It’s been a while I posted here. This isn’t because I’ve lost interest in chess and improving, it’s because I’ve been busy with many chess-related projects which have taken some time away from being able to blog.
For those who subscribe to American Chess Magazine, you may have noticed that I am now an Associate Editor there. My first piece ran in the most recent issue (a profile of the Webster University team) and I spent a lot of time finishing up my second piece, which will run in the next issue.
I am also working for the first time as editor on an upcoming chess book. That hasn’t taken a ton of time yet, but it will over the coming weeks.
Playing wise I’m finally back on the upswing. I seem to have this pattern which repeats where I gain a ton of points, drop 150, then go 100+ past the prior high water mark before repeating. If that’s the case here, then hopefully this will be the surge that eventually takes me over 1900.
I also plan on setting up a plan to get to 2000. I’ve been researching the process of learning itself so that I can hopefully put together a training plan in a proper way.
One thing which I have been doing for a week or so now is I saw this class by IM Danny Rensch where he gave the tip that if a student has a plan, like say “Today I’m going to do 30 minutes of tactics and then 30 minutes on rook endings” that he recommends you develop the discipline to finish what you have planned before allowing yourself to move on to the next thing.
As an example, let’s say you’re working on the 30 minutes of tactics and you get several in a row wrong and you’re frustrated and want to say “forget this” and move on to the endgames. Under Rensch’s methodology this isn’t allowed. You have to develop the discipline to finish the first thing before you can move on to the next.
What’s interesting with this philosophy is that it drove home the point to me that I waffle a lot in my study. I start out intending to do one thing, then wind up doing many things that weren’t on the list originally. This really made me see how unorganized my study has been.
I think that perhaps the issue I’ve been having of late is that it’s easier to get away with unfocused study up to a point. Since you need to learn approximately five times less to go from 1500-1600 than you do to go from 1800-1900 it’s easier to get there even while more or less drifting through study sessions.
So far I’ve had sessions that consisted of:
30 minutes of tactics, followed by playing through an annotated game in a line I play.
30 minutes of tactics, followed by playing through the Game of the Century
30 minutes of tactics followed by playing through an annotated game in the most recent New in Chess.
120 minutes of tactics
30 minutes of tactics followed by 60 minutes on rook endings.
As you can see, I’m still working heavily on tactics in my study routine. It’s interesting because I’ve been focusing on this heavily for the past couple of years, but this week I realized that I like to only do a handful and then just move on to something else in an unfocused way.
That’s not going to work to get to Expert. And clearly Expert is the next main step on the road to master.
Til Next Time,