Review – January 2016

Following a fairly dismal second half of 2015 (especially the last quarter) I was downgraded on the ECF’s December ratings update to 103 (1473 Elo), a drop of around 37 Elo points. Not a disaster, but a hiccup in my progress to date.

In response to this, I have simplified my goals and study plan for 2016. January was a month of bedding in the practicalities of the new goals and I made some adjustments to what I do and how much of it, during the month. Here is a round-up of how I got on.

TACTICS: My goal is simply to get better at tactics.

  • I do 15-25 problems on Chessimo (I’ve done units 1-7);
  • 27 problems on Chessity (weird number due to sets of 9);
  • 5 problems on chess.com’s Tactics Trainer.

This takes about 30 minutes a day. I was active on 96% of available days. My Chessity rating went from around 1500 at the turn of the year to 1640 today; on Tactics Trainer my rating improved from 1459 to 1518.

OPENINGS: My goal is to know my repertoire (from Tiger Chess’s Build and Opening Repertoire course) inside out.

I was active (30 minutes study or more) for 64% of available days.

  • 10 minutes reviewing ‘flashcards’; I made cards of the main lines (picture of key position; main line and key variations);
  • 10 minutes memorising lines using ChessPositionTrainer.
  • Then I use my detailed ChessBase notes to learn the ideas and plans on my real board.

ENDGAME: My goal is to have the endgame knowledge of an 1800-rated player.

  • I start with 5 Chessimo problems (I’ve done units 1 and 2);
  • Then I do a position or two from the Tiger Chess course on Fritz;
  • A couple of times a week I watch a Tiger Chess video or two, making notes if required.
  • I will add using ChessTempo Practice mode this month, as this is more difficult than the current level of Chessimo and provides good practical examples.

I only hit 58% of my target, doing 280 minutes in the month against a target of 480 (2 hours/week). That has to improve.

PLAYING: I want to play 50 OTB games in 2016.

  • I played 8 this month, mainly due to 5 during a congress.
  • I did not review all of them in detail, instead focusing on a few and then using those for my 1 lesson with my coach (another monthly target).
  • For this month’s lesson, I reviewed the games again before sending them to my coach, then asked a couple of specific questions on each. After the lesson I made comprehensive notes of the key lessons. I have about 5 or 6 key positions for each of the 3 games we reviewed, with the key lesson against each position. I plan to review these from time to time, hopefully weekly.

OTHER: I want to memorise 12 games this year.

I have have chosen the 12  games; they all come from openings that fit my repertoire. The first one (Colle-Delvaux Gand-Terneuzen 1929) is in the bank.

OVERALL: I did not spend as much time studying as I wanted to, mainly due to work commitments, but some just laziness. I need to fix that. My year over the board has kicked off fairly well. I’m at 5/8 against opponents with an average rating of 1495 (or 4/7 against average 1570 if you exclude a win against a player rated 947), with a best win against a 1623.

Onwards and upwards.

11 thoughts on “Review – January 2016

  • 3rd February 2016 at 6:18 pm
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    I think you are on the right track. When your performance isn’t meeting expectations, you either need to scale back expectations or simplify your objective. I think the number of minutes of training per period of time is a good simple metric. I am not in your shoes but I wonder if you are still attempting to tackle this from too many angles, studying openings, tactics, whole games and endgames simultaneously.

    Reply
    • 3rd February 2016 at 11:07 pm
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      Hi Cal, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about trying to do too much; problem is, which aspect do you neglect? Maybe focus on an aspect per day, per week? In the end any time spent studying deliberately and with purpose should contribute to improvement in time.

      Reply
  • 7th February 2016 at 7:17 pm
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    I will probably start following your blog, as I am in a similar frame of mind. I will be 42 soon, I just joined an active club in Charlotte, NC on January 4th, and have only played over-the-board for 5 weeks now. (the last several years I was only doing online blitz.) I am still in provisional ratings, but I have had good results so far, playing every Tuesday G 75 | 15. They have more available, but once a week is enough to focus on quality review and quality prep. I have similar outlines of weekly, monthly, and annual goals for studying openings, middlegame, and endgame. I too am trying to pick 2 major topics per week, with extra-credit goals if time permits. I am focusing on thorough game analysis of my games, and also trying to memorize at least the first 20 moves of the games I played. My provisional rating is 1101 USCF, but I beat a 1599 guy and felt like I was comfortable the whole game. Anyhow, my main point in commenting was that…reading your review is a manner of accountability for me, so I will try to glean ideas from your program and reports. .

    Reply
  • 7th February 2016 at 7:20 pm
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    I will probably start following your blog, as I am in a similar frame of mind. I will be 42 soon, I just joined an active club in Charlotte, NC on January 4th, and have only played over-the-board for 5 weeks now. (the last several years I was only doing online blitz.) I am still in provisional ratings, but I have had good results so far, playing every Tuesday G 75 | 15. They have more available, but once a week is enough to focus on quality review and quality prep. I have similar outlines of weekly, monthly, and annual goals for studying openings, middlegame, and endgame. I too am trying to pick 2 major topics per week, with extra-credit goals if time permits. I am focusing on thorough game analysis of my games, and also trying to memorize at least the first 20 moves of the games I played. My provisional rating is 1101 USCF, but I beat a 1599 guy and felt like I was comfortable the whole game. Anyhow, my main point in commenting was that…reading your review is a manner of accountability for me, so I will try to glean ideas from your program and reports. .

    Reply
    • 19th February 2016 at 7:15 am
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      Thanks for the comment and please feel free to share your ideas too in the comments. If there is something that works for your improvement, it might work for the rest of us too. Good luck.

      Reply
  • 10th February 2016 at 9:47 am
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    I am in a similar boat making somewhat of a ‘comeback’ after nearly 20 years not playing competitively as an early twenty-something. Having said that whilst I share your passion for improvement (and it can be really addicting) it is also a fun game. I am currently playing in some reserve State Championship games with a 1-1 record so far – 9 round Swiss. The first game was a swindle and I got lucky and the second one I was simply outplayed under enormous time pressure. So I share your journey in alot of ways and it’s admirable. I think you are on the right track but I have learnt that practising analysing games and calculating over the board in your study greatly improves your play for OTB play in the long-run.

    Reply
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