Thursday, March 27, 2008

like a crazy metal sea

But the cables held, and the Killing Floor rose and fell like a crazy metal sea. And Molly danced on it. -- William Gibson

I'm going to be eclectic this month. You've been warned. ;)

Openings - Last year, a top player looked at my games, and identified openings as one of my major weaknesses. I began this year by reading "Improve Your Opening Play", "The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings" and "The Chess Player's Handbook". Based on what I learned, I revamped my repertoire. I now play the English, Caro-Kann, and Semi-Slav. I'm adding depth to my repertoire as I play through annotated master games.

Visualization - I found a neat game for improving Knight Vision called "Troyis". I'm currently #603 in the world with a score of 953420 (Apr01). As a result, I calculate knight moves 4x faster, and my play has dramatically improved in positions with minor piece imbalances.

Endgames - I got the new copy of "Secrets of Pawn Endings" and I'm taking the Chess Mentor pawn endgame course. They're mostly review, but good exercise.

Strategy - I'm reading through "My System" by Aron Nimzowitsch. I'm up to chapter four and finding his take on things very enlightening.

Play - I entered the 1400-1800 correspondence tournament. So far, I'm in 2nd place out of my group of five. I have 4 wins & 4 games in progress. The top player has 5 wins & 3 games in progress. I am not happy with some of the moves I've played, convincing me to return to daily tactical study.

Tactics - I've been remiss at this for while, like always. Last week, I began solving problems again using the Tactics Trainer.

I've been recruited a few times now to create an endgame course, but I've declined. To do battle with experts I need to train hard. Do tactical puzzles. Face tough opponents.

See that look in their eyes, Rock? You gotta get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger, man. Eye of the tiger. -- Apollo Creed


transformation said...

all very lovely, well conceived, and enjoyable. thank you.

if not already, you will soon be a most formidable opponent.

question: you are going ecclectic, perhaps imitating another blogger here *smile* with eclecticism, so you have the face, you have the natural setting, so where is the man made object? and where is the rant against the evils of modern capitalism or social injustice? or the diatribe against liberal muckyness, if you prefer! please!

you must be correct!

Edwin said...

I was wondering, since i have the book The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings myself, how do you work with it? Do you only look and read up on the openings you're playing, or are you reading everything? I just played Troyis. I allready knew about it but never really looked into it. It might be nice to add to my training. 15 minutes a day of Troyis...

likesforests said...

transformation - So you caught the reference. I guess I am only an "Eclectic in Training." :)


edwin, I read "Improve Your Opening Play" cover-to-cover twice. I felt this was a good idea because even though I know common lines and tactics in my openings, once we're out of those I know only basic principles, and that's apparently not enough against an IM.

What did I learn?

+ Why c5/d5 equalize for Black in most openings.

+ When and why to play d4, even if it's just going to get traded off.

+ Just how early pawn majorities form.

+ What a Trompowsky, Colle, Torre, and Veresov look like and basic ideas for combating these "sidelines".

+ The basic ideas and pros/cons of openings I normally don't play but may occur in games I want to study and may be useful as a surprise.

+ How to crush more bad openings.

Ideas Behind the Chess Openings and Chess Player's Handbook are similar works, but I only used them when I wanted more details because they're a bit out-of-date. The ideas are still good, but some of the lines they selected can now be refuted.

The first chapter of "My System" was also illuminating. It dealt with:

1. How to use a mobile pawn center to demobilize your opponent.

2. When to allow demobilization.

3. How to imprison and eventually execute your opponent's center.

4. Exchanging in the opening only to gain tempi or liquidate an opposing pawn center.

5. When and when not to pawn grab.

Phaedrus said...

Man you rock at Troyis!

Loomis said...

What rating level is "Ideas behind the chess opening" appropriate for? I have never really studied the opening because, frankly, I never remember anything I learn. Of course, over the years I have cobbled together a repertoire based on getting crushed and patching up weaknesses. Is this a good book to start approaching the opening systematically?

likesforests said...

I would recommend the more modern "Improve Your Opening Play" because it's shorter and up-to-date.

Who are these books best for?

For players <=1500, this is better than buying 3 repertoire books because it gives a basic idea what to do and studying it doesn't take so much time... and of course such a player should be focusing most of their time on tactics.

For players >=1800 who plan to stick to their repertoire I think repertoire books filled with annotated games are probably more useful, but this is a good book for any level player wanted a survey and basic understanding of all the openings out there, and certainly if one is open to changing their repertoire to better suit their style.