Friday, September 07, 2007

Semi-Annual State of the Divination Report, Part II

The commonality of everything I wrote in Part I was for chess units that are ONGOING. That is to say, I described all that I am doing without regard to their PENDING size or scale or frequency.

In this next essay, we now turn to INTENDED study units. That is to say, however much I carefully plan or great my resolve to do them, for the most part, they have yet to begun. They are pending. This does not mean that they are speculative, but just to say that there is a real line between day to day and week to week activity versus things like, "in the next year, I WILL go through Secrets of Pawn Endings by hand, with a board".

[link to comments above photo of woman with her hair up, at bottom, at post, Idiosyncratic Tags:]

Pending Units of Planned Study

Really, Red Hot Pawn (which I will discuss in a moment) almost goes at the end of Part I, since I have already been playing correspondence. But this component of the discussion really needs to be at the start of Part II for the following reasons:

This entire next chess unit is about two distinct qualities: studying with a board in slow--deliberate--study, and comprehending pawn structure and pawn play. To play correspondence chess is to evaluate lots of positions in depth, and slowly. And to study Middlegames, strategy, plans, and endgames is to coordinate major piece play and to plan pawn structure. It seems to me, that these two go together, so I have a distinct bifurcation between my current unit of tactics and GM games (using software!), and my next unit of endings and pawn structure (study 'by hand'!).

What I describe here is not a new conception by me; rather, it has been my plan all along, and surely for the last year. And now as this next unit approaches me, hopefully is worth describing to the community here, in some detail. I hope that some of you benefit by both seeing my failings (what I emphasize that you would not), and what I have organized and why (what I emphasize that your might consider:

I have already played nine Red Hot Pawn or Correspondence chess games, and while I have established a reasonable performance datum, this rating is still only provisional. Nor have I yet demonstrated that the laser like focus concentrated at great cost in the last three completed games is sustainable by me across either two concurrent games to start out, or even three games.

I have spent massive hours on each game, and while they were very accurate, they are also horribly inefficient from a time expended perspective. Nor have I demonstrated being able to 'hum along' at RHP WHILE furthering my efforts in GM game review, Reinfeld, OBP, and CTS--not to mention the 'small matter' of CTA! Nor have I even yet written of endgame study, or middlegame analysis and planning... then the also 'small matter' of working a job, eating, sleeping, household.... Don’t get me started!

My point is, is that correspondence chess is all well and good, I dare say, fantastic in all ways for pure chess, but the cost is real: I find it difficult if not impossible to maintain my standards there without nearly terribly disrupting, if not abandoning all other chess efforts (1). Hence RHP goes comfortably in Part II here, since the real effort there is in the pending rather than actual category, as far as incorporating it day to day goes.

To date, my approach has been to only play there intermittently, just not play any RHP except by exception as it were, but I won't get better without practice, and now we are back to the same quandary of OBP, 'over the board play', and the ego needs for triumph--read perfection 'kills' activity.

I have definite, serious plans there. Before elaborating those, let me remind the reader that I already spent several years there, perhaps not to the depth of LikeForest or Montse, so this does not represent initiated effort, but instead continued or resumed effort.

I had spent almost two years READING Chernev's Practical Chess Endings, without a board, trying slowly to process each position, and that was after similarly reading Pandolfini (2), and Soltis: Endings, Grandmaster Secrets.

My principle plan for endgame study is to go, as a reshesher to start, first through Seirawan's Winning Chess Endings--surely not the final word in endings, but famously clear--then through Secrets of Pawn Endings by Mueller, then shortly thereafter Endgame Strategy by Shereshevsky. The prior, as I have said in the past is less for pawn endgames only, and far more for practice of raw, pure calculation. My coach (3) told me that this is how to best practice calculation in its purest form, since objective or algebraic mathematical truth is in its most unforgiving form there, and affords the best practice.

Secondly, my coach raved about Endgame Strategy, saying that "this is where it all happens". Tempo has said as much in his ardor for Secrets of Chess Endgame Strategy by Lars Bo Hansen [direct links to two wonderful, seperate posts by tempo at left and, at right, the actual book SCES], and while in the ideal I would add this latter book to this second endgame unit, or Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master to this first unit, at a certain point you just know you have enough. This is one of those efforts that I yearn for.

In the best of all possible worlds--yes!--I would make a deep study of those four (not those two only!), but so much more work needs to be done, in middlegames, GM game analysis, autofritz, etc, that it is best not to get stuck on truth but to progress on accuracy (4). I of course have further plans for Dvoretsky and Fundamental Chess Endings (5), but this must wait for Part III, and is a further stage down the road of chess improvement for me.

