My Path to FM - Week 3 (Part 1)

My Path to FM - Week 3 (Part 1)

NM ih8sens

Click here for "the plan"


I'm doing this week's blog early and in two parts.  This part will focus on my training efforts for the week.  Part 2 will come out on Sunday and will cover the tournament I'm playing in on Saturday.


This will also provide a few insights as to how I prepare for upcoming tournaments.


First off, I have some good news and some bad news when it comes to tactics.  You all know by now that my Chesstempo work is the most important aspect of my training plan.  Well, the bad news is that I broke my rule of 5 tactics per day.  My job (I'm a Paramedic) allows me quite a bit of free time to study, and I worked 60 hours this week.  In addition, I had a couple days where I was feeling pretty sharp, so I took a few liberties and ended up doing about 100 tactics so far this week instead of the 25 I should have done.  Nevertheless, I took them super seriously and my chesstempo tactics rating has climbed to an all time personal best of 2117!  Only three weeks in and I'm already seeing tangible progress!  That said, my goal is going to change slightly.  A lot of people have suggested switching over from "standard" tactics to "mixed" tactics.  Let me explain the difference.


You see, Chesstempo has a semi-new problem style.  Besides just presenting "to move and win" problems as is normal on most training sites, Chesstempo also has thrown in "find the only move" problems.  What's especially testing about this is that you don't know what you're looking for!  While most of the time the best move is winning, sometimes you're forced to find the only move that saves the draw, or play a perp after carefully making sure there is no mate available, or whatever.  This is a far more practical way to train, because you can no longer play some ambitious move knowing that the position is objectively winning.  On top of this, the "mixed" tactics come with a bit of a time limit.  You have 5 minutes to find the best move.  If you fail to find the best move in 5 minutes, your score gradually begins to decrease for the problem based on how long you take.  


Anyway, these 'mixed' problems seem to be a lot more practical and perhaps a lot more challenging.  I've set a goal to climb into the top 20 on Chesstempo by achieving a 'mixed' rating of 2000+.  


Here's one of the harder tactics I did this week:



I found this problem especially difficult because not only did I have to convince myself that there was no mate available, I also had to calculate very carefully to make sure the resulting position was in fact winning.  Then I had to check literally everything else to make sure there was nothing better.  It's not a flashy problem, but it's a good practical problem.  
I also got to use some of this week's opening preparation in my training game.  It's not an exciting game, but I managed to move order white out of any and all of the desirable English lines.  
I know it's a little lame to bail out so quickly after a good opening, but it was nice to have a good result against the same training partner who beat me last week.  Our score is now tied with one win each and two draws.  
As for practical play, I have a rapid tournament coming up this weekend.  It's a 25/0 club tournament.  I've won all of these for the past couple years, but there are a few good opponents so I have to stay alert.  I'll share the interesting games in part 2 of this blog which will be released Sunday.  To prepare for a tournament like this I try to eat well, take a break from blitz, and avoid doing tactics problems the day before.  I won't share the specifics of my opening preparation, but I don't believe in changing your repertoire the week of a tournament.  I have my Caro Kann, Queen's Gambit Declined, Slav, Dragon, and Modern to choose from with black, and with white I'll probably mess around with the English, Reti, and London System.  My most interesting opponent is NM (CCGM) Bob Kiviaho, who will likely play 1.d4 against me if he gets white.  I'll spend some time tomorrow deciding how to deal with him.  He's a time pressure addict so getting out of book early is great in a rapid game with no increment.  
Anyway I guess that's it!  Thanks to those who suggested I switch to Chesstempo's "Mixed" problems.  I think that'll really help my game.  
Stay tuned for my special edition "Tournament Report" on Sunday!