- Continue working on learning the Slav.
- Continue playing through annotated games.
- Continue solving endgame studies.
- Continue working on rook endings.
So how did I do?
Well, let's take them step by step...
Continue Working on Learning the Slav
I did this. I had two chances to play the mainline Slav this month. The first was against Joel Benjamin in a simul where I came out of the opening with a nice, playable position before getting crushed. The second was in a tournament game where I made an unsound sacrifice, then won later when my opponent blundered.
Continue Playing Through Annotated Games
This has actually become one of my favorite things to do. I kept hearing Dan Heisman say over and over that he started to improve significantly when he was younger because he started playing through hundreds of annotated games. I have found this to be true for myself as well. The more I play through games the more I start to understand certain strategic concepts.
For example, if you want to learn how to properly conduct a minority attack you can watch a video or read a book. But you can also accomplish this by playing through annotated games. You can also simultaneously learn other concepts at the same time, such as endgames, use of open files, IQP positions, etc. So no need to read 20 books to learn 20 things. Instead, just play through a couple of hundred annotated games and you'll "get it" with multiple concepts at the same time.
Continue Solving Endgame Studies
I spoke with Lev Alburt at some point over the past month or two regarding an article I'm writing and he asked about my study habits. I mentioned that I solved endgame studies and he said that while that's not a bad thing, the fact that there is only one solution means that there is an extremely limited value in using study solving as calculation training.
Since that time I have pretty much given up solving studies on a regular basis. I still do some, but mostly I have worked on exercises specific to calculation. i.e. I went through a bit of Aagaard's book on calculation (and will be purchasing it most likely) and will continue to do some of those puzzles to work on calculation.
Continue Working on Rook Endings
I wouldn't say I spent a lot of time working on this, but I did continue to work through Minev's book at times. Maybe only a couple of hours this month, but the limited time was put to good use.
So how do I feel like I did? I would give myself a solid C this past month. I always think that I should be spending more time than I do working and studying, but in all honesty I get a fair amount of time in. Yesterday, for example, I spent five hours analyzing with friends, then came home and played through a few annotated game and solved a ton of tactics.
This month I also set a new peak rating at 1763, which is my current rating. So I'm on my way...
If you are interested in any of the books I mentioned in this post please consider purchasing them from the links below. Amazon will give me a small percentage of the purchase price which I will use for chess lessons.