Druss Blog

An account of my attempts to try and improve my chess.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Toppy tactics at Wijk aan Zee

It has been amazing watching Toppy's games at Corus. Both the games today and yesterday are very interesting.

Yesterday he had two rooks en prise, and he moved his queen. Admittedly into an excellent position, but one that was just full of tactics. Chessbase has an excellent write up: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2885 with white's response on move 35.

And then today he made two exchange sacrifices! And then was left in a winning position with two bishops vs two rooks. Again, tactics galore.

I wonder if he's just finished Maza training ... ?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Finished the level 30s

For the fourth time. Slower than the 20s, but not too bad and I scored 72%. I'm now going to go back over the erroneous ones and repeat them. After that I'll try a few 40s, then maybe cycle back through the 10, 20 and 30s.

I had a bit of a think about where I'm improving. As a number of other knights have observed, there is definitely a pattern recognition thing going on. Especially around sacrificial attacks on the king's pawn shelter! But I'm also improving my look-ahead capability. I can see slightly further than I used to.

I recently subscribed to New In Chess, partly as a result of following (on www.chessbase.com) Toppy win the recent World Championship. The first edition of New In Chess that I received was heavily focused on this event. I am finding it easier to follow annotated games - MDLM said that, didn't he? - not that I really understand what's going on in them though! I was surprised about just how tactical the world championship games appeared. Some of the openings seemed crazy, I would feel very exposed and nervous playing them. The top chess players at the World Championship seem to be able to effortlessly combine tactics with a real mastery of the game. It is not what I would call strategy necessarily (or at least what I think of as strategic play), more exactly knowing when to swap that duff old rook for that knight.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Good progress with CT Art on my pocket PC

I completed the level 20 problems (for the fifth time) last week, and started on the level 30s. I've completed about 60 of these so far - the pocket PC is proving to be an excellent way of solving CT Art problems. It is far more portable than a PC, and the slight limitations don't bother me. I'm finding that I can get more problem solving hours in each day as a result.

However my circles are becoming blurred. This is only my fourth cycle through the level 30s, and I've been through the level 10s six times. I've decided not to focus on a strict 7 times through in 7 circles approach. I'm going to cycle through each level enough times until I can solve the problems almost straight away ... or quickly enough so that I could sit down and do several hundred in a day. So I'm retaining MDLM's end goal of trying to have a final circle in which I solve all the problems in one day, but not sticking to a rigid 7 times through to achieve this, and also not trying to solve all the CT Art problems - capping it at level 50s probably.

Is it working? The continual question :) My online play isn't improving much, I think that focusing on tactical puzzles creates bad habits for real play. My sense of danger is not heightened enough - I think that I've got the superior tactical position and that the other side hasn't really got anything. Playing through the chess problems, even when oppo has a tactical shot you can always get yours in first! If only this were true in actual games ...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mobile CT Art

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I just went out and bought an iPaq. Then I went along to my friendly local chess shop and ended up buying not only Pocket CT Art and Pocket Fritz, but a couple of other convekta programs as well ... Pocket Chess Strategy and Pocket Chess Endings. I thought I might as well while I was there.

Chess Strategy and Chess Endings are almost exactly the same format as CT Art, but with different problems. I've had a bit of a play with them, but not that extensively. I'm still planning to mainly focus on CT Art. Chess Strategy feels different because there is not really a definite 'checkmate like' solution, so it is more vague. Fun though. I completely can't identify good moves to exploit weak squares though! ... the only theme I've explored so far.

Pocket Fritz is good, although it was very difficult to install. The standard out-of-the-box install program didn't recognise the newer Window Mobile operating system, and I had to hack around using a patch update installer from the chessbase website. Got there in the end though.

Pocket CT Art definitely does the job, but is a cut down version of the PC edition. There is no 5x5 help board if you go wrong, and you can't play a position against Crafty in practise mode. I would recommend using the PC version initially, and use the Pocket PC version for practise on subsequent circles.

There is a bug in CT Art though - selecting tactical themes from the drop-down list doesn't properly work, and the number of new vs solved exercises is wrong. Playing a practise game first in the themed mode solves this.

I've started my 5th circle on my Pocket PC now. I completed level 20 on my PC in my 4th circle, and then decided to start from scratch again on the Pocket PC.

I whizzed through level 10, and I am progressing swiftly through level 20 and have completed about 70% of the problems. Level 20 is becoming a lot easier and I'm solving them in less than 1 minute on average. So I can sit down and do 20 to 30 in a session. However, I can still only dream of doing this for the level 90s! Maybe one day ... or more like maybe one year!