An Experiment in Rapid Chess Improvement

Record of my experience in undertaking Michael de la Maza's "Rapid Chess Improvement" program.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

First Chess Lesson

Yesterday I had my first chess lesson with NM Dan Heisman. Overall I would say the lesson was interesting, if not a bit insightful. In general I was not expecting too much since it was only an hour, and I was certainly not disappointed. Overall I enjoyed it and found Dan pleasant to work with.

So what did we do? After discussing my goals (make expert), particular areas of focus (thought process and time management), and situation (I'm a working adult, etc.), we started off with a problem in which I was supposed to decide if the king and pawn position was a win, loss, or draw for either side . It was not too complicated and I had "unlimited" time to think about it (unlimited in that all the time I'm willing to pay for :-)...and I bungled it horribly. I was fairly surprised I messed it up, especially since I saw the major elements, etc. The really interesting thing was that it took me a looooong time time notice a few things about the position. The takeaway is that I really need to work on my board vision...just noticing basic things about positions like what pieces or pawns are hanging, etc.

We then started to go through my game vs. OJ this past Thursday (a terrible affair...I played horribly, survived a massive attack to emerge a rook ahead, allowed a perpetual check, and then decided to try out a stupid idea just to see if there was any possible winning resources in it...and I lost shortly thereafter). Unfortunately, one hour flies by and we only got partway through the game.

As a result of our first session I've decided to work some more on tactics and board vision. Tactics are easy (more CT-Art and other simple tactics...nothing too complicated, just working on recognizing basic tactics instantly, so I'll probably stick to level 10 and 20, maybe level 30), and doing the MDLM Chess Vision drills which I skipped the first time around. I also dug out my copy of Chess Mazes which is a fun way to work on board vision.

I figure I'll do 3 or 4 more lessons at a minimum and then decide if this is something I want to continue longer-term. Overall I'm relatively happy with the first lesson. Dan's and my schedules don't match up very well for the next couple of weeks so I won't be able to do lesson #2 until mid-December or so.

BTW There is a tournament in San Antonio the first weekend in December, so I'm trying to decide if I should make my tournament debut. It is a 4 game Swiss system, slow time control (30/90, SD/60) event, so it would be perfect to test the water and actually get a USCF rating. I'll probably enter the reserve ground (U1700) so I'm sure I'll get beat up by a bunch of grade-schoolers, but it will be fun and good experience nevertheless.


At 10:43 PM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Good luck in your tourney.


At 7:02 PM, Blogger Jim said...

So Dan gave you the puzzle with all the pawns in the weird configuration and the King moves to capture the pawn?

Yep. He gave me that one too. I didn't get it either. Stay with it. Dan really will improve your game a lot.

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Does Dan agree with your assessment of what you need to work on? Or is it too early for that?

I might suggest you work on winning won games against that pahtzer you play on Sundays. grin

Any chance we can see the endgame position? :)

Good luck in the tournament!

At 10:15 AM, Blogger fussylizard said...

Yeah, the same one. :-) I'm planning on doing 3-4 more lessons to see how I like working with Dan, and then decide if I want to do this long-term.

From what I discussed with Dan so far, I think I still need to focus on the basics some more. Still more tactics and board vision exercises. The MDLM plan alone is not enough. He has a little tactics test in Novice Nook 28. While I got all the problems correct, I didn't know most of them by site, so I still have some more work to do.

RE: my Sunday sparring partner, he's a pretty slippery fellow, but I did let him off the hook a couple of times. So my technique could use some work, but I think basic thought process improvement will really help there. (For those not in on the joke, Chris and I play most Sundays.)

RE: the endgame position, I don't want to post it to the blog since (1) if others decide to work with Dan the instructive value of the problem will be destroyed if they have seen it before, and (2) I don't know if it is a Dan-proprietary problem or not, so I wouldn't want to share something like that without his permission.

At 1:47 AM, Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

Good to see you back in the blogosphere. If I were you, I'd go to that tournament. You have to check it out. It's the ultimate test. Internet games and casual 64 with OJ are one thing, but real tourney OTB is a whole other ball game. In fact, in a tourney I bet you play even better than in the other two settings. I know I do.

At 4:58 AM, Blogger Chris said...

I completely agree with pale :)

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Qxh7# said...

Is there any chance you could update your chess vision trainer to be able to choose a piece other than the queen? I think its an excellent tool btw and I linked to it on my blog

At 8:02 PM, Blogger fussylizard said...

I need to update my chess vision program to use other pieces. I originally planned to do that, but then I skipped most of that part of the program so I never got around to it. I'll try to work on it sometime..

Glad you found it helpful though.


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