Chess Mentor for noobs & patzers (like me!)

Feb 21, 2012, 8:27 PM |

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.

  1. Reset your Chess Mentor history by clicking the link at the bottom of Settings.
  2. 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)
  3. 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).
  4. After you complete the course, log your results in the spreadsheet.
  5. 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.
  6. Complete steps 2 - 5 for however many courses you wish to complete in the round.
  7. 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!

/crossing fingers

Anyway, if you (like me) find yourself lost when reading Articles or watching Videos, this approach might be worth a shot.