phorku's chess blog

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Squares update

J' adoube and I have been having a discussion on squares. I did find one training CD Alexander Bangiev: Squares Strategy, Vol. 1. I forgot to mention it in the comments.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Super Subconscious Training Program

Now you too can take part in my Super Subconscious Training Programtm. Just read the last couple entries on my blog and buy my soon to be available Everyman Chess title "Super Rapid Chess Improvement". With stringent following of my program, starting or joining an internet chess cult to worship me and the purchase of my book you too can be a GM in just 12 months. That's right with a gain of 187 points per month you will be a GM on no time.

My early progress and one man example should be plenty of proof for you to dive headfirst into my training program. Any failure is surely due to your inability to follow the program. So order now!

Seriously folks, I have had a huge rating improvment this month. I am not sure what to attribute it to. Obviously some facet or facets of my training program is working or has kicked in. I am not sure what it is. I am suspecting it is the tactical training the night before my chess nights. Perhaps time will tell.

Timothy de la Flory

LQQking at Squares

In a recent post I made a comment about GM's and looking at squares. J' adoube made this comment:

As for GM's looking at squares, what they are doing is looking at combinations of moves - they are looking at where pieces will end up.

I believe this is exactly the opposite of what was meant. It is surely the opposite of what I meant. Everybody calculates and we are not talking absolutes. What I was talking about and what I believe the saying was talking about was looking at squares.

There are 3 ways I look at squares. The first way is the obvious way that all tactical players look at. That is piling pieces on weak squares, creating focal points for attack and all that.

The second way is pretty obvious also when you look at mating nets.

The third way is more subtle and a different way of thinking. It is related to improving the position of your worst piece and other strategic themes.

This is how I look at it. There are 64 squares. When I do not see a tactical combination I start looking focal points for attack, the center and the empty squares. I look at which ones I control and which ones he controls. I try to pile on the focal points or the center squares. Then I start looking at uncontrolled squares. Can I put a piece on there or take control over it. Where can his pieces move and how many of those squares can I take away. One square I keep an eye on is the g6 square. When I play white Bc4 is usually move 2 (oh how I love the Itialian diagonal). h6 frees this square for occupation or if Black moves his g pawn there look out.

When I first started thinking about it I was trying to come up with an algorithm or study plan to figure out best piece placement to cover a majority of squares. Now I just run with the Idea.


Blue Devil, the bike analogy is a great one and that is what has started happening to me. I am not concentrating on pedaling and steering anymore I am now planning the route to where I want to go. My subconscious is doing the pedaling now.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why tactical training alone hasn't worked for me....

I stumbled across this web page that explains it better than I could. It is a very interesting read. This statement pretty much sums it up for me:

"Here is my hypothesis: My friend and I are both afflicted with the same problem, Forcing The Issue. We have spent so much effort learning tactics from setup positions, that once we are in a real game, we try to apply our lessons to positions that don't warrant it. Subconsciously, we believe that every position has some stunning combination in it that will allow us to win. When we look for it, if it's not there (most often the case), we try to force one, causing a lost game.

"Studying tactics in setup positions is a VERY necessary part of learning chess, but, knowing when to apply tactical knowledge is, at this point in my education, to me even more important. My friend's opponent instinctively makes "better" moves because my friend is making weaker moves, and so am I. Given a setup position, he would most likely find the solution much faster than his opponent. In a general position, we would both likely find a combination that wasn't there." -- Gene THOMPSON, The Search for Great ChessPart V, Chess Scene

I also wanted to comment on another thing Nezha said. He was talking about all he could get was a 1 point positional advantage based on computer analysis and was not able to take advantage of it. Positional advantages lead to tactical advantages. Basically this comes in 2 flavors. Over protection (denying your opponent tactical opportunities) and space. I have never engaged in over protection(hard for me to grasp the concept with the way I like to play). I have learned about space. I read about it in some of Silman's books but it was never clear what to do with it when I got it. When I first tried to take advantage of space I thought that space advantage should be pushed....constricted as Silman says. I have learned though that the advantage of space is 2 fold. First there is the practical side. Space yeilds out posts in your enemy territory and restricts your opponents area to play. As your opponent runs out of squares tactics appear. Or perhaps you can get your opponents pieces isolated from the King where you can launch your attack. Somewhere I read that GMs think about squares instead of pieces. I had a long think on this and am starting to use it in my games. It has been very enlightening for me. The second advantage of space is the psychological pressure. In one of my recent games I had space and had been making a series of direct and tactical threats. I threatened his queen and he had one move to make to avoid losing material. He cracked under the pressure (told me after the game) and moved his queen enprise for my knight.

I found this page when I accidentally found this training guide.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Your blog is very interesting to me. It is interesting to see someone who started on the positional path. It explains why you don't understand some of the Knight's discovery of positional play. I still don't understand how to take advantage of light / dark squares very well. I have been beaten by it many times thought (Cruin with the English on the white squares). Why did you pick those books in the beginning? When I started to get serious about chess I went to the bookstore to find a book. I was already an aggressive attacking player, just
like I am in the martial arts, ping pong, risk, work and ...... life. I ended up picking a tactics book for my first chess book.

