Here we are at the not quite mid point of the month and so far I seem to be on track. Let's recap shall we...
My goals this month were to work on:
- Opening Prep
- Analytical Ability
- Calculation Ability
So far I think that I have done a fair amount of work on each of them.
I have done some of this on my own the good old fashioned way of just playing through some variations over and over trying to learn them.
However, I have also done something I should have been doing for a long time, which is to take my games and put them in ChessBase, then scroll through the opening book to see who deviated and what the correct move was. If I keep playing the same openings and keep doing this, then I should be able to learn my openings on a deeper and deeper level.
Lastly, I have a two hour lesson scheduled for tomorrow to work on nothing but openings. I need to learn them desperately and it's been hard overcoming years of not studying the opening at all.
I have been making more of an effort to analyze my own games lately. Not only have I been analyzing recent games that I have played, but I've also gone back and looked at some that were 18 months old.
What's interesting is that as I look at the older games I am identifying a lot of areas in which I have improved. Also, since I have gotten better in that time it's easy to see progress. It's also easier to identify areas in which I still need to improve when I am looking at these older games.
For example, I know that one of my weaknesses is that I tend to play a large number of "groveling" moves. Defending when I don't need to, etc. As I look at games I played in the past few weeks it's too easy to be defensive about the moves I just played. Especially when I had a good result. i.e. when you are rated 1700 and you draw an expert you don't want to admit that any of your moves were weak. Yet when I look at a game from a year ago it's easier to be objective, regardless of the result.
I don't know if others feel this way, but I certainly do. Perhaps that in an of itself is a weakness I should work on.
This is the area in which perhaps I have done the least. I have been working on some tactical exercises and doing some endgame work, both of which serve to help in this area. But I don't feel like I've truly worked hard on calculating.
However, I have a cutesy fix for this...
I am reviewing a handful of books for ChessCafe.com and as I work on the reviews I intend to treat the diagrams as calculation exercises. I think that will help me get two things done at once...my reviews and my calculation skills!
So at the roughly mid way point of the month I'd say I feel good but not great about having stuck to my plan!
By the way, for anyone who is curious, here are the books I am reviewing right now. They are older books which I was asked to look at:
Mastering Tactical Ideas - by Minev
Essential Chess Endings for Advanced Players - by Donaldson
How to Win at Chess Quickly - by Williams
True Combat Chess - by Taylor
Here are some items I have reviewed for ChessCafe already...