Druss Blog

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Another week - another 150 problems solved

Second week of my second circle - now completed 376 problems, so I solved almost 150 in the last week. 150 sounds a reasonable amount, but I had hoped for more. I'm still in the difficulty level 20 section with 264 complete out of 286 and I had hoped to finish this off. Also, they are 20s so they should be quicker ... although I can't solve them almost instantly like the 10s.

So, progress, but not as much as I would have liked. I have been quite busy over the last week though, and didn't devote as much time to chess problems as I would have liked.

I should finish off the remaining 20s over the next day or two and start on the 30s. That will be interesting. At what point will I start getting really bogged down? The prospect of a long grind through tricky problems, with no easy ones for a spot of light relief, doesn't exactly thrill me.

Still, moaning about the more difficult problems aside, I am still having fun. My tactical ability is definitely improving. I am focusing more on the important candidate moves and also able to look deeper into combinations.

Is chess really about seeing how all the pieces interact as a whole and being able to recognise patterns? Previously my thoughts have darted about with a lot of, "if I move this, then he does that, then I can take this" and I miss obvious things. Sometimes now I just try to picture the whole board & all the pieces and the obvious line springs into my mind. Great when it works, but really, really frustrating when your brain refuses to come up with that obvious line!

Monday, August 22, 2005

2nd circle progress

I've been running nicely through my second circle over the last week - I've now finished all the 10s and I'm almost half way through the 20s. 230 completed so far, so that's over 200 in the last week. Although it is all the easy ones!

Two thoughts:

- Tackling all the problems in strict priority of levels is easier, although I still think going through the tactical grouping for the first circle is worth it. I might really slow down when I hit the difficult ones though.

- I'm definitely improving. Solutions just spring into my head sometimes, and when they don't it is easier to calculate. I'm better at seeing more moves ahead as well and analysing an alternative through to a conclusion. Also, I tend to focus down more on practical candidate moves - although I'm still not sure exactly how I select these in the first place ... I feel like it is a memory recall of patterns.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Started my 2nd circle

I completed my first 20 problems in my second circle this morning. All level 10, and they went very well ... I only made one mistake, but this was in a "win 1 P material" problem and I don't fully agree that there is only one solution.

I am definitely better than when I started my first circle. I'm solving these more quickly and more accurately. Although this is only the first level 10 lot, so I'll have to wait to see how I get on with the more complicated stuff.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Success! Finished my first circle!

Finally made it! Finished my first circle! Woo-hoo!

I'm not sure exactly how long I took to complete this, but it was probably about 3 months. But finally I've done it - completed 1235 problems in CT-Art. I'm very pleased.

I couldn't complete number 385 though. Playing black, After 1 ...Ra4+, it followed a line of: [2.Kb1 Ra1+ 3.Kxa1 Nb3+] and then it wouldn't play the next move for white. It just froze. Strange bug.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well, I didn't make it

I had hoped to finish off my first circle before my holiday. I didn't make it. There just wasn't enough time with packing and what-not, and the problems were too tricky.

I felt down about this. I'd really set myself a target and thought it would be nice to go away for a break before starting my second circle.

Having come back from holiday though it doesn't seem so bad. My wife wouldn't let me take my computer with me so I had the longest break from CT Art since I started this whole Mazza training thing. This allowed me to get a bit more perspective - I was getting too obsessed with finishing the circle and keeping up to an artificial timescale. I'm no where near the original MDLM timescales anyway, so an extra few weeks don't matter. Really it is about two things - having fun and learning chess tactics.

So I've started tackling the rest of my first circle problems with this in mind. As of yesterday I had completed 1188 problems in total and 219 from 266 in the final section ... leaving 47 left.

However, I do have a bit of a hard deadline coming up ... the birth of my daughter who is due on 6th November. I wont' have nearly as much time after that.

I didn't give up chess problems entirely on holiday - I went through a few from Silman's Reassess Your Chess Workbook. I like these. They are a nice balance to the full-on pure tactics stuff ... I get to think about bad bishops and weak pawn chains and stuff rather than "attack the king", "attack the king"!

I also worked out how to solve Su Dokus and read 2/3rds of Greg Bear's excellent Sci-Fi book Eon. Although that's not really chess, is it. Maybe I should feel bad for using up valuable chess learning time?