chapters.

CET is a cd from Convekta containing 2450 endgame problems.

The first area I intend to conquer are pawn-endings. Since every other endgame with pieces can transform into a pawn-ending by trading off the pieces, I regard to it as the basics. So I forget about all that other stuff and concentrate on it. No matter how long it takes. Especially this part of the game I want to learn to play a tempo. Since the chance that you are short on time while playing it is great.
I'm taking much time to grasp the basic priciples.
Opposition and the Reti manoeuvre have no secrets anymore.
Now I'm busy with triangulation.
What a beauty can be found in endings!!
3 pawns and 2 kings and you can study for hours on the same position. It's actually a kind of meditation.
Slowly the board which first seems empty fills itself with squares, triangles, paths and the like.

On what installment this work is going to pay off I can only guess.
I'm afraid it will be not on my next tourneys, which start within 1.5 month.
Since I don't like to do things halfheartedly I have to adress another item.
I have to get into endgames in my OTB-play.
So I intend to go after openings that lead directly into the endgame.
If you have any ideas, they are more than welcome!
Pledge to Self: "I am not going to offer nor to accept draws anymore."

Of course when cowardice or rating-fetishism comes in I will sin now and then.
I accept that. Without friction nothing can work out.

Only a major insight in my middlegame problematic mights change plans.

BTW Is there a volunteer who wants to keep track of all the errors and flaws encountered in CT-art 3.0? Then we all can link to that specific post if we like. So the posterity can have a look at it.


  1. What is the post-mortem spreadsheet?

    The cool thing about endgame study is it will give you more options. Like when you see a familiar ending or have the opportunity to head for a type of ending that you understand. You will probably take that route. Anything that can cut down on time wasted on planning has got to be good.

  2. Congrats on finishing all those problems! I am in a bit of a quandry as to where to go next, but I have some ideas. One can never go wrong studying endgames though.

  3. Does this mean you are now a graduate? I will move your link to the graduates section then

  4. Congrats on finishing TCT 7 times :)

    Endgame study is good for visualization. And also winning endgames in games ;). You are definitely right that pawn endgames are fundamental as they are a key in all endgames (nearly all).

    I've heard many good comments about Fundamental Chess Endings. You can get the ebook of it too, so it won't cost much ;)

  5. Nezha,
    Not yet.
    I couple the graduation to my OTB result. 400 points in 400 days = 127 points in 127 days.
    Since 127 days is the amount of time for 7 circles I consider myself a graduate when I gain 127 points.
    No need for others to apply this.
    Just my idea of heroism.

  6. Hooyah, Tempo!! I look forward to comparing notes with you on endgame studies! Let me know when I can consider you a graduate, although I think you already qualify.

  7. Okay, I like to follow the blogs anonymously. One thing I have noticed is that few of the knights mention incorporating tactics study into their daily schedule once they graduate. That seems to be an important point. Susan Polgar even mentioned that she does tactics problems daily to stay sharp.

  8. Anonymous,
    That's a funny comment!
    The last 3.5 years I spend doing tactics on a daily basis and now I am going to concentrate on endgames which, to my knowledge, consist for 95% of tactics. OK, for the other knights that might be true. But that has everything to do with the fact that they have done such a relentless job that they enjoy a well deserved rest. I'm sure they will pick it up afterwards. How much tactics do you study daily?