Monday, April 11, 2005
I have my doubts about opening preparation
I played a tournament at the Marshall Chess Club this weekend and did OK (lost to IM Jay Bonin, beat an Expert and a A-player). If my visualization training is doing anything, the games don't show it. The discouraging thing about my play is not how badly I play when I lose, it's how badly I play when I _win_. Anyway, I'll post the games this week sometime.
The point I want to bring up here is: I decided at the board to play the Dutch Defense against Bonin in round one, and played it again in the next round against an Expert. I got decent positions out of the opening both times, and went 1-1 with a performance rating around 2250. That's better than I usually do with Black with my normal opening (Pirc and King's Indian). Yeah, it's only two games, but still.
This was first time in about 20 years I played the Dutch. I used to play it a lot that, so the types of position that arose were familiar to me, but my entire "preparation" for playing it now was glancing at a few variations of some anti-Dutch lines (2.Nc3, 2.Bg5, and 2.e4) in Williams' _Play the Classical Dutch_ and the new Everyman _Starting Out_ book on the Dutch while standing in a bookstore last week. Total "preparation" time: less than a half hour.
Since blindfold visualization is directly related to the ability to analyze at the board, blindfold practice ought to pay off in the long run; just as de la Maza training ought to pay off because pattern recognition is vital to tactical vision at the board.
I think you have to give these things time to work. If you're out of shape and start a jogging program, you don't give up after a month because you're not running five-minute miles yet; instead, you notice that you're not quite as winded after jogging around the block: that's progress.
Finally, I clearly have to improve my visualization, and I can't think of another way of doing it, so I couldn't even switch programs if I wanted to. I'm about a quarter of the way through Chernev's _1000 Best Short Games of Chess_; we'll see how I'm doing when I finish.