Saturday, August 01, 2009

A midsummer’s night slump

Between vacations and sporatic Zurch 1953 coverage, my OTB chess experience has bled 50 points. This is in direct opposition of my goal to brake the 1800 USCF ratings barier by end of year. I am suspending reporting on the biographies of the last five players in this series ( Petrosian, Reshevsky, Keres, Bronstein and Smyslov) for the Month of August as I revamp my training regimen for a couple of upcoming events.

In looking at my most recent losses, these games took a bad turn based purely on calculation and tactical blunders. Since the MDLM days, I’ve really slacked off on the effort of studying tactics and it shows in my games. Which sucks, since I put a lot of effort over a year ago in this area before shifting to positional understand through studying historic game collections. At least I am understanding positional games a little better but I still miss fire when it comes to picking middle game targets. A bad plan is better than no plan… but sheesh, enough of the blood shed already. I need to be able to execute a good plan and not create weaknesses.

Short term goal and plan:

I am playing the Continental Open on August 14-16, which means I need to get my game back up to par.

Daily Tactics:
Oddly, endgames are a strong point for me ( must be the training I had from Jorge Samour-Hasbun still sticking well with me from almost 2 years ago) Since my problem happens earlier in the game with more pieces still on the board, I will tailor my problem set accordingly.
1) I am going to select a series of exercises from my own games.
2) I am going to augment this training set with selected problems after a review of “miniatures” of Master-level games in my repertoire database.

The above tactical training will consume 70% of my allocated chess study time since I need to convert these problems to 3D on a real board.

Opening RX:

1) My White pieces are kinder than the Black ones. Therefore, for White I will only fine tune my repertoire by review select games in the Zurich 1953 series for NI games since this is my weakest link.
2) Black: I’m not going to abandon the Caro-Kann at this point, but I am getting tired of the positional consolation with the main line Bf5 line. It’s time I try the 4…Nd7. Oddly, this is called the Petrosian-Smyslov variation but during Zurich 1953, neither played this line. This was popularized during the 1950’-60’s only later to have new life revived with Anatoly Karpov. For August, I will post on my studies of this again, drawing in the history stuff which helps me remember these lines in a deeper sense.

3) As for my Slav, I think it’s high time I embrace the Meran variation… as the there will be some similarities of the two. I hope to synergize. Again, future posts will included a historic study of these two openings in preparation. This will take up 20% of the chess study time as well.

I have my work cut out for me. I am somewhat familiar with these two variations but never dared debuted either at an event. The Continental will be the waters I set sail on this new journey.

Middle game:
Keep playing over whole games of those in my repertoire and annotate. ( this will be a part of opening study from above).

Final 10% of the time is allocated to games review of my practice at the club, ICC, and other practices.

After the event, I will post my games for all its warts and shame and glory.

I am also in the process of organizing a chess related fund raiser with a local IM to raise money for the American Heart Association’s up coming Heart Walk. Tentatively, this will be at the end of the month. Stay tuned for the announcement. So August is a busy month. I apologize for those readers eager to follow Zurich 1953. I promise to return in full force in September.

I am also looking into a new coach this fall. I liked Jorge but schedules are rough, I think I found another, who is well versed in my opening mess.


Anonymous said...

Which IM?

How can we donate?

BlunderProne said...

I am keeping the IM under my hat for now until the details are worked out. It's looking like it will be a small lecture+simul in the Boston area with proceeds going to the AHA. You can donate on my site. Click on the blue thermometer under my profile picture. It'll take you there.

Unknown said...

I'll see you at Sturbridge... my regiment is Hertan's "Forcing Chess Moves", Perlo's "Endgame Tactics", Bronstein's "Zurich 1953", and Clark's "Petrosian's Best... 1946-1963"

Liquid Egg Product said...

There's this rumor about Karpov gaining 400 rating points after he shaved his beard and destroyed all evidence he ever had facial hair.

Just in case you wanted to try it.

wang said...

I assume you are talking about a Semi-Slav formation vs. 1d4? If so how do you plan on countering the Anit-Moscow, 5. Bg5, h6 followed by 6. Bh4? It gets sharp, but you do get a pawn to ease your hurt feelings.

