29 July 2012

Training Log

This past week, my non-chess work has been requiring attention. My steady pace of working a few tactics problems every day continued, but other training was limited. I had planned to annotate game three from the Spokane City Championship, but instead elected to work on a game that I had played on ChessWorld. A few recent games on ChessWorld and RedHotPawn have been decided in the endgame, and hence I have worked hard on a few positions. My post "Staunton Gambit vs. the Dutch Defense" features a game that almost made it to a pawn ending in which I would have had a clear and decisive advantage. My opponent opted to resign instead.

Early in that game, I spent a bit of time researching lines in databases, and examined the handful of relevant lines in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. I liked the play and results for White that seemed the norm, and thus played the same opening in an over-the-board game in the Spokane Contenders tournament. My approach to opening study begins from a completed or in-progress game. I look at data for several moves in ChessBase 11, and usually examine the lines in ECO. Then, I play through several, often dozens, of grandmaster games looking for general patterns. If I like what I see, I will study a few games in more detail. Sometimes I will use an engine to examine key opening positions, but never use such a tool if the study proceeds from an in-progress game.

During the past two weeks, through 15 0 games on FICS, I have been testing a particular idea, a deviation from my established practice in an opening that I have played many years. Naturally, the position does not crop up every game, but it does crop up occasionally.

My tactics training this past week employed Chess Tempo, accessed via the web on my notebook computer and occasionally via the iPad. I also solved problems through two iPad apps: Tactic Trainer and Chess-wise Pro. I have completed 201 of the 300 exercises in Chess-wise. Number 192 was familiar: it is one that I use with my students as part of the Bishop Award Checkmates and Tactics problem set.

Black to move
r3k3/ppp2Npp/4Bn2/2b5/1n1pp3/N4P2/PPP3qP/R2QKR2 b Qq - 0 16

The position is from Barnes -- Morphy, London 1858

Morphy's position required less than five seconds for me to solve.

On Chess Tempo, I attempted more than fifty problems (enough to satisfy my weekly minimum), and had a positive percentage through all four sessions.

Chess Tempo totals

Problems Done: 2368 (Correct: 1261 Failed: 1107)
Percentage correct: 53.25%
Average recent per problem time spent 79 seconds

Hopefully, I will soon find my CT rating less embarrassing and will be able to share it here. It would help if I could get my FIDE estimated rating from CT somewhere near my actual USCF rating. It is currently ~200 lower.

I attempted a higher, but unknown number of problems on Tactic Trainer. My rating continued a steady climb begun last week up to 1955, and then began crashing Friday afternoon. It dropped to about 1860. It seems that I would solve two or three problems, gaining two points for each, and then miss one or two, losing six points for each. That problems do not all offer the same gain or loss reveals that Tactic Trainer employs a system similar to Chess Tempo, Chess Tactics Server, and other resources in which both problems and solvers have ratings. However, Tactic Trainer discloses less information, and do not know whether my failure causes easy problems to gain ELO.

It is almost embarrassing to present this problem that I missed.

White to move
1r4k1/4pp1p/2p3p1/2P3P1/rP6/pRQ1PP2/q6P/5RK1 w - - 0 1

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