My Path to FM - Week 1

My Path to FM - Week 1

NM ih8sens

I've decided to update you guys each weekend about how 'the plan' is going.  Along the way I can share a few neat ideas I learned.


Progress report time!


To start, I should mention that this was only a 4 day week for me.  Still, things went well.



I converted Schandorff's entire Caro Kann book into chessbase format.  I found a couple lines that I didn't like, and found suitable alternatives.  This is especially true in the Advance variation, where Schandorff went for the critical stuff.  In practical play, most top GM's in the past year have gone for non-testing stuff with black and equalized just fine.  I decided to follow their example.


While following through on my commitment to view all games played by top GM's, I spotted a neat idea by Caruana that I investigated.  While some Alapin Sicilian players are looking for a non-theoretical positional game, I've found the majority just want to kick the knight off of f6 and set up a Bd3/Qe4 battery the moment black castles.  It's actually an effective plan.


Caruana didn't get to use the idea in the game, but I think I figured out what he had in mind.


It was tough, but I forced myself to stick to my 5 tactic/day limit.  I went a perfect 20/20 and saw my rating move from 1980ish to 2021.  Most likely I'll keep a perfect or near perfect score until I get back to 2100, but this has been a good time to work on my concentration and self discipline.  I solved one problem in 33 seconds, but the rest took at least 3 minutes.  In the past my average solve time was barely 60 seconds.  Being able to slow down is a very important aspect of my game if I want to improve to FM/IM level.  
Here's one of the toughest problems I faced out of the 20.  It's not pretty, but it's very practical, and it's the kind of problem I would have just guessed on to avoid having to spend more than a couple minutes on it.  The subvariation with 2...Qg6+ and 3...Qh5 was the hardest one to work out.  I spent 16 minutes making sure everything worked.
I didn't have a chance to get a long game in, but I'll try to find one or two this week.  I also have a rapid tournament coming up which is always a great place to work on practical play.
All said, a successful week.  I feel that Caruana idea will help me against Alapin players where I currently score very poorly.  I also think solving that very difficult defensive tactic will increase my confidence when I'm forced to defend in a winning position.
See you all next Sunday!