Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year to all

Blue Devil put up interesting questions in his comment on my last post:
The main question is, what is the best way to learn pattern recognition? Via learning a zillion patterns (Tempo), or via learning a relatively small alphabet of patterns (Heisman) around which your skills accrue?

Until now I haven't given these items much attention because I thought I had not the time to develop something my self. So I accepted a less than optimal method as CTS. But let's have a close look on this issue, maybe some good idea's arise.
First I would like to reformulate the second question as follows:

What is a better methaphore, to compare pattern recognition with learning the tables of multiplication or with learning the vocabulaire of a new language?
The tables are limited to 120 items, a vocabulaire of a new language is 20,000+
Prof. Adriaan de Groot mentions somewhere that a (grand-?)master knows 50,000 positions by heart. Other sources speak of 100,000 positions.
An article that especially inspired me was about the five stages of skill acquisition. They talk about 50,000 positions for a chess master.
So the comparison with learning a new language seems to be the most appropriate.
Accrueing skills around a few basic patterns has never worked with me.
Back to the main question:

What is the best way to learn 50,000-100,000 patterns?
I'm not too far from finishing circle 4 at CTS.
This means that at average I have seen every problem of the window (=10,000 problems) 4 times by now.
My average rating at CTS is increased with 50 points.
What does this mean?
If you look at the bell curve of the rating distrubution of the problems you can see that my problem window has shifted 1,300 upwards.
This means that I ingrained 1,300 patterns at the downside of the problem window in my system and that I got 1,300 new problems at the upside of the window.

Summarizing: it took me 6 months to gain 1,300 patterns.
That means 50,000 patterns will cost me another 19 years.
The price of being objective bears heavily on me, thanks, Blue Devil:)
There are three marginal notes:
  • I took a break of 3 weeks what costed me 2 months to recover.
  • I am almost finished with circle 4 now so I'm expecting an accumulated effect the next circles.
  • Since a few weeks I altered my method. This seems to work well.

So I have to find a faster method. Idea's anyone?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Tempo,I was thinking that maybe you should try stepping out of the realm of tactics for a while. Because even though a GM may know 50,000 positions that doesn't necessarily mean that all 50 000 of them are tactical and trying to increase your pattern stock solely from doing tactical problems, won't increase your playing skill even if you somehow mananaged to memorize all of the problems on the CTS server, since tactics is only one aspect of the game. And also what a GM has that's superior to the average chess player, is his understanding of the positions and how to play them, so maybe you should try to work on the number of positions you actually know and understand how to play. That would definitely, increase your pattern stock.

  3. Guru, thanks for your thoughts.
    You are right of course that after a problemset with solely tactical problems, I have to do the same with a positional problemset and an endgame problemset.
    But most tactical problems at CTS are so trivial and common, that I simply can't imagine that I'm going anywhere as long as I don't master these simple tactics.

    It is too early to start to learn the more advanced parts of the game while I haven't learned the very basics.
    It is silly for me to think I know the very basics because I invested so much time in it. I don't want to fall into this trap. I have to look objectively to the RESULTS of my efforts. And I think the results are below all standards.

    On the other hand I don't think I have wasted my time, because I have to learn to distinct the good methods from the bad. And I come closer with every insight.

  4. happy new year tempo -

    I had been posting comments, but it doesnt seem to show up =<.. I wonder if I'm doing something wrong..

  5. happy new year tempo -

    I had been posting comments, but it doesnt seem to show up =<.. I wonder if I'm doing something wrong..

  6. I really don't know, but I wouldn't let de Groot's conclusions steer me too much. You own conclusions have gotten you this far, and he was focused on results not improvement.

    I am sure if you periodically change things up after finishing CTS you'll eventually hit on something that remedies the situation.

  7. Hey TS. Man your dedication really scares me. 200 problems a day, every day?

    About your progress. Like they say, results speak for themselves. You're one of our highest rated Knights so you must have been doing something right. Did you make A Class yet? I know the last time I checked you were really close.