Monday, November 28, 2005

Experimental Accidents

The tournament didn't go so well. I got ground down by Bonin as usual, and lost a game to expert Jon Jacobs when I stupidly took myself out of my repertoire and into a Benoni position I didn't know how to play. I drew with an A player when I played meself into time trouble in a better heavy-piec ending and fell into a repetition, and I drew with a C player (!) when I kept on looking for tactical solutions instead of just consolidating my extra Pawn.

My three wins were against two A players and an expert--a blunder, a nice endgame grind, and a win after holding on for dear life against a strong attack.

Overall, it was a mediocre result. My play was not notably sharp. I would say that doing thousands of tactical problems over the last couple of months...did nothing at all for my game. Maybe it just doesn't work on players already over 2000 or so.

I have noticed that when I get taken out of my repertoire early, my results are pretty bad, even if I get out of the opening with a good position. So it may be time to buckle down and book up a little.

I'm going to keep on doing some problems at CTS just because it's fun, but I no longer expect anything from it.

Glad to see you posting again. I agree that once you get in the expert range, opening preparation is the most important way of adding points. I often slaughter lower rated opponents in the opening. Meanwhile, all of my losses to higher rated opponents are due to insufficient depth in my preparation -- while my wins and draws are often due directly to better preparation. Tactics certainly cannot hurt, though... and I've been meaning to play around with CT-ART or the Chess Tactics Server some more myself. Ultimately, playing lots of games (even speed chess on ICC) is probably more important for keeping in form (especially when it reveals weaknesses in your openings!) and I don't have enough time for that these days myself....

One note on your site, by the way: the embedded I-frame games sometimes take a while to load even on a fast connection and sometimes discourage me from waiting for the page to load. I assume other readers have the same issues -- especially any with dial-up. You might try simply linking to your games for greater usability.
That's for the advice. I don't think all my losses can be laid to poor opening preparation--I have huge deficiencies in the middle and endgame as well--but I do know that in slow games, my performance is almost a full class better if I can play the first 15 moves in 30 minutes or less, than if I can't.

Once I have a little more time, I'll try to get my externally-hosted game windows to pop up from a link.
ed, not that I can offer an real advice to someone much higher rated than I, but it seems like I've got through similar circumstances. Now, I am getting benefits from CTS, but what I've had to continually hone is my thought process. I've experienced some good success lately, which I think is partly due to my CTS work and perhaps equally due to my mastication on my thought process.

What I've begun doing thought process-wise is this (in this exact order) on nearly* every move:

1. Determine my opp's threats (whether tactical or positional)
2. Determine what type of response is needed (again, whether tactical or positional)
3. ID the best candidate moves
4. Calculate to determine the best one

*I find that in certain circumstances, I don't need to repeat the entire process (especially if the moves I've calculated previously are being played), but I do perform some calculation on each move just to confirm that I'm not making any blunders.
Ed, this is Jon Jacobs. I tried emailing you through the blog (I sent a lengthy mail to and it didn't bounce back), but I'm guessing that you didn't see it. If that is the case, please send me your email and I'll forward you what I wrote. I am at:
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