I am a great believer that opening study below 1800 elo if not 2000 elo is much misapplied energy. Nevertheless, perhaps the natural curiosity if not thirst many--but not all--my fellow bloggers have at this level have is understandable.

At the same time, I was playing in chess tournaments in 1974 when I got as far as 1641, was it, on my way to 1800 (after massive and intense study, I am sure, but was forced to give up the game due to obsession at the price of flagging high school grades (5)), and went through the entire opening cannon, both in the at the time cutting edge MCO-11 by Walter Korn and the capacious Chess Openings: Theory and Practice by I.A. Horowitz.

Thus, I already went through my wild opening search phase, and while things have changed, they have not entirely changed, and so am widely anecdotally familiar with general opening theory already.

My plan now, is simply to study classic Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine, and in so doing, prepare the way for my next segment of this unit, on pawn structure:

I plan to read Euwe-Kramer's The Middlegame, Part One, and The Middlegame, Part Two. This is simply to brush up behind my tactical and endgame study, and fill my RAM with widening context.

Silman, who by the way I do not rate high (or low) in his main efforts outside the recent epochal endgame book, says regarding Euwe's book: 'get it, beg, it, GET this book!' At the same time, In Raymond Keene's Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal, Larsen in his interview, to the point of now giving me pause, said that 'Everything Euwe said there was a lie'. Whether he was just indulging in hyperbolae, or meant it, in any case, this is a book to read NOW, not latter... as evidently it is not so advanced or correct as to be a book to read more deeply latter such as the far more rigorous Dvoretsky's School of Excellence: Tactics, as planned (see Part III)

Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis and Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch, both classics, are to me the sort of study otherwise devoted to openings that I feel that I need. Again, these are two books that I yearn for.

They easily follow from the two endgame books, that is to say, Mueller and Shereshevsky, and form a couplet. The only difference is that the these two latter are to gone through carefully, whereas Soltis and Kmoch need to be gone through like a sprint, and not dwell on them--in comparison to other areas to probe or mine, at least.

Silman also raves about the more solid Art of the Middlegame, and no one casts aspersions upon that book, which is the opposite of superficial, and was written before the era of paragraph after paragraph of fritz variations, sometimes to the point of commentary devoid of understanding. Who needs a book to tell us what Fritz or Rybka already would think, in a big tangle or jumble when we can do that at our desktop ourselves? No, we want to be guided and instructed. :)

So much of my work has been in depth this last year or two, and they all fit together as an organized construct, as elaborated in Part One. But the depth of CT-Art and the scope of my effort on Chess Tactical Server are both entities NOT subject to error or approximation. Think of those as convergent systems. They are unforgiving if not relatively absolute (ex-notable finds of error by Loomis and Takchess et. al.).

But here in Part Two, all these parts (with the exception of Secrets of Pawn Endings) which also fit together are far looser, the art of chess as against the science of chess, and as such are far more amorphous, looser, or non-linear if you will. They are divergent systems. They forgive error, in the wide maze of middlegame options and afford choices and discovery and creativity.

Part III, which will address the advanced part of my plan, is the work of another day, and will continue to next week. Warmly, dk


(1) I am very weary of Correspondence chess, as how and where can we know who is using a program? At the same time,
Steve Lopez in his wonderful series on using ChessBase [link to first article, but is a multiple essay series, to those so inclined] to organize our correspondence play, goes so far as to say that he knows of correspondence masters and grandmasters WHO hope their opponents are using chess engine--that is to say, 'Go ahead, I will think beyond them!'

My plan is, when I start back, to put out invites and reject any accepts by anyone with a win/loss record far lopsided to wins. I want to play folks with win/loss parity, sufficient enough, I feel, to validate the level playing field well enough.

(2) Again, as I have written last year but repeat here: while Pandolfini's books have a well deserved reputation for sloppiness (we don’t really know the cause. Maybe the PUBLISHER and or staff were alcoholics--I am serious), his endgame book despite his errors is excellent, and he handles the scope of the subject quite well. Also, if you read him at, In The Q & A Way, he is quite affable, with erudite good sense, if not at times acerbic prickliness.