Also will your move order avoid or invite a Marshall Gambit? No one has played it against me OTB, but I can tell you it's hairy for black.

Whatever the case good luck and I'm glad to hear about your chess exploits.

Anonymous said...


It's too late for Sturbridge (I may be there too BTW!) but I think the best way to "study" openings at our level is to just play as many different ones as possible, and not obsess about the 12th move in the so-and-so anti-gambit and just "play chess." Us class B people play random moves in the opening anyway, so why waste time studying something that won't happen?

I've played a bunch of games where I was on my own on move three, but played theory up to move 15 just by playing tactically sound moves. Of course, I hung a piece an lost later :)


linuxguyonfics said...

I may switch to the Slav from QGD at some point. If I had one thing to study before a match it would be an exercise from Pandolfini's Solitaire Chess inside of Chess Life.

That is the best article game series of all time bar none, bar anyone, IMO. Game situation calculation and attack, how can you beat that?

I did this at times when I was 1300's and am now 1800's, so this suggestion must seem odd, but I think it's because I must have done other things wrong back then. Besides, these tests are somewhat easier for me to solve nowdays. I do it for the calculation exercise, game situation (complete game), and it is fun and educational. What comes close to beating that?

I think your point was dealing with rust between long periods of inactivity, so this was my suggestion.

BlunderProne said...


Thanks for the sage advice. I do appreciate it. Mind you, I am NOT learning a new opening.. just committing to a different variation of two of my defenses that I am already familiar with.

Tactics and positional studies are my main staple between now and Sturbridge.

Wang...I'll do as I always do.. I ask " What would Morphy, Steinitz, Pillsbury, Anderssen, Alekhine, Reti, Lasker, Capablanca, Gligoric, Najdorf and Bronstein DO?"

linuxguyonfics said...


I took a couple years off essentially back when I was 1300's and built up my knowledge by studying GM games of the long past masters. Regardless of it not affecting my rating at the time, it did help technique even then.

Even if studying games of past masters did not give me the tactical skill or whatever was needed on game day (instead studying Rubinstein's endgames or Tal, thinking that a D player could play 'Tal' moves), one thing it did give me was _knowledge_.

I understand the sentiment that some share that at the class level, it all gets into the skill area rather than the knowledge area. But I think knowledge is even more useful, powerful, against A players on up.

In any case, there really are a couple ways of jumping up the ratings ladder. Win a _ton_ of games against people close to your own rating, or just a couple against people of a much higher rating. For me, the latter was easier.

Probably the thing that helped me most over the past year was playing hundreds of Standard games on FICS, I do admit. I've tapered off of that now dramatically and play mostly OTB.

Tactics studies are great (started this just recently - past month). I am finding it easier to go through this 'Combination Challenge' book; quite helpful for my tactical eye and calculation (especially as I have to remember which pieces are off the board during a combination).

BlunderProne said...

@linuxguy: Studying master games is what my London 1851; Hastings 1895, New york 1924 and most recently Zurich 1953 series of posts have been about. I LOVE going over these games. It's been an eye opener as I have studied the evolution of positional play through a century of games.

In my preparation, I am looking over not only MY games, but selected games from my previous studies as well as Horatio Caro and Magnus Kann, Anotoly Karpov, Gary's loss with Deep Blue playing C-K 4Nd7, Petrosian and Smyslov. I have some great mentors.

I also like playing up a section if I find myself landing in the top 30% of the bracket. Right now at the low 17's I still find stiff competion in the Under 2000 section as i come in at the lower half. I was hoping to get to the 1780's by this time but am now doing a minor course correction so to speak. I still think I cna make it to 1800. Once I get into the upper 17's I will play up a section higher at my chess club.

Sure, I can take pot shots at tired old masters... and maybe get lucky like I did with Curdo once ( and drew... could have won ... but I drew). But what good is that really if I can't consistently score well in my own section. Right now, I score well against the 16's with exception to kids who are merely "growing " into thier ratings. I recall back in a day when I couldn't score 50% against 16's not too long ago either. Now I am looking at trying to score better than 50% against 17's.