You did 100+k tactical exercises. Why is your tactics-rating still "so low" ( meaning not at GM-Level )?
Indeed my exercises only gained me a measly 300 OTB points. And if my main goal wasn't to find out how stuff works I would have been a bit disappointed for sure. Luckily that isn't the case and most of the time I was happily aware of "spilling my time" for the sake of exclusion. On the road of exclusion chess improvement nonsense falls from the bandwagon every mile. The reason of wee improvement sofar: bad methods. The methods worked at first exposure but overtime the returns diminished gradually.
When one ages precision in exercise methods becomes paramount. High time to dissect the latest microdrills in order to find out what the decisive elements are. What is critical and what are frills.
I'm speaking of the drill of naming the squares. A little silly maybe, but we are looking after principles here and this is a nice and clearcut example.
First let's talk about what worked not.
I estimate that I have recorded games in a state of timetrouble for about 50 hours over the past twelve years. Especially when I played gambits timetrouble was the norm since you have to make the game. The past two years my time trouble has become a rare animal.
This 50 hours of "training" wasn't enough to convince my brain to transfer the task of naming the squares to the automatic part of my brain.
What are the adding elements of the drill?
The past 16 days I trained about 10 minutes a day pointing at squares at random and naming them. That is about 2.6 hours total. When I have spend 3 hours I expect to have mastered it to name the squares a tempo with no noticeable delay and without hesitation. If I call the name of 1 square a fact then I need 3 minutes per fact.
So for transferring a task from knowledge to automatic the following is needed:
- total traning time 3 minutes per fact.
- 120 repetitions per fact.
- speed 1.5 seconds per fact
- conscious feedback.
- total training time 47 minutes per fact.
- 100 repetitions per fact.
- speed 30 seconds per fact.
- No conscious feedback.
Critical factor 1: Conscious feedback.
That one can't learn or train anything on autopilot I have found often and I have written a lot about conscious feedback before. Simply seek for conscious effort, autopilot, feedback etc.. In this post I try to explain why when you are young everything goes but when you become older you have to add intensity to your consciousness in order to make progress. I assume that interference of knowledge plays a role too when aging.
Critical factor 2: Speed.
There are several reason why I always have dismissed speed as being critical. To name a few:
- Blitz play seems to have no significant effect on improving slow games.
- The saying: First you have to learn to do it slow. Speed comes with experience.
- CTS training was all about speed. But it didn't work out.
When I recall the name automatically it feels like "immediate".
The average speed of training is 1.5 seconds which lies somewhere in between these two. If you train too fast there is no time for feedback, if you train too slow then there is no need for the brain to transfer the task to a fster part of the brain.
Factors that are not critical.
- Amount of repetitions. To make any fact an element of your knowledge 7-10 repetitions at a regimen adviced by the theory spaced repetition will suffice. But to transfer a task from knowledge to skill 100 repetitions can be insufficent when it is not done with speed and conscious feedback. As you can see above.
- Spacing between repetitions. I don't know yet if there is any reason to spread the training of a fact overtime or that you can do it right away the full monty. I'll have to try.
I losely introduced the word fact as a means to compare different training methods. But when the skills become more complex it is easy to see that the word fact becomes rather meaningless. I mean, how many facts do you train when playing blindfold chess is an unanswerable question. Yet the term has served it's purpose.
Mutually exclusive tendency.
The two critical factors speed and conscious feedback have a tendency to be mutually exclusive. That's why it is so hard to improve at chess. Blitz and CTS don't work since there is no time for feedback. While Standard Chess Tempo is too slow to trigger the transfer. So the tasks and the speed must be chosen carefully. Speed is the trigger for transfer but conscious feedback is slow by nature.