Yesterday was a good chess day.
I started out the morning by working on analyzing one of my recent games. This is an area where I know that I need improvement. One of the troubles I have is that when analyzing my games I just sort of make the moves quickly and pretty much only look to improve on the losing move. It's just not a skill that I have properly trained myself for.
Now intellectually I know that analysis of ones own games is one of the best ways to improve. But I rarely do it because I'm not good at it. That changes NOW. It's just time to work at it until I develop that skillset.
After that I had a two and a half hour chess lesson. Since I had a tournament game to play that night the lesson was nothing too in depth. Mostly discussions about how to analyze games and how to break some bad habits.
In fact, I was given a "Chess Exorcism" list that reads as follows:
- You do not see all your mistakes.
- You do not truly calculate - calculation is threats and goals.
- You are not familiar with the openings you are playing.
- You (probably) lose track of "what's going on in your head" when calculating.
- You still violate fundamental rules of chess.
- You play moves sometimes that have no "real" objective purpose.
Now some people reading this probably think "That's really harsh. Why would you take lessons from someone who talks to you like that?" But let's step back and think about this for a second...start by asking yourself this question - "Why do I take lessons?"
The answer should be that you want to improve. Let's face it, you're not going to improve unless you fix the things that you do wrong. And the best way to do that is for someone to point out what you are doing wrong in a direct and unequivocal fashion.
Sure, your coach can tell you "Hey, you're doing really great!" and from time to time they should (and both people I have taken lessons from have done so at times) but mainly they should be working with you to eliminate weaknesses. This is easier to accomplish when no one is pulling punches. This shouldn't be the approach taken with children, but for adults or older juniors it's appropriate.
After my lesson I went to the club last night to play in the first round of a three round G/100 club Swiss. I was paired against Troy Zimmerman, who is a senior (I think) in high school and just made Expert last year. I had played Troy once before a couple of years ago and that game was a fairly lifeless draw.
This time the game was much different. I was able to equalize out of the opening after 7...d5 and then eventually won a pawn. After his 36th move Troy offered me a draw. I was up a pawn and was thinking about continuing but my plan was to trade rooks after which I knew I couldn't hold the extra pawn.
I wanted to trade rooks because my king was tied up to keep his rook from penetrating on the c file. I kept trying to find a way to make either ...f5 or ...h5 work, but I just couldn't find one that didn't seem too risky based on the amount of time I had left. So I took the draw.
I did check the evaluation of the final position with Fritz 12 and the computer says I shouldn't trade rooks and that I have an edge. So that will give me some future material to study.
I haven't (and won't) look at anything else from this game with the engine. I will do so after I spend several hours analyzing it myself.
See the game here.