My Summer Chess Goals!
Hello dear chess friends!
It has been a while since I have posted anything on my chess.com blog, and I am glad to be back. I am writing this today to give you all a look into my summer chess plans and goals while also making this serve as a continual reminder to myself about my commitment to this game this summer. You see, chess will be my full time job this summer! I am currently planning a total of four Rasberry Chess camps, along with coaching (co-coaching with chess.com’s CEO Daniel Rensch & two time Alabama state champion Will Stevenson) at the Madison City Chess summer camp. I also am teaching a handful of private students. However, because the camps are only roughly fifteen hours of my time a week, and chess coaching will not exceed ten, I have a lot of extra time on my hands that I will be dedicating to my own study of chess.
Realizing the plethora of time I have on my hands this summer, I do not want it to go to waste. I have two rather lofty goals to achieve by the time I head back to school in August.
1. Goal: Reach 2128 USCF (my peak; current 1998)– Stretch: 2150 USCF
2. Goal: Win 2 Tournaments (as I did last summer) – Stretch: 3
Simple, yet challenging. The task at hand is to bring my playing level up a couple hundred points as quickly as possible. Now everybody knows goals are just dreams and fairy tales unless you put in the time and work in to make them realities. I have devised a simple, yet in my opinion, a highly effective training schedule. As I have worked full time since I have returned home from college, I have only been able to sparingly apply these ideas, yet still with decent effect. The approach is four pronged: problem solving, game analysis, opening study, and physical fitness training.
1. Problem Solving:
a. Tactics: I will attempt to solve about 5-10 tactics daily as a warm-up exercise. Doing this the past couple months have brought about a strong increase in my tactical strength, as my chess.com tactics rating is currently over 2530.
b. Grandmaster Preparation Strategy: The book is full of puzzles where your only aim is to determine the proper strategy for any given position. It also has full explanations along with many additional lines of possible play. I can already tell through my practice games this has helped tremendously. I am seeing plans, maneuvers, and even tactical themes faster and clearer. I will try to solve 3-5 a day.
c. Grandmaster Preparation Endgames: This book is just as the above except endgame oriented. From simple K&P endgames to “complex major piece” endgames, this book has it all. I try to study about 2-5 of them a day.
d. Chess.com “Lessons”: I might use the lessons feature on chess.com some to quantify my results from the above training.
2. Game Analysis:
a. Tournament Games: As I will be, Lord-willing, participating in at least 8 tournaments (schedule below) this summer, I will have plenty of opportunity to study my current games.
b. Practice Games: I will probably be playing 1-2 games against a master rated computer each week followed by studying those in depth for where I went astray. I will also try to play a few longer time control games against some decent strength players (1800+) on chess.com. You can message me if you are interested in a game!
c. Positional Masterpieces of 2012-2015: This book is full of amazing games that simply have inspired me greatly. I will probably show a couple games from that book in a later post. It helps me understand the openings, gives me a glimpse into top level strategic thinking, and is even a great book of tactics as so many strategic themes are based off simple, and sometimes even complex tactics. I want to read at least 1 of these daily.
3. Opening Study:
a. Opening Block Training: Simple, anyone who knows me knows I don’t know opening theory well at all. My strength has always been my ability to just play chess out of the opening, often gaining just a good practical position to play. However, not understanding theory has hurt my time in the game, as I have fewer moves I can blitz out, and I often don’t know simple opening ideas that could help my middlegame plight. Thus, one of my BIGGEST pushes this summer will be to study openings. I will be spending 1-2 hours or more every day on just this alone. Having done this a bit over the past couple weeks I have already patched many of my previous holes and have been able to play the transitions from opening to middlegame at an even higher level. The tools I am using are:
i. Chessmasterschool: Has many opening modules designed to literally just teach you the opening and the ideas behind the resulting middlegames.
ii. Fritz’ Opening Book: Self-explanatory.
iii. Fritz’ Game Database: I will go down a line of study, then search the database for 30 or so top games. I will study those games to gain a higher level of understanding of the opening and resulting middlegames.
b. Fritz Opening Training: This interesting idea I came up with meddling about with Fritz. All I do is make a move, and play Fritz through the opening and sometimes into the middlegame. It always plays book moves, but it always seems to find a new opening I haven’t studied in a while. This helps me review my opening base along with providing me a little bit of extra opening training. I might do this for 10 mins or less most days.
4. Physical Training:
a. Running: Chess is an endurance game, thus I will be run about a mile or two each day during my fitness block.
b. Sprinting: Not as important for chess training, but if I am going to describe my workout, I will not leave out any detail. The idea is to help improve my cardiovascular muscles mostly for tennis purposes. However, this will also improve blood flow to my brain, helping me to think clearer and faster. I will do a few minutes of that each day.
c. Muscle Building: I don’t know if I am physically capable of muscles , but I will be doing push-ups, pull-ups, ab workouts, and lifting. This also helps to improve cardio which will only have a positive impact on my chess brain.
d. Meditation: Ok, I know this sounds weird, but it really is just a way for me to improve focus and my overall mood. The statistics are all there, they say meditation is one of the most used methods of highly successful people to improve the above mentioned. Basically, you just lay down, or sit with a straight back, and try to think about one thing, say your breathing or a chess game. Don’t think about anything else at all. I have found this hard as so many innocent thoughts run through my head without my will. I hope that this will translate to clearer and more focused thinking at the chess board.
That’s all folks! I plan to spend about 2-4 hours a day (more if I don’t have a chess camp that day) on chess, about an hour on physical fitness, teach some chess, I’ll be reading through the New Testament this summer all the way through and possibly I’ll get to a few OT books, and the rest of the time I’ll just relax and maybe help out around the house some! Here is my schedule for this summer:
May 27 – Vulcan Open
June 3 – Falcon Invitational (defending champ)
June 5-9 – Madison City Chess Camp
June 10 – Huntsville Classic
June 17 – Emory Castle Chess Grand Prix
June 19-22 – Evangel Chess Camp
June 24 – Alabama Quick and Blitz State Championships
June 26-29 – Montevallo Chess Camp
July 10-13 – Cornerstone Chess Camp
July 15 – Alabama Dual Rated State Championship (Defending Champ)
July 17-20? – Boys and Girls club of Montevallo Chess Camp
August 12 – Chis Bond Memorial
So, there you go, my summer chess goals and plans. Give me your input, and also tell me about your summer chess plans, I’d love to see what everybody else is doing!