1st Quarter 2016 Training Progress

Apr 3, 2016, 8:57 PM |

USCF Rating: 1663

Year to date: -16

2015 was a fantastic chess year for me but 2016 isn't going to be just fantastic. It is going to be transformative:

  • I'm tackling a completely new white repertoire--my first new openings in well over 10 years). 
  • I'm learning attacking play, something with which I've never had much success, possibly because I've stuck to the same old solid, safe openings for so long.
  • For the 3rd year in a row, I'm pushing myself to play over 100 OTB games, and more importantly, seeking tournaments where I can test my abilities against Class A's and Experts.

With that in mind, here was my training plan for the 1st quarter and my actual results:


As you can see above, I blew past my tactics goal but didn't quite hit my reading goal.

Heading back to the Tactics Saltmines

I've completed Seven Circles tactics training several times. It's hard--but incredibly beneficial for an adult improver. I've done 10's of thousands of tactics problems in the past 3 years. But it is never enough. Many titled players, for instance Susan Polgar, reportedly still spend time daily on chess tactics. It is the most fundamental skill we all need to cultivate. 

A chess.com friend who was very active on ChessTempo in the past, created a Seven Circles-esque training method that has been dubbed Saltmimes tactics training. Think of it as Seven Circles but with somewhat easier problems and, most importantly, spaced repetition as the problem selection algorithm instead of simply halving the iteration time for each cyle through the problem set as in Seven Circles.

This quarter I gave it a shot, which explains the explosion in my tactics activity. I like many aspects of Saltmines over Seven Circles--I'll give a full report on it over the summer, after I have a bit more experience with it.

Reading Progress

My reading goals for the year are to finish "How to Attack in Chess" (80% complete), "Pawn Power in Chess" (10% complete), "100 Endgames You Must Know" (10% complete), "Chess Tactics for Advanced Players" (not started), and a book of game annotations on Tal or another attacking player (not started).

International Chess School

My reading goal may have to be heavily revised for the rest of the year because last week I enrolled in the International Chess School. Their core 13 month training program revolves around middle game strategy and calculation and thought process skills. It also involves 50-100 pages a month of training material, so I will likely put my "Pawn Power in Chess" reading on the back burner and focus on the ICS material.

Attacking Chess

I've completed most of the small book, "How to Attack in Chess," and it's been a fun read. Lots of exciting attacking games. But, honestly, it hasn't given me a sense that I know more about how to build and conduct an attack. I was planning to follow up with Lane's next attacking book, "Prepare to Attack," but I think I need something more.

Initially I though, okay, how about I just jump right into "Art of Attack" by Vukovic? It's highly recommended as the definitive book on the subject.

Then last week, a friend sent me two Joel Johnson books on attacking play. That led me to reach out to some titled players who are reputed attacking players to see if they can coach me on attacking play. If that works out, it should be the best and shortest way for me to build my attacking skills in time to bring the attack to my opponents at the World Open in June! (Only 12 weeks away...)

Looking Ahead

Because of my recent enrollment in ICS and possibly adding a new chess coach to the mix, I am in the process of reworking my training plan for 2nd quarter. I'll post it in the next few weeks but it might just look insane. So far this year I've averaged 22 hours a week on chess study and OTB play. I plan to amp that up even more for the next 12 weeks. Time to buckle up!