Chess Mentor for noobs & patzers (like me!)
A few months ago, I realized that, even after countless hours logged on Tactics Trainer, I still fell prey to very basic tactical shots. Even worse, I missed "obvious" opportunities to create my own. My mental in-game commentary consisted of one word: oops.
I had completed hundreds (thousands) of tactic puzzles, but with little result. The solution made sense while reading, but I couldn't seem to remember it during an actual game. I couldn't repeat the same set of problems 100 again and again until the patterns were burned in my memory, and it just wasn't sticking.
Something new was in order.
I came up with the below approach to use Chess Mentor, which may be helpful to others like me. It is nothing new, and follows a common training idea recited by experts everywhere: repeat the same practice over and over again for however long it takes until skill is achieved. To keep in shape, repeat it again.
Like I said, nothing new - this is just how I applied it to Chess Mentor.
- Reset your Chess Mentor history by clicking the link at the bottom of Settings.
- Create a spreadsheet for tracking results of your training. I use one tab for each course ("Silman Tactics", "Wolski Mates" etc) each of which has the following columns: Date, % Complete, Score, time (HH:MM)
- Select one of the tactics-based courses from the Study Plan for Beginners - Tactics. Or, go to Chess Mentor courses, filter for "Tactics" and sort by Rating (easiest first).
- After you complete the course, log your results in the spreadsheet.
- For lessons with less than 100% score, walk through them again. Do not log the new score, but take the opportunity to read all the content, use the Key Squares / Key Pieces features, etc.
- Complete steps 2 - 5 for however many courses you wish to complete in the round.
- When you are ready to "re-test" yourself, repeat reset the results and go again.
I aim for 90%+ score and completion in less-than-a-minute per lesson. I repeat a course every couple of days until I achieve this three times in a row. Then I move the course to a weekly / bi-weekly (eventually monthly) rotation. If my score/time dips, I up the frequency of review.
At first, I was repeating the same two courses (Silman's Tactics and Wolski's Essential Checkmates) every other day and still not achieving those goals. I've now progressed to some "Intermediate" content, but I keep the basics on rotation every week or two.
I'm still a patzer -- but, after a few cycles, I am recognizing more patterns during games and my results are beginning to improve a bit (especially Live). Here's hoping it continues!
Anyway, if you (like me) find yourself lost when reading Articles or watching Videos, this approach might be worth a shot.