06 January 2013

Training Log

Last March, I began posting a regular Sunday morning post that tracked my chess training over the previous week. I kept up the practice into August. This morning I woke with the impulse to resume these Sunday morning reflections. My resolutions for 2013 are similar to those for 2012, but with more emphasis on strategy.

I beefed up my expectations for tactics from fifty problems per week to three hundred per month. In addition, only problems solved correctly count. What counts as correct? For the exercises in the Shredder and Chess-Wise iPad apps, every problem completed counts. My first effort may be incorrect, but the correct answer must be executed before moving on to the next problem. If I take too long or make to many errors in Shredder, I get no points. Chess-Wise is not scored. For Chess Tempo and the Tactic Trainer iPad app, wrong answers result in a failed problem. Chess Tempo tracks my success for me, while Tactic Trainer only graphs my rating. I keep a mental note of correct answers while solving the latter.

I missed this Tactic Trainer problem this morning. I recall missing the same problem several months ago, and for the same reason.

White to move
Diagram is upside down

While busily calculating tactics involving the d-file and the c3 square, I missed the easy deflection of White's queen. This problem was my first this morning, and I missed others, too. I worked through problems until I solved ten correctly. The day ended with a rating a few points higher than it began. On 1 January, I solved five problems in five attempts. The image to the right displays my rating performance for 2013.

My pace of training during this short week puts me well on the way to the target of three hundred for the month. 86 correct problems.

There was only one session on Chess Tempo, and it was frustrating to miss several easy problems. More time could lead to greater accuracy. However, I refuse to become one of those who spend fifteen minutes and more just to get a problem correct, and yet my pace is a bit slower than needed for blitz mode. One problem took fifteen minutes, but that was consequence of clicking "next problem" then walking away from the computer to attend to some need of my puppies. The training clock kept ticking. It is heartening that my past three sessions have each produced a slight rating gain.
My tactics training takes place everywhere, thanks to resources on the iPad. I attempt problems before falling asleep at night and first thing in the morning. During a visit to the dentist this week, there were a few opportunities to solve a problem or two. I have been neglecting Uncle John's Bathroom Reader since getting my iPad, but they are fighting back by developing eBooks and a mobile app.
In addition to tactics problems, I have been working through two books involving study of complete games. This week, I went through two games in Chernev, Logical Chess: Move by Move and two in Tarrasch, Three Hundred Chess Games.

I discussed my resolution regarding my pawn endgame flash card project with two groups of third graders. I was in their classroom to teach chess. For several years I have started young players with pawn wars. This year, during the first two of my four scheduled visits to each classroom, a child picks an endgame card at random. I set up the position on the demonstration board and make the effort not only to solve it, but to explain the correct solution to beginning players.

The first class on Wednesday picked a simple card.

White / Black to move
The second class picked a problem to which I immediately knew the solution, but explaining the solution to beginning players was more difficult. Most of these children went through my chess lessons in second grade, and many of them also went through them in first. But, as most of them only play chess when I am in their classroom, some still do not get how the king moves and the intricacies of pawns moving one way and capturing another. Usually, I do not introduce en passant until the second session in third grade.

White to move
Each time I try to explain how White wins this position, my knowledge of opposition and outflanking grows.

Most days this past week, I have walked or spend time on the recumbent bike. But, the exercise has not been sufficient to drop any weight. Yesterday's exercise was a walk along the beach of Lake Coeur d'Alene with my eldest son and the puppies with emphasis upon eagle watching.

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