1 of the longest combinations I've pulled out of my butt in recent times.

May 25, 2017, 4:08 AM |

Well, Summer is here.

Summer vacation has started, and hopefully that means I will have a lot more time to study and improve my chess.

During school year, I had neither the time, nor the self-discipline (mostly self-discipline) to have a strict training regimen.

I was happy to just play some 3/2 blitz and win some games.

Needless to say, by the time the school year was over, I probably played less than 15 long games (15/10 or longer) and several hundreds of 3/2 blitz games. 

Now that's just not good if you are serious about improving.

Not only did this stunt my growth in terms of visualization and deep calculation, it also messed up my habits in thought process.


Obviously, I am a bit disappointed by how small a progress I made in my chess improvement over the last year to year and a half.  

Even when you look at the rating, I first broke 1800 in blitz around Oct. of 2015.

Year and a half later, although I have broken through 1900 and almost reached 2000 at 1 point, I more or less fluctuate between low 1900 and high 1800.


At times, I can beat 2000s and even higher, but in other times, I can lose to 1700s rather embarssingly.

All this points to a lack of solid foundation in the basics, and playing blitz games over and over and over again is not what will fix it.


Recently, I ventured back into the 15/10 territory, and I was embarassed to find out just how out-of-shape I was. You would think that as a player who hovers between 1800~1900 in blitz at chess.com, my rating in longer time control would be even higher, since I have more time to see and think. BUT IN FACT, it's exactly the opposite.


I lost multiple games in a row, with basically all the reasons of defeat being making tactical errors in otherwise equal or winning positions. 

And to rub salt in the wound, because I haven't played 15/10s in a while, every time I lose a game, I lose like 20 rating points. 

So after I lost like 5 or 6 games, my ratings dropped all the way to 1600s...

It befuddles me when I find myself making silly mistakes in long games that I wouldn't make even in blitz games. 

I know the quote "Long analysis, Wrong analysis", but this isn't that.

I hardly consider thinking for 2~3 minutes a "long analysis".


My main problem seems to be bad thought process.

Whenever I play long games, I tend to get caught up in too advanced/abstract positional concepts that I become blind to immediate tactical needs right in front of my eyes.

In blitz, I don't really care for high level positional ideas.

I find a move that I think is good, do a quick blunder check, and play it.

But in long time control game, I still haven't made a habit of doing the blunder check before I make a move.

I still don't go over my opponent's check/capture/threat EVERY SINGLE MOVE.

If I am to make further progress, that will have to be the 1st place that I work on.


Now, let's go over my latest game to see what kind of boneheaded moves I'm capable of making.

To be fair to myself though, this game is pretty blog worthy in that, I managed to make a comeback win in a (probably) dead lost position (I haven't checked this game with an engine yet) AND I made one of the deepest calculation I have ever done in a real game.



A game that is both exhillarating, and yet, severly shows my main problem right now.

I have to learn how not to beat myself before I can think about beating others.

GM Ben Finegold once said that people who are stuck in, say, 1700 are not stuck because they don't know how to play well. They CAN play like 2000s in some or even most positions, but they keep making THAT ONE blunder every now and then that loses them the game.

Learn how to not blunder first, and that's all about thought process.


Well, enough ranting.

Here is my summer goal for 2017:

  1. PLAYING - I'm not going to play a single blitz game until school starts in August. Yes, you heard that right. NOT A SINGLE BLITZ. I will only play 15/10 or longer games with detailed review after each one, at 1st, by myself, and 2nd time with an engine
  2. TACTICS - I have Complete Chess Workout tactics book from Everyman. I will finish all 1200 problems and solve them repeatedly all summer a la the woodpecker method.
  3. ENDGAME - I have de la Villa's 100 Endgames You Must Know. It has been said that ex-Women's World Champion Kosteniuk made a notecard of every 100 positions and tested herself until she basically memorized all 100. My plan is will be just that.
  4. OPENING - I'll be modest. Opening isn't my strength by any means, but it isn't the reason why I lose most of the time. Therefore, I will only limit my time here, as I have more pressing needs. Of course there are some areas in my repertoire that I definitely need to work on, and I will work on them
  5. GM GAMES - I also finally have the famous Zurich International Chess Tournament1953 by Bronstein. I will read a bit every day and finish by the end of vacation.

Hopefully, I stay true to these goals and when I look back at the end of August, I can say doing these really helped me improve.