Monday, April 1, 2013

The Plan for April

So far my "the plan for" posts have mostly revolved around what I will be doing for a specific week.

This time the plan is for this month.  The reason for that is that I have a two day tournament coming up the last weekend of the month and I plan on being prepared for it.

Along the way I am playing in a one day four round G/60 event on the 13th, along with continuing to play in club events on Wed & Thurs nights.

The event at the end of the month is the Arpad Elo Open.  My goal is to play well in every game.  I want to come out of every opening with a playable position (which is not typically the case for me) and I want to play with a grinder's attitude.  I do not want to think "maybe I'll get a draw" as much as I want to think "If it takes me until 1am to grind out this win then that's what I will do."

So how do I get there?  Well, I see it as a three step plan...

  • Strong Opening Preparation
  • Continued Work on Tactics
  • Intense Rook Ending Study

So the plan is this:

Strong Opening Preparation

That means that for this tournament I can't go in with a "play anything" attitude.  I need to decide now what I am going to play.  I am leaning towards 1. e4.  My prep as White is strong against most openings.  I have done some work on the White side of the Ruy Lopez although I haven't played any of it OTB, I am learning the White side of the Dragon (although I blew it in my game at the Waukesha Memorial by playing Bh6 when the correct move was Bd4), am solid on the White side of the Najdorf, and play the Panov-Botvinnik very well for my rating.

This means that I will have to do some work on the White side of the French.  I will look at some lines and decide what I want to play.

As Black I need to continue to work on the Black side of the Sicilian.  I also need to firm up my prep in the KID.

Continued Work on Tactics

I will continue to work on tactics for 15-30 minutes per day using the Tactics Trainer on, or by reading various books I have on tactics.  I will not overdo it on tactics, but neither will I let my current tactical abilities slip.  I consider this to be the most important, although least time consuming, part of my training.

Intense Rook Ending Study

Exactly what it sounds like.  I can't give away half points like I did against Jeff Cooper this past weekend.  I will read John Emms's excellent book Survival Game to Rook Endings.  I plan on spending maybe only 25% of my time working on this.

In addition to those three items I will of course continue to play through annotated games to further my overall improvement.


  1. Hi! I've recently discovered your blog, and it's fascinating to read since I'm in a similar position. My rating is around the same as yours, and although I would be quite pleased being 'just' an expert instead of your goal to becoming a master, we share the same task: improvement. I was wondering if you've read Jonathan Rowson's 'Chess for zebras'? It's targeted at us adult players trying to improve, really well and lightly written, and has some very interesting, intelligent, and especially recognisable ideas. So if you have the time? I'm interested in your thoughts. Keep up the good work!

  2. vinvis, thank you for the kind words.

    I have not read Chess for Zebras, although it seems like it would be a fascinating read. I read some reviews at Amazon just now. I might order that book in the near future.

  3. Well, let's recap April...

    I did some work. I feel like for the most part I worked hard and I worked well.

    But I feel down terribly when I had five straight days off work and didn't spend more than 3-4 hours total working on chess.

    I did *some* opening prep, and I studied *some* rook endings. I did actually do quite a bit of tactical work, which I am proud of.

    But I think that on a scale of 1-10 my April work would have to come in at about a 5.

    With that in mind I played well all month except for the one event I was building up towards, which was the Arpad Elo Open, which I withdrew from after the first two rounds.

    Other than that my one "down" result was the Hales Corner's Challenge. Even though I lost rating points I lost the in the right way. I had an easy draw in my last round, but since I was higher rated by 200 points I chose to grind. I wound up losing the game as a result, but losing because you press too hard to win is better than drawing because you're afraid to keep playing. Although it's better yet not to lose at all.

    So I guess it's time to work on a plan for May...