Thursday, December 04, 2008

1st Coaching Session

Coach IM played over six or seven of my recent games, one slowly, and came to the conclusion that my opening repertoire is reasonable, and one big problem is my thought process.

 But my first dilemma---do I believe him? Is he considering my play or just walking me through a series of canned lessons?

He taught using positions arising from my opening repertoire and various endgames to illustrate ideas. He's certainly given similar lessons on thought process before, but he showed me it's a problem in my play and clearly the lesson was customized for my particular style.

 Heisman's "Checks - Captures - Threats"

It's obvious, but I don't do it consistently. I tend to spot a reasonably good move, and then stop looking. If today's lesson had value, it wasn't so much in the content--which I could find in books--but in the diagnosis, prioritization, and discussion.

 Silman's "Dream Positions"

He showed me several endgames where having a plan and taking reasonable steps failed, but calculating backwards from that dream position, or some combination of calculating backwards and forwards, effectively cracked the position.

 Play more slow chess.

My coach wants more play vs. study.

 $45 worth?

We'll see in a few months.

13 comments:

tanc (happyhippo) said...

hello,

I think it's much too early to decide if he is worth the $$$. By all accounts, it looks promising and I would say it appears to be more positive than negative.

If the lesson was customized to your style, then clearly your coach has taken the trouble to look through your games, and mould the lesson to you and not generate some random stuff to fill up his time and coffers.

He also appears to be helping you to overcome your problems over the board by suggesting alternative training methods/thinking ideas.

I treat this as a good sign.

Did he recommend any books to cover your "thinking" gap?

Btw is this training a one-off or do you intend it to be on a regular basis?

cheers

transformation said...

with your extensive background in consultive business, you like me preturnaturally immediately wonder WHERE is the hustle.

i tend to disagree with my esteemed good friend tanc: it wont take long. what does your gut tell you? on wall street, they always said, follow your gut. my guru joy ALWAYS said, follow your heart.

like real love, real friendship, the homes re reCognize immediately, neh, even the pets, the books, the cars, the food. you will knwo RIGHT aways.

buy or sell, fold or double up. my two cents. dk

transformation said...

that is to say, very simply trust is all. do you trust him (not before) but after? is he truly caring? does he add value? does he have true discriminative insight about YOU as a unique living breathing entity or is he cookie cutter.

you will know.

that you have doubts already says a lot.

theSalesman at ICC will charge you less and give you more, i get.

dk

likesforests said...

tanc, there are certain things I can assess about a coach even this early--his choices of lessons, the speed and clarify of presentation, how well it's customized for me, how he handles questions, and how fun it is. So far, so good. As far as how effective his method is for me, we'll see in 3 months. :)

"Did he recommend any books to cover your 'thinking' gap?"

No specific books. He mostly wants me to play slow games to practice healthy thinking habits and to establish a more reliable rating.

"Btw is this training a one-off or do you intend it to be on a regular basis?"

2 hours every other week.

More often would be better, but in this economy and new taxes in the works I have to be conservative. No $14/lb steaks. I'm buying $4/lb London Broil. ;)

likesforests said...

dk, "my guru joy ALWAYS said, follow your heart" -

Great advice.

"do you trust him (not before) but after?"

I was a bit skeptical at first. But once I realized he tailored the program for me, I decided he gave plenty for what I put in.

"is he truly caring?"

He cared that I understood what he was teaching. I don't expect him to put in 'extra hours'. That more often happens at $50+/hour, and he is charging $22/hour.

"does he add value? does he have true discriminative insight about YOU as a unique living breathing entity or is he cookie cutter."

His perception is razor sharp and he's already poked holes in who I imagined I was as a player.

As far as value-add, he's giving me a fair deal on television ads. Whether that's ultimately the type of exposure my business needs to breakout is harder to evaluate.

tanc (happyhippo) said...

likesforests:
"No specific books. He mostly wants me to play slow games to practice healthy thinking habits and to establish a more reliable rating."

hmmmm...... that's a bit vague. Did he outline what healthy thinking habits you should learn during your game or anything specific that you should pay attention to?

likesforests said...

"hmmmm...... that's a bit vague."

Yes, he made me write down a very specific checklist! Basically, a 6-step version of Dan Heisman's checks - captures - and threats.

