Friday, March 25, 2016

Prelimanary conclusions

I have been salt mining for two months in a row for a few hours per day now. Today I asked myself: if I am going to do this another six months, will I be better at tactics? The answer is: I don't think so. The past two months I lost 50 rating points at CT, and I have not the feeling that I'm making any progress at tactics at all.

This means that there probably is a fault in Aox' reasoning. As you know I didn't like it from the beginning, but I couldn't refute it, so I felt obliged to give it a chance. Somehow the analogy between "learning to read" and "learning board vision" must by faulty. I learned to read music notation in a few months, while feeling every day that I made progress, but during salt mining I don't have that feeling at all.

On the other hand, looking into the thought process with a fresh look and new energy, seems much more promising. The thought process helps to make less errors to begin with, and there is a lot of room for improvement in speed. I'm talking about minutes, not seconds here. So I'm going to shift my focus towards the thought process. I have the feeling that I did never reap the full fruits from my training the past years due to a sloppy thought process.


  1. Does it mean we should stop looking for a gold nugget at salt mines? Or we should focus our findnings at the other parts?

    I have the strange feeling we do not make any significant progress due to some reasons:
    1) the progress at specific task is sufficient (big/high enough)
    2) the additional tasks (those showing us what we are the weakest at the moment) are necessary to practice
    3) after mastering the basic part(s) we should steadily practice a bit more difficult ones(s).

    I have very similiar feeling to Tempo, but I am not definitely convinced Aox's hypothesis are (completely) wrong. We probably work in a non optimal way. At least in my salt minining process - there are some holes waiting to be fixed (for example at chessgym: attackers vs defenders).

  2. If you belief in a hypothesis you should test it until it is validated or falsified.

    I don't remember how I learned to read, but I do remember how I learned a few things as an adult, like how to drive a car or how to sing polyphonous from a music score. In both cases there was hardly any build up from low level tasks towards more complicated tasks.

    I like the "how to learn to drive a car" or "how to learn to sing from score" much more, since I remember well how I learned it.

    That doesn't mean that I see no place for a Troyis like training method. To sing perfect pitch, it took me about 8 months of singing musical scales for about one hour per day. For that kind of basic training, salt mines are perfectly suited. But that is training which is aiming at perfection, not complexity. The more complex tasks, like reading the music score, were done like learning how to drive a car. With the magical aid of the subconscious.

    You must remember what the salt mines are aiming at, in chess. It is meant to perfect board vision. The question is: how often is a lack of board vision the cause of failure at CT. My investigation showed that that is very rare, when you are 1700 rated and get problems accordingly.

    1. There is no substantial difference between board vision and tactical vision, board vision is just very easy tactical vision ( tactical pattern: hanging piece.. )
      Improvement in tactics can be divided in 2 classes : improvement in simple tactics and improvement in complex tactics. Simple tactics are the atoms of complex tactics.
      It is true that the / (a?) key to improvement in complex tactics is the thinking process. During the last year i was able to improve ~~100 elopoints in complex tactics mainly by working at my thinking process
      Still based on several scientific papers i strongly believe that the cornerstone to substantial improvement is the improvement in simple tactics
      The question remains : how !

      It is interesting that you did get worse in tactics with your exercises, i cant see this effect with doing mine. I wonder if you might have "dechunked" your brain by doing tons of "not natural positions" ?

      Well thinking methods are less horror than saltmines thats for shure;)

      By the way are you doing your ct - blitz - puzzles with maximum speed or do you apply your new thinking process to them. Your lower rating might be cause by the speed loss caused by the thinking process.. i did get 100 puins weaker at the beginning of the "thinking about my thinking" ;)

    2. The cognitive science doesn't give a complete understanding of chess learning, yet. It is difficult to interpret the papers. It is easy to get too rigid by emphasising certain aspects too much out of context. The speed of decision to shift gears or use the breaks, is faster than my thinking. Without much explicit working on the subtasks. So there may be other channels to speed up. I don't know of any grandmaster who did any kind of salt mining.

      I got 50 points weaker at CT by stopping at my peak and not exercising for two months at CT. Since I try not to speed up again, because I work on my TP, it remains that way. Meaning that the salt mines didn't keep my performance at CT.

      I cannot reach my potential at CT because the triggers don't fire (chess module 'RC' shouting "Qc4!"). A thought process helps me to guide my attention towards the square I should focus on. Once the attention has arrived there, the solution is usually found at lighting speed. At least that is how it feels. :D

  3. Tempo said : "I don't know of any grandmaster who did any kind of salt mining."

    I don't know of any grandmaster who did not get his Mastertitle before the age of 20. Thats why we are looking for new methods. The old ones dont work with adults ( >30 ).

    Tempo said: "I got 50 points weaker at CT by stopping at my peak and not exercising for two months at CT. "

    You will always be worse at anything if you stop it for 2 months, It will take you a moment or two to get back to your former level. The extreme high RD after a long break did lead result in a big loss in rating points but lets look at your performace at your first day after 2 monts : the 2016-03-15

    You did solve 16 puzzles , 9 of them where right
    The first 9 puzzles you solved with high RD you had 6 wrong
    The next 7 puzzles you solved with much lower RD you had only 1 wrong
    You where just getting used to solving blitz puzzles again insted of solving board vision puzzles.

    If you use your thought process right now AND your rating is still the same low then the reason for your weak performance is estimatingly your thinking process which will make you slower at the moment until you will be able to use this process automated / subconciously.

    But the purpose of these BV exercises was not to make you improve in tactics but to make simple tactics improvable. None of these exercise made you better in a more complex exercise, but it made it possible to improve there.

    We did start with m1 wich was not improvable so we did start FAC and FAES to MAKE m1 improvable.

    Buut.. now thats just history ..

    At least we know now for shure that MDLM method of microdrills is nonsense, it is by far not that simple as he described.