Friday, September 29, 2006

Gauntlet - 821 Problems Done

I'm trying to push through the remainder of the tactics as quickly as possible while still trying to do some calculations.

I finished the Level 40 problems tonight. I just need to get through Levels 50 and 60 and then I'll be able to go back and "master" the levels. I'm doing about 20 a day.

I'll start working on mastering Level 10 around October 10th. Who knows how long it will take me from there.

The OCL starts this week. I'm not on a board in round 1. Currently my FICS rating is 1688. My RD is still high with that rating. My official highest rating on FICS is 1650 set on February 23, 2003. So as I go through the tournament and as I play more long games and as I study these tactics, we'll see how many "points" studying tactics will get me.

I'm not so interested in my rating, but that is pretty much the only quantitative measurement I can take to demonstrate improvement.

Excuse me now as I need to go to the restroom again ...

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Info on Plan Revision

I knew I had read it before ... I was over at today doing some reading and I was curious about their advice on studying tactics. So I found their article about studying tactics. Evan (the writer of the article) sums up pretty well what I think I'm going to do with CT-ART 3.0.

He suggests working on each level until you've mastered it. He says it better than me ...

Once you’ve worked your way through the entire set of level one problems, go
back through them again. This time, you should be able to go through them with
greater speed and accuracy. You’ll probably remember some of them, and be able
to solve them instantly. Some of them may require that you work through them
again as described above, but will go more quickly. Others will take a just as
long as before, and still others will stump you all over again. Just make sure
that you work through them again as thoroughly as you need to solve the ones you
can and understand the ones you can’t.

Q: "How many times should I go through the same set?" A: Until you can go
through the whole set (preferably in one sitting, or at the very least in as few
sessions as possible) and score at least 90%. Then you’ll be ready to move to
the next level of problems. Repeat the process until you’ve worked through all
ten levels. There’s no set schedule for this – take as much time as it requires,
even if it’s a year or two or more, as long as you work through them thoroughly
and spend at least a little time on them every day. As you can probably tell,
it’s quality rather than speed or quantity that I’m advocating. Once you’ve
finished the entire collection, you’ll be ready for the advanced plan.

That's it. But I'm going to try to be a little more hasty about it ... I don't want to just meander through these 1000 problems and finish a in few years. The one thing I hope to avoid is being caught up on the same problem over and over again. I plan on identifying the problems that give me grief and memorize them. Then as I go back through the level, I won't be stumped. My "practice" will be going back to the "problem-child" problems. My "test" will be to go through the whole set without re-do's.

I passed the 700th problem last night. About 300 to go.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Revision in Plan

I've been doing a lot of reading of the other Knights Errant blogs ... especially Tempo's, Blue Devil Knight's and Takchess' blogs. I've been trying to pin down exactly how to accomplish mini-circles of Death. As I've been trudging through CT-ART 3.0, I just don't see how I'm going to memorize all 1039 problems (levels 10-60) to the point that I can solve them in less than 15 seconds. There are so many of them and I've been having to calculate a lot.

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.


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.