Friday, June 29, 2007

Nothing new under the sun

I'm a newbie.

There - I said it.

Within seconds of posting my last blog on thought process and Dan Heisman's concept of real chess I stopped by Confessions of a Chess Novice and found myself firmly in the category of "newbie".

True - I was not the first person to discover it (and I'm glad), but now might be a good time to make some disclosures.

While I was living in Philadelphia I had Dan Heisman as a chess coach for about two years and I can't speak highly enough of him. He's a good friend and a brilliant coach with a real knack of getting to the core of the problem. So that's where I heard of "real chess" for the first time - from the horses mouth.

If I do anything well as a result of his coaching it is time management. Dan's is still the voice inside my head telling me to "use all your time".

Yes - it does bring to mind the voice of Obi-wan in Luke Skywalker's ear: "Use the force, Luke".

But next post - some more on my new thought process. I promise.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thought process is even more important than tactics

Maybe I'm speaking blasphemy, but I think there is something even more important than tactics:

Thought process.

I'm still a firm believer that studying tactics is the number one thing someone at my rating can do to improve their chess rating away from the board.

But once I'm at the board, the best thing I can do is apply a rigorous thought process every single move.

This is something that Dan Heisman refers to frequently in his columns and books. He calls it playing Real Chess.

Two games from my last tournament games I lost pieces - not to tricky four-move combinations, but just by simply hanging a piece!

So my new quest involves two points to focus on:
1. The best thing to do away from the board = tactics.
2. The best thing to do at the board = thought process.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Seven Circles are Hard

Let me say upfront. Doing Michael De La Maza's ideas of seven circles of chess tactics is hard.

Very hard.

In the past I've tried to complete seven circles of CT-ART 3.0 (twice), seven circles of Winning Chess Tactics for Juniors by Lou Hays and seven circles of Chess Tactics for Students by John Bain. And with all, I've never gone past the third circle.

Until just recently, that is.

Last month I took 28 days to go through the 450+ relatively easy positions in Bain, first in seven days, then six, then five, four, three, two, one.

I must say - by the time you're on the fourth circle, you really are flying through them and recognising them by sight and memory.

I'm currently on my first circle of the Lou Hays book, so it's probably too early to celebrate, but at least I can say I have finished one complete seven circles exercise - even if it was with the simplest tactics book I own.

Sometimes a small victory is all you need to get yourself over your past failures.

Monday, June 25, 2007

First step in the journey

This is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of blogs tracking the ups and downs of my chess career.

I probably need to state upfront that I am a big fan of Michael De La Maza and I'm using his "7 Circles" approach to getting better at recognising chess tactics.