Training Insights

Update: 8/7/2010:
I have been following my own advice for the past two weeks, and I have to say that my training is more focused than ever, and I am beginning to see tangible improvements over the board. If you are interested, I am continuing to post my weekly training schedule at my Chess Notebook site.

Original Post 7/27/2010

I have slightly modified my training in the last week to include a new way of training tactics and a method to focus my training time.

A New Way of Training Tactics

I came across a forum post by IM David Pruess where he gives excellent advice on truly learning patterns when training tactics. Below is his advice:
The original post is titled Chess Advice Most Chess Player’s Don’t Like to Hear and it’s a must read.

or when i give players in the 1000-1800 range advice on improving their tactics, viz: 10-15 min per day of solving simple tactical puzzles. the goal is to increase your store of basic patterns, not to work on your visualization, deep calculation. remember that is your goal. you are not trying to prove that you can solve every problem. if you don’t solve a problem within 1 minute, stop. it’s probably a new pattern or you would have gotten it by now. (with private students i’ll take the time to demonstrate this to them: show them through examples that they can find a 3-4 move problem in 10 seconds if they know the pattern, and that they can fail to find a mate in 2 for 10 minutes if they don’t know the pattern). look at the answer, and now go over the answer 3 more times in your head to help the pattern take hold. your brain can probably take on 2-3 new patterns between sleeping, so you should stop once you’ve been stumped by 2 or 3 problems (usually will take about 10-15 min). there is no point in doing more than that in one day. and any day you miss, you can’t make up for. a semi-random estimate on my part is that you need about 2000 of these patterns to become a master. so you need to do this for 2 years or more.

i would guess that less than 1 in 100 of the people i have given this advice to have followed it to the letter. if they enjoy it, they’ll waste their time doing it for 1.5 hours in a day, choosing to ignore that it’s not helping them [after 15 min]. or some with ego issues will insist on trying to solve every single position (if only they linked their ego to their self-discipline Tongue out).

– IM David Pruess

A Specific CurriculumWhile I am disciplined in spending a minimum of 30 minutes per day doing chess studies, I am usually jumping from book to book and topic to topic which ends up losing valuable time. In the past I have tried to work from a training schedule, but the problem has been that the schedule has been too general. What I started doing is creating a specific training curriculum, where I create a schedule 2 weeks into the future, with the exact content I should cover everyday (an example can be seen here).  The schedule is created on a Sunday, and it takes no more than 15 minutes to create.

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3 thoughts on “Training Insights

  1. Brian Karen says:

    I respect IM Pruess’s opinion but I wonder how he decided that the brain can only handle 2-3 patterns between sleeping? Common sense would indicate the more problems you do the more you will remember.

    I read an article years ago by GM Spragett where he said he divided his training time into one hour of solving problems with an emphasis on speed ( how many can i do in an hour?) and one hour on quality (how accurately can I calculate a small number of problems.) This makes sense to me.

  2. farbror says:

    This is solid advice! The 15 minutes of planning will really pay off.I think most DIY Chess Improvers recognize the sub optimal jumping from one topic to another.

    Have you ever played in the Le ChessClub Sunday Tournaments? I will try to fit the Sunday tournament into my hectic schedule if they are any fun/good for a geezer as yours truly.

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