One night, I decided to see how long it would take me to memorize the chunk I needed to do that night (17 problems). It took me a half hour to go through them once and then another half hour of going back and getting them down pat.
So after a lot of thinking and reading and deciding, I've come up with my own plan.
First, I'll complete the first circle as I have been doing. I'm on problem 664 of 1039. I'll finish in a few weeks. This will have given me a chance to at least see all the problems once and give me an idea as to what I'm up against.
Second, I'll go back and work each level until I am satisfied that I can solve the problems quickly enough (generally between 5 and 15 seconds). Once I can solve all of Level 10 problems under 15 seconds, I'll move on to Level 20 problems.
As I go through each level, I'll continue to note how long each problem takes to solve. I'll then go back and specifically work on memorizing those problems that give me trouble. This is how I study for exams ... if I know a concept, no sense in wasting time studying it ... just a quick review will do. But if something is giving me fits, I'll focus on it until I have it solidly planted in my mind.
Basically, I'll pound the patterns in my head by brute force ... there's no avoiding the work ... gotta do it.
With all that said, I seriously doubt I will be able to complete this quest by December of this year. Who knows, maybe as I pick up steam I might finish by Christmas. But realistically speaking, I think it will take me into early 2007.
ADVICE FROM DAN HEISMAN
Now, according to Dan Heisman, in his Novice Nook "A Different Approach to Studying Tactics," he said,
"The most important goal of studying tactics is to be able to spot the
elementary motifs VERY quickly, so studying the most basic tactics over and over
until you can recognize them almost instantly is likely the single best thing
you can do when you begin studying chess."
He explains in the same article that one of his students was working on tactical motifs and "got" the problems every time, but in real games, the student would consistently miss tactics. The reason being is because when you're doing tactical problems, you know there is a tactic there. But in a game, there may or may not be a tactic and so you're not actively looking for one. To solve this problem, Dan states that
"it is not just the ability to find the tactic that is important, it is also
important to be able to do it quickly and efficiently, or else quickly conclude
'there is no tactic.'"
Therefore I reason that if I can master Level 10, which are all basic tactical motifs, then I should have an easier time with Level 20 and so on. If I solidly build the infrastructure, then the rest of my chess studies will be on solid footings.