Tools for Structuring Getting Better, Part One: Starting
In order to get better at chess, you are going to need a structure to work within. I will be having a LOT to say about this structure, in the weeks ahead--so much so, that I will have to take this one in bite sizes. I usually like to dive in head first, in large scale, but this is one (and good for me at that, against my nature as it is!), that necessitates piecemeal discussion. Also, the cap stone post will have to be last, as the 'big chessBase discussion', is one that I need to both build up to, and cover a lot of ground, first.
Today we begin this discussion, but first with miscellaneous subjects to prepare the ground as it were:
To begin with, I am not the foremost example of improvement. In fact, I am fairly typical. Perhaps above average in chess knowledge, significant in some ways, but lacking transfer of that knowledge. It doesn't mean it will be this way forever, but is so now. Added to that, I am an extremely very 'type A' person, and chess IS tension, so the need for more of it is antagonistic to getting better at chess, if not simply antagonistic to PLAY AT ALL. The net result is that I don't enjoy playing chess or rather don't get to play chess much unless I add stress, so that I greatly prefer study, which is more about lifestyle or hobby or activity than chess per se. I don't say this with pride or shame but as a fact about me.
Tama: Nine Year Old Cat Wearing Stationmaster Cap Helps Debt Strapped Japanese Train Company As Thousands come to visit him .
So what I can share with you is how I organize that effort, not what you DO with that effort, or what you extract from that effort. If you want to know more about 'types of correct effort', then go to Phaedrus's wonderful blog, Chess Vision, previously called Chess Training, I think it was. I wrote about chessedelic weeks ago, and he must be a very good coach. But if I were in Europe or had the right circumstance, Phaedrus is another coach that I would have to carefully consider. Might I suggest you go to his blog? He not only talks about it, but has 'done it'. For example, he once took a young man, who was pretty much considered uncoachable, and this man recently made his third IM norm.
Finally, I need not remind anyone that while he neither seeks money nor fame, full with his own successful career outside chess, loving family, and serious chess study, but rather that he not only has 'done it' himself but also knows how to skillfully communicate it, not to mention much else besides?
* * *
And now for the bones of our current essay:
In order to structure your effort, first you will need to be able to access and store your games, so that you can review them. If you are not doing that, you simply won't get better. Many of us do that already, but I have to start, in 'Aristotelian fashion' at square one, and work my way progressively forward by topic. And if you can do that, then you will be able to view high level games, both in classical and contemporary form.
'I am Done Organizing My Books by Color'
There are many viewers and I much prefer chessBase, but not everyone wants to spend that much, so there are alternative. To name but one, SCID is reputed to be the best, when previously ChessPad was recommended to me as recently as last spring-for those who like to research comparisons . Free downloads are available at this link. ChessBase Light is very, very good, but I am going to ask readers to wait on that, for that is a separate post completely (chessBase Light is for great for viewing work in hand but cannot CREATE files, nor access them when too large). For now, I can say that I am going to recommend both but again, lets discuss this latter.
With your viewer, you will need a large database, and again, a completely free 4M game database is available for download at: ICOfY . Now, there is a LOT to say about this. It is not a perfect database, but we are talking free, yes? The key is to get started, and you can make substitutions latter. What this database lacks it makes up for in shear size. What is really good about it, is that few record games are NOT in it .
This database will not stand still. And each week, you go to chessCenter.com, and download the full games form the last week here or at The Week in Chess here, also free. There are few if any serious chess players who do not do this each Monday night (EST) or Tuesday morning (CST).
Florence: Old World Effort at Control
Finally, a small detail but might be news to many here, for I myself only discovered it by accident: chesscenter.com had a Silverlight Chessboard application enabled embedded at the news site for months, before I realized that I had to both download and enable the Microsoft Application. I am not going to get into Macromedia, and Flash, and all that, only that I avoided doing so, for a long time, then one day I did and boy am I glad! Now I have viewable java applets at Mark Crowther's wonderful, World Number One chess site, and get immediate updates on live game's. I suggest you try it. If you are not going to chesscenter.com daily or weekly, then you, kind sir, are missing out big time.
Much, much more to follow. Stay posted!
Jim Bishop Castle Builder. If you like this guy, then here is an even better one of him here. Gotta love the guy. Damn, some cool shit. Here is a full expose of him.
 You will need to download a free tool, to unzip it, and for this, download another free application, 7-Zip.
 For someone as scholarly minded as me, its lack of detailed game data bothers me, but I use it daily for when I cannot find a game in my $Megabase$, sold by chessBase. For example, it lacks round numbers and venue information such as the name of the tournament, using only city name.
 Alert males will notice the carefully calculated complete absence of inclusion of any eroticized females at this blog when previously widespread if not frequent. Yes. Believe you me, every week I consider the matter, so that WHEN I do restore that feature, you all will REALLY have something to see, and duly note it as such. For now, we must suffice with fractal, heuristical, urbanistic, geopolitical, iterative, natural, mechanical, global, and feline scenes but not permanently as you can appreciate.
 Thanks to Phaedrus, who just wrote me back, from my inquiry earlier today, to tell me that SCID was the best.