Thursday, July 07, 2005

Going round in circles.

As you may know I had a bad tournament at Whitsuntide.
Analysis of my games showed that I might need extended micro-level drills on a crowded board.
The micro-level drills are step 1 from DLM's improvement plan. I had never done them because they are too simple and artificial. An extended version that suited my needs had to be invented.
I romped during a week with the micro drills and the unsurpassed Chess Vision Trainer from Fussy Lizzard, but I couldn't find useful excersises that satisfied me.
So I gave this route up.

After a lot more research I came up with the idea that I had to work on step 3: transferring my pattern recognition to my OTB-play. I analysed my common blunders for that and I invented a scansystem to prevent them. I got much inspiration by the other Knights, especially from King and Mousetrapper.
After that I invented a system to jog through the exercises.
Now the dust has settled and I have an honest look at what I have made, I have to acknowledge that I have actually invented extended micro-level drills on a crowded board!
So I'm back to step 1 again. . .

I train 2-3 hours a day with my extended microdrills.
Most pieces cost me less energy now, but the extended Queenvision drill is very resilient.
Maybe I have to split it in two parts.

Extended bishop vision. Was 30 seconds, now 5 seconds.
Extended rook vision. Was 30 seconds, now 5 seconds.
Extended queen vision. Was 45 seconds, now 25 seconds.
Extended knight sight. Was 30 seconds, now 10 seconds.
Target vision. Not started yet.

Total scantime is 65 sec (without target vision).
This is a maximum value. Most of the time do the pieces have less possibilities, so I have to scan less. So at the moment the queenscan start to cost me less energy, I have a workable system.
Only the target vision has to be implemented yet. I will start tomorrow with that.


  1. I lay in bed last night after completing 62 bishop endgame puzzles and a wild, crazy thought hit me. What exactly is the point of the scan techniques that you and Mousetrapper have been chasing so furiously? Is it not the same goal as endgame mastery? As I study the endgame, I learn many, many tricks involving the interplay of the different pieces and pawns. If the goal of the scans is to improve chess vision by realization of the dynamic potential of the pieces present in a particular position, can you not also improve this chess vision by becoming intimate with the endgame? And, if so, wouldn't study of the endgame be more profitable?

  2. CD, there's a lot to say about that. First of all I haven't abandoned endgame study. I have made a decision to study it, and I stick with that for the next three years at least. At this moment I have to prepare for two upcoming tournaments. For me there is a straight logical line from the previous tourney to the next. I follow this line furiously, that is, with enthousiasm. This gives me the energy to work hard. Not everybody is the same. I admire your dedication. Once you have choosen a method, you stick to it to the end. That's a great quality.
    With me things work different. I choose a target, and stick to that to the end. But I change often the method. Because I like to experiment and to speculate and I feel not bound to a specific method. That keeps me going. For example, I did the 7 circles with 2933 problems in total, instead of the usual 1029.
    I can't prevent my mind from thinking, "ok, I use this method, but can it be done better?"
    If this trial and error gives me the energy to go on, it can't be wrong.
    But I tend to think in decades. This means that when I postpone things, they will almost always come back later. So the experiment I'm doing now only postpones things untill after the tourneys.

    To get back to your remark:
    I don't believe that endgame study is the answer for the problems I encountered last tourney. That were oversights in crowded middlegame positions. Simply not looking to a specific part of the board. The scanmethods are intended to help me to look at those parts in a disciplined way. Besides they are fun to do. Change of spice does eat.

    I wish you a happy vacation.

  3. My reason for the scan training is a quicker pop-out of the squares controlled by a piece, even on a crowded board. The beginner sees pieces, the master sees squares. That's it. It should help to avoid blunders and oversights, to detect long moves and to overcome camouflage. And it is vital for mating nets. Quite a number of reasons to do these scans. And to see all the squares controlled by a Queen pop out at once in a second or so is really rewarding.