Thursday, December 29, 2005

More about flawed methods

The past 8 years I tried a lot of methods to help me to improve.
The main flaw of these methods was that my rating wasn't influenced a bit by any of them.
Except for the tactical training which helped me gain 200 points.
I strongly reject the idea that that improvement was the cumulative effect of all the training before. I'm sure that is not the case. In the years before I started with tactical training, I gained simply no point at all.
Beside the main flaw, gaining no rating, a few remarks can be made by every method.
This maybe helps to infer why the methods didn't work

To study openings.
At my level the opening proved to have little influence on the outcome of the game.
It made the start of the game easier, but I kept losing from guys I usually lose from, and I kept winning from guys I usually win from.

To study positional play.
This is exactly how DLM describes it. I deepened my insight of the game, but I had no skills to do what I know I have to do. Positional knowledge is only the very first beginning of positional play.
What is needed here is positional pattern recognition. Once we know how to develop tactical pattern recognition it is time to get back to positional play and to train positional patterns.

To study master games.
You are exposed to new patterns at such a low pace and the patterns are so exclusive that it works much the same like the study of positional play.

To study endgames.
Endgame methods like zugzwang, stalemate, opposition etc. are highly comparable with middlegame methods like pin, phork, skewer etc..
The approach has to be the same.
The only reason I don't study endgames at the moment is that the % of games that are decided by endgame failures from me is so low. And I'm so terribly bad in tactics that I really have to fix that first. But there comes a moment for sure that I will study endgames again.

To write a chess program.
Very interesting, it improved my insight in the game. But it helped me not the slightest bit.

To play a lot.
Playing alone is simply not enough. It is fun though.

To play a lot blitz.
Very good for developing bad habits. It doesn't help with long games. It is fun though.

To work with a thoughtprocess.
This helps a short time. But before you know it it is integrated in your system, it becomes automatic, and it is no conscience process anymore. Reduncy in the process will cost you time.

To visualize the board and pieces.
I have been #1 on the chess visualisation training site of Jan Matthies for a long time.
It improved my ability to see a board with pieces in my head. At a certain moment I could even move the pieces as if it was on a real board.
I started to dream about chessboards in 3D and technicolor.
It didn't bear an influence on my rating though.
I posted about my experiences here.

To play blindfolded.
Good to impress family and friends.
No use for actual play. See visualisation.


  1. Ofcourse i am not the expert on the subject, but it sounds to me like you started off the other way around. Especially where the opening is concerned. And it also seems natural that tactics did help you improve and gain a few points. I have had the chance to ask a number of titled players (from NM to GM's) for the best tip they could give to a player (who is familiar with basics) who is looking to improve. Almost all of them immediatly replied with "tactics" to start with. Certainly not openings. That should be about last on your list. Unless you are a GrandMaster ofcourse. As i presume you're somewhat my kind of level. Anyway, it certainly isn't the level to start with openings.

    That's just my 2 cents (or however that saying goes)...

  2. Some interesting observations here. Your experiences seem to have mirrored Nezh's who tried alot of these same things but only tactical training caused his rating to improved.

    I'm at the playing alot stage which is not improving my rating but is fun. Although it not as fun
    as play from the surge of tactical ability and improved board vision when you play after doing concentrated tactical study.

    I do think there is a benefit in memorizing master games in seeing the flow of an entire game. There is some carry over from this. I at times have played a game and see that the positions are simalar to a game I have memorized and steer it towards that type of play. Granted this happens less than the benefits of seeing one move tactics.

  3. Edwin,
    that's just my method of working. I always work systematically.
    If I have to solve a maze I go to the left at every oportunity. That is a rather inefficient way to solve a maze, but it is very certain, and no work is done double.

    In the beginning chess improvement looks like a crowded marketplace. Everybody seems to shout different things and not every salesman is trustworthy. If any. So I just worked my way thru the different methods. In every method is something good. But only if it is applied in the right way and on the right time. It takes time to develope a feeling for the crux in every system.
    Now I feel I'm closing in on the right method for improvement.

  4. Have you tried taking lessons from a great player? They might be better able to help you improve quickly...