Sunday, November 26, 2006

Getting Better is Slow, Hard Work!

I have been home for twelve days, in my recovery from a ‘rib fracture versus rib contusion’. When this all started, I could barely stand. Lots of rest, lots of vicodin, and, need I tell our kind reader—lots, and lots of chess. Please realize that I have not played any ‘real’ chess since March, aside, of course, from just 25,000 tactical exercises mixed with some endgame study along the way.

No matter how much chess knowledge one adsorbs, it takes time to shake the rust off outside the steady lab of exercise and measured tests, where you can always say ‘timeout’. So I recently embarked upon a blitzkrieg of blitz (no pun intended)—500 games, mostly at ICC, many but not all of them bullet, initially 2/1 and 1/2 but much to my delight in discovery, many latter at 0/4. The thing about this last variant, is it’s significant similarity to the beloved 3/0 blitz, but particularly appealing because of its avoidance, in most instances, of Armageddon. When and if a game approaches 50 moves, as often occurs in endgames, then the increment is yielding 3:20 cumulative minutes, and since you start out with 0:12, so now you are by then at 3:30 or 3.5 minutes. This is just enough off the margin to create some reasonable chances to avoid the total silliness that occurs when ‘flagged’. These are all good things. But the bad thing, of course, is that while some players like bullet, of course, not all do. The bulk of play at ICC occurs at 3/0 and 2/12, so some loss of opponents occurs, but those who play 0/4 and 2/1 tend to continue ‘accepting’ new challenges, so a good match often happens with many quick games.

Once I am warmed up, only then do I play 2/12, but until today had not felt comfortable or ready or open to sustain play there. But after 500 games, as I said, it is now time to shift away from bullet to blitz. My plan is after another, say, 300 or 500 rapids, to then move to standard, and play 25/10 towards my ultimate goal: 100 slower games which I have analyzed.

What does this get me? Right now, I have about 500 ICC games in my ChessBase9. I have hit a few potholes in getting familiar enough to manage my game database in the latter, but am getting over them. For example, I had not been able to sort my games by quantity of moves--very disturbing to me! I could not figure out how to enable this. It is one thing to find, say, every Petrosian game greater than 60 moves, in a two million game database, but how to do this for my own games—and so easily distinguish endgames to study? My coach told me to go to ‘edit game data’, and there was the key. I noticed that when you edit any data, even if it was just to tag the game as ‘rapid’ under the ChessBase toggle, afterwards the database table under ‘moves’ then showed the number of play—i.e. 59 moves, or 25, 39, so this is a quick way to distinguish ‘endgames’ from ‘miniatures’ or ‘normal games’. Secondly, I also found it hard to delete aborted games, those junky one move games where your opponent aborts, but again, he guided me through this--expectedly querulous and finicky Teutonic software, where you need a team of C+ programmers to delete a record, but dutifully safe to make sure you don’t delete any necessary records. Ok.

It is in ‘figuring out what you are doing wrong’

that chess improvement can occur, and it is in review of my games that I plan my next heavy lifting, particularly in the better quality portion of those ‘495’, which I estimate to be around 125 games. I also further have 138 sporadic games from Yahoo this summer which I do not quite consider to be real ‘chess’ but I am nevertheless processing those into the database one game at a time, so the figure is really more like 633 games, so one quarter of that aught to yield at least 125 decent games, which aught to be enough for an enterprising student to chew on.
Are they of the best quality? No. But even then, affords abundant opportunity to find K+P vs. K+P, or R vs. R, or R+P+P vs. B+N+P, etc. And so this sets into motion the necessary broad assiciations necessary to identify then seek to remove the blind spots in one's overal play.

Curretnty I am 'full stream ahead', particularly eager to finish Lev Alburt’s 'Chess Pocket Training Book: 300 Most Important Positions'. Of course, I already worked through the entire book on my trip to NJ in June, and thereafter, but did so without recourse to the solutions or small hints before a solution, or any notes, so this is the second pass, where I ‘cry uncle’ now and again, and throw up my hands and get to see ‘how it is done’. This is only aftter sometimes days of off and on effort, I am in no hurry there, but plod along one at a time. But let me tell you, once you've seen 'it' are not want to forget! Along with this, I am also very eager to finish Averbakh’s 'Endings: Essential Knowledge' which hinges on my finishing Alburt first. Before then, the database will be set up, and the two will meet as follows:

Only then can I then get to finally read the so carefully and inteligently constructed Seirawan’s Winning Chess Endings. Of course, many endgame books exist, but few with the care lavished upon this simple but deep subject. Thereafter, I will have a long sitting with 'Secrets of Pawn Endings', Shereshevsky’s 'Endgame Strategy' together. This will parallel continuance of CT-Art 3.0, with fresh analysis of games from ICC, annotating my games with emphasis on loses, and hopefully in the new year, new employment, with chances to go to tournaments and reestablishing a USCF chess rating after only 34 years away? My company does 38% of all its sales on weekends, and of course, only get those off on rare occassion.
My CT-Art, again, when I do it, is slow, very slow, but I really absorb these positions. I am critical of the rush and move a piece phenomenon, so one can say that one has completed one more circle? Excuse me? While I nowhere near share Samurai-Pawns aborance of this program, I am with him all the way in delight for Maxim Blokh's 'Combinative Motives'. Sitting at a pc for hours and hours is NOT healthy, and like Alburt, this books circumvents this excess and gives recourse to other ways of chewing on tactics not with a monitor beaming into ones brain. How good can that be? Life changes, and things like injuries affect what you find acceptable.

[Image is from the week before last, before more recent heavy rain.]

And lastly, in an area of the United States already known for deluges of endless winter rain, after todays further rain turning to snow, we aught to top the 1933 record for for one month: 15.33", by month end. Imagine that!

Warm Regards, David

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


What follows is a copy of my personal note to samurai.

I've not been at blogger for weeks. But, fyi, if it makes any difference, this is my second post in maybe a month, only tempo a few days ago and now you! such is my regard for you, kind sir!!

[Chris, I broke a rib at work last week, and had to go to a hospital emergency room yesterday. I am 48 and while in very good shape physically, have had injuries since August… And now medication and a week off work, authorized by a doctor. {i tried playing at ICC heavily sedated last night, unrated, and was amazed how well i played} In short, I value your friendship and ability to talk with you here, and in no way are forgotten.{more latter, please}

I got to problem 720 at CTArt, and now am playing at ICC every day after a long time away from live play and a long time doing 25,000 CTS, so now in a whole new angle or cycle of chess {in application, rather than exercise; I love CTA and it IS FOR ME, but totally appreciate what you say at your 100% fabulous blog. Your stuff is fantastic. I will read it all latter.}

How are you sir?