Jun 16, 2008, 3:20 PM |

In the previous blog, I spoke briefly about assessing my strengths weaknesses.  Now I have to lay out a plan for rectifying them...quite another matter altogether.

When I began to think about this quest several months ago, I thought I could just play my way to improvement.  Get a few concepts, hop on ICC, and play until the cows come home.  This plan, as one might guess, has not worked out too well.

 I had my old opening repertoire, which got me into familiar positions, with familiar plans, and while my online and blitz rating went up, my understanding of things I didn't already know did not.  If you don't get into positions that allow you to put new concepts to work, what's the point of pursuing them?

And also, what about technique?  How do you improve something like that without playing?

The question really does playing more help you improve your technique?  And the answer is, absent any other contributions, it doesn't.  You can play all the blitz games you'll be a lot of fun.  While they give you plenty of opportunities to demonstrate technique, they don't provide a platform for you to develop it.

A couple of years ago, I gave a book away to my buddy here in Florida Mark Ritter (rating 2355) on the Hastings 1895 tournament that I had won for something or another.  He asked why I would give it away, with so many classic games.  I looked at him quizically, stating I never saw much value with playing over old games.  To which, Mark, in amazement, asked me how I could have ever gotten so strong NOT playing over games? 

Well, as it turns out, in the technique department...the exact department that would be helped by playing over games, I'm not very strong at all.  So one way I will help myself with technique by finding some discriminating game collections, of which I have plenty on my shelf...most of which have never been cracked open.  Except, perhaps, to admire some tactical strategem a Ukranian GM pulled out his azz or something. first strategy to address my weakness in technique, is to start making playing over games a priority instead of a non-starter.  The other, is working on my endgame skills, with the idea of building an opening repertoire that allows me to make successful transitions from middle-game to endgame. 

I have never found the beauty in studying the endings, largely because my sacrificial, life-or-death opening repertoire never made them particularly relevant.  I either mated the guy...or lost all my pieces trying. 

And, yes...I know I said in my opening blog that my next two would kind of catch me up to the moment...but this is taking a little longer than I realized.  :-)