Tuesday 24 September 2013

A Week of Downtime

Dear diary... :P

For the last week, I have not studied chess at all. I have kept my 18 online correspondence chess games going so as not to lose them all. I have made a few moves too quickly and as consequence I think my position sucks in all of those games. I will probably lose most of them. Bah!

Today I've left all of last week's stress behind (lost checked luggage, late airplane ticket rushed purchases, dealing with Russian culture), and I've found new energy to continue studying tomorrow. Let's get back on with it! Woop woop.

Monday 16 September 2013

Tilt Over, Rating Back Up (95%)!

So I've managed to get over my massive losing streak and get back on my feet. I've had a few interesting games on my way to my highest ever rating, 1533, but I'm still far from my goal of getting to at least 99% before entering an OTB tournament.

I've been trying to focus on more correspondence chess to build good habits, however, a small glitch that automatically entered me to a tournament with 10 simultaneous games has gotten in the way. I absolutely cannot hold my concentration/patience playing what is now a total of 19 correspondence chess games. However, I am not doing too bad and expect to hit 90th percentile rating on that chess category.

My plan is to play mostly correspondence chess until I've built good habits, but it is really hard to avoid the occasional 15|10 or 10 minute game. However, after I've finished this humongous quantity of simultaneous games, I will really work toward playing only 3-5 games at a time and avoiding all these blitz games! Playing such a low quantity should allow me to find the best move every single move and thus build the correct habits/thinking methods.

A small set back in the form of a prolonged trip to Russia has just hit me, but I hope it does not affect my chess much. It has affected my morale a little bit and I can't see myself studying today as I am a little bit nervous about the trip tomorrow. However, I hope to bounce back as soon as I land and get down to business.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Chess Tilting: Just like in Poker!

I've gone a tilt streak on my 15|10 chess sessions. I was playing a game against an opponent 100 points higher than myself and I was winning by a whole piece! All of a sudden, my network connection starts acting up and I time out. Argh.

This one game got me pretty worked up and immediately I knew that, in the games that followed, I wouldn't be myself. I was right. A self fulfilling prophecy perhaps. After every loss, the chances of me losing yet again increased even more. It got so bad that I threw away a game with a 7 point lead at one point... it's crazy!

I've had similar experiences in Poker, and I am convinced that to achieve my goal, one of the main challenges ahead, will be to overcome tilt. I plan to tackle it by quitting 15|10 chess altogether for a while and playing only correspondence chess. I think this way I will build the right habits and be less likely to let emotions affect my playing. After all, we are but a combination of habits. Right?

Friday 6 September 2013

Book Review: Simple Chess

I had the opportunity to study Simple Chess by Michael Stean this week. I wanted to write a quick review to note, that while I think this book will serve well for beginners, as an intermediate player I found it far too simplistic.

It did not have too many key insights that I did not already know. Most of the concepts outlined I already knew about. After finishing it, I am left confused on whether there really is nothing more to chess and it is in fact that simple. It can't all be about outposts, weak pawns, open files, semi open files, weak squares and small space advatanges, can it?

Maybe it can... maybe I've learned enough about chess now and all I am lacking is the discipline of perfect execution. It's logical, most things in life are simple. Kicking a ball playing football is simple... however, to become a professional you have to perfect the execution every time you kick the ball. Maybe it is the same in chess? I have to perfect every pawn push and every piece move to obey these basic principles and Voila!

We'll see.

Monday 2 September 2013

Good week, I'm now on the 93-94% percentile on 15|10 chess.

For the last week of August, I followed a strict study plan and I feel it brought me great benefits. I was much more organised about what to study (compared to the month before that!), and having re-read Philip Ochman's "The Process of Decision Making in Chess" I feel that last week, I've improved quite a bit.
The biggest bulk of my improvement during August came however from many hours of Tactics training. I have been very dedicated and tried to do tactics almost every day, and aside from the 2 week period when I was travelling I think I stuck to it quite well. Hitting over 1,850 tactics rating on chess .com, something I did not think was possible with only a few hours of tactics under my belt.

Okay, about last week's study plan, I was a little bit impatient and did not study Friday as I had planned, instead I played chess all day and noticed that I now am playing at a 1,500 (chess . com) level.

The graph shows a decent gain throughout August. My rating could be much higher, around 1,600 I'd say, but my main problem has been complacency. As you can see in the rating, I am down to 1,484 after balancing on 1,500 for a while. The reason is throwing away won games. I seem to have a bad habit of taking less time for my moves once I am winning. I had a particularly bad game when I had my opponnent completely crushed, so I started multi-tasking and bam, my king got smothered. A particularly embarassing way to lose in chess, wouldn't you say? Other examples include missing obvious tactics because I am up in material and ending up blundering a piece away and losing an endgame due to being a pawn dawn. I really need to focus more and stop doing this!!!

I hope that by having noticed my complacency, I will now pay more attention to games I am winning and not throw them away. I hope that combining this with my study plan, I will be able to get to a rating of around 1,600. My study plan now includes reading "Simple Chess" by Michael Stean and applying the principles of "The Process of Decision Making in Chess" in a few Online games where time is not an issue. The latter will take a lot of dedication, and I expect to be my greater challenge. I will also continue studying tactics and I hope to hit 2,000 tactics rating at some point soon.

In non-chess news, I've been going to the gym regularly, eating semi-decent, I've moved, and have been making time for other things that are important aside from chess. So I am happy on all fronts, woop, let's hope things continue this way.