Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Chess for Penguins

This plan is for a 1500-1700 elo player who has a basic tactical foundation and knows a tiny bit about strategy, endgames, and openings.

1. Average 60 min/day studying chess.

Surveys show FIDE-rated players, both titled and non-titled, average 5-6 hrs/week of study and reach their peak after 6-10 years of play. Another study found that masters (non-GMs) on average peak after 4000hrs of study.

Studying less than 1 hr/day reduces your chance of making master. But doing much more increases your chance of burning out.

2. Use per-position spaced repetition to retain my knowledge.

I did 7 circles through Heisman's Back to Basics: Tactics & 3 circles through Polgar's Chess Tactics for Champions. I got stronger, so circles ain't bad. But they're an obscene waste of time for someone with limited time.

Suppose on circle three I know 15 positions, I can calculate 10, and I miss 5. When should I review the book next? There isn't really an answer.

Per-problem tracking is the solution!

3. Read 100 Endgames You Must Know, My System, and Predator at the Chessboard and acquire their patterns

I added Predator at the Chessboard since the diagrams are easy to copy & paste into Supermemo. I was already studying the others.

100 Endgames You Must Know is an extremely readable FM-level endgame text. Once I have it down, I may be done with endgame theory for a long while.

4. Study the games that define my openings. Analyze key positions and write narratives, then memorize the lines.

I've avoided memorization a long time, but it has its place.

5. Play 3 rated OTB games/month at my local chess club.

Study and practice in combination is far superior to either one alone.

6. Review the games myself, with Rybka, and with a coach.

I found a coach who'll give me a great rate as long as I play OTB regularly.

7. Balance: Eat right, exercise, spend time with family, do well at work, and pursue interests besides chess.

But of course. Chess is a board game. :)


likesforests said...

I know, YAIP! (Yet Another Improvement Plan). Do we bloggers ever get around to playing chess?! But every few months, it's healthy to question if we're learning in an optimal way.

I welcome comments, even if it's just to say, "Yeah, that sounds good!" or "That sucks!". Although if it sucks, point to what you disagree with and why please. :)

Anonymous said...

When is your next tournament?

likesforests said...

I found a club with an open section containing: (1) 2200, (4) 2000s, and (2) 1900s, (9) 1800s, (7) 1700s, (6) 1600s, (4) 1500s, and (1) 1400. They have 1 rated game/week, ~G/45.

(I've visited two other clubs--one was too weak, one too blitzy.)

It's a strong field. Maybe this is a faster way to reach 2000 than flying around to tournaments?

chesstiger said...

Sounds a reasonable plan. Not to much but still you are busy with chess and that is the main thing.

The club sounds good although i wonder why not a championship with Fide tempo (90 minutes + 30 seconds added per move and this from move one)?

Anyway, the club's level seems decent enough to have margin to improve, especially if those higher rated want to help you by for example analyse the game when it's finished.

Oh, may we know who your coach/trainer is?

Anonymous said...

I like the first one. One hour is a small enough chunk to not interfere with real life.

Rolling Pawns said...

I like #3. I play in such a club once per week, G/90, sometimes take a bye, so it's roughly 3 times per month. It contributed to 2/3 of my rated games in a year.

Rolling Pawns said...

Sorry, I meant #5.

likesforests said...

chesstiger - The week I checked they were playing G/45, but it turns out most weeks the games are longer than G/60. I don't know specifics yet. I'll reveal the coach as soon as I have one session with them and see whether it will work out.

lep - Yeah. I just hope I will find that hour consistently.

rolling pawns - Neat! I was going to compete in a monthly tourney,
but the with economy as it is and tax increases expected due to the election I can't afford it.

I think as long as I have a local club that gives me tough games I will be ok on that front. :)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Wow that is a very high ratio of study to play! Do you think that is optimal (e.g., playing three slow games a week would violate number 1), or is it because you really like the study?

likesforests said...

"Do you think that is optimal (e.g., playing three slow games a week would violate number 1), or is it because you really like the study?"

I'm aiming for optimality.

A.(1) Many studies indicate we reach our peak within 6-10 years (for masters, more often 10).

(2) UNSW study suggests we reach our peak after 390-740 slow games.

That suggests 3-6 games/month.

B. An IM told a class A player I know that he played too much--that he should reduce to one tourney per month so he had more time to spend analyzing and correcting the errors in his play. That's 3-4 games/month.

C. Dan Heisman says that a serious player will play at least 36 games/year, often closer to 100. That's 3-8 games/month.

I think (A) is more statistically valid but (B) & (C) are good reality checks.

