Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Plan for June

New month, new plan.

Yesterday I received the copy of Fighting Chess With Hikaru Nakamura  that I ordered.  I haven't had a chance to play through any of those games yet, but I certainly will be doing so over the next few days/weeks.  But I have read some of the text.  One of the things that I read was Naka talking about the role that computers played in his youth as he developed and got good.

He mentions that not only did he play against the computer, but that he trained against it as well.  i.e. either tactics, or playing middlegame/endgame positions against it.  Well, it would seem that the time has come for me to make the most of my premium membership at and start using the position trainers there.  After all, that's how I learned to mate with the two bishops last month!

So I believe that the plan of the month will mostly be to do these things...

  • Continue working on learning the Slav.
  • Continue playing through annotated games.
  • Continue solving endgame studies.
  • Continue working on rook endings.
So how will I accomplish those goals?  Let's take them step by step.

Continue Learning the Slav

I was playing the ...a6 Slav for a while, and in fact I was able to score my only draw against a master on the black side of this opening.  Currently I am looking at more than just the ...a6 lines though.  I have been reading The Slav: Move by Move by IM Cyrus Lakdawala.  I really enjoy the format of the books in this series as it is a collection of well annotated games.

I plan on continuing to work through that book, at which point I will probably start working through Viktor Bologan's excellent work The Chebanenko Slav to refresh those ideas in my head.

Continue Playing Through Annotated Games

By this I mean continue to plod through Dr. Tartakower's wonderful work 500 Master Games of Chess.  I am just over 100 games in, so my goal to finish this year is still in sight.  Although I need to step it up and start working through 10 or so games on the weekend since I'm only getting a few in during the week.

Continue Solving Endgame Studies

Really I only just started working on these again recently.  Interesting how having a blog forces you to do things that might not be your favorite.  If you're honest with yourself then you wind up doing the things that you keep saying you need to do but aren't.

So far for this I have been using Endgame Challenge by GM John Nunn.  At some point, once I am done with this I will seek out the book by the most noted endgame composer of all time, Genrihk Kasparyan Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies which GM Akobian mentioned in a lecture that I was at.

Continue Working on Rook Endings

I made some progress last month working through about the first 20% or so of A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames by IM Minev (with an excellent forward by GM Yasser Seirawan by the way!)

I need to continue progress in that area.  This is primarily where I plan on using the computer to train.  It's time to get serious about forcing myself to calculate more, and this is how I plan on doing it.

So there you have it...the plan for June!

If you like any of the books that I have mentioned and are interested in purchasing them, please purchase them through these links.  I will make a nominal percentage of the purchase price and promise to use all the money (what little there is) on my chess training.  I really need to be able to take a one to two hour lesson each week and can currently afford only one to two per month.

This doesn't cost you any more, and the money goes to a good cause!


  1. It's nice to have aspirations of becoming a master, but you can barely stay above 1700. If your not studying a minimal of 3 hours a day on chess, even expert level is unlikely. This is no insult. Just cold hard facts.

  2. And you know this how?

    I've made 1700 in a relatively short time and will continue to improve.

    1. Again, what I said was not to disrespect you or insult you in any way. If anything it is to motivate you sir. Getting to 1700 is fairly easy, staying above it is another thing. You can't just study an hour and a half a day and think master or expert level are attainable. 1600-1999 is very achievable with 2 hours of daily study. Yes, you will improve I agree.

  3. I was just being defensive. I apologize and thank you for your comments.

  4. After having given this a lot of thought I want to more fully address this. I think that the line of reasoning given here is ridiculous.

    You can't quantify improvement with made up examples. It is simply not true that X number of hours of study is needed for Y amount of improvement.

    Yes, the 10,000 hour rule is probably mostly accurate, but the idea that you have to spend 10,000 hours at the rate of X per day is ridiculous.

    I typically spend an hour to an hour and a half or so studying seriously during the average day, and another half hour to hour of putzing around.

    But that's not what matters. What matters is HOW that time is spent. Truth be told, as more time goes by I get better and better at using that time in a more productive manner.

    i.e. while some value can be had by just playing through lightly annotated games the time can be better spent by deeply analyzing one of my own games and working on my own weaknesses. It's still the same amount of time being spent, but at the end of the day there is more value to correcting my errors than there is to playing through games with fluffy notes and not working hard to understand what's going on.

    I bet that more would be learned by doing four of Dan Heisman's "20 minute exercises" than by reading a random opening book for the same amount of time.

    In other words, it's not how much time you have, it's what you do with the time you have.