July 2013 Training Report
USCF Regular: 1311 -> 1418
Chess.com Standard: 1408 -> 1457
Tactics Trainer: 1395 -> 1532
I'm attempting to achieve a herculean goal. It will require a herculean effort.
I've been able to find only a few examples--so far--of adult chess players who started at a rating below 1500 (well below, in my case) and who have gone on to achieve an Expert or Master title. So, I am well aware that my success on this journey will be in spite of what the existing statistics would predict.
In order to improve as rapidly as possible, I have worked out a detailed and comprehensive training plan with the assistance of my chess coach, IM Attila Turzo.
This blog post is my first monthly Training Report that details my progress against the traing plan. At the beginning of each month, I will publish a post like this one where I break down my training in detail, focusing particularly on what is working, what is not, and what changes we made to the training plan as my chess strengths and weaknesses evolve.
In the synopsis at the top of this post, you will see the three ratings that I am tracking on a weekly basis (USCF Regular, Chess.com Standard, and Chess.com Tactics Trainer). In addition, you'll see a link to my most recent month's Activity Report spreadsheet. This is a Google spreadsheet that I use to track my daily chess training activities. This Activity Report is just one of the five tabs that the actual spreadsheet contains, and I'll go into more detail in the future on what the Activity Report is telling me and also how I use the other tabs of my training spreadsheet.
Briefly, after diagnosing my chess strengths and weaknesses, we came up with a list of the most important training activities that I should be spending my time on and how often I should be performing each activity weekly. All my current activities fall into one of the following overall categories: Vision, Tactics, Analysis, Knowledge, Practice, Performing, and Reflecting.
Each row of the Activity Report shows an activity (such as "Reading a chapter"), the goal for the number of times I should engage in that activity each week, and then a historical tracking of how many times I actually engaged in that activity in each of the prior weeks.
In the report, I included a red, yellow, or green indicator next to each activity for each week that instantly tells me if I've achieved the weekly goal for each activity. The color "traffic signals" are especially helpful during the current week. I can quickly scan the report for "red lights" that tell me that I still have work to do in that activity before the end of the week.
You'll see that the number of tactics problems I am doing jumped substantially in the last week from 136 to 345. The reason for this massive increase in tactical problems is that I started Michael de la Maza's Seven Circles improvement program on July 1st.
The first four weeks of the program consisted of daily board vision drills (such as finding knight moves, and forks and skewers). Then, last week I started the daily tactics problems. These will be completed over the next four months.
I am currently doing 39 problems per day out of a set of 1200 problems. I'll be doing these 1200 tactics problems repeatedly, each time through the set doubling the number of daily problems. Then, by early December, I'll work my way up to doing the whole 1200 problems in a single day. I predict this will be a 10-12 hour day of just tactics and bathroom breaks. (Though, I may need to get a doctor's physical before attempting it.)