NM Quest #1: Interesting Improvement Techniques

NM Quest #1: Interesting Improvement Techniques

GermanMC
GermanMC
Mar 14, 2018, 11:31 AM |
5

Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog!

As this is my first ever post, I’d like to start with a few words about myself. I am a young chess player from Austin, Texas (my nationality is German but I’ve lived in Austin for over ten years) looking to improve my chess ability in the midst of a busy life of academics and sports. My current USCF rating is 2060, which I have achieved through fairly steady improvement over the course of the last couple of years. Naturally, my current goal is to break 2200 and achieve the National Master title. In this series of weekly blogs, I will document my improvement journey with recaps of tournament experiences, analysis of games, and thoughts on books or anything else that I find influential or noteworthy in my quest for the master title.

null

Hopefully my progress will continue this year.

One of the most important things for every chess player, especially those with busy schedules, is achieving the most out of one’s training. During the past few months, I have come across some very helpful techniques, both new and old, that have allowed me to maximize the results that I get from the time that I put into chess.

The first notable technique relates to book study. Up until late December of 2017, I would study chess books over the board, moving the pieces as I flipped from page to page. While this seems like a decent method, I found that I would not absorb everything that I studied, and more importantly, I would start to forget old material after only a couple of weeks. This frustrated me because essentially only 10% of what I studied actually aided my improvement in the long run. One day, I ran across a blog post by FM Daniel Barrish. In the post, FM Barrish discussed the technique of plugging chess positions from books along with corresponding analysis into a database software. The point of this technique is not only to exploit the benefits of active learning, but more importantly to create ready-made chess lessons on one’s computer that can easily be reviewed at any point in time after having studied the material. I tried out this technique myself with the Artur Yusupov book series that I am currently studying, and have found it to be incredibly useful. With periodic review of old lessons on my computer, my recall of material has risen tremendously.

null

Artur Yusupov is a Russian chess grandmaster and former world number 3 who has written a number of fantastic books. I highly recommend checking them out!

The second resource that I have found very useful recently is a site called chessable. For those who are unfamiliar with the site, it is an e-book platform that allows for periodic review of chess positions; it contains books written by strong players about topics ranging from the opening to the endgame. I have significantly improved my opening repertoire using books available on the site as well as used its books on tactics for tactical training. One of the great things about training tactics on chessable is that the “review” feature helps engrain tactical positions into one’s mind in a way that a traditional tactics trainer like chesstempo would not. While traditional tactical training is still very helpful, chessable has proven to be even more effective for me in that area.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize the importance of daily training games played at a time control of 15 minutes or higher. Training games are a key aspect of training because they allow for the application of ideas learned during study and keep one’s mind fresh. Furthermore, they are fun! After all, we are chess players, not just chess “studiers.”

Both tournament games and training games should be followed by at least a brief analysis of the game to flush out some of the key moments and mistakes by both sides. The game analysis above is rather in-depth because it is a tournament game, but for training games a more brief and concise analysis does the trick.

Daniel Barrish’s book study technique, chessable, and daily training games have all helped me make major strides recently in an efficient fashion. I plan to continue to apply these methods as I embark on my quest to the master level. Please feel free to leave your suggestions, comments, questions, and concerns in the comments below; I would love to hear any techniques or methods that you apply in your training! Thanks for reading!