Man de la Maza

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Embracing Suckage

So I 've been playing a fair amount of chess in the past two weeks. Been doing about half an hour/day on CT-Art and playing on In layman's terms, I suck, but let's go into a bit more detail, shall we?

I really do suck in a completely new and different way, and it makes me understand why people get so neroutic about chess. I think it highlights a big danger of the super-tactical regimen. As I waxed philosophical before on a number of occassions, I believe the De la Maza approach develops two related but distinct capabilities -- pattern recognition and calculation strength.

I am happy to report that pattern recognition capabilities do not fade so much. Of course I do not recognize patterns as well as I did after I completed circles, but I still have a pretty good sense of where things are leading. I remember a surpising amount of problems even though I haven't looked at them for more than 12 months, and I still "smell blood in the water" when my opponent's position strays into something ripe for a combination.

The calculation muscle, by comparison, has gone completely flabby. My calculation ability is little better than my 11 year old daughter's at this point. It's sort of like retaining an appreciation for caluclus but having to go back to adding with your fingers.

I don't think CT Art is really the ticket to helping me here. I am too familiar with the problems and thus working through them really works mostly on pattern recognition. That's great, but it's not what I need. I could pick up Renko's CD or delve into one of the 3 million tactics books on my shelf. If I do this exclusively, I'll just be right back where I started in a few months. That would be OK because I was playing at a 1900 strength, but I'd NOW like to explore something besides tactics.

So I'm changing openings. I'm becoming a d4 player.

"Big whoop", you say. "Who cares? Everyone changes opening nows and again."

Not me. I've been playing tournament chess since the Reagan administration, and I've played d4 exactly zero times. The license plate on my car is "1E4" (No, I'm not kidding).

Becoming a d4 player has a lot of benefits for me. First, it is my impression that the d4 game requires a bit more appreciation of pawn structures. Properly played d4 is a surer weapon for the club player. Second, since I am in unfamiliar waters, playing d4 forces me to calculate even in basic positions. I have to get back to 1+1=2, so I don't hang pieces. Finally, changing openings systems is a sure path to a long string of losses. This seems to be in the cards for me now, so I might as well embrace it.

So as of today, I play d4; I suck; and I'm proud.


  • Don

    What are fractals? Do you know? where I can find pictures of fractals that occur in nature?
    can you understand portuguese?

    See you later!

    By Blogger Marco Aurélio, at 1:20 PM  

  • If you're interested in playing 1.d4, you should really check out this opening. Just like you i was never into playing 1.d4 as well, and once i tried, this opening suited quite nicely.

    Just a suggestion ;-)

    By Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer, at 1:45 PM  

  • Don,
    I've been playing 1. d4 lately as well. In that tournament a couple weeks ago I played 1. d4 for the first time. I lost.

    Isn't a snowflake a fractal?

    By Blogger DreadPirateJosh, at 2:12 PM  

  • Edwin,

    Want to hear something really funny, way, way, back when I first started playing "serious" chess. My childhood friend Jeff introduced me to my first real chess book. "The Queen's Gambit for the Attacking Player" by Graham Burgess and Steffen Pedersen. This was the first book I had ever encountered strictly written about chess. Even more importantly the title alone in my mind was written specifically for me, "...Attacking Player". I was in heaven, to me this was my ticket to becoming something beyond a mere mover of chess pieces. I thought it was the equivalent of owning a treasure map to all of the riches chess had to offer and that if I read this it would unlock all of the secrets to chess, known only to those few lucky souls that possessed such a magical tome. Little did I realize that the Queen’s Gambit was just a small sliver of all of the openings available and that you could find an opening that actually fit your particular style. [If one only knew what your style happened to be. :) ] Anyway armed with my trusty roadmap of all things powerful I set out to play the Queen’s Gambit and conquer the world! It didn’t take me long to hit my first snag. White’s light squared Bishop kept getting its head stuck in the ass of its teammate on c4. What a freaking bummer! That is when I invented the Catalan!
    I thought to myself man I’m a genius, I have single handedly solved the problem of getting my troubled Bishop into the game quickly, outside its pawn chain, and given it targets other than those of same color as itself. It wasn’t until I started playing at the local club did I realize it had a name, and that I wasn’t the first to play it.
    True story.

    I told that story to my expert buddy and he laughed. Because he thought that he had invented the French. :)

    To let you in on how silly I was when I first started playing. I played both d4 and e4 in my first USCF tournament. At the time I didn’t think that it mattered.
    It probably still doesn’t 

    Thanks for bringing back those memories, I hope it made you guys laugh. Because I still do.

    By Blogger Sancho Pawnza, at 10:52 PM  

  • It will not be easy to find a car with 1d4

    By Blogger Temposchlucker, at 2:30 AM  

  • Tempo,

    I need a new car soon anyway, but first I have to locate a portuguese fractal.

    By Blogger Don Q., at 6:03 AM  

  • If you are looking for foreign fractals you should take a look at

    By Blogger Temposchlucker, at 10:10 AM  

  • Sweet. Will you be playing the queen's gambit? I, too, just started playing d4 (the much-maligned Blackmar-Diemer, to help me become more agressive).

    By Blogger Blue Devil Knight, at 8:06 PM  

  • Yep, the Queen's Gambit in all her history and glory.

    By Blogger Don Q., at 11:04 AM  

  • Don't worry, Don. You'll be back up to snuff in no time. You're right about exploring new things. I usually reserve my experimental openings for blitz until I start to learn a decent amount of the theory. Right now, for example, as Black against 1. d4, I'm a KID player. HOWEVER...I've recently begun introducing/throwing-into-the-mix/whatever the Modern Benoni. I totally SUCK at the MB, but I did recently score a blitz victory using it and did decently well in a blitz game even after sacking the exchange. SO, I believe that I'm starting to get comfortable with the opening and will eventually be playing this in my long OTB games.

    By Blogger CelticDeath, at 2:29 PM  

  • my utmost sympathies. my coach, who is died in the wool 1.e4, asked me to switch from 1.d4 and 1.c4 to playing gambits from 1.e4. of course, being a long time chess student, it is not totally unfamiliar but cannot autonominously just 'whip out' ideas as i cna fluidly with my nexus of Nf3/d4/c4 stuff from generalized memory as to what to do/not to do.

    i 100% plan to go back to my old way, but, for now, this feels fresh. ive done this since march.

    my coach said that while i do ctArt3.0 and MUCH CTS on, that he could teach me a lot more from 1.e4. i loose a lot, but its forcing my brain to learn in new ways. less about learning 1.e4 as to force the old habits into new ruts, new channels of thinking.

    glad to rediscover your blog, and, by all means, invited to see mine...


    By Blogger transformation, at 1:04 AM  

  • >I don't think CT Art is really
    >the ticket to helping me here. I
    >am too familiar with the problems
    >and thus working through them
    >really works mostly on pattern
    >recognition. That's great, but
    >it's not what I need.

    i absolutely agree...that was the problem I found with CT-ART. i realize that pattern recognition is important but i could use some more problems

    By Blogger Craig, at 7:44 AM  

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