Saturday, April 22, 2006



The mixture schedule is still going well. It is difficult to keep everything going on that list each week. I have been lax about reviewing openings, which as an activity that has paid off in the past. I hardly have time to read blogs, too.

A part of what I rusty on last month was checkmate problems. Since then I have made it a point to go through both the Polgar 5334 brick and the 1001 Reinfeld book, doing 6 or 18 mate in two problems several days a week in addition to TCT. It has helped tremendously, and now I enjoy a 30% faster solving speed on average (compared to what they were when I started these circles). I credit pattern recognition recognition, as my calculation speed and accuracy unfortunately seem about the same. The gut feeling I used to get that pieces were being pulled one way or another is pretty much completely gone, but I still seem to benefit from the approach of ruling out the suicidal-looking moves first.

The speed increase coincides my experience in recent standard games. I still am at 1500, and as easy as it was to get to that rating, it is extremely tough to get higher. I haven't beaten any 1700 + players in standard time controls on the ICC. I know that it is premature to make any conclusions about the circles, as my idea was to play/post-mortem 100 standard games after the circles before passing judgment. I do want to say for the record I am playing the kind of game I played last year but faster. Obviously circle-time will become game-time later. Still, I am concerned that I haven't truly addressed my middlegame calculation weakness due to focusing on TCT; I bet CT-Art users are forming better depth calculation skills. Ah, well, I guess it's better to attempt walking before running.

Referring back to checkmate problems, once in awhile I disassemble one of these positions, putting it in terms of simultaneous advantage. I think I have been underestimating how complex these problems are, as even in the easy mate in two problems that there typically is alot going on in the position. Often if you take away even one little advantage, it no longer is checkmate. This has led me to a deeper appreciation of what it will take to get through 5334, cover to cover. For those of you who completed it, my hat is off to you!


TCT Results

Circle 1Circle 2Circle 3Circle 4Circle 5Circle 6Circle 7
Step 197%99%99%100%r
Step 293%96%95%97%96%99%100%
Step 393%97%97%96%96%98%99%
Step 480%86%90%92%89%
Step 574%77%83%87%90%*

It's true, you're going to need good calculation skills sooner or later, and TCT isn't going to give it to you. Do some mate problems. And yeah, when checkmate in 2 starts with a subtle move it often takes a while to get it.
Studying openings? Why would anyone want to do that? Openings are my favorite time to blunder. ;-) As a matter of fact, I'm putting together a list of openings I need to study (as well as memorize). I'm tired of being white and giving up my advantage because of a mistake.
Looking back, doing papa Polgars brick has improved my calculation skills the most.
Heh, I can't even dream of going past the first 450 problems on the Polgar brick yet. I'll just repeat those until I can get 100% on them. Should take me to at least 1600 to do that.

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