Charles, at right

(3) An aspiring chess master at ICC once shouted: "Are there any brokers here?" to which I of course answered, quickly ascertaining that his questions (and needs!) went far beyond what I could comfortably be expected to type, and asked that he call me at home, latter on. He interviewed me for a school paper on brokers, thirsted for a trading venue or business enterprise, and offered to trade me chess coaching for teaching him investing.

I had been mentoring folks for years, on the side, in personal effectiveness (at no charge, for the pleasure and learning alone: "Want to learn something? Teach it!"), so this was an easy one for me... long story. But he had me right off go to CTS and get CT-Art, and plan to study Secrets of Pawn Endings and Endgame Strategy. He had me playing 1.e4 and gambits only, to force me 'to learn to play with the initiative' (I was and am 1.Nf3, 1.d4, and used to also play 1.c4, decidedly positional in flavor, with a drive for attacking flavor).

He very charitably helped me get started in chessBase9, and the corresponding megabase game collection, and these helped tremendously also. Thank you Charles.

Charles Galofre, of Miami, that coach, was in the college final four (of chess!), as chronicled in the Wall Street Journal, whereby the local community college, Miami-Dade with it's score of Cuban and Hispanic Grandmasters and Masters competing against the likes of the Grandmasters of Duke, Maryland, Dallas two years in a row, leaving the MIT and Harvard guys in the dust...

He scored 6.5/9 at the
2007 World Open, Under 2400 Section at Valley Forge [link, page down to second group], earning his Master Title. Congratulations Charles! This is ninth out of 131. He is a true warrior, sporting a negative win/loss ratio at 5/0 and 3/0 at ICC against many, many GM's and hoards of IM's.

(4) My first true life teacher used to always say: "David, much of western philosophy is based on the confusion between truth and accuracy", and "As we know it, much of western philosophy would not exist without self aggrandizement".

Malcolm Clark was a true genius--the matter of true legend. I went to see him every Friday night, to chat, for half a year or more, when going back home to New Jersey from New York my first year of college at Copper Union (one of the few tuition free PRIVATE schools in the United States).

He was a chess expert and had long since given it up. He was a bridge master, played Rod Laver at Wimbledon, and the Italian Open. He went to the Monterey Language School, and learned Czech in four months ("Because Chinese was not available, due to excess demand" in 1952 was it and "One time they carried a guy outside the barracks, screaming at the top of his lungs in Chinese. He had lost his mind". This is the place where you learn it in total immersion, 24/7, and some folks crack, literally!).

He was president of the American Azalea and Rhododendron society; a gourmet cook, before the era of windows, self taught in programming. He won the township men's singles tennis championship, well into his forties from inactivity, smoking, and heavy drinking. Once all he did was read Sartre's Being and Nothingness for one year: "David, don’t do it. It's not worth it!" He was a gifted high school teacher, and taught me at a key time, the theory of avoiding the language obfuscation so popular at the time--

He had me bypass the slop and dross of Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Heidegger, Talcott Parsons structuralism, and instead put me onto C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, an Peter Berger's Invitation to Sociology. He advocated simple, clean and straight definitions of conspiracy theory, debunking, and understanding life games, cum the Stephen Potter's 'Gamesmanship' books, or the classic
movie Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1954) starring Georges Adlin and Michèle Brabo. And here I am today to tell of it!

(5) Had I not given up chess, when I ranked not too far from Larry Christiansen at the time, I might not have gotten into a good college, and though my chess ended abruptly (to where even in New York in college, I copiously avoided even watching speed chess or blitz in the famous Washington Square park during my entire five years of college--Bachelors of Architecture takes five year as a professional degree), in her better wisdom my mother and older brother made the RIGHT DECISON in prohibiting me, sternly, from playing ANY chess, so as to maximize my chances of getting not only into college, but on necessary full scholarship, as we were totally poor.

Many years latter, I earned my right to have chess back, and it all comes full circle now, but much the worse for wear... in the intractible vaguarities of mid life and the struggle never ends.


Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That's great about the coach! Having a coach and playing lots of games is probably the best way to improve....

