Man de la Maza

Monday, January 17, 2005

Keep to the road

Tried to do review of the level 20 and 30 this weekend. Nice idea but probably better for me to just stick to the plan. Too easy for me to slack off, as I did this weekend, when I am not under the dictates of the Plan.

Continuing the program
I wrote my blog entry before reading eneryone else's this morning. Looks like there is a crisis of confidence brewing in the Knights Errant. My subject title this morning was intended only as a message to myself not others. My original post ended after the short paragraph above.

My Thoughts

1) Is this program impractical for an adult player with a family life? I think so. The time commitment this takes seems to keep getting larger. I have 46 problems to do tonight in Level 40. I will likely take me 2.5 hours or more. This type of time commitment is just brutal to make day after day. As the blog shows, I often miss days when I get overwhelmed and burnt out. I also feel like I can't make a statement one way or another until I finish the program.

2) Does the CT art software suck?I don't think so. I have not checked out the problems that J'aboube cites as being problematic yet, but I will tonight. (By the way, J'adoube, you can bring up the problem in practicemode in CT Art and play against the Crafty engine. This is usually sufficient to find the lines). I have found a few problems where I have found perfectly acceptable alternate line that is marked wrong by CT Art, but I have yet to find one where CT Art claims a winning move that is losing. A few such problems are bound to exist in a collection of 1209, and I think we should try to find them.

It is common though for a flashy line to be the main line whereas there is a much better, though still losing, defensive line available. I think this is OK. The idea is to recognize the pattern in the flashy line. In a real game, you want to make such threats even though you may end up grinding out the pawn up ending of the alternative line. As J'adoube notes, grandmasters have missed the better defenses OTB.

3) Should I stay or should I go? I have to admit that I have thought seriously about modifying the program several times, AND I have been unable to keep the schedule as written. It has simply been too much for me. What happened this weekend (try something a little different and end up blowing the whole thing off) is not uncommon. To use my Bruce Denton analogy, you want to do a good hard workout everyday, but not one that is so hard that you break down entirely and get no benefit.

4) What would an alternative program look like?
a) I think for my level of tactical ability, the problems are too hard. I feel like I got almost nothing out of the higher level problems. I like Sancho's idea of cutting back the number of problems to cut out the last few levels. Howard Goldowsky said he stopped at level 50 as well.

b) I would like to have a time cap on the first five circles for total time spent on any given night. Two hours would seem reasonable.

c) The program needs rest and review days. Common wisdom is that one should do problems every day. I seem to feel better after a day off here and there. I also note that two or three days off doesn't help any more than 1. Also, it feels like one needs time to review problem areas.

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts.

103 days down, 52 to go

617 problems down, 592 to go in Circle Two
Level 10: 97%
Level 20: 88%
Level 30: 76%


  • Hi. This is Howard Goldowsky here. I haven't had much time to read this blog (and the others) lately as I just had a new baby girl (hooray!). She's one month old today. Now I am an official member of the "let's try to get better at chess while being a family man" club :)

    I just noticed my name so I thought I would comment: IMHO, CT-ART's levels 6 and higher are just too darn difficult for basic tactics training. What you'd like to do here is perfect that jump shot at 10-feet, with no defenders. How can you expect to make three-pointers (levels 6+) when the ten-footers don't yet go in? I'd try modifying MDLM's original plan to levels 1-4. Kick ass over and over again on these levels and then move on. Also, don't forget: CT-ART is not the only option here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:25 AM  

  • Howard,

    What are you like the devil? One says your name and you suddenly appear?

    By Blogger Don Q., at 9:35 AM  

  • Don,

    The number of exercises where the CT-Art solution is flawed is too numerous to detail here. There are several that just flat out are wrong and would cost you the game. If I get a chance I'll go back and find a few of them.

    I think the idea de la Maza has is good, I just wish the software he recommended was better.

    I have a Chessbase tactics course by George Renko that I'm going to start looking at. If it is any good I'll let the Knights know.

    By the way, I didn't mean to start a controversy. I was just venting. . .I still intend to stay the course. My life is far less complicated than yours. . .no more children at home and a wife who likes to spend time here at the coffee house with me. . .

    By Blogger Jim, at 10:13 AM  

  • Jim,

    I should be interested to see which ones you have found that are wrong. Please post the numbers here so we can all have a look. I've already got 269 and 242 on my list to look at. I have at least two that I can think of where CT Art calls what seems to me to be an equally valid move wrong.