A possible flaw in using studies is, what it took to become master in the past may be different than what it will require in the future, especially with the advent of ICC, FICS, and Playchess. I may need to add some informal ICC games into the mix. Thank you for bringing this up.

Blue Devil Knight said...

An interesting inference. Didn't the UNSW study also suggest that study was less important than playing? Indeed, that study motivated me to play more, study less (as did Rowson).

From the study:
"The median number of hours of study of chess in an average week was 4.5 hours (6 hours for the masters) but this varied widely; from 0 to 50 hours. There was a correlation between amount of deliberate practice from the age of serious play and peak rating (and with current rating). However, the correlation was quite small, suggesting that other factors are
more important."

Unfortunately, the site isn't very good, so it is hard for me to track down all the statistics.

James Stripes said...

My training plan involves regular OTB play (~20 rated games per year), lots of online play, training against the computer, regular reading of good books, and plenty of teaching basic skills to children. It seems to be working.

If you could arrange one of your Spokane trips to correspond to our tournament schedule, you could play in a small, friendly, and well-run event. Two especially come to mind in the coming months: the Collyer Memorial--always the last weekend in February (Feb 28-Mar 1, 2009), and the Washington Open Memorial Day weekend in 2009.

The Collyer is our premier annual event--67 players last year was the largest. The Washington Open was last in Spokane in 1957, but we're happy to be bringing it back, and only a month after we host the Washington State Elementary Chess Championship for the first time.

Sinanthiel said...

I don't know where else to leave you a message, but you added a comment on my blog and I am going to explain a few things to you...

1. You asked "How many of these ingredients did you have on-hand, and how many did you have to make a special shopping trip to pick up?"

I have all the ingredients on hand... I always have vegetables on hand, and I always have pesto... I make my own pesto, and then freeze them in ice cube trays and pop them out once frozen and store them in zip lock bags in my freezer for use during the winter months.

2. "Do you buy what 'looks good' and then come up with recipes, or do you plan out what you're going to make for the week before you go out shopping for ingredients?"

I usually buy random stuff without really have a plan, then I come up with ideas of what I'm going to make with what I have on hand... I usually make a trip to the grocery every couple of weeks. Sometimes I will run up to the store if I need some vegetables or something.

If you notice the minestrone soup that you commented on, has a lot of canned food items... Garlic, potatoes, and carrots are the only fresh vegetables in my soup and those items can be purchased all year round at any super market.

So, what was the purpose in you asking me these questions? Are you planning on trying out my recipes?

I know a lot of people don't have a lot of the ingredients that I have on hand all the time, but most of the ingredients in my cooking are items that are easily accessible at any super market.

Sinanthiel said...

Awesome! I am glad you a planning on using my recipes... My dad actually grows my herbs for me, but if you'd like I could have him email you and give you some pointers. He's really good at growing herbs and tomatoes, etc.

One thing that I always have on hand is turkey sausage, wine, bell peppers, onions, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and fresh garlic... You can make an awesome spaghetti sauce with all of those ingredients. I usually use red wine for spaghetti sauce, but don't cook with something that you're not willing to drink.

For Christmas this year, I am going to make homemade truffles for my secret santa. That's what we do in my family, we all pick a name and then buy something just for that person. I plan on putting tempered chocolate into molds and letting it harden and then making bananas foster and blending it up into a paste and using it as the filling to some of my chocolates. I am going to make some other flavours as well.

Anyway, let me know if there are any specific recipes that you'd like to see on my blog... I can make just about anything.


Temposchlucker said...

In the comments on my last post there is maybe a nice endgame problem for you.

Sinanthiel said...

I do drain the beans and I do add all the juice from the tomatoes...

Yes, I forgot to specify to cover the pan while cooking. Sorry about that. I fixed it.

I use low sodium everything as well, so I do add the 1 1/2 tsp of salt because I like my food to taste seasoned.

The reason why I use pesto is because I grow my own herbs and by this time of the year all my basil plants have had their prime... I refuse to use store bought basil, so I use pesto to give it that fresh herb flavour. I also dry my own herbs, but in a soup like this the pesto works better for me.

My soup wasn't thick at all the first day, but yes it does thicken up once refrigerated. There are two ways to fix that. Either add more beef broth and heat it up again, or cook the pasta separately and add about 1/4 cup of pasta to the bowls of soup and store the pasta separately from the soup. The pasta soaks up the liquid and that is why it turns thick once refrigerated.