Fri Sep 07, 03:08:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

the overwhelming preponderance of the coaching was me to him, and, in the end,

no person can teach another person investing without a clear understanding on the part of the student, upon the sanctitiy of agreements and integrity of communication.

so willy nilly, the coaching there must stop, and it then becomes coaching in personal effectiveness.

absent a real commitment to be in communication, such coaching is itself impossible, and from far away will falter irrevocably unless the student thirsts to integrate his life states and the relationship among them.

as it is, the integrity of communication with ONESELF BECOMES THE needed elixer, and while the coach can inspire, in the end, no one can make a horse drink...

i am however, indebted to Charles, when we DID trade, for his getting me on the right road to real chess, or in my case more paricularly, real chess study, but my chess with him never got past that, absent his completing his communications on the other side.

like the love of a parent, i still care deeply for his success, and care greatly even though i should not.
... telling him exactly what he needs to do to get into a hedge fund--should he want, or the best way to lobby himself for a chess scholarship to earn his full digree fully paid,

or how to use a Franklin Day Planner, or how to model the stock market using momentum and sentiment, but, in the end cannot teach that if the person refuses to submit a simple excel spreadsheet, or return an email, all while saying they want the goods!

:) im not bitter, but lets get real.

in the end, i have had twenty, maybe thirty persons ask me to teach them investing, and not one has gotten past step two. i charge no money for what i teach and that, i think, is the problem!

Fri Sep 07, 03:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...


many write me, wanting to know this or that secret about GM Seirawan, such his chess mastery, or business success or personal wealth ... or what it is like to be around him...

but, it is really, really simple: he has tremendous integrity in his communication.

and despite being retired in the chess world, now for many years, his stature mirrors directly the WEALTH that goes with THAT integrity.

he communicates, he shares, he doesnt need to remember to be correct, he is correct. his thirst for the world is incredible, and the range of his reading and knowledge is amazing. like bill gates, who needs college he can ask.

this is why i cultivate my friendship with him; his chess pedigree is a nice element, but not the main thing at all!

i learn regard and diplomacy from him

(and, when i have to, i still can always go for the jugular interpersonally when i want or need to but choose not to, 99.95% of the time).

real wealth is friends.

Fri Sep 07, 03:43:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

A good coach is an amazing thing. I will hire another one someday once I hit another plateau.

A good student is also an amazing and rare thing.

Fri Sep 07, 11:02:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Chess teaching said...

Your blog has very beautiful pictures.

Mon Sep 10, 10:42:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have an over the board rating?

Is your name something you share with your readers?

Tue Sep 11, 11:53:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

please email me at dk_experiment at yah who dott commm.

. communication = kom ya hoo versus google...

please do so in the next five days so i know to look, as i never go to that email, but will remember to check for you. thereafter, we can expand this connection, if you wish, and be able to talk more directly, out of view of all persons.

readers: many convers with this person at Tags post, all very constructive. personal growth.

if i can offer anything, it is my deep remorse for a foolish life, and to offer the perspective of salvaging what remains of life to those younger, and good knowledge maybe not 'what to do', but 'what NOT TO DO'.

i have been variously 1650 to 1550 at yahoo 2/12 and 3/8, and

1400 icc bullet 0/4 (about three minutes, starts with 12 seconds, and really is almost a 1/4 game, as with a rapid opening, quickly torques up to 1 min to start), 1275-1398 FICS bullet recently,

1480-1520 at CTS 87% level (now 1440 at 97% very stable run rate, last 1050 tries).

i wish i had a real ICC blitz rating, but its just not time yet. i was 1600 blitz or so, but many games on prescribed painkillers had me -- in dec or so, and way down from there, but hardly a valid read. i leave it now for my bullet rating to resolve, first. not good or bad but my plan and urge.

2180 currently at CT-Art 3.0 at 80% correct level five, problem 838, 1/5th of way through, and 72% overall (one year effort means the overall % is inaccurate, as my current capacity at L5 is way beyong previous efforts at L3 &4

as have done extensive 1001 problems all year, and now many GM games, etc.

warmly, dk on vacation, still!

Tue Sep 11, 12:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

Your endgame plan actually sounds very practical. To summarize, you're reviewing general endgames at a basic level (Seirawan), learning pawn endings at a deep level (Mueller), and then learning strategy at a deep level (Shereshevksy).

A couple thoughts:

1. You're not putting much focus on rook endings which are the most common ending in practice. Minev is probably too deep, but would it be worthwhile to tackle a very short text such as Ward's Starting Out: Rook Endings or even Mueller's 5-hour DVD before proceeding to study endgame strategy?

2. When I began studying pawn endings I was doing lots and lots of calculation, but soon tools like counting reduced that and now I'm seeing milestones everywhere, which is how Flear says good players see these endings. Did your coach give you any advice on how to focus on 'pure calculation' in this book? I think I asked this before. Sigh... I'm too young to be losing my memory! ;)

Regarding Mario Batali, his cook book happens to be my favorite! I've never had a chance to watch his show, though. I tend to improvise in the kitchen. Whatever I have on hand that's tasty and fresh generally goes in!

