To do the strategical modules of PCT, you must be pretty determined.
For some reason it's much heavier than tactical problems. I'm almost half way now and I'm beginning to like it. The first half though was far from easy. Not that the problems were too dificult. Ok, the first time I was going thru the problems I made 50-70% mistakes. But after the provided explanation of the problems, most of them became clear. It's just that it takes more time before I squeeze some fun out of the process if I compare it with tactical problems.
But I'm starting to enjoy it now.
I have "learnt" (= repeated 6 times) 294 of the 720 problems.
The method of PCT comes very close to the method of the 7 circles we use.
I have a confession to make. You already guessed it of course, but I'm a convert to the positional approach to chess.
Which immediately raises an important question, "is the method of the 7 circles applicable for learning positional chess?"
If you would have asked me before, I would have said "yes".
But if you ask me now the answer would be "only partly".
Before you can convert knowledge into skill, you have to acquire the knowledge. That's true for tactics (pin, skewer, clearance, preparational move etc.) and for positional chess (weak pawns, holes, bishoppair, bad bishop etc.).
Every experienced chessplayer has this knowledge already. No matter the level of the player.
For this kind of knowledge, the 7 circles are perfect. As PCT show.
For strategy it's different. Most strategical knowledge isn't known by chessplayers at class level. The essential information is simply drowned in an information overflow. There is no doubt you have to do the 7 circles with tactical problems and with positional problems before you even start to think to obtain strategical knowledge. If you still hang pieces or forget to occupy an open line you're not ready yet.
For acquiring strategical knowledge you have to start the study of the Games Of The Masters who are exponents of strategy. Here is the list:
- Akiba Rubinstein
- Jose Raul Capablanca
- Aaron Nimzovich
- Tigran Petrosian
- Anatoly Karpov
Steinitz is excluded from the list for two reasons. First he changed from one style to another, second he applied his own rules often quite ridgid. When we are in a learning phase, we can't determine yet what to study from Steinitz and what not.
Nimzovich and Petrosian were masters of prophylaxis and overprotection.
To study the games of the strategical masters you need their games with comments.
What's important is that the commentator is biased to positional chess too.
It sounds logical to take the masters themselves as commentator but sometimes that has a downside.
If you take for instance the "greatest games" by Anatoly Karpov, you see that he is biased to his most spectacular games because the public likes that, plus he forget to tell us the things that are simple and natural for him.
So sometimes it's better to have another grandmaster as commentator.
I don't know which are the grandmasters with a preference for positional play, but Yasser Seirawan is certainly one of them.
Capablanca is a brilliant commentator who is able to sit on his knees to give the amateur excellent leasons. I like his book "Chess fundamentals" very much. I don't know wether he has written other books with commentary on games.
I don't know much about the other Masters Of Strategy or what they have written. I intend to find out.
Once the first problem to acquire the right strategical knowledge is solved, the knowledge has to be converted to strategical skill. I doubt if the 7 circles can play a big role in that. Strategical knowledge bears on plans during the entire game. So you can't seperate it from the game by looking only at positions. The most logical approach seems to be to try to apply it in your games and to analyze the results afterwards.
In the past I studied mastergames and I tried to analyse my own games.
To very little avail.
Now I know why. I didn't know which games to study and which commentators to listen to.
Analysing your own games without strategical knowledge is close to useless.