An Experiment in Rapid Chess Improvement

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My Life Story

Well, I'm still working on the life story part, but the chapter regarding my exploits in the MDLM plan are posted on my chess page. I really want to add a few more things to it, but I also wanted to get version 1.0 posted. I'd be curious to hear everyone's feedback. If you think I should add something to it, let me know.

Other Chess Activities
Overall, I've been a bit slack lately. I'm making flashcards out of the Bain tactics book to help improve my pattern recognition there. I solve 75% of the problems almost immediately, but I need to get that to 100%.

I've been trying to play a bit more online, mostly blitz to work on opening principles.

I need to play some on FICS so I can get a rating and jump onto Team MDLM, but I've just been busy with other stuff. (Sorry!)

In the game review department I'll probably finish going through games in Snyder's "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors" and then move on to "Morphy's Games of Chess". In the tactics department, I will probably start going through "Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors" in a MDLM fashion.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Writer's Block

Just a quick update on the story of my MDLM experience: I'm still working on it. I have been very busy with work (travel) and have not had much chess time lately. However, I'm going to finish my epic masterpiece about solving chess problems for months and then get back to my chess training.

I Have to Have This
Did you know that Convekta offers a Pocket PC version of CT-Art? I think I will order a copy since I love playing chess against Pocket Fritz 2, and always having CT-Art at my fingertips would be great. Not enough time to get slaughtered in a blitz game? No problem- zip through a few problems in CT-Art...

A Confession
I am embarrassed to mention it, but I went ahead and ordered Total Chess Training (mostly for Strategy 2.0 and the opening blunders CD) and Middlegame Training 3 (mostly for the stuff on the Scandinavian which I play from time to time). Overall I now have about 20,000 problems from Convekta to do. Hmmm, guess I'd better get to work!

Online Team Play
When catching up on Knight blogs I read with interest about the team competitions being organized by Pawn Sensei. G/45+45 is not too bad, though slower would be better (I prefer G/120). So I think I'll try to play a few games over at FICS to get a rating so I can join in on the fun. I definitely need to play more, so this sounds like a great opportunity.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Novice Nook & Chess Tactics for Students

Novice Nook
I finished reading most of the articles from Dan Heisman's excellent Novice Nook series at ChessCafe last night. I skimmed a few that I didn't think were immediately useful to me in the process of building my own study plan, but I will go back and review those later. If you are an adult player (or maybe even a younger player) trying to improve, I highly recommend you take advantage of this fantastic resource. Dan seems to be pretty good at presenting things clearly, so his articles are well worth a read.

Based on what I already knew and Dan's suggestions from Novice Nook, here's what I'm going to work on:
  • Playing more slow games (G/60 or longer)- I'm working on getting some set up. I already review my games, look for opening improvements, etc.- I just need to play more.
  • Thought process- I need to work on this, but playing more games will help.
  • Tactics- The MDLM plan helped, but I still have more work to do in this area.
  • Evaluation- This is a new one I think I need to improve based on Dan's articles. In particular I need to focus on evaluating "quiet" positions where material and king safety are about equal.
Note that your list may vary, so read Dan's articles and figure out what you need to do for yourself. For example, Dan recommends learning general principles like rooks belong behind passed pawns, etc., but I think I know most of the big ones. Of course how often I put them into practice is another question, but whether or not I need to work on this more will become apparent after playing more games.

Bain's "Chess Tactics for Students"
I did the first 100 problems in Bain's CTFS book last night (spent maybe 45 minutes right before bed). Overall they are pretty easy after having completed the seven circles and most of them I solved in a few seconds (most of the hard ones were ones I had seen in CT-Art). However, there were maybe 5-10 easy problems that I had to think about or overlooked something in the problem, so I will probably go ahead and finish the book (a few more hours I expect), and maybe do another pass or two just to be safe. I might cut the problems out of the book (or scan them) so I can mix the problems up. They are all sorted by theme right now which makes it too easy.

Monday, May 02, 2005


I figured I'd update everyone on the goings-on in Chateau fussylizard:
  • I just finished Chernev's "Logical Chess: Move by Move" tonight. Overall an interesting book. Chernev chose games where everything looked so easy. If I could only win with such natural moves.
  • I'm looking forward to moving onto Snyder's "Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors" (basically another book of games).
  • I got a copy of Bain's "Chess Tactics for Students" which is highly recommended by Heisman and other instructors. Overall it looks like a great book that "builds" from one position to another (i.e. you see a simple one-move motif, then you see the same motif except that it requires a preparatory move, etc.). Unfortunately most of it looks far too easy, but I will probably go through it anyway to ensure all the patterns are firmly burned into my brain. 434 problems should be about 3-4 hours, right? :-)
I also played a couple of games on the other night. I won the first game when my opponent overlooked a pin that would win the exchange. We were playing G/15+5 and he had over 12 minutes left. The jerk just let his clock run down without making a move. This sort of thing really hacks me off. Or the people that just disconnect when they are losing since on InstantChess they get five or six minutes to reconnect before the server declares you win by forfeit. If you are losing then either defend the position or resign. Sheesh.

My next game ended abruptly after my opponent cancelled it after move 2. I guess he didn't like the way things looked after 1.e4 e5 2.d4 (he was playing black). After this I set my game seek settings to only play class B and higher players (I'm rated a low class B) so as to hopefully avoid some of the riffraff.

My third game was against a 1700-something player which I lost on the black side of the Ruy Lopez. I can't remember the last time I played against the Ruy, and I got into trouble early. I sacrificed a pawn to stir things up but to no avail. Needless to say I now have learned a line against the Ruy for future use.

I'm still working on my summary of my MDLM experience. I can be a bit long-winded at times, but I hope everyone finds it interesting when I finish it.