Tue Sep 11, 09:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

"A good coach is an amazing thing."

Yeah. But I know what they'd say. "You idiot! You know more than enough endings for your level. Tactics!!!" And then I would have to fire him, because I like to learn endings. :)

Tue Sep 11, 09:51:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Jeff said...

In general I concider myself of above average intelligence. However, I understand about 2% of what you have to say. Your blog makes me feel so incomparibly stupid its unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life. It's like your speaking English, but we are from different planets.

Wed Sep 12, 08:02:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

Thank you for your comment(s). Normally, I try to be prompt both so as not to fail to show appreciation as well as maintain comment flow, but I am suddenly very tired again, after so much fitness training, and chess training, extensive blogging, and were that not enough, from as

recent as this Saturday, from a lower altitude to a 6500' to an sweeping panoramic view of an extensive horizon all across the rugged Canadian border and pointy peeks surrounding our area, after all that,

then the quiet time at home sorting paperwork and sorting and sifting and clarifying and organizing such as one can only do while on vacation, in a very deep way, after two full professional careers ("The horror. The horror", as Marlin Brando says in the classic movie, Apocalypse Now),

the memories, the sorrows, the situations and circumstances, the dreams come and gone, yes, once a year I face this stuff like on a retreat... so, after all that, I have a bad cough such as one gets when going from very warm to cool in climbing at exertion and puts a great stress on the physical system (in my case, not the first time this has happened to me low to high to low again), and so after all that am understandably tired.

Need I fail to mention that I have been doing CT-Art daily, and am now at 2188--scoring most of level five correct at 80%, and so proving to myself that I can calculate very deeply, still doing chess tactical server (broke to 87.1% last night, exactly on track for a true 88.00% by 38,500 or so), and then the minor detail of having reviewed some 178 GM games in the last 41 days, or 91 GM games in eleven of the last thirteen days (additional games from 1860 to 1954), need I fail to mention that?

So, yes, rook endings would be splendid!, but I have NOT yet done even the Mueller book yet, nor the Shereshevsky book yet, nor the Yasser book yet, so have enough to do, if you don’t mind my saying!

I might take your kind suggestion of the Mueller DVD before Endgame Strategy, or just buckle down on Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual with the cbv version in tandem, both of which I have, and could do those instead before hand, as you suggest... Thank you. My plan is large, but can change, and we do find as we go the need to modify, as we better see, closer in view, our key elements.

So much to do. I don’t have kids, nor a wife, or girlfriend, so many areas can change in over the years. I don’t have a new job, and so much exogenous to chess can throw a monkey in the wrench, that plans are just that, targets to help get us where we are going, and not cast in stone or rigid!

Warmly, dk

Wed Sep 12, 07:20:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

jeff, thank you. according to my view of your blog, you are no dummy indeed, and you are the one exhibiting smarts.

i bet if we lined up your life and mine side by side, all the bloggers would be rolling on their sides laughing at me, and bowing to you. ive made some real giant mistakes.

not buying a house in seattle but renting.

becoming an architect, or if staying an architect, at that time, not organizing my own product data and files on key motifs, and becoming self employed.

trusting morgan stanley, that they were going to not only let me get very, very large, to becoming #1,2, or 5 out of 12,000 persons in my sales category, thinking they were gonna keep me around to run it, but instead get rid of me and take all the money?

not cashing out my ira in 2000 and traveling the world, but staying home and mopping around, by gosh, not even climbing in two years, of supposed freedom? yet having to sell most of it at the bottom to pay rent and groceries, owning virtually ALL the major biotech names, only to see them soar mightily latter on??

not paying my back taxes, i got so depressed, that the idea of not doing them was better than suicide, then recovering to a degree, then having to do them and back pay, not having the money of course bu then...

not staying short the market before 9-11, despite significant overvaluation.

not getting an apartment in new york city, in the village, but instead moving every year, and seeing all get in rates soar around me?

not having children or being able to find someone to marry right for me, nor having ever set foot in europe, despite copiouos erudition, but all 'just on paper'.

staying for five years at a very big and very stupid big box building materials retailer, who despite gross neglect and mismanagement and ignorAnce carried on heavy thick margins, still manages to make capacious amounts of money, hidding all boundless incompetence?

let us all laugh at me.

Wed Sep 12, 07:31:00 PM PDT  

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