It is that time of year: time to make promises to oneself in a fit of motivation for self-improvement. And so, I have some concrete promises designed to lift me over 1900 USCF, and if Caissa has a warm heart, to lift me into the Expert class. In truth, I am unlikely to play the number and strength of events in 2012 that would make Expert a realistic goal, but that is the horizon in view.
1. Solve a minimum of 50 tactics problems per week.
That should not be difficult, as most days I solve ten of those in the Shredder iPad app. In addition, from time to time I spend enough time with Chess.com's Tactics Trainer to rack up some numbers. Hence, the challenge in number 2.
2. Spend thirty minutes once per week solving problems in Lev Alburt, Chess Training Pocket Book II and Paata Gaprindashvili, Imagination in Chess.
The goal here will be to work through the whole of Chess Training Pocket Book II in 2012, as I did the original Chess Training Pocket Book several years ago. Over the course of the year, problems in the Shredder app and in Alburt's books become the warm-up for more challenging exercises. Over the course of the year, regular work with Imagination in Chess should become the norm. The easy success of quantities of basic tactics should give way to success in solving complex exercises.
3. Complete my Pawn Endgame flash card project.
Two years ago, I created cards that contain all the blue diagrams of the first chapter in Mark Dvoretsky, Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. I review these cards regularly--they contain no answers--with the intention of being able to know in an instant when looking at each how the position should be played. See the last paragraph of "GM-RAM: Essential Knowledge."
These three resolutions are not too onerous. They demand no new behaviors, but rather greater consistency and purpose in productive activities. Doing these may mean there is less time for one-minute chess. That shift is vital to improving my over the board performance.