Monday, October 10, 2005

The subdivision of a tempo.

CTS invites me to play a tempo.
But I noticed that even "a tempo" can be interpreted in different ways.
I found the following 3 speeds.

"Immediate" The main tactic is recognized in under 1 second. The position is so familiar you are sure this has to be the move. The validation of the move is allready in the pattern so to say. This happens in <1% of the problems. It is a sort of observation without actually seeing. You just know where the pieces are and what they are doing. I compare it with the tennis player who knows where the ball is while it is physically not possible to see it (feel the force, Luke).

"Scanning" I scan the board and my eye falls on the main tactic. This happens within 3 seconds.
<10% of the cases.

"Validation" allthough I recognize the tactic fast, I feel the urge to validate the move. Before you know it 10-20 seconds are gone. For example a simple recapture of a piece falls in this category. I always feel the urge to have a look if there is nothing more to it. The majority of the problems fall in this category.

I'm happy to report that exercises at CTS don't lead to bad habits in slow games.
The main result OTB so far is that I play quicker and hence I'm less vulnerable for my old enemy, time trouble. It is too early to see an effect on my rating.

circle 0: 1470
circle 1: 1500
circle 2: 1520
circle 3: 26,200 /70,000
Highest rating 1567


  1. When is your next tournament? I'd really like to see if doing this many tactics at these speeds will make a difference.

    BTW, how may problems a day are you doing?

  2. One type of problem is relatively frequent on CTS: those that can be anticipated before the problem makes its move. I think for the top 10 tacticians more than 50% are in this category. Just an example: Weak back rank, you hope the problem moves its guard away, it does, or it can be removed. The speed depends on how fast you are with your mouse. My personal record is 1.3 seconds, but I saw some do it in 0.9.

  3. Jim, the first real tournament is Corus in januari. I do 300-400 problems a day.

  4. Mouse, good point. It is all rather subjective. When you think, you don't notice that time flies by. So I'm often not aware of the free 6 seconds before CTS moves.

  5. Alex Lenderman, who recently won the 2005 World Youth Championship, mentions that he plays a LOT of blitz. So, does this mean that blitz (and possibly by translation CTS) have a beneficial impact to one's chessgame despite what the experts say about playing slow games? I also remember reading that either Kotov or Pachman (I can't remember who) played tons of blitz games (I think they were even 1 minute bullet games) as class players to improve their abilities.

  6. CD, the difference between playing blitz and CTS is the element of repetition. The ONLY reason why my rating at CTS creeps up is this repetition. The problem at CTS is that the amount of problems to be repeated is so high. That's why I do so much problems a day, to keep the space between two repetitions as short as possible. With 400 problems per day, that space is a month at average.
    The advantage is that in the end I will have learned to recognize a tempo A LOT of new patterns.

  7. It's true that repetition is a big part of it, but one thing that I've noticed with CTS is not only repetition of specific problems, but also ideas. For example, I had a problem that involved distraction by checking the opp king on the first rank with a rook to force him to retake with rook, allowing me to capture his queen. I missed one such problem last night. Well, a few problems later, I face the same type of situation in a different problem. This time, I solved it correctly.

  8. >I'm happy to report that exercises at CTS don't lead to bad habits in slow games.

    That was something I wondered about. I have visited the site and I just don't like trying to play that fast-I still have some calculation errors on some basic stuff given infinite time.

    Could you comment on what you think people need in addition to CTS for OTB training?

  9. Same for me, King. In contrary, since I am a heavy CTS user my time management has improved considerably. Because I spot more patterns in short time, I can use more time to evaluate them and to decide if it is a critical situation that requires more time. Since CTS I hat zero time troubles while my opponents had so twice. In nearly all games I have a time advantage.

  10. King,
    I still have some calculation errors on some basic stuff given infinite time

    The primary goal for working with CTS is to learn to recognize one-movers a tempo.
    First you have to see how bad we actually are at one-movers. 30 - 60 seconds is not uncommon at all.
    Second you have to realize that is is near to impossible to calculate longer lines if the constituent one-movers are not recognized properly a tempo.
    So it really is comparable with the tables of multiplication.

    The transfer to OTB play goes by itself. Additional work has to be done on positional and endgame play.

  11. Tempo,
    Well after reading weeks of posts concerning CTS, I finally decided to revisit the site and see what all the fuss was about. For the last several days I've managed about 100 problems a day, and I have to say that it's pretty damn enjoyable. I actually like the time pressure aspect of it. This forces you to see patterns. If I see just rooks and bishops on the board with some pawns, I start to get a sense for what type of tactics to look for. It forces you to economize your thought process. And as CD said, I think you get repetition more frequently than you think. I'll see repitition of multiple motifs in a 100 problem set.