An Experiment in Rapid Chess Improvement

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

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I love my DGT board except...

...I have lost both games against OJ I've played with it. I've been in sort of a slump since OJ got back, and now I've lost two in a row. Two games ago I dropped a pawn in the opening without any compensation whatsoever and was ground down without much fanfare. My last game was going great after OJ miscalculated something and I went up a piece...but I lost on time. I've always had a problem with time-trouble, so my immediate chess-improvement goals are:
1) Improve my thought process
2) Play faster

I think by improving my thought processes I will play faster since currently my thoughts are all over the place during each move. I think also I suffer from a general lack of confidence since I will analyze the same lines over and over and over and... Well, you get the idea. I need to have confidence in my initial evaluation and move onto other thoughts, especially for non-critical moves. If I'm sacrificing a piece or something, double-checking is fine. But for other moves, I need to just think straight through and move on.

One thing the DGT board has been really helpful with is seeing just how much time I'm spending on each move. It's pretty amazing to me to actually see how much time I spend per move.

Link to replay this week's game with commentary.

Monday, August 08, 2005

OJ vs. fussylizard- 1/2 - 1/2

What a game. OJ opened with 1.d4 for the first time I can remember and played something reminscent of the London system. There were some tactics that worked out better for me and I came out with tremendous pressure on the c-file which shortly led to a blunder and I went up a rook. Then, several moves later in a completely winning position, I changed my move I was going to play right before I played it. I thought I had already analyzed it and thought it was fine, and I actually thought to myself that I should do a blunder-check, but after seeing just over 20 minutes on my clock I hurriedly played the move and got what I deserved for such an oversight. Bam! OJ takes my bishop and forces a draw by perpetual check even though I was still up an exchange. In a brief moment I had thrown all my hard work away. So the lessons of the day- never change your move at the last moment, and always do a blunder check.

Link to replay the game with my commentary.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chess Position Trainer & Pocket Fritz

I actually started using Chess Position Trainer (CPT) last night. I'd looked at it before, but now that I actually entered some lines I'm planning on playing in the future, I have gotten a better feel for it. Overall, a great application. I started by entering my lines into Pocket Fritz 2 on my PDA with a separate game for each opening. Then I beamed them via IR onto my laptop that is running CPT. I then imported the PGN database into CPT and split it up into the various sub-repertoires for white and black. I tried out the training feature that lets you practice openings. Overall a fun way to practice memorizing lines. Of course I still need to learn the reasoning behind all the moves so I'm not blindly memorizing stuff, but entering the lines into CPT is a start.

And yes, I did some tactics study last night before I spent time on openings. :-)

Tactics in Pocket Fritz 2
I also figured out how to change the tactics training positions in Pocket Fritz 2 last night. Just put your own tactics problems in PGN format in the PF2 install directory as Tactics.pgn overwriting the factory default (though I did back-up the factory defaults first). There's some other file there named Tactics, but I'm not sure what the extension is so I just deleted it and it worked fine with my new tactics file. So now that I have this, I may not bother with CT-Art for my PDA. We'll see...