State of My Game

August 20, 2006 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Chess | 1 Comment

A month or so ago, I stopped the Seven Circles of Hell; I told myself it was because of work, but more likely it was due to a certain lack of ambition. At the same time as I ceased the Seven Circles of Hell, I moved from to, because I was unable to track my progress (or lack of progress) as a chess player at itsyourturn. At redhot, I am hovering just above 1300.

You might ask , “Why don’t you play at FICS or ICC, so that you can play real time games?” I guess my answer is one of laziness or that I might not have the 40 to 90 minutes per night. Though as I write this I realize the absurdity of such a statement, since I spend upwards an hour a night on redhot. Though I would stay away from blitz games, I see no reason not to play a 30-30 or 45-45 match.

But back to my game, or lack thereof. The most glaring aspect of my game is the consistency of my inconsistency. Andrew Soltis in How To Chose A Chess Move divides the stages a player goes through as Post Beginner, Novice, Improving Amateur and Experience Tournament Player. Soltis says that a player’s journey through these stages is a halting one — I would even say it is erratic, especially for me.

The Post Beginner, obviously, knows how to move the pieces and the player is “beginning to develop a rudimentary preference for some kind of moves.” Soltis even states that the move from beginner to post-beginner is perhaps the biggest stride a player makes in their career. Though Soltis warns that the Post Beginner trust their selection criteria too much and rely on unrealistic expectations — can anyone identify with that? Also most of the victories experienced by a Post Beginner occur because of an opponent’s blunder or pieces lying en prise. See defchino23-hk for an example of me being able to crush a much weaker opponent.

Soltis writes that the Novice differs from the Post Beginner in that the player needs to play threats in order to beat players who do not blunder. The Novice player is more open-minded regarding candidate moves which are the player’s favorite pieces or squares; but the Novice player is still focused on their own pieces and not those of their opponent. See these two games hk-HealthEconomist and HealthEconomist-hk — both games are unfinished but my blunders are a thing of art. But on the positive side, take a look at hk-Purplenico. All of these matches display my consistent inconsistency.

The Improving Amateur player is able to analyze and evaluate the consequences of a candidate as well as recognize the “obvious” candadate moves, but the Improving Amateur will still look for a second move. Even though the Improving Amateur is able to evaluate simple forcing sequences, the player’s analyis is badley flawed in non-forcing positions (guesses at an opponent’s move). The Improving Amateur also plays candidate moves that are based on “sloppy optimism”.

Do I even need to go into what makes up an Experienced Tournament Player (ETP)? The main idea that differs Experience Tournament Player from those still clawing their way upwards is that the ETP is able “to conclude that a posisiton is equal rather than plus-over-minus as weaker players do.”

Right now I seem to be fluctuating between the Post Beginner and the Novice stages. And, the hope is that the Seven Circles of Hell will move me to the Improving Amateur stage, but I would have to be studying several hours per week.

On that note, for the last several weeks, I have been spending the weekends on my deck reading chess books and trying to learn, but what I wasn’t doing were my tactical exerices. Hopefully, I’ve found a way around this.

Last year I came across an ultra-cheap latop which I have made my chess machine. It now houses Personal Chess Trainer (PCT), Fritz 8, Jin and Winboard. I’m also looking at Jose. That’s it, nothing else, it is soley my chess machine. So for the rest of the summer and most of the autumn, I will be able to spend several hours outside enjoying the weather and working my tactical exercises.

In my move to this new machine, I screwed up my PCT backup and had to start again. I believe that this is not a big deal since I suck so bad and going through the exercises again can only help.


The other reason why I am going to push through these tactics is the the Dealware State Championship is November 18-19 and the National Chess Congress takes place November 24-26 in the Philadelphia region. Now that summer’s over I will begin to attend a few Saturday tournaments as well as some weekend tournaments to get some OTB practice. With my current USCF rating a 6-game provisional of mid-800s, I think I need the exposure.

So for the last week I have been shunning the boob tube — in the States this is the television and not a woman’s top — and studying quite a bit of tactics. In the last 8 days, I have covered 19 lessons. During the weekends, I try to dedicate several consecutive hours to studying tactics as well. I am taking this one day at a time, but I am shooting to complete as much as possible with the PCT tactics package prior to the November dates mentioned above. But with some 300 units, it will take some time.

An aside in using PCT, I now slide the application to the right, so that I cannot see the number of problems or the clock. I’ve noticed an increase in time, but my accuracy is going up. Also, even though there are several tactical problems where the computer opponent makes a bad move, I try to remember that the purpose of tactical exercises is to practice, practice, practice. Perfection should be left to the gods.


1 Comment »

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  1. please accept this brief note, as i must depart for my job soon, in the western usa, near the coasts or pacific ocean.

    i really appreciate your blog. very good work!

    surely you chess, with so much inteligent thought, will improve.

    warm regards, david

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