Wednesday, May 30, 2007

3001 A Chess Odyssey: age Fifty overload

I am a bit of a freak. I hope that this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to familiar readers, but I thought that it was time I came clean. Yes, yes, this IS about chess today, but a moment of patience, I promise to make this worth your while. To write of the core of ones life, or how one allocates that core, with chess at the very center of it necessarily cannot be ten words!

You see, the thing is, I have like twenty+ years of experience in taking raw chaos, analyzing it into elements, patterning it, then defining it to be built or to perform, then executing. First, I am a classically trained architect--from infancy—literally. I am to planning what a fish is to water.

I can take, for example, a university building, say a physics department, map the number of students, the lab equipment, the flow of persons, and arrange it all, get the air in, get the water in, keep the water out, and budget it with time, money, material, and conflicting needs. I can do this not just physically, but in time, so that, for example, you can allocate half a year to draw it up, three months to put it out for bid, and get a contractor on site with labor and materials, then fourteen months till classes start with reliability, all on a big slope of dirt, nestled between classic campus buildings, on soil which is not fully stable but which must be stabilized, and put a heavy building on it with, for example, very heavy magnets on the floor, and plan how much it will sink, or as we say, differential settlement--in short, architects take all THAT, and REDUCE all those disciplines into a plan in project management and facilities.

I can also take three years, and figure out how to raise ten million dollars, by making a bunch of phone calls, or take six million, and make a bunch of phone calls about THAT while finding new customers, delicately or at times brutally and heavily dancing around the most complex capital markets on the planet, involving information systems, health care, transport, energy, basic materials, financials, media, etc. I can do that. I can talk to the customers about it, and guide them, or let them allow me to guide IT. I can record what they say, or remember all of it--in short, I can manage risk in relationships and assets combined.

Then I have plans for my plans. I have folders for plans, plans for folders, maps of civilization, maps of ideation, etc. Really--more than really I aught to talk about. I have athletic plans, climbing plans, blog plans, and nutritional plans. The thing is, I don’t just create them like the perennial overweight person who has read all the diet books, while eating Haagen-Dazs ice cream. No. I do my plans. So I take the making of my plans very seriously. Target a rocket to a far off galaxy, and in time, you will get there.

So now for chess. In 500+ days (believe me, I know the number, but identity theft I do not invite now!) I turn fifty, and have the intention to do all of the 3002 problems of Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Sacrifices and Combinations, 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate, and Emms's The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book by then. I figure, that by then or after this, I will be a real chess player, as in able to play 'real chess'.

What is reasonable--given other chess efforts in chess outside those--is that this amounts to four per day in two years, putting me half a year after age 50, or May 2009, and I don’t want to wait that long. So do I do five per day, instead of four? I know I can do that, but then I will suffer quality, or must not then other efforts falter (endings, live chess, blogging), or need I give up other parts of life??

For seven weeks, I have managed twenty per week, or just under three per day, but it is more like one or two per day, with bursts of delightful and satisfying effort on my weekends, or late at night in bed, when I cannot sleep. So, you see, if I do four a day, then that is 28 per week, and while many are easy problems, some are not easy, and take an entire day or session for one problem. And for those thorny problems that just wont budge, but which are solved in time, we need to sit on them with Zitsfleisch, and it defeats the entire purpose of the exercise to just say, 'ok, this is too hard, let me peek at the solution!' No. This is exactly wrong. It is the whole quality versus quantity thing, as we all discuss here.

Which takes me back 180 degrees to my goal of four per day, and my wish that I were polishing off five or six per day...

chess is the application of mental force

I have already made it part of the way, but have far to go. For example, Monday night, when I was at puzzle number 144, and needed to be at 148 Tuesday night, after doing only ONE last night [time was eaten and I was already spent from 12 upper level four CT-Art problems in the last three nights done slowly and carefully, my main chess focus right now in a big way], but solving five Reinfeld problems tonight, I am now minus one off of plan. Daily this effort is made--and this is on top of whatever CT-Art 3.0 I do, whatever CTS I now manage to do, and whatever chess I play, chess books I manage to read, rapid or blitz chess games played, correspondence games wrestled in depth, blogging about chess, email to chess buddies or Grandmasters, or analysis or annotations made, or Grandmaster games visited. Wew.

Can I do it? For sure. But making a long term plan really brings you face to face with cost, or budget, or relative value... In the recently begun concerted job search, I am necessarily keeping detailed track of my time by category IN COMPARISON TO CHESS and other life areas, and it is shocking what I do...! How easy it is to drift when we 'say' that we are resolution in attaining a major life goal, seeking instead distraction or comfort in dissolution!

(link to"Have It All" parody!)

So willy-nilly, And we get around to asking, 'is this project worth doing?' Absolutely! Then after that, we ask, do I do it faster, or better, or what other projects must I contract, or give up?

Then there is a little thing called the 'real world', which many of you have heard of? I seem to somehow recollect something called a job, and relationships, then get the odd sensation of some stuff called bills, pet, maintenance, cleaning for house and vehicle, laundry, low fat cooking (often organic, whole vegetables--not fast or easy), fitness, trading markets and financial reporting, record keeping, filing, taxes, television, and then, last of all, rumor of sleep, and romance between waking and sleeping or between?

If you don't want to be low functioning or mediocre, then this takes the effort of mighty Sisyphus. And unlike other, more significant bloggers or chess players than me, I have no children, wives, employees or clientele, church, publishers, or property to consider, so how do all you other people do it, who, I surmise, have it no less easy than me? My goodness. A breath mint, somebody.

