D.I.Y. ( Do It Yourself) CT-ART

Nov 14, 2009, 7:55 AM |


In my last post, a movement was started in terms of Adult Chess Improvement Seekers. The movement has morphed from the ashes of the old Knights Errant to a new form that is calling itself A.C.I.S ( pronounced as Axis) of Caissa. A few bloggers have thrown their hats in to the ring to claim “membership” in this method-agnostic quest to improve ones play that is individually tailored to suit your ability and keep you seeking. The demographic seems to be mostly adult amateur players stuck in a non-master level ELO rating. The only real requirement is that you establish a method you can sign up for and blog about your journey. More details will follow as this movement is still on the ground floor. If you identify with this and feel like becoming a part of a growing community, state your quest on your blog and give us a glimpse of your chosen method by dropping a comment with a link. I will add you to a growing link list. I ask you do the same. ( The link list will be on my blunderprone.blogspot.com home and not necessarilly on my mirrored site on chess.com)

Here are a few ACIS of Caissa members to consider to date ( note:If I left you out, it was entirely unintentional) :

Wang : States his claim and starts talking

Whareit is ROCKING the world with his claim ( and nice Eddie Van Halen clip)

ChunkyRook : stakes a very well thoguht out claim on "yet another improvement post"

LinuxGuy is foucsing on endgames and developing calculation skills

Continuation of my Quest:

I mentioned in my last post that I am looking at creating my own pattern training database so I can do a “circles” method training. This will consist of a mix of positions from my own games, reference games in my repertoire database and positions from my games studies. This week I will talk about the mechanics of creating training positions using Chessbase. Next time I will talk about building a reference/repertoire database and how to I plan to use it to create training positions for my “BP-ART”.

Choosing games and first entry into the database:

An integral part of my plan involves playing games on a regular basis. I can play on ICC, Chess.com or other online servers, but I am mainly going to focus harvesting positions form serious OTB games played under arbitration of a tournament or club event that gets rated. Going over your very own wins and losses is a very important aspect of training. I have a database of my games dating back a few years. I have decided to select only the games where I changed my white repertoire in 2008 on forward as it is most pertinent to my immediate improvement.

How am I coming up with positions in my own games? Some are rather obvious. Taking time to go over the game with my opponent after a match provides the first line of input. I am practicing to improve my annotations during this phase as my thinking as well as my opponent’s is very fresh and provides valuable insight in certain positions.

I start by entering the games in Chessbase, I will start with self annotations based on the post mortem analysis. ( see picture below). I double click the position to annotate and enter the text. If I want to add text before the move, I “right click” and select Add text before. This may seem basic to most my readers but for others just navigating around CB tools, I hope this helps.

After I enter my self annotations and commentary, I then use a chess Engine like Fritz or Rybka to run the full analysis. I make sure I select “save old annotations” so not to over write my original mark up. I also use the “replace” otherwise I end up with all kinds of extra games in the database.

Finding Positions for training.

After the analysis, typically a critical position comes out. Often the post mortem has a critical position I want to recall. The resulting analysis from the chess engine will also typically pop out a few blunder checks. If the game was tight, I look at the various evaluations and look for when the equal sign starts to shift in the other direction and look at that position for clues.

I will also check to see how far down the line we went in an opening variation. I may create a position from this discovery if I feel a need to improve that aspect of the game.

The Ideal game will have a training position for the opening, middle game and endgame. In reality, I have games that were clearly decided in the opening stage. Not much else to learn in the crash and burn that followed unless a good defensive maneuver was passed.

Making Training positions:

First thing I do is create a new database specifically for training positions as I use the games database to harvest positions. This is an important step to really get the CT-ART like action. From the games database, in a selected position from one of the games, I then use the right mouse button selected over the move. I select over the “Special annotation” and it opens another drop down list. From there I select “Training annotation”

A box pops up and you can enter any text you wish. The score is usually automatically set for 10 points. Often I have a position that branches into a better variation. When that happens, the list of moves will include it. The mainline ( the bad move I made) is automatically set at a score of 10. To make the winning variation a the correct choice in training, I select the top move and demerit the score to 0 and the winning variation I increase to 10.

Now, the other thing I will do is delete moves prior and after that critical position. This helps for the focus. You can do this easily with Right Mouse Button , scroll over Delete and select from the list of options. Then I do a “save as” and select the training data base to stor the position as it will keep the whole game intact in my games database so I can go back for future reference.

A dialog box will open asking for game information, Typically this has been filled during the games entry phase. What I would like to suggest is in the “annotators” tab, you enter a “head line”. It’s no coincidence that my sample position is against none other than Rolf Wetzell, author of the book “Become Master at any age”. This is my modern version of doing flash cards. Setting the headline in the annotator’s index allows it to appear in the headline. Don’t forget to save.

Next time I will continue this series with how to build a repertoire to add opening positions to the training database.

I hope you find this helpful as some of my readers were asking about building their own training database. Again, this is only one aspect of my new regimen. I have just begun to enter positions and almost have 50 positions set up from my own games. My goal is to get to about 500 positions in my database with a mix from my own games, my tailored opening repertoire and of course the magical history tour positions that are most pertinent to my games.