Sunday, June 17, 2007


For the unlikely case that you missed the cohesion in my posts the past months, I have summarized a few issues.

Classic MDLM.
The results of 100k+ tactical exercises in "traditional" MDLM style have convinced me of the fact that there is something MDLM didn't tell us. Because he didn't know, or didn't know that it was important. If I look at the ratingprogress of the Knights, and I distract the ones who started with a rating that was either provisional or below 1400, and the ones that weren't adults at the time of exercising, than no one has come close to the results of MDLM. I do belief that if you are rated 1500 that the circles or other intensive tactical training can help you to gain 250 points. As it did to me. If your rating is below 1400 and/or you aren't adult, your ratingprogress can be greater than 250, maybe even until 500. And that if you start with a 1800 rating that it can help you to add another 150. But the fruits are finite. I assume DK would call it the law of diminishing returns. Since I'm of the school of Henry George, I start immediately to stretch the fixed parameters and to introduce new ones.

Conscious effort.
The education of the chessmodule in your brain is for 1% based on consciously and serial focussing of your attention and for 99% on unconsciously, semi-intelligent parallel processing of data. What is processed by the unconscious part of your chessmodule is based on what happens in the 1% conscious attention you give.
Since the unconscious part is semi-intelligent, the quality of the conscious effort is all-important.

The improvement of your chessmodule is based on conscious feedback. Feedback has 3 elements:
  • You make an error.
  • Some aid corrects your error.
  • You consciously try to assimilate the correction.
You can't correct your own errors. If you could, you would not make them in the first place. Trying to correct your own errors is what I think to be the greatest flaw in the circles. That takes a terrible amount of time with a result that isn't in comparison.

To find an aid to correct your errors there are 3 options:
  • Hire a coach to analyse your games and to play as your chess mom.
  • Buy a book with games/positions from mastergames and with grandmasterly comments. Try to find the moves first yourself in order to make the necessary errors.
  • Take complex tactical problems and use a computer to find the correct lines.
I opt for the third solution. In about 70% of my games I am confronted with positions that are too complex for me to handle. Maybe it is more than 70% but can't I see that because of a blind spot, who knows? It looks just logical to work on my ability to handle these complex positions. Any strategy that works is fine. I tried to adopt a style to avoid complex situations, but that didn't work. Even the masters of positional play weren't afraid of complexity and could handle it.

Now I'm using Polgars middlegame brick which has complex middlegame positions with a finite conclusion aplenty. Most positions are highly tactical. The solution at the end of the book plus the computer are the assistants to correct my errors. The positions are derived from grandmaster games, which means that grandmasters were able to handle this complexity.

Problem solving strategy.
I have no strategy to "attack" such complex problems, so I try to find one.


  1. I like your thoughts about correlating progress with the skill at the start. You write that one of the tricky things is to find your own mistakes. At my level (1.5 years after starting from zero), this is still relatively easy because most mistakes are more or less obvious tactical oversights. I can spot them either myself after the mistake has been made or with the help of the computer (see for instance one of my very recent games). But once you get above that level, help from an experienced coach might be necessary to see the big picture of what is missing in your games. This explains why patzers fare much better in self-improvement attempts than better players.

    What I don't understand is what you expect to achieve by doing complex tactics. Improve your calculation skills? I think it all boils down to find your eakest spot. Are you sure it is complex tactics?

  2. Sciurus,
    I estimate that there arise complex tactical positions in 70% of my games. Positions that are too complex to handle for me. Grandmasters do have the capability to handle such positions though. I consider this even to be a major difference between me and a grandmaster.
    And so I consider this to be a major weakness in my play which shows in 70% of my games.