Thursday, September 04, 2008

A reply to comments, part 2

A lot of you have been giving me advice over the last posts and elsewhere. I have been wondering lately, have I done something with all these good intentions? Have I thought about them, acted accordingly?

Let's find out!

Chess Tactics Server
Chessloser, Chesstiger (aka Logis) and Polly keep hammering not to worry about rating, but about strength. My interpretation of Chess Strength at Chess Tactics Server is the success percentage, a score based only on how many exercises are solved correct. I think this is what they mean with Chess Strength. David K even suggests percentages to aim at, first he mentions 90%, later 80%.

I do think I'm getting better at this, my rating seems to be stabilising around 1150, but my success percentage is still climbing: The other day I broke the 70% barrier with, for me, an extremely good score of 90% (45/50 correct). I'm aiming to keep my average score per session above 80% and eventually get my percentage there.

Playing chess
Chesstiger suggests that I shouldn't forget about playing chess and joins Likesforests in saying that I need a stronger sparring partner.

I have played the friend from the dreaded endgame post again in August, -I wrote the game down, but cannot find it- and I lost. I think I should be playing him every now and then. I will probably keep playing against Jabba and should be able to win easier and easier or maybe he'll do some chess training himself.
Joining a club isn't a possibility now, I don't no yet what my schedule will me for the this year with work and school. Maybe I should play a bit on the Internet, but I want to play slow games and I've heard it's mostly fast time controls.

Study material
Chesstiger (and a lot of others) suggested Jeremy Silman's Silman's Endgame Course, Tommy G was enthusiastic about Lev Alburt's Just the Facts, but he's now appears to be converted to Silman's church.

I'm not sure when I should be looking for exclusive Endgame material, there is quite some endgame training in the Steps Method, so maybe after Step 3. On the site there are endgame exercises to play against Crafty, that might be promising. Crafty also can be strengthened with Endgame Tables, but maybe it's time for a commercial chess program, because Crafty sometimes just stops annotating or the program crashes while playing over an endgame.

Annotated games
Chesstiger advised using Max Euwe's Amateur vs. Master as a game collection to work with.

I already own Chernev's Logical Chess: Move by Move, so I would rather not buy yet another book; I do have the tendency to buy more and more and yet even more books, who doesn't in the world of chess, so I should rather use what I have.

Training & Tactics
In addittion to the Steps Method I'm using the TASC cd2, mentioned by Chesstiger. It uses the same method, but has way more exercises.
Dan says on his site that Nunn's Learn Chess Tactics (I own this book and the title is about as deceiving as the adage "for Kids" on some chess books) is a good successor book to his Back to Basics: Tactics. On that same page he also suggests a circle like approach to a basic tactics book.
Likesforests says that Susan Polgar's Chess Tactics for Champions also is a good follow up to Heisman's book.

I already had the TASC cd 2 on my wish list and ordered it. It should arrive somewhere next week. I will use TASC side by side with the Steps Method and say out loud (or when around others mentally what tactic/motif is used. Instead of buying more tactics books (Heisman's is tempting me very much), I will go trough the books of Gillam a couple of times and of course I'll be active at CTS.

A big thank you
I'm sure I haven't named everyone who has given me advise, or helped me in another way, so thank you all of you out there, named and unnamed!

Questions that remain
1. When should one start specific Endgame training (i.e. Silman's book)?
2. Does it matter if I start with Chernev's book or Euwe's? Who knows anything about the difference in level?
3. What chess program would be most beneficial to me? I want it to be able to annotate as well. For some reason I like Chessmaster IX:The Grandmaster Edition, I haven't seen it.

Instant Update on Question 02:
Heisman gives this order of difficulty on his site (Those which I own are in bold type, hiddenleaf):

"Recommended Instructive Game Anthologies (in roughly ascending order of difficulty):
Logical Chess Move by Move - Chernev
(note: the non-anthology A First Book of Morphy by del Rosario can be read here!)
Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played - Chernev
Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking - Neil McDonald
The Art of Planning in Chess - Neil McDonald
Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur - Euwe and Meiden
50 Essential Chess Lessons - Giddins
Chess Success: Planning After the Opening - Neil McDonald
Winning Chess Brilliancies - Seirawan (after this book I would go to individual game collections)
Understanding Chess Move by Move - Nunn
Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces - Stohl
Zurich 1953 - Bronstein"


chesstiger said...

I suggest the Euwe book instead of Chernev book because the Euwe book is in dutch and if i am not wrong that is your motherlanguage. So i thought it would be easier to grasp for you then the Chernev book that is written in english.

Silman ranks the endgames by rating and not by type in his endgame course so one can begin with it at any moment you want.

Tasc cd2 is wonderfull! But i read that you are already at step 3. Do you have a firm grasp of what is explained in step 1 (basics) and step 2? Saying this since i am also at step 3, lesson 3 and i still have to put all the lessons learned correctly into my thinking method.

To end i want to say not forget to have fun when studying chess. So enjoy!!!

Tommyg said...

I think the best chess program to get is the one with interface that will most make you want to use it. All the engines are good. Rybka 3 seems to be the strongest. But they are all pretty darn strong!

For me it came down to interface. The fritz/chessbase interface was rough for me. I LOVE the shredder interface!!!! But that is just me.

I haven't read the Euewe book so I can't comment on it, but I did love Logical Chess by Chernev. His love for chess is almost contagious.

Have a good night!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Both are good books. I don't like one thing about the Chernev: all QGD games are losses for black!

I prefer chesstempo to CTS, as chesstempo has a 'standard' solution mode that only looks at your percent correct, not time to solve. Hmm, I wonder if either of those sites will work on my iPhone, and how slowly they will load individual problems....

Hiddenleaf said...

@chesstiger: Dutch is my motherlanguage, but I read English quite well (my writing is getting worse I'm afraid); thanks for the explanation.
Clearly I don't have a full understanding of Step 1 and 2 yet, but I'm working on that now!

@tommyg: I like the look and feel of the shredder mobile phone demo, maybe that's the one. I read some good things about ChessMaster being better suited for the beginner than Fritz, but also about all the things you can do with Fritz (annotate and blundercheck, let Fritz be a sparring partner)

@BDK: I remember you not liking the book because a certain opening were all losses, but as you said: "It's a classic." I don't have any openings yet, so there's nothing for me not to like.

RT Solo said...

I am deeply wounded that my name wasn't mentioned. Deeply, deeply wounded. I'm now wiping a tear from my eye.

Just kidding, glad you're back! Where the heck is TommyG's blog?

transformation said...

hidden leaf: might i suggest, you dont need more books. at a certain point, you JUST do the work. you take your shoes off, and sink into muck and work, you dig and dig and eventually arrive at solid ground!

Hiddenleaf said...

@rt solo,
Your fault for disappearing for a while. '-)

You may and I completely agree with you, see the first footnote at this recent post of mine:
However this is one of those things that cannot be easily said to often to me, since days can go by where I plan myself all the way to GM without actually doing something.