Friday, August 2, 2013

The Plan for August

A new month is on us!  Typically new months have brought with them new plans.

But this month I'm trying something a bit different...

This month I'm going back to the well and redoing the plan for July, with some slight modifications.

I present...August!!!

Opening Prep

As always this remains the weakest link in my overall game.  But as I mentioned in a prior post I'm narrowing things down.  I will now focus on one opening at a time.

Currently I am working on the Black side of the Slav.  I started doing so last month and will continue to do so this month.

I am working on some lines in the Chebanenko currently and feel reasonably confident in my abilities.  I don't plan on learning everything perfectly before moving on to the next opening, but rather I want to learn enough to know what I am doing, and then I will continue to work from there until I know the main lines inside, outside, forwards, and backwards.

I will do this the old fashioned way where after playing a game I will look it up in a database to see who varied and how play should have continued.  I will also be doing this with the lines I am not currently studying.

Analytical Ability

On the advice of my coach I will continue to analyze every game until I make master.

So far it is getting a little easier for me to see ideas and variations, but not a lot.  This is something that I intend to continue to work at rather hard because I know it's important.  I'm trying to learn to think more creatively and out of the box than I currently can, but honestly, this has been the hardest chess skill for me to learn so far.  However, since I also know it will be one of the most important skills I learn I'm willing to continue working at this one for as long as it takes.

Calculation Ability

I will continue to work on quick tactics as well as endgame studies for pure calculation ability.  I find myself calculating a little bit better in my games now, but still often wind up with a jumbled mess in my head.

I have been achieving winning positions against Experts lately, but am not converting those points.  However, learning to calculate clearer and better will lead to exactly that.

And so that brings me to the addition for August, which has been on some of these lists in the past...

Work on Endings

I am adding this back to the mix because I know that without a solid foundation in the endgame I will never become a master.  I can think of a few that have gotten away from me lately that solid endgame technique would have saved.

I think my rating would be 100 points higher right now if I played endgames at the 1800 level instead of the 1500 level I seem to.

Also, I think that this will help greatly with my calculation abilities.

So there you have it...the plan for August.

I think it would be great to hear from some of the readers of the blog on this one.

I see that I get a ton of hit each day, but I rarely get comments.  I would love for this to be a dialogue more than a monologue.

Until next time!


  1. Since you're bravely soliciting comments, here are mine, for what they're worth.

    Opening prep: The Chebanenko (a6) Slav is the most popular variation these days and has wide thematic applications any time you can play ...a6 in the Slav, not just the main line. I don't play it, but I think you've made a good choice.

    Analytical ability: obviously I think analyzing your own games is a critical part of the improvement progress, since my own blog is based around that. Computer-assisted analysis has done a lot for me in that respect, giving me insights into alternative lines of play and ideas, while still encouraging critical thinking and evaluation.

    Calculation ability: probably the most single important skill in chess, IMO. Not the same thing as tactics, although of course closely allied. Your observation about Experts is valuable - in my experience they don't have overpowering chess knowledge, they simply don't make nearly as many tactical mistakes as Class players and have better middlegame and endgame technique, which translates into much better final results.

    Endings: I need to work on them too, heh.

  2. Thank you for the comments!

    I was playing the ...a6 Slav for a while and had some good results (drew a master) but walked away for a while. I didn't really understand it anyways. Now I will work at it until I do.

    As for calculation, I also believe it to be much more than tactics, but solving some tactics helps me with my calculation. For example, one of my biggest blindnesses is not seeing escape squares in lines I calculate. I will think that it's mate or that I have my opponents queen trapped and so I will make a sac that ultimately fails since there is an escape square a few ply in that I didn't see.

    So many tactics are based on the removal of escape squares that I find that solving a lot of tactics helps with calculation in addition to helping with tactics.

    As for analysis...I have an interesting dichotomy there...

    My coach tells me to analyze all of my games without a computer. I do, but then I look at them afterwards with a computer to see what I missed. He keeps telling me that's a bad idea, but I keep thinking that since the technology is there why wouldn't I use it?!

    I should probably give a little more respect to the 500 point rating difference between us, but I can't help myself with this one.

    Endings...yeah...everyone should have an arch enemy...mine is endings.

  3. You asked...

    I almost commented, but realized all I had to offer was idle chess chat. I was delighted to read that you are narrowing your opening focus. It's like wanting to smack that friend in the head, whenever he goes back to that girl who is no good for him.

    I'm a fan of patterning, and seeing/solving similar positional situations and endings over and over again, I'm sure will pay big dividends for you.

  4. Idle chess chat is also 100% welcome.

    I want to be able to play everything, but am realizing that it's not a realistic goal at this time...