You talk a lot about people's nature and abilities. Some people are aggressive and some aren't, some athletic, some intelligent, some musically talented... and so on. This is true but, many talented people never develop their talent due to lack of drive or other reasons. When I was young I was not athletic or musically inclined. I did have some artistic talent and was intelligent. Like all people I was lazy. I wanted to be a commercial artist and I drew all the time. One year in school I sat across from this kid who made my drawings look like stick figures. I was so demoralized I gave up. Years later I joined the Army. It made a man out of me. It made me strong and gave me discipline. I learned I could be athletic. Not like most people but more than I thought. I was surprised what I could do even when I didn't want to. One day I thought what if I took all this discipline and applied it something I was interested in....

So after I got out of the Army I decided to quit smoking and lose my newly put on fat. So I searched around for a decent martial arts school. I had previously dabbled as a child and young adult and been humiliated in the Army. I found my first real school (Phillipine Institute of Martial Arts. Thanks Tony Marcial for the wonderful gift.) I was the best at the school at 2 different times. Completely unbelievable for me who had always been made fun of. I totally supassed my expectations and then went on to surpass them again at another school.

So my point is much can be accomplished with determination and practice. If you want to play like Nezha (never knew who he was before today) then you need to see if you have aggressiveness in you and practice aggressive play. Pick an opening that leads to open games or flank play on the King side (The King,The King,The is what I think about most). Can I get to his before he gets to mine? Can I get to his before he eats through me queen side pawns and starts on my pieces? I will accept this doubled pawn for a half open f file. If you want to play aggressive sometimes you have to take postional risks. Try playing some unrated
games and try some new things. Who knows what will happen?

Clubbing them at the Club

I scored 3 out of 3 tonight for the first time. Took first place and won $12. I destroyed my opponents tactically. 100 problems on Monday night seems to be doing me a world of good. I will probably need to start achieving my 200 problems per week shortly to improve more. I expect that after the ratings come out I will have improved just under 100 points over the last year. Not quite 400 points in 400 days but I have not studied as much as the program calls for. Perfectly acceptable for me though.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thought Process

Something has happened to my thought process. I don't know about you but I have 2 minds, the weak one that I have control over and the strong one that I don't. The weak one I tell to figure out this problem and if it is easy enough it figures it out. The strong one runs in the background somewhere and I have no idea how it works. Long after the weak one has given up the strong one will wake me up in the middle of a day dream or in the middle of the night and say here is the answer stupid. It also interupts me with inane thoughts.

Anyway I can access the strong part of my mind at certain times. It is hard at work when I sleep, drive or take a shower. So on Monday before I go to bed I have been doing 100 CTS problems. I seem sharper on Tuesdays now and tactics sometimes spring off the board. The other time I can access my strong mind is when I am in the 'ZONE' There is the code zone(programming), ping - pong zone, martial arts zone, guitar zone, and now there is the chess zone.

I used to have a conscious thought process. Are Q and K on the same color / diagonal / rank file. I was trying to come up with an acronym to go through all the tactics. I rarely think about those things any more. Now most things are done automatically. Check for tactics (yes calculate) , look for positional opportunities, come up with a plan and move.

I expect that I should see a fair rating increase since I am making the transition from concentrating on the basics to concentrating on the bigger picture and the basics become second nature.

Cleaning Up at the Club

Last year I got frustrated at the club I got frustrated after a couple months. I got sick of being beaten by players that I could out play at longer time controls. So I went home, licked my wounds, started playing a lot of 5 12 games and studied my tactics and other aspects of the game.

I have 5.5 (corrected from 7.5) points out of 9 games over the last 3 weeks. I hope to break out of the patzer quad soon. I have been totally destroying my opponents in my won games. One of my losses I was up 2 pieces and got greedy/made a bad plan to try to pick up the Queen. I miscalculated and my King got stuck in the middle and I got mated by an attack on both flanks.

Monday, December 04, 2006

2360 down 4640 to go


I updated my sidebar.

I have updated my training routine to:
  • Monday: 100 CTS problems
  • Tuesday: Chess Club
  • Sunday: 45 5 mamer on FICS
  • Try to get 100 additional problems per week.
  • Positional / Endgame /Strategic / Opening study when stranded with a book. Currently reading Pandofini's endgame course.
  • Periodic review of chessgames database
  • Review of select games with Crafty
Since September 8th, 2005 I have completed over 2,360 problems:
CT-Art Level 10 x 3 + 96 89% / 85% / 93% / 90%
CT-Art Level 20 x 2 76% / 78%
CT-Art Level 30 x 2 57% / 62%
CT-Art Level 40 x 1 56%
CTS 812 / 75.6% /rating: 1322

My rating has not improved as much as I had liked and I am still missing simple tactics in my games. I have not been playing any standard games (unless you call G30 club standard) since the demise of the 45 45. I will start playing in the 45 5 mamer to get my standard games in. It will be interesting to see what happens to my rating after the long break from longer games.

Nezha is correct that tactics are the most important part of training and you can go far with studying just tactics. I don't think anyone disputes that. There are more sides to chess than just tactics though. Why should I be able to calculate a mate in 6 (rarely occurs) when I am deficient at my end game and positional play? End games occur more often as I get better and positional play helps when their are no tactics that I see and need a plan. It also tempers my aggressiveness, makes me more patient and helps me place my pieces in better positions which often leads to tactics.

In several games recently I have taken a couple of moves to create an outpost for one of my pieces that turned into a later tactical opportunity. Tak also discredits the postional game. What happens when your attack runs out? Tak also calls on the disciple Vukovic and his bible. But even Vokovic says prophylaxis is sometimes necessary. On page 296 there is an example which has the annotation "First White thouroughly eliminates the possibility of Black's playing b5".

Yes tactics are important but why not have some skills where you can restrict your opponent's play or convert to an easily won endgame?