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Here is an article I wrote on my chess blog about Michael de la Maza's Tactical study plan... http://tacticstime.com/?p=1857
Intense tactical training to the exclusion of all else is like training your body to it's peak of fitness and expecting to hold your own in a boxing ring...sure, you might get lucky and land a knockout blow, but don't count on it
I like to compare the de la Maza plan and others like that to diet fads: focused execution of almost any diet plan will lead to loss of weight, but you'd better choose one you can live with for live. The de la Maza is like a P90X chess tactics improvement plan: fantastic (if you can survive it), but not something you do EVERY three months of your life.
That is a great analogy with P-90X! I love it
I'm a much bigger fan of a holistic approach to studying chess. While tactics are critically important and should not ever be ignored by a serious student, other areas of the game are important as well.
To me, a good study plan includes working on at least the following:
There's probably a lot more that should be included at higher levels, but that list will keep most people busy for a really long time.
I suspect, but can't prove, that the first 5 are essential for significant improvement. There is a lot of overlap in these areas, but just training tactics will not cover everything that's needed. Further, I suspect that one is limited more by one's weaknesses than by one's strengths.
Down here in the trenches, there's lots of tactical weakness, so a recommendation to study tactics is often exactly what a person needs, but not always.
I agree that is a very good list.
I think the main issue comes when a player sees a list like this:
and thinks, OK - I need to know these 5 things. I will devote 20% of my time to each.
They may not make as much progress as the person who weighs each of these things differently, like the person who does 80% tactics, and 20% on the other 4.
The person who does each equally may be spending 20% of his time on endgames, but then never even get to an endgame because they are dropping pieces to 2-3 move combinations in the middle game.
This is the basic "80-20 Principle" - AKA "Pareto Principle". You get 80% of your results from 20% of the work.
I absolutely agree that it is not just about what one studies, but also how one studies it.
Not only is there the very correct notion that not everything should get equal focus, but there's also the problem that most people really have no idea how to study chess.
The percentage of players in my rating range who think studying openings is about memorizing lines is huge, for example. When what they really need to be doing is finding out a reason "why" a particular move is to be preferred over another based on a plan of play.
Silman offers a rather damning review here: http://www.jeremysilman.com/book_reviews_js/js_rapid_chess_improv.htm
I liked the replies in the OP's article, giving examples of circumstantial evidence that de la Maza might actually have been cheating. His immediate rise in rating and the even more abrupt retirement suggests he was never 'into' mastering chess to begin with, and instead was more interested computer science of chess. The more I read and view the pics, the more I grow suspicious of his actual playing strength.
Here is a blog by a guy who has done a lot in this area: http://empiricalrabbit.blogspot.com/
Personally, I have been influenced by the study that showed :
"The best chess players follow a similar strategy. They will often spend several hours a day replaying the games of grand masters one move at a time, trying to understand the expert’s thinking at each step. Indeed, the single best predictor of an individual’s chess skill is not the amount of chess he’s played against opponents, but rather the amount of time he’s spent sitting alone working through old games." This is from a review of a book -- http://www.joelichtenberg.com/2011/08/29/in-search-of-excellence-by-moonwalking-with-einstein/ Similar thoughts: http://www.davidpatrickhurley.com/tag/moonwalking-with-einstein/
Such thoughts inspired me to write my program, "Guess the Move".
The correct Link is:
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