Friday, April 22, 2005
A Question
I've e-mailed this same question to Kilgore and Tempo, but then I suddenly realized that maybe it would be better to blog this so the entire group can maybe give its input.

The question is, I feel that my calculation depth and speed have considerably improved since doing the program. But this is when looking at puzzles. During live OTB play, I can't seem to search as deep or as quick. When I analyzed my loses, I remember that I:
  • 1. Generated too few candidate moves, and
  • 2. Calculated too shallowly.
    At first I thought it was just because I was too tired then to calculate effectively, but when I tried solving puzzles when I was exhausted from work, and coudnt even stand from sleepiness, I managed to solve 20 problems before passing out. So I could not attribute this all to tiredness . But, why can't I do it OTB in my play? Whats wrong? I mean, I try to play slowly to give my brain ample time to calculate, but this "blindness" still persists. I can't see. Does this improve overtime? Can I do exercises apart from the circles that will cure this desease. Or is this just a natural thing in a chessplayer's progression to mastery(ahem)?

    I am very much interested in hearing your thoughts. Drop a comment(or two) if your not too busy.

    posted by Nezha at 6:08 AM | Permalink |


    • At 6:40 AM, Blogger CelticDeath

      I think you need to focus on fundamentals. Tactics study is a necessity, but you need to also be able to piece together the different parts of the game (e.g., opening, middlegame, and endgame). I recommend a good basic, overall software like TASC or Chess Mentor. I'm sure that there are also some good books that fit the bill, too.

      Also, there are a lot of fine articles by Dan Heisman in his Novice Nook series at Those have helped me a lot, and I still go back and read them occasionally.

      Finally, you mentioned on my blog an interest in Tisdall's IYCN book. I would say that perhaps that first chapter would help you.

    • At 7:44 AM, Blogger Fraktál

      Maybe it's motivation. When solving puzzles, you know the solution is out there somewhere, and if you persist, there are great benefits to reap. In OTB games, you just don't know exactly when is it worth looking deep into position, and when it doesn't.
      Just my two cents...

    • At 11:34 AM, Blogger scitcat

      Do you solve any of your problems with a real board/pieces or just on a computer? I takes longer to set up I know but may be worth a try. I read an article once by a GM I think who had the exact oppisite problem, he couldn't see the solution in a book diagram but was able to solve them when he set them up on his board...

    • At 12:22 PM, Blogger Ed

      Speed of calculation is, I think, something that will pick up as you do it more (in game conditions).

      Generating too few candidates is a problem that may require you to change your thinking habits at the board. Is it in the initial position that you have this trouble, or is it when you;re considering the opponent's possible replies, or what?

      If it's in the initial position, do you miss tactical tries or quiet candidates? If it's tactical tries, you need to train yourself to think at least for a moment about _all_ forcing moves (checks, captures, and threats), even if they seem absurd. If it's quiet moves you miss, well, sometimes you will miss those, but also try to decide what the most positionally desirable quiet move in the position is; that may help.

      If it's the opponent's candidates you're missing, you need to apply that same method to his possibilities.

      All these thinking methods will be slow at first, but will become automatic with practice.

      Finally, I think problem of missing the opponet's possibilities can be made worse by intensive tactical training, since you may develop a tendency to think "aha! There is a tactical idea, so it must be the right move!" since it usually is right when you're doing problems. (Did that make sense?) To cure that, try playing over games by positional players (Karpov, Capablanca, Petrosian) while trying to guess their moves. Do that _after_ you finish your tactical training course, since you need your tactics in order first of all.

    • At 12:33 PM, Blogger fussylizard

      I wouldn't worry about it all too much. Improving your thinking process will help, but part of what you are doing is improving your pattern recognition. I found that after being on the MDLM plan for a month or so that stuff started to jump out at me. It's not that I had to look for tactics more than usual, but I just started seeing more.

      Now that I've gotten pretty far in the program it will be interesting to see how my OTB play goes since I've not played in a while.

      Ken Smith of Chess Digest fame wrote about how through combining a reasonable study plan and practical play, chess will start coming to you as if "by magic". Don't get discouraged- just keep working at it and you will start to see improvements.

    • At 4:58 PM, Blogger Temposchlucker

      Research found that a grandmaster has an average of 2-3 candidate moves which he looks at. An amateur has an average of about 5-6. It now often happens to me that only one candidatemove comes to mind. That move is urging me to play it. So nothing to worry there.

      You can visualise only the patterns that are stored in your brain. Have you read my post about visualisation?

      And maybe this post wil be of help:

    • At 7:29 AM, Blogger Blue Devil Knight

      Nezha, I think you are in good company. MDLM, in his book (and articles), said he originally thought his training was done after the Vision Drills and the Seven Circles. However, he realized to actually use his newfound skills he had to add a third step, which was his 8-step thinking strategy for use during games. This seemed to help him a lot.

      Personallyl, I think it was a mistake for him to make it seem as if you should do the thinking work after the first two steps. In fact, a hypothesis I have is that developing good chess thinking habits is something that needs training and can probably be built up by baby steps just like a tactical eye. I am presently working out the details of a thinking program, to be used in parallel with the Seven Circles, not afterwards. It goes something like this (note I am a beginner so I need to start VERY basic):

      Thinking Training (to be practiced in actual games)
      I. Avoid en prise blunders: do this until you make no mistakes for 10 (or 20?) actual games in a row.
      Right after opponent's move: use threat vision to see if he can capture any pieces on his next move. Respond to the threat if you need to.
      Right before your move: use threat vision while visualizing the board after your next move. Will she be able to capture any pieces on her next move?
      II. Avoid 2-move blunders (same as above except replace 'next move' with 'the move after next').
      N. Something more complicated like what MDLM has in his book.

      All under the ominous eye of the Repeat Rule:
      If you make a mistake at level X, repeat level X and all subsequent levels.

      I am too much a novice to have all the details worked out, but even doing I and II (with the repeat rule) would do wonders for my chess! At first I think it will take a lot of energy to do this in my games, but my hope is that good thinking will become an effortless habit.

      Anyone have ideas about good steps to add or amend in Thinking Training? At some point, adding chess vision would be good I think, etc..