Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Progress Update: June to July 2015

A quick progress update based on my last set of resolutions.

What worked?

#2) Deciding to stay in Ecuador for a while has given me more stability to take chess more seriously, it helped me achieve a few goals such as improving a lot in rock climbing and the next resolution:

#4) After being stuck in the upper 1700's and mid 1800's in Tactics Trainer, with a 55% successfully solved rate, I found myself depressed about my tactician skills. I resolved to solve for accuracy rather than speed and now I have stabilized at a 1900 rating with a peak of 1960! I could have probably hit 2000 but I got a bit too eager when I approached it and fell back down. This new approach has yielded almost 3 out of every 4 solutions correct (approximately 75%) and I do feel like I am progressing again. I will maintain this approach and hoping to update you from a stable 2,000 next month.

#6) I finished Pawn Structure Chess and a tiny bit of endgame study (got good at opposition, distant opposition, breakthroughs, mined squares, key squares in the endgame). I feel like this new chess knowledge will serve me well but I am well aware that any rating increase I will get will be mostly from eradicating bad habits, and creating good new ones. To this end, I am re-reading Chess for Zebras (the first time I only read about 30%) and hoping to find some nuggets that will help me get the next big rating jump. I imagine, I will just have to do more tactics or maybe opening guess the move and middle game guess the move kind of problems.

What didn't work?

#1) Planning each and every day, it's just next to impossible! I have however got a good solid morning routine so that by 11am I feel like I have done a lot of my chess things and I am free to do everything else that needs doing. Then if I can fit another 2 hours somewhere in the day my chess studying day has gone extremely well.

a) Also, I've played too much Blitz, and I feel like it is no longer benefiting me, my rating soared but it has reached a cap again. Once again, I believe playing slower games maybe including correspondence is the answer. So this next month, that is the goal. Correspondence chess!

New Resolutions
Finish Chess for Zebras
Continue training tactics as I have, solving for accuracy. Recently I saw a video where IM Bartholomew backs the approach as well, solving for accuracy!
Increase the amount of tactics I do by solving some paper booklets I have, or perhaps try and find a way to solve for opening moves or middle game moves to improve my strategic habits.
Ponder on other ways to improve my "skill" rather than my "knowledge" (see Chess for Zebras).

Here are some screenshots of my Tactics Trainer work during the last month, only around 18 hours, I think I should be doing at least 40 hours a month? Hmm.

Rating Progress: 
Correspondence 1856 (97.4%)
Standard 1753 (97.4%)
Blitz 1714 (96.8%)
Bullet 1581 (94.4%)

Got extremely frustrated in my standard games, I think I am not very good at that time control, need to learn better time management for it is most likely to resemble real FIDE tournaments. Quite pleasant to be getting better at Blitz though, both at 10 minute and 5 minute time controls. For Blitz, I feel like my opening preparation is paying off, for slower time controls, it feels like it is not so much the opening that is affecting my play but other factors like double checking your moves and your opponent's best response to them as well as remaining patient throughout the whole thing.