    By Blogger Don Q., at 10:42 AM  

  • Don,
    I have read your thoughts closely. I am still in level 30 at the moment, but what you are saying seems to make sense. Howard's arguments are compelling as well. I think my plan will be to go through all levels in circle 1 and get a feel for how relevant the upper levels are. If I find that I'm just getting thrashed, I don't see the need to go back to them, until I've nailed the lower level ideas. MDLM says in his book, "It is better to see all three-move combinations than to have a plan." This is the basis of his emphasis on tactics. It seems to me that since the lower levels seem to focus on three to five move combinations, that mastery of these would be more advisable than taking on gargantuan combos you'd probably never have the guts to play in a real game. The lower levels also seem to do a nice job of showing great corner mates and attacking castled positions. Knowing these alone could go a long way in OTB play.

    Anyway, my two cents and more....

    By Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza, at 10:51 AM  

  • Very well put O fearless leader. I have been mulling question four over the weekend and I think I have figured out a plan that will work for me. I have taken ideas from De La Maza, and various articles I have stumbled upon since getting into chess late last year. Here is what I have so far:

    1. Tactics is still numero uno. Needs to be studied first before all else. What I mean is when I sit down to start a study session I need to get the tactics out of the way first before attacking other areas.

    2. Tactics needs to have a time limit (1 to 2 hours) because it is easy to get lost in tactics and forget all other parts of my game. Currently I have tactics on the computer, a pocket book of tactics, and I am planning on ordering the tactics "Bible" Lazlo's gigantic hardcover book as a permanent fixture for the living room floor, as well as Seirawan's intro book). That is already half of my chess library!

    3. I need balance in my studies. Each study session needs to include one of the remaining parts of my game (openings, endings, master games, positional strategy).

    4. I now have an informal chess coach that I meet whenever I have the chance and the time which is usually on the weekends. His lessons need to be reviewed as well.

    5. Try to reserve at least a half hour for one game each day to practice using tactics in a real situation. That is minimal for me because I usually play 30 minute games, which comes out to 1 hour if each player uses up the whole clock.

    So if we do the math that is already approximately 2 hours of chess study per day. And that doesn't include breaks or coaching sessions! Dude, that is about the same amount I studied in college for all of my classes combined for the semester.

    Anyways, I am glad that you still believe in the CT Art software after going through it several times because I was almost ready to give up on it from what the others have said. (I'm still waiting for it to arrive btw.) I think I'll take everyone's advice and approach the higher levels with a grain of salt.

    I don't think I got any feedback from you on my last post. What do you think about my modifications to the 7 circles? I respect your comments and am interested to hear what you have to say.

    Jeez, I took up a LOT of space on your blog. I apologize for that.

    By Blogger Pawn Sensei, at 11:13 AM  

  • A few more comments:

    I think 242 is the wrong example to look at. I went back and looked at it and it's not the one I was thinking of.

    In my latest blog entry, however, I do have that example which perfectly cites the problems I see with some of the exercises in CT-Art. The alternate continuation line I give leaves both equal, whereas CT-Art has you significantly ahead after just 3 moves. This is the case is almost all the examples I think are flawed.

    I still think the program is worth doing, I just think I have to be more diligent about the solution analysis.

    By Blogger Jim, at 11:31 AM  

  • Similarly to Pawn Sensei, I would like to see your opinion on my changes to the 7-Circles program. As you have gotten much further than I have, I think that your perspective would be valuable.

    I think that you might also want to check out Pawn Sensei's latest post, asking us if we want to meet at pogo and when. I think that PS's idea is a good one.

    By Blogger generalkaia, at 1:54 PM  

  • hi Man de la Maza
    I was just wanting to let you know that Pawn Sensei and I are planning on meeting at pogo's chess intermediate chess room: greenspan. We were going to meet at 5 pm western time-zone. If you can make it that would be great.


    By Blogger generalkaia, at 3:08 PM  

  • Hi. Howard here. It really was just luck that I popped in today :) BTW, HOW TO BEAT YOUR DAD AT CHESS is a good little book of mating combos. Go through this book three to four times until you know the first moves cold. I was just looking at my library today, and realized I should probably go through this book again as a refresher.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home