An Experiment in Rapid Chess Improvement

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My First Tournament!

It’s been a while since my last posting, but I’ve actually been fairly active chess-wise. I got back from my month-long business trip to Detroit two weeks ago and jumped right into my first tournament! I’m playing in the Austin Chess Club’s April Standard Swiss. The format is one game each Sunday night for four weeks. Overall it seems like a good format for a gentle introduction into tournament play rather than jumping into a big 8 round, 3-day-weekend tournament.

Since I’m unrated I entered into the 1300-1799 group. My first game was against a USCF 1398 opponent. I played terribly. I had the advantage for most of the game, but made many, many substandard moves and finally ended up trading down into a lost endgame. Ugh.

My second game was against an opponent rated 1370. He dropped a piece in the opening, so I started trading down. Later I missed a little combination that would have ended things much more quickly, but instead I let it drag out to 60+ moves before my opponent resigned. I felt like I gave him way too much counterplay, but I still won in the end. I really need to get back to doing more tactics problems. I really feel like my calculation and board vision has declined a lot since I wrapped up the MDLM plan, so I need to do some more tactics to get “back in shape”. I’m still doing some, but not nearly enough.

Anyway, my preliminary pairing for round three is as black against a 1478 player. Should be fun. I hope to win my remaining two games to pull off an initial rating in the 1500s. If I could start out at USCF 1500, I would be super happy. At any rate, getting out and playing more should help me improve, which is the real goal. I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in the ratings thing.

I’m still doing lessons with Dan Heisman roughly every two weeks. I’m still getting a lot out of it. The summary of my current homework is:

  • Tactics problems.Currently I’m working on the book “Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors” (Hays and Hall).
  • Play through master games.Currently I’m working on Chernev’s “Most Instructive Games of Chess”.On playing through master games the idea is quantity.Basically you should make the move on the board, read the notes to that move, make the next move, etc.I used to try to guess moves, but that takes a lot longer.Now I can go through a game in 10-15 minutes.
  • Read other “wordy” chess books/articles.Currently I’m reading Kmoch’s “Pawn Power in Chess”, but I’ve been a bit slack in this area.
  • Play games.Now that I’m back home and my schedule is slowing up I’m playing three slow games per week.Dan also suggested that if I had time I should play some 2 5 blitz (2 minutes per game w/ 5 second delay or increment) to get broad exposure to more openings and learn to play quickly when I have to (standard USCF games usually have a 5-second delay per move).

Overall I am still very happy with my lessons, and I feel like I learn a lot each time. We mostly go through my games, which I like. Now if I could only remember everything Dan tells me during the games. :-) But as far as tangible results, my time management has improved a lot I started lessons, so I’m well on my way to meeting one of objectives of lessons (improving my time management). Speaking of time management, one interesting thing is that in my two tournament games I’ve been much better about it. So maybe the “tournament pressure” has helped in this regard.

Anyway, wish me luck for Sunday!


At 12:09 AM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Good luck!


At 9:08 AM, Blogger The Hungarian Knight said...

Sounds like the lessons are great. A friend of mine gets psychic readings done over the phone --- he finally bought a tape recorder that tapes his sessions. Obviously this lets him review the session at his leasure.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Good luck in your remaining two games!

At 2:17 PM, Blogger takchess said...


Good Luck! I hope to see one of your games as some point.


At 2:51 PM, Blogger fussylizard said...

Tak, I'll probably post the games after this Sunday's final game. So far I lost the first game, won the second, and drew the third. Nothing stellar, but a reasonable start for my first tournament I suppose...

At 12:32 AM, Anonymous chessboss said...

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