The salt mines I have mined, were specifically designed for improving board vision. While solving exercises at CT the past month, I time and again asked myself: Is my failure or excessive time usage caused by poor board vision? In less then 1% of the cases I found that poor board vision played a decisive roll. In other words: you can't expect much improvement by salt mining when it comes to blitz problems at CT with a rating around 1700.
Context of the position.
I wanted to create a formal check-list with questions to interrogate the position. That was what I initially understood as being the thought process. In two weeks this check-list developed towards a list of only three questions, which are mainly useful to understand the context of the position:
- How is the material balance?
- Is the position about trap, double attack, promotion?
- Which targets are likely to be going to provide the wood to gain?
The real thought process.
The real thought process developed in a quite different direction than just a check-list to get an idea of what the position is about. I had an important revelation about the role of the initiative.
In the past, I had tried to integrate CCT in my game. But since trial & error was my main approach to the game, I found it to be too time consuming. Most CCT can be refuted in an easy way, and to investigate all these moves without any filtering is a daunting task with too little returns for the time invested.
That all changed when I replaced trial & error by logical thinking. Logical thinking provides the filter that CCT needs. You only consider CCT moves which are logical. It is hard to describe how the application of chess logic develops overtime. Chess logic has its own patterns. Analysis of the positions reveal those logical patterns, which were previously overlooked. The unconscious brain works its magic, and the new patterns are assimilated without further ado.
It takes time to change more than a decade of old habit of trial & error. But after an initial dip of minus 70, I improved 50 points (reckoned from the initial starting point of 1700) during the past month. Analysis of spilled time shows that the room for improvement is gigantic, and I see no reason why an improvement to master level shouldn't be possible. I'm still talking about the niche of tactics solely, of course. The only uncertain factor is a change in the problems themselves when they become higher rated. But I have done a lot of 2200-2400 rated problems in the past (CT standard mode), and as far as I remember them, most are plain simple after analysis. Above 2400 the problems became more esoteric every now and then. It is my take that between master and grandmaster level the role of board vision will become more profound. When I reach a blitz level of 2000 at CT, I consider the improvement an epic success, and I will resume to play chess again.
Initially, doing chess exercises was fun. When you feel you make progress. But when exercising became excessive, initialized by the Knights Errant, fun gradually disappeared. I didn't detest it of course, since I don't do things I detest for a hobby. The exercises themselves were addictive, to a certain degree, but the fun mainly consisted of satisfying the curiosity how the human mind and learning works. I learned a whole bunch of things about these subjects.
With applying chess logic, the joy in exercising and in the positions themselves is back. Which is probably the most important thing that happened the past month.