Druss Blog

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The novice's view of chess

I overheard an interesting conversation between two people at work this week. One person was describing a technique a mate of his has for interviewing DBAs - he plays them at chess using yahoo instant messenger.

The other person questioned this technique. He said that if he were subject to such an interview, all he would do would be to google for grandmaster chess strategies. He would then be able to win easily by just following, presumably, the simple instructions he finds.

There is also a Alta Vista add featuring Kasparov where a kid playing a simul types How to beat Kasparov at chess into a search engine.

This seems to be a common misconception amongst novices. Googling for grandmaster chess strategies gets you a lot of links to Silman's books, and how to beat kasparov at chess gets you a link to IBM's deep blue page! So you either have to spend hours reading Silman, or build yourself a super computer ... neither easy options for passing that DBA interview.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Repeated level 40 until I got them all right

Although I completed level 40 in CT Art a few weeks ago, I decided to continue to solve the 'erroneous' problems until I had scored 100%. In other words, to redo every problem until I got them all right first time. This is the same approach that I did previously with levels 10, 20 and 30. Although it is nice to achieve, it does involve trying to solve the same problems over and over. And, in the end it seems more a case of memorising the move order rather than solving, and I wonder if this is a bad situation. Am I building up a generic pattern recognition memory that will improve my tactical play, or am I learning how to solve specific CT Art problems? Also, it takes a fair slug of time to complete, especially at level 40. On balance, I like it though, and I feel it is helping by repeatedly exposing me to patterns that I miss. I definitely have tactical blind spots, and certain combinations are much harder for me to spot.

I have now completed seven circles of levels 10 and 20, six circles of level 30 and five circles of level 40. Above this, I have solved level 50 twice, and levels 60+ once.

Even with level 20, I have not managed to complete them all in one day. I have with level 10, and got it down to about 1 hour. The best at level 20 is 3 days. I'm getting a bit better at level 30, and managed to knock off 30 odd without really trying this morning.

According to MDLM I should be aiming for completing everything all in one day. At the moment I think this is unrealistic. I also think there is limited value going above level 50 problems. So my goal for this year is to try to complete levels 10 to 50 only in one day.

I am not fully convinced of this tuning the problem solving down to one day final stage - what do other people think who have achieved this? Personally, I find the iterating through the erroneous problems until you achieve 100% approach is more useful for me.

On another note, is the enthusiasm waning amongst the knights? People have commented that we are not as enthusiastic at rallying round people who are struggling. And also, I feel there is a lot of divergence in methods and more of a focus on chess improvement rather than MDLM methods. Is this bad?