Friday, December 07, 2012

Second session

Yesterday we had the second game analysis session with my coach. The first session was a revelation in the sense that I never was aware of how big the role of time trouble was in the results of my games. I thought I had overcome this problem by changing my repertoire from solely gambits to a positional repertoire a few years ago. What I effectively did by then was that I changed my time trouble from extreme++ to beyond average. That felt as an improvement, which it was, but it made me unaware of the fact that my time trouble was far from over. Apparently my bias that the time trouble problem was solved created a blind spot.

I was already aware of the fact that a lot of time was spilled by irrelevant thoughts, so when the conclusion was that I spilled much points because of time trouble and my coach encouraged me to get rid of it rigorously, I decided to simply drop the irrelevant thoughts. By every move where I have to decide between two candidates I ask myself "can I decide this by calculation?". If not, I play the most logical move without further ado.

The result was way beyond my and his expectation. I played 9 OTB games against opponents with an average rating +100. I scored 4 wins and 5 draws. I haven't been in time trouble in any of the games. It can of course be a statistical oscilation, time have to prove that. But if not, it is very promising.

Yesterday we went over the games. My coach seemed to be content over my openings and middlegame play in general. Since there hadn't been serious time trouble, my games became longer. That revealed another problem: I reached positions where I had no idea how to get any further. So I offered a draw. Which was usually accepted. Or I played trough and drawed, since I had no idea how the convert an advantage into a win. When you blunder under time trouble, you don't get to this point. Which is why I hardly have played an endgame the past 14 years.

We concluded that I have to work on my endgame. So I started with Silmans brick and fired up the endgame module of CT.
To be continued. . .


  1. Thanks!
    It turned out that my training helped me to spill my time faster and faster.

  2. Congratulations! Perhaps the learning strategy is simpler than you thought. Common sense, and working your way through bricks!

  3. Glad to see that you are improving in your thought processes.
    Some really excellent books on the endgame are "Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual" and Carsten Mueller's "Fundamental Chess Endings".
    GM Mueller's Chessbase Endgame Series is highly recommended. Just the first two DVD's alone will add tons of points to your rating.

    And yes I'm back :). I'm having some issues logging into "The Society of Self-Analysis" blog but once I get those resolved. I will catch everyone up on where I have been and what I have been doing these past 4-1/2 years.

  4. Very good ! You seem to have found a good coach ! May I ask who he is ?

  5. I had a similar experience. I got more or less rid of my time trouble by having this rule: As soon as I am aware that I already thought 10 minutes then I stop searching/calculating further and tell myself: "o.k., I cant see it all, it gets too messy (because it is very tactical situation) but at the moment I cant see any real threat, so which move is positionally probably best?"

    or I tell myself this: "o.k., I have several positional options here, all of them look pretty calm and more or less all options seem to be good enough. I move the move I think is safest and is not spoiling the game. I might miss a winning plan, but I try to win the game later, because at the moment finding the winning plan seem to take me too long. Probably there is no winning plan, so I better move on."

    This means: usually we think too long about deciding between moves which dont have a huge impact on evaluation. Or we have a tactical sharp "suspicious" situation on board, but we cant see any immediately tactical strike - because probably there is none!
    After investing 10 minutes, we can assume that we are not about to blunder, so if there is a tactical strike - it must be pretty hard to see for our opponent, too.
    We will have some ideas what kind of tactics are possible in the future, and we might use these possibilities to decide positionally which way to go.

    I dont have an alarm clock, which tells me I used already 10 minutes. So often I am aware of my long thinking not before 15 minutes have passed, after which I usually need another minute to decide which cloudy way I am going to risk to go.

    The thing is:
    I am prepared that I am not able to solve all problems OTB that jump at me. I am prepared that I cant see cleary, that I feel like walking into cloudy with an unknown ending. I am prepared to feel uneasy and having the feeling that I am not sure how to evaluate all this.
    I am prepared to let go. This is the trick: dont try to understand it all if you still dont understand it after 10 minutes.

    For the endgame troubles: Chances are, that your endgame skill isnt so bad. It is rather that you are aware that the endgame is played a bit faster then the moves previously, leaving you with less indepth insight of the game, giving you an uneasy feeling.
    Also, every move weighs positionally more. A little inaccuracy - and you might lose the game.
    You often think that GMs surely know what to do in a R+3pawns vs R+2pawns endgame, with all pawns on the same wing.
    Well, it was very releaving for me to see Alexander Onischuk (2670 elo) losing against Ding (2700 elo) such a simple endgame, despite having reasonable enough time. Things arent so easy - even not for GMs.
    It was a game at the chess olympiad. Nakamura dissed Onischuk, saying basically that a team is as strong as the weakest link, obviously meaning the unnecessary loss of this endgame.

    Of course, training endgames will make you better in them, but dont expect you get rid of the uneasy feeling that you dont know really how to play this ending correctly. For this it is better to be prepared like I said above: be prepared to get into unknown waters and dont waste time.

  6. @Laurent,
    I asked him permission to use his name. I'let you know.