01 January 2013

Tracking Progress

My New Year's Resolution to solve correctly 300 tactics problems each month requires record keeping for verification. I have created a spreadsheet that lists each of my principal tactics resources. The websites track my progress well. At Chess Tempo I have solved correctly 1430 problems in 2741 attempts at Standard Tactics, in addition to a much smaller number of blitz and endgame problems. This data is listed in a column labeled "Through 2012". The next column has a space for the totals at the end of January.

Two resources require closer tracking. The Tactic Trainer iPad app does not track the number of problems attempted nor those solved, but offers only a running graph of the rise and fall of a user's rating. This morning I kept count as I solved five problems. The number of problems solved month to month with this resource may be approximated. As the resolution calls for a monthly minimum, I plan to under-report progress on the spreadsheet.

In October and November, I went through the first several dozen problems in the Anthology of Chess Combinations. Today I am reviewing some of these problems in order to recover the memory of where I stopped. That number will be entered into the blank space in column B. It is somewhere beyond number 32.

Schlechter -- Wolf 1894 (number 26) stymied me this morning as I found all the correct moves, but played them in the wrong sequence. It is a good combination for developing calculation skills.

White to move

My resolution requires that I solve the problem correctly. As I work through those in the Anthology, I miss many problems (or at least make several errors en route to the correct one). However, by working through again last week's or last month's problems, I do solve them correctly eventually. In my spreadsheet, I will track the number gone through, so that number will be inflated relative to my resolution.


  1. My experience suggests that you would be better to repeat your failed problems after one month rather than one week. Going through them again after another month or two is worth considering too.

    1. Thanks Bright Knight. I know that your your advice is based on evidence, and so merits attention.

      The difficulty with Anthology of Chess Combinations is tracking which problems I have solved. When I was working it every day last October, I was solving the same problem two and three times per week. With Chess Tempo there are more options for revisiting fails.

  2. Another worthwhile post. Do you have other threads on ways to track progress?

    I am keeping spreadsheets of all of my various tactics sources and success rates, etc., as you do. I wish chess.emrald.net would actually compile statistics, because I think it is one of the best sources of tactics around. Plus, it is very useful, in that it is highly efficient --you can get in 70 problems in about 20 minutes, because the platform is all about recognition, not calculation.

    By the way, thank you very much for your solid suggestion about doing higher volumes of easier problems. I saw results on my other tactics ratings, after doing 7,500 problems in a month on CT-ART on the rating levels of 1500-1750. For example, my previous Tactics trainer peak was 1801 beforehand, and then it jumped to 1842. Additionally, my time average mean value was probably around 1700 before hand, and now my rating has been sitting at about 1760-1775. My objective is to track the results (and whether there are diminishing returns) on this sort of training method to see what is most effective, so I'm always looking for new data to take, new metrics, and new methods of comparison.

    Thanks, James!