When I see a nice pattern or an interesting idea, I usually check a couple counter-moves and if I don't see any problems I play it. I'm not exploring forcing moves for both sides consistently, so I sometimes miss killer moves or fall for a real stinker.

He also discussed how to use what Silman calls "Dream Positions" and when to work forwards to them or backwards from then, or both. He also discussed when to use rules of thumb instead of the above.

This is all content I could find elsewhere... Novice Nook, Forcing Moves, How to Reassess Your Chess. Like I said, most of the value is in diagnosing and prioritizing my weaknesses, answering my pointed questions, and encouragement. :)

Ivan said...

How about playing in the NA Open in Vegas?

I am pretty sure I will play.

Ivan

Getting to 2000

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chesstiger said...

So far your ooach did a good job. He went over your games and took important positions from them to teach you something.

So more slow playing games is your assigment for the next lesson? Or didn't he gave you homework? How is he going to evaluate your progress?

Me and my coach work with word document(s) that we send back and forth via email. So far we have analysed a win and a loss from me and now we are putting up a tree about the french opening.

Each time an analyse or now this tree is done he records a video about it based on what we wrote down in that word document. Very educational. I cant complain so far but must say that i learned the most from analysing my games. It really pulls your eyes open for the stupid mistakes you make which i sometimes only see since he asked a very specific question about a certain position. So i missed winning a piece, or a three-four move combination to go from a worse to a won position, ... . Yep, really eye-opener.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks for the update. I struggle with thought process still. I think I've got it down, then I blunder a piece in a game and realize I still don't always blundercheck which is symptomatic of needing to look at threats first and foremost.

As I've written before extensively, too. In practice it is harder. To risk self-promotion, Chessplanner has lots of stuff pulled together on thought process from a lot of sources, much of it Heisman (also many things on my blog highlights page in the thought process subsection).

You mention it's nothing you couldn't find online. That's what's weird about thought process. It shouldn't be anything particularly mind-blowing. Of course you know you shouldn't give away pieces for free. But for some reason we still do such insane things. Not because we are stupid, but because we aren't being careful and thinking in a way that lets our knowledge and skill that we already have show itself OTB.

That's how I look at it anyway.

I played in a tournament Saturday and simply blundered a Knight. Just hung it there, gave it away for free. This after I was up a Knight after seven moves in the game!!! Needless to say, I sometimes wonder why I fucking bother with this shit if I'm going to make such mistakes. It has gotten me refocused on thought process and the basics: I'd been getting all focused on sexy strategy and plans and outposts and such and I blew it because I hung a fucking piece (pardon my French).

Back to basics: checks, captures (beancounting), and elementary tactics. Without a basis there, all is lost.

And this is stuff we all already know, but it is so easy to get into a habit of having screwed up priorities over the board.

likesforests said...

"So more slow playing games is your assigment for the next lesson?"

Yes, to play more slow games on ICC while focusing on the thought process he recommended. There are two goals: (1) to get used to applying the new thought process during games and (2) to establish a baseline rating on there. Also to install the 'Blitzin' interface before our next lesson.

It sounds simple, but I do not think I've done very well at it. More on that tomorrow. ;)

"How is he going to evaluate your progress?"

Hmm. We didn't discuss this. I suppose he will look over my games again, but we will see.

"Each time an analyse or now this tree is done he records a video about it based on what we wrote down in that word document. Very educational. I cant complain so far but must say that i learned the most from analysing my games."

That sounds like a neat process. :)

likesforests said...

"Needless to say, I sometimes wonder why I fracking bother with this $@*! if I'm going to make such mistakes."

Exactly! These mistakes explain why I'm not 200 stronger. But that is true even at lower ratings. A few days ago I played an 850. He actually gained an advantage in the opening... before hanging four chessman and saying it was one of his worst games in recent times.

I have to whoop this if I want to make it to the master level.

"Back to basics: checks, captures (beancounting), and elementary tactics. Without a basis there, all is lost."

At the moment, I can see all of those things quickly and without trouble, if I look for them.

"And this is stuff we all already know, but it is so easy to get into a habit of having screwed up priorities over the board."

Yes. And having good priorities for 90%+ of your moves is also not enough to excel at chess.