Starting All Over Again: Getting Rid Of The Blunders!
OK, I suck at chess and I'm NOT afraid to admit it.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought I'm already pretty decent in our beloved royal game. I could spot tactics when they appear in my games (or so I thought). I know how to apply basic strategic and positional ideas. I decently score at tournaments, beat some of the well-known players in the club... sometimes in tactical blow outs.
It all sounds and looks good... UNTIL I played a LIVE and 30-minute game here at Chess.com. I botched a winning game thanks to my slow fingers and reflexes (lost on time). BUT that wasn't the point.
Reviewing the game, the number of blunders is just HORRENDOUS! I can't even look at myself in the mirror in pure disgust. >:)
I could reason out that I was just tired when I played the game, that it's just my bad day, and the list of lame excuses could go on. BUT hell no! I won't. That's like trying to outrun your shadow... it's STUPID!
If I'm going to be a strong player that I have always wanted to be, I got to get rid of these game-breaking blunders FIRST and FOREMOST.
This is going to be my priority: GET RID OF THOSE BLUNDERS!
So training on positional and strategic chess, endgames, etc. should, for now, take the backstage. My training should focus on minimizing those "??", "?", and "?!" from my games.
So how do we get rid of it?
Simple - I'll go backto the 23-day training technique I talked about in my earlier blog posts. For 23-days, my chess life and training would be all about eliminating those pesky question marks form my games.
And here's how EXACTLY I will tackle this problem:
(1) Solve 5 To 10 'Spot The Threat' Exercises DAILY. Average chess players blunder because they look at only their moves, the plans available to them, the threats they can drum up, etc. They don't consider the flip-side coin.
"The opponent has the right to EXIST!" says Tartakower. That guy across the board wants to either mate you or make you resign (unless you are playing against Mr. Bongcloud, which is an entirely different story :D).
Training my mind's eye to spot threats that my opponent is drumming up is NECESSARY to avoid these blunders and this form of exercises should help A LOT. One good source of such exercises I know of is Heisman's 'Looking For Trouble'.
Another alternative suggested by GM Smirnov in his course The Grandmaster's Secrets is to solve simple tactical puzzles from the loser's perspective. (eg.: for White to move exercises / positions, you should take up the Black pieces and solve it.)
If you guys know of any 'Spot The Threat' kind of books, CB database, or whatever, please let me know. I would REALLY appreciate it!
(2) Play Chess Games At G/90 Or Slower Time Controls. Whether these games are played against silicon-based or carbon-based players, it doesn't really matter. While it is nice to win, the point of these training games is to make sure I don't blunder... and that I don't miss favorable tactics.
That said, move by move, I will FORCE myself to ask: What are ALL of the PROs and CONs of my opponent's move?
(1) PROs being the threats he created, the squares he know controls, along with forcing moves (checks, captures, and a combination of both).
(2) CONs, on the other hand, are the drawbacks of his move like the squares he no longer controls, the space he has left behind, awkward piece placement, etc.
It may sound like a tedious task to ask these questions move-by-move, BUT that's chess. The situation at the board changes move after move and one MUST always do his best to keep up. Some moves may not do something significant. Other moves may contain nasty threats or could offer juicy possibilities for you. BUT how are you supposed to know if you don't look for it? RIGHT? :)
While I would love to play on a daily basis, my J-O-B is in the way... and I'm not about to drop it for chess. Hahaha. So my schedule is to play every other day.
The day, after the game, IDEALLY would be used for brief analysis and annotation of the game I played where I will spill the beans - what I was thinking with this or that move, look for the errors both for me and my opponent, etc.
And to make sure I keep this up: I will post a day-by-day account of this 23-day training of mine.
By the way, is there anyone here who would be kind enough to play G/90 games with me on the regular? I would REALLY appreciate if there's one. Just comment on this post, add me as a friend, etc. While I don't mind playing anyone, I would prefer someone who's maybe 200 points ahead of me. Someone who could punish me for my mistakes.
Well, it's about 4 AM here so I'm off to bed for now. :)