Sunday, November 05, 2006

Is the method of MDLM flawed?

The method that MDLM used can't be flawed, since his result is a proven fact.
But what about the method he advocates in his book Rapid chess improvement and his articles 400 points in 400 days?
The program he describes there lasts 127 days and is aiming at adult class players.
You can expect a rating improvement of 127 points if you do this program.
The Knights Errant have done or are busy with this program.
If you look at the average result of the graduated knights, the landmark of 127 points is exceeded by far.
So statistically the method he advocates in is book and articles isn't flawed either.

But. . .
There are a few other things:

1st. Not every knight managed to increase 127 points.
I, for instance, started with 1701 points and have now 1743 points.
For that improvement I needed about 640 days.
I did 7 x the problems of step 3-5 from TCT (=7 x ca 1500)
I did 7 x the 1359 problems of George Renko
And I did 7 x the problemwindow of CTS, (7 x 10,000; gaining 120 rtg points at CTS)
If I analize with higher rated players, I estimate my improved tactical ability equal to 1900-2000 rated players. Yet it doesn't show in my OTB-rating.

2nd. It is not so likely that the 127 points in 127 days of most Knights Errant who scored beyond the landmark can be extrapolated to 400 points in 400 days.

3rd. The idea that chess is 99% tactics (not heralded by MDLM but by Teichman!) is definitely busted.

4th. Sofar nobody of the Knights Errant has equaled the performance of MDLM.

I'm content with my results, since I was plateauing on 1701 for long, and now I'm on the move again. Of course I had hoped for more.
The facts above raise some questions.

Why is there so much difference in result of the program between the Knights?
Why scored MDLM himself so well?
Why score I so bad while I'm tactical so much better than I was?
Why can prodigies improve so fast?

In an attempt to answer these questions, I made an assumption that MDLM hasn't told us everything. Not on purpose, but because either he didn't know or he didn't realize the importance.
If I look what hampers my own development the most, I see a great lack of Positional Strategic Pawn Structure Crap (PSPSC).
So now I formulate the hypothesis that this PSPSC is what is missing in the method of DLM.
The crap proves to be fertilizer.

Why was the development of MDLM himself not hampered by a lack of PSPSC?
A few Knights assumed that he had studied positional stuff before but since he was a bad tactician, it didn't bear fruit. His tactical improvement unleashed his positional knowledge, as it were.
I'm always a bit reluctant when things look so simple.
I have done a lot of positional study myself before. Why was that knowledge not unleashed by the program? I think there must be at least one other element that plays a role. Maybe that was indeed the fact that he played ca. 200 games in two years during the program. I haven't played that much the last two years, about 50 games in all. Or is there still something else?
If I look at the prodigies, they all have a coach at masterlevel who takes care of their positional development, so tactical improvement is what they are busy with.

So all in all the program of MDLM is ok, but some PSPSC has to be added.


  1. I've long thought that MDLM had some previous experience or training prior to his tactical improvement program.
    It's just without access to his games I could never prove it.

    Strong tactics will erase a lot of sins. But strong tactics coupled with strong planning makes for a tough opponent.

    Glad to see you jazzed about chess again!

    I have some corrected information about my rating due to the USCF running their rerate software. My official starting rating should be 1520, my current rating is 1575.
    I've picked up about 5 points per game played.

  2. My ratings went up over 400 points. I posted about it earlier.

  3. Jim,
    I adjusted your rating in the list according to the data of the USCF

  4. Good post. I believe that part of the inconsistency is due to inconsistency in training. Not many have followed the MDLM training program as prescribed. Also I believe the book is written for a low ranking player ie 1200 as by definition this player is a tactical mess. Higher ranking players will not see as much of a benefit.
    Here is some areas we as knights have often differed from his training. 1) The compression of time. Doing the same set of problems and halfing the time. Especially doing the last 3 circles in a 7 day period. I believe the knights who stuck closer to the program have seen better improvement.
    2)Following a problem sequence from the simpler to extremely complex problems. Some have just done simpler problems.
    I have to run but will write more later ,

  5. Funny thing is if you look at MDLM
    game history from the point he had an established rating (1344) to the time he peaked and retired at (2041) a 697 point gain in rating. He played 166 games giving him an average increase of 4.19 points per game played. The reason I used this time frame is due in part to the USCF rerates because none of his ratings match what is reported in his book (Not his fault).

    Using the time frame listed in the book chart Oct. 99 - Oct. 2000 Fig.1 page 11 and the current USCF data it would be adjusted to 1398 and 1834 (436 point increase over 101 games played / a 4.31 ppg increase). Very impressive.
    His remaining points (from 1834 to 2041) come at a much more modest level of 3.69 ppg but it must be noted that he stopped a couple of months shy of the full year of play.

    He played a lot, analysed his games, created a program to fix his weakness, and he improved a lot. Even at the beginning of his own book he states "Middlegame strategy is fun to read, but after analysing my own games I did not think that I was losing games because I did not understand minority attacks and weak squares."

    The book summary should read "If after analysing your own games and tactics are your problem then this book is for you."
    If not identify your own particular weakness(es), eliminate them and watch your rating improve.
    I used the "Chess Exam and Training Guide" to find mine
    and now see chess in a whole new light.

  6. Yes, the trick is Maza's process of arriving at a solution, not the particular solution. I blogged about this is my post, "Self Diagnosis".