Thursday, March 06, 2008

Been a long time since I rock 'n' rolled

I didn't play for most of 2007 year for reasons I will not go into because this isn't a chess politics blog. I started up again in late in the year, and have been playing pretty regularly since.

I'll post a few games soon (promises, promises), but first I want to... muse for a bit about chess improvement.

I'm the kind of geek who constantly does spreadsheets and graphs of everything. Naturally, I do this for chess. I've just noticed something: my performance since December 2005 is much better -- about a hundred points better -- than it had been before then. So, I wonder if that's significant, and if so, what the reason is.

One thing it might be is that I changed my Black openings right at that time. And indeed, my score with the Caro-Kann has been pretty fierce. But, my performance with White has also improved, by only a little less than my Black performance. So that's probably not it.

I had been overdosing on CTS in the summer and fall of 2005, and stopped right around November. It seems counter-intuitive that doing fewer tactical problems would help my play, but (1) it probably helped to keep me from leaping at the first plausible move so much, and (2) it's possible that all the tactics work actually helped, and just took a while to filter into my actual play.

I had been working on Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual all though that year; on the other hand, I'd been working on that in 2003 and 2004, as well, with no visible results. And I'd done a lot of analytical work on my own games, as well, but I always did that, and in fact I did it less after Spring of 2005. Again, maybe those took some time to take hold.

Starting in mid-2005 and continuing through the whole streak, I did a lot of work on what I call "practical problems", like the ones in Silman's Reassess Your Chess Workbook. I certainly feel like my thought process has changed for the better because of that.

Finally, over most of 2005-06 I did quite a bit of "blindfold practice", playing over short games from a book and trying to visualize the accurately.

I'm not sure I have any definite conclusions. Heck, a hundred point difference could be chance, even over 50 games.

Going forward I'm going to continue with the practical problems, and go back to doing blindfold practice. I'll analyze my games, but not as obsessively as I was doing before. I might do some intensive tactical sessions, but I will stop well before a tournament.

We'll see how it goes. Next stop, Foxwoods (March 19-23). (Edit, March 17th:) Unfortunately, I won't be able to go to Foxwoods after all. And I can't play the April tourney at the Marshall, either. I don't know when I'm going to get to play again. Phooey.

Nice blog!

I will add it to my favorites if I see any signs of more frequent updates.
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