31 March 2013

Training Log: March 2013

Each month in 2013 I post an update on my personal progress toward my training goals for the year. I posted these goals as New Year's Resolutions on the last day of 2012. My hopes for 2013 are to achieve an Expert class rating and to win the Spokane City Championship. My goals, however, are neither.* Success is a product of training. The training goals are paramount. The rating and the championship title, if achieved, will be a consequence of meeting rigorous training goals.

1. In 2013, I will solve correctly 300 tactics problems each month.

I barely met this goal, completing 370 problems in the month. In March, my pace of tactics work slowed considerably from February. Working through Level 2 on Chess Quest, I am finding some problems challenging, especially as I solve problems while lying in bed falling asleep.

I worked Chessimo for a few days early in the month. Although I have solved over 3000 problems on Chessimo, I count towards the month's total only those problems solved six times. Chessimo's history function is a useful feature for tracking progress. Visible in the screenshot below is the information that I last worked tactics with this app on 24 March 2013, when I completed problem 21 in a set of 150. The app displays my average time per problem in each unit, my total time for the unit, the number of problems completed ("studied") in each units, and the number of problems "learned". Learned means the problem has been completed six times. This repetition is an essential component of Chessimo.

Chessimo History Screenshot
My web-based training (Chess Tempo and Chess.com) remains light. I neglected the Anthology of Chess Combinations in March.

Why is 370 "barely" meeting a goal of 300? The answer stems from the manner of counting. Problems count as "correct" if they have been completed on Chess Quest, Shredder, Chess-wise, or "learned" in Chessimo. Many errors occur in the course of solving these problems. On the other hand, when solving on Chess Tempo, Chess.com, or the Tactic Trainer iPad app, a single error disqualifies the problem from counting. Most of the problems counting for March were with resources that permit errors.

2. In 2013, I will study whole games and whole books.

I continue with a disappointing slow pace through Logical Chess: Move by Move. I returned to Game 23, Van Vliet -- Znosko-Borovsky, several times over the course of two weeks. In my first pass through the game, it was clear that White's passive play gave Black an easy advantage. But, after such passivity, the tactical errors seem more subtle. Logical Chess is not my sole source for whole games. I looked through most of the games of Candidates Tournament in London that concludes tomorrow. Many mornings were spent going through Kingscrusher's next day videos.

In March, I played through many dozens of the games of Wilhelm Steinitz. I am pursuing historical questions concerning the beginning of the so-called Modern School of Chess. I memorized the game that became my source for the final "Lesson of the Week" before the spring break. I have not added this game to my list of "Memory Games" that has now grown to twenty games, but it is in my short-term memory at present.

3. In 2013, I will finish my Pawn Endgame Flash Card project.

I am continuing to use these flash cards in elementary classrooms while teaching beginners chess, and some of the positions came up in the first endgame lesson that I completed in Chessimo. Nonetheless, progress studying Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual and mastering the blue diagram positions must be rated lackluster.

4. In 2013, I will lose fifteen pounds.

Progress seemed hopeful early in the month with more consistent walking. But, when I stepped on the scale, the reality of too much junk food made itself apparent.  I spent less time with Wii boxing than planned, but developed a new upper body workout that my puppies love. They each grab hold of a rope and pull against each other and against me. One afternoon I pulled with the right arm five times, switched to the left, pulled five times, and then back to the right. Keeping up this practice for ten minutes left my arms feeling like jello--always a good feeling when one sets fitness goals.

*While pressuring me to play in the Taxing Quads, local tournament organizer David Griffin suggested that I should have a rating goal of 2013 for the year. He has spent the time using the Rating Estimator at the US Chess Federation website to estimate what my rating would be if I swept a quad consisting of Michael Cambareri, Jeremy Krasin, Nikolay Bulakh, and myself. He's a good organizer and chess promoter, and I must wonder what he said to Jeremy, Nikolay, and Michael as he seeks to make the top quad a strong one. There are two other A-Class players in Spokane who have played in at least one event in the past two years, and one provisionally rated expert, the Washington State High School Champion, an exchange student from China. But, we four are the most active top players in the city. I am the least active of the four.


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  2. Losing weight and good chess .. a contradiction at least for me. The brain needs carbohydrates. My chess performance during a diet is extreme bad, i need to eat at least an apple.

    1. Apples aren't my problem. Sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks and Six-dollar burgers from Carl's Jr. are another matter. So are potato chips.

      During a chess tournament, and the night before, I prefer to eat salmon. Steaks or fillets for dinner. Smoked salmon with cream cheese, red bell peppers, and romaine in a wrap for lunch. In June, when the Copper River salmon is generally available, fresh, and cheap, I buy one for the smoker. If I smoke another in the late summer, as I did last summer, there will still be enough for lunch during the Collyer Memorial in late February.

      At the Collyer this year, I managed to avoid the cookies completely--a first for me!