Training Diary - An Introduction
My name is Seth Homa and I am a FIDE Master with two IM-Norms. That is annoying, because three is required for the International Master title. This is something I would very much like to change next year. This blog will hopefully help with that endeavor.
It has been awhile since I've put in some serious chess training. With long layovers in between events, it can be hard to maintain enthusiasm to keep working. Why stay mentally sharp when it won't be required for several more months? Well that's a nice excuse and all, but...
Training Diary will track my time spent and my progress (or lack thereof) at solving exercises from various chess books. This will include the Yusupov series and the Grandmaster Preparation series from Quality Chess, as well as Karsten Muller's Puzzle Book series (which is where I will start). For obvious reasons, I cannot share the exercises here but I will post my results. If you own these books, you might take some pleasure in comparing your results with someone who is a FIDE Master. If you do not own these books (and do not plan on owning them), then hopefully I can include enough insights and instructive tidbits to keep your interest. At the very least, you will get a glimpse into how a chess professional works.
If you wish to "play along" and solve the exercises with me, then you must follow these rules (which I will follow strictly myself):
- Set the positions up on a real chessboard.
- Use a chess clock to mimic a real competitive setting.
- NO DISTRACTIONS! Turn off your phones, TV, anything which will interfere with your concentration.
- Solve all of the problems in the set in the timeframe that was established beforehand. Only after you have done your best at solving the problems are you allowed to write down your answers on a separate piece of paper. You do not have to write down every single line you analyzed - just whatever lines you think were the most pertinent for getting a right answer. You may pause the clock each time you set up a new position. Finally, compare your answer to the one in the book and track your points.
- NO CHEATING. If you didn't get the answer right, you didn't get the answer right! Don't cheat and give yourself credit for a correct answer! And, of course, no using the computer to help solve the puzzles.
- Make a real effort to understand why you made mistakes.
- Don't beat yourself up if you don't do as well as you had hoped. Chess is hard! You want this work to be enjoyable so that you can keep coming back to challenge your mind some more!
If you prefer to tackle less challenging tactical exercise books, the method outlined above is still an excellent way to utilize the books that you do own.
I am selecting Karsten Muller's puzzle books first, for a variety of reasons. While I have started on some of these in the past, I no longer remember the answers. They also each have a "scoring system", which is not the case in some of the other exercise books and which may be more fun for the reader. They should also still be challenging enough as a "warm up" for some of the Yusupov books and the Grandmaster Preparation books (some of which I nearly completed some years ago).
There are many ways to improve in chess. Studying openings, following tournaments online, guessing the moves of The Greats, and so on. But when you boil it all down, chess is about solving one problem after another. The better you get at this - the better your results will be in general.
Please feel free to share your results in the comments section in the forthcoming blog posts. You are all welcome to challenge each other to better your scores! And if you scored better than I did, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Let's get started...