Friday, January 13, 2012

Tactics Muscle

IM David Pruess had some really interesting things to say in the forum:

"or when i give players in the 1000-1800 range advice on improving their tactics, viz: 10-15 min per day of solving simple tactical puzzles. the goal is to increase your store of basic patterns, not to work on your visualization, deep calculation. remember that is your goal. you are not trying to prove that you can solve every problem. if you don't solve a problem within 1 minute, stop. it's probably a new pattern or you would have gotten it by now. (with private students i'll take the time to demonstrate this to them: show them through examples that they can find a 3-4 move problem in 10 seconds if they know the pattern, and that they can fail to find a mate in 2 for 10 minutes if they don't know the pattern). look at the answer, and now go over the answer 3 more times in your head to help the pattern take hold. your brain can probably take on 2-3 new patterns between sleeping, so you should stop once you've been stumped by 2 or 3 problems (usually will take about 10-15 min). there is no point in doing more than that in one day. and any day you miss, you can't make up for. a semi-random estimate on my part is that you need about 2000 of these patterns to become a master. so you need to do this for 2 years or more."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Magic Pill Again

Some time ago Dan Heisman tweeted: "If I gave a pill to a 1400 player so that he/she memorizes MCO-15, what would their new playing strength be? Most properly guess 1400-1450"

Some member on is doing a simulation in a Magic Pill-esque setting and here is what (s)he reports:

"Information from my test:

Two identical engines playing each other at about 1400 elo, except one is using an opening book, and the other is not. The opening book is Sedat's Perfect v10 book, with the depth limited to no more than 15 full moves.  My guess is that this opening book is a decent approximation for MCO. So far, 700 games have been played. The engine with the book is +28 elo, with a possible error of plus or minus 12 elo at a 95% confidence interval."

The Act of Learning

Star Chess Blogger Greg posted a tweet with a version of the Immortal Chess Question:

"I keep wishing someone would write a book for club players on the process of learning openings." (follow @bumpaguv)

The question is remotely related to the Magic Pill question tweeted by Dan Heisman.Does it really help (in a time efficient way) the chess development of improving players to learn openings?

Well, maybe we need a clearer picture of the meaning of "learning openings".

GM Nigel Davies is hinting at a new approach to learning openings in a recent blog post. I hope to be able to learn a little about the "secret sauce" invented by Nigel. The backbone of the idea appears to be to "Guess-the-Move" instructive games.

Another interesting claim by Dan Heisman is that improving players should stick to basic principles when playing chess. I don't remember the exact numbers but Dan suggested that a 1700-player would be wrong in about 50% of the cases when deciding to go against basic principles.

Factoids: Playing fellow chess improvers will lead to games that is out of book theory in no time.

Improving players should stick to well established guiding principles.

Ergo: The typical chess lover will never be able to learn enough theory and only the sound application of basic opening principles will save our bacon and help us to a playable middlegame.

Is that to ask for too little? I guess the difference in evaluation between different candidate moves which all can be justified by basic opening principles is somewhere on the centipawn scale. The typical side effects of moves driven by the blunder gland is on the "snatch-one-of-my-pieces scale".

Suggested antidote for Openingphobia (version 12.37):

Replay mastergames using the opening of your choice and figure out how the basic opening  principles of your chess hero is justifying all the moves in the opening phase (say until the rooks are connected).

If you decide to familiarize yourself with gambit play, then I assume that you just have to bite the bullet and accept the gambit move for the fun of it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Endgame Studies

Endgame studies are Beasts! It is totally frustrating to see those constructed positions with just a handful pawns and pieces and forsee that you will never be able to solve it and probably not able to understand most of the solution.

It was a pleasant surprise to almost solve a study that popped up during my morning Tactics Trainer drills at

The problem above appears to be a study and it is both instructive and solvable. Is 2012 the Year of the Endgame?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Support Your Local Chess Store

On my way to the buss stop I come close to one of my favored stores in my home town. The funny thing is that I almost never buy anything from the store or visit the store on a regular basis. They sell needles and fine fabric which I rarely buy but I totally adore the pride, passion and knowledge in the store. I try my very best to contribute in my small ways because I am an honest believer in specialized stores.

The other day I mailed a link to my online chess books catalog to the chess shop in Gothenburg, another of my favorite stores, and asked which books they considered to be missing in my collection.

In reply I got suggestions on how to improve my chess (training) in practical terms and an invitation for a cup of coffee should I find myself in Gothenburg.

Try THAT with Amazon!!