And how popular do you want to be at blogger, or if you prefer, well connected, or hemmm, ' ** in touch **' or polite in reading those who read you, as a true friend would--cum Quid Pro Quo? You don’t want to be a jerk or total narcissist. So you read, comment, reply to comments, etc... And all this takes time... The better your comments the more does this elicit comments on those, and you deal with THOSE? You get the reward, then, the ultimate, the penalty, the curse of interesting times and most interesting friends here, as you all are...

Then the little matter of staying abreast of the sonic cone of hyper global-planetary change--just the little matter of strategically remembering to look at that, and make sure you are not building your palace in Bagdad or your tiny but sweet chateau in pre-Nazi in Berlin, as Lasker did--loosing all his doubtlessly hard earned money, despite being the wily, foxy, crafty, mind that he was? Just the little matter of being able to see outside or beyond the throngs of true believers, in sustainability, energy, land, money, society, media, technology? So there we are--we need more chess study? I need more study of chess? Chess is the elixir?

Then the matter of being a master--now lets get serious. Do YOU really want to be a master? I don’t. I just want to be really, really good, but given X hours, I don’t want to spend 70% of my time necessary to do that, but more like a good 30% towards becoming 'class A' or 'expert' but THEN use the next 40% in thirds, and do two or three OTHER things superimposed on top of that. Look at that one. When you get old, do you want to say, I was 2100 FIDE, but I never knew my kids or neighbors, but I did learn the Alapin Counter Gambit book inside and out?

Me? I want to do the best 20% that gives me the best chance of getting 80%... right now, it is taking 40 to 60% to get there, and it is costing me too much. I love chess; but I don’t want to overpay for it, and need to contain my effort. Some need to try harder. My struggle is NOT to try harder, and to balance and allocate and contain my efforts and my territory.



Blogger Chess Relearner said...

As to planning, and do you do four or five problems a day, and what is optimal ...

In March 2005 I completed a very long term project, the reading of the Babylonian Talmud. In the tradition started back in the 1920s, the "Bavli" as it is called is read over a period of just under seven and a half years (2711 days to be exact). There is a reading for each and every day, seven days per week with no days off, no sick leave, no vacation.

As some chess problems are harder than others, so some readings are harder and longer than others. There can be significant variation. Some days 30 minutes is enough time; other days 60 minutes is a bare minimum.

So the strategy I adopted was straightforward enough. In general, I did one reading per day, exactly as per the schedule. But early on I pushed just a little harder, so that I was always two days in advance. This gave me a cushion; if a reading was really hard and I couldn't finish it in an hour, I could finish the next day and then on a subsequent easier day rebuild my cushion.

The strategy only broke down when there were many hard readings in a row. This was rare enough, and I simply had to rebuild the cushion when the readings got easier again.

(Bavli purists, by the way, will be horrified by my method. That's not my problem; I didn't do the reading for *your* benefit.)

So, in the chess case: if the average number of problems will be 4 per day, then do 4 per day. But always be 10 problems ahead of the daily schedule, losing a little ground on hard days, and making it up on easy days.

This is a straightforward and workable solution, which relieves stress and anxiety and accomplishes the desired goal.

Wed May 30, 01:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

A measured approach, you? Dunno, more all or nothing. Like me.

Wed May 30, 05:04:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is that guy in the picture kissing my wife and why is she topless?!?!

Thu May 31, 04:30:00 AM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

"I have no children, wives, employees or clientele, church, publishers, or property to consider, so how do all you other people do it, who, I surmise, have it no less easy than me?"

I don't. I mean, I'm not very good yet at balancing my home, wife, daughter, friends, work, health, and chess. It's a real challenge. Harder than putting together a presentation or mastering the Sicilian. I think part of it is being realistic--planning as you are--what you *need* to accomplish in each area and what you *want* to accomplish in each area so you can be content with what you do. For example, I couldn't live with being a mediocre father.

"The better your comments the more does this elicit comments on those, and you deal with THOSE?"

Since returning I've set a limit of one new blog entry per week. I should probably limit my reading and comments to a couple days a week, too! I believe these blogs are useful for knowledge transfer and comraderie, but yes, they can sometimes be a distraction.

Thu May 31, 09:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger chessloser said...

sounds like you not only have a good solid plan, you also have a good solid plan for your plan. you are on target with the blogging connundrum, it is easy to spend more time blogging about chess than studying and playing and imrpoving, a definate pit you can fall into if you are careless... as for staying abreast of the real world around us, i don't think that takes extra time or effort, that seems to happen as you go about your daily life, and as long as you aren't so focused on chess you are blind to all else, you'll be alright. much to think about, for sure...

Fri Jun 01, 08:05:00 AM PDT  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Juggling life while staying on a track that reaches your goals is always a balancing act.

I have 7 kids, ( 3 in college, 2 about to graduate and 2 more in teh queue) I've been in the middle of a massive job search while working for a consulting firm that is sucking my soul dry.
Chess is my oasis! Training is my therapy. Playing OTB is carthetic to my torchered soul.

I also have learned to put in flexibility to my daily plan. I am always looking to simplify. Sometimes I can make things too complex in my life. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify!

Fri Jun 01, 08:59:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Seems you have a healthy attitude. I have tried to cut back on time spent blogging and reading blogs, putting that energy into chess. And perhaps life too.

Tue Jun 05, 08:12:00 AM PDT  

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