Knight Keystor

A record of my journey of chess improvement.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Still Here...

...and still making slow but steady progress. I've been through all previous tactical problems (stages 1-5 of CTB and modules 1-3 of PCT) several more times since my last update. I decided that I am better off taking the time to be sure that all the material up to this point is truly "mastered" before moving on rather than just rushing into the next module in PCT. I've got about one more time through each of the PCT modules before I'll be able say that I am happy with my level of mastery.

I've also spent a fair amount of time re-organizing and reviewing my opening repetoire in CPT over the last couple of weeks. I want to get that down solid as well. I'd guess that it'll be another week or two before I begin on PCT tactics module-4. I still want to do a little bit of master game study and endgame study before that time as well. Back to work...

13 Comments:

Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

How many tactical modules are there in PCT?

I am finding Stage 4 of CTB quite a bit harder than Stage 3. I don't know if I'll even get 80 percent correct my first run through.

3/24/2007 8:39 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hey BDK,

The tactical portion of PCT consists of 6 modules made up of 51-units and 720 tactical problems each for a total of 4,320 tactics problems in the program. I'm currently halfway through.

I found the same thing with CTB...there is a decent leap in difficulty when moving from stage 3 to stage 4. The jump from stage 4 to stage 5 I don't think is quite as big with the exception that all problems are categorized as "find the best move." You aren't told whether you are winning material, drawing, mating, etc.

Good luck to you. I found doing the mini-circles with CTB helped my chess tremendously...and I still refer back to it for review frequently.

Ron

3/26/2007 8:02 AM  
Blogger Grandpatzer said...

Hi, came across your blog while checking other blogger comments on Silman's book.

I reviewed Silman's endgame book on my blog. I think one of its selling points is that it will tell you if you've been studying endgames too little or too much. In my case, I've studied endgames a fair amount, and the book (while reinforcing what I knew) actually encourages me to work on my tactics and thought process more. If you've read any basic endgame book such as Pandolfini's or Alburt's, and retained the basics, you're already in surprisingly good shape according to Silman's metric. On the other hand, if you've overlooked this part of chess, Silman's book helps you plug the biggest gaps.

Although Dan Heisman has told the story about how he reached 2100 rating without knowing the Lucena position, I think studying endgame material that's more advanced than what Silman may suggest is worthwhile PROVIDING that you can retain it. I strongly recommend Soltis' "Grandmaster Secrets: Endings" to anyone that's had a smattering of endgame study, and enjoys them. A lot of that book is general principles that will help you at any level (e.g. "the principle of two weaknesses", which Silman postpones for later in the book, is easy to understand at low levels, and is covered well by Soltis).

3/26/2007 10:47 AM  
Blogger Grandpatzer said...

Oh, on the subject of openings and strategy:

Some trainers think most of the content of Silman's strategy books is for 1600+ players, I think that going through "Reassess" and "Amateur's Mind" at least once is a good idea. "Reassess" was one of the two books that got me excited about chess as an adult player (the other being "Best Lessons of a Chess Instructor). BUT tactics is still far more important.

The value of studying strategy is that it allows you to select candidate moves and plans when there is no obvious tactic. A generic thought process would be:
-are there tactics?
-if not, what strategic move would I like to play?
-is my move safe?

Studying chess strategy helps with the second point, so you're not just "flipping a coin". However, tactics are involved in the first and third points, and override the second.

As for openings, I have some articles in my blog on that. If you're staying true to your opening, and if after every game you check, see where the game left theory, and decide what you'd do differently in the future, that's all the opening study you really need until much higher in level. If you have ChessBase, analyzing your database of old games can yield surprising clues as to what to study opening-wise (see my blog post on learning from blitz games, if you're interested in how to do this).

3/26/2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hi grandpatzer,

Thanks for all the feedback and information. I've enjoyed Silman's endgame book quite a bit since receiving it. I'll have to take a look at the Soltis book you recommend.

I've skimmed Amateur's Mind and HTRYC in the bookstore before and have it on my wishlist for once I get through the books that I have on hand.

I'll head over and check out your blog as soon as I publish this post! :)

Thanks again,
Ron

3/26/2007 11:58 AM  
Blogger Mousetrapper said...

Hi Keystor, welcome to my sidebar. Hou have been missing there, but I am about to fill the gaps. Good luck with your circles!

3/27/2007 2:58 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hi Mousetrapper,

Thanks for the well wishes...I'm still cranking away. 2,160 problems down 2,160 to go (in PCT.) :)

Ron

3/27/2007 9:18 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

Hi, I'm also using Personal Chess Trainer. At the moment I've just done Mate-in-1s and Mate-in-2s. Do you know when and if it moves onto basic tactics like forks and skewers etc? Thanks.

3/28/2007 6:45 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hi Dean,

Module-2 has a fair number of material winning problems (forks, skewers, double-attacks, etc.) in addition to some mates in 5 & 6. Module-3 also has several non-mate problems. Module-1 is made up entirely of mates (in 1, 2, 3 & 4.) I can't comment on what is in modules 4-6 yet as I haven't made it that far.

Hope that helps :)
Ron

3/28/2007 7:49 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

Thanks, that's very useful. Do you think I should stick with module 1 until I complete it? I'm getting a bit sick of the Mate in 2s even though I know it's worth it. I would like to get in some more practice with material winning tactics though. Or is there a different piece of software I should be using for this?

3/28/2007 8:52 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

If you stay with PCT, I would recommend finishing Module-1 before moving on just because there are exercises in the later modules that build off of the ones in Module-1. Also, as you get further into Module-1 you'll start seeing some mates in 3 & 4 as well.

If you're looking for more material winning problems, I'd suggest looking at Chess Tactics for Beginners from Convekta/ChessOK. The first stage of CTB is all mate-in-one problems, but the other four stages have a very decent amount of the tactical problems that you are looking for. Even though you get more material winning stuff in some of the later PCT modules, it does have a very high ratio of mates.

Let me know if there's anything else I can help with :)

Ron

3/28/2007 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mr, keystor

Thanks for your efforts. Until about a month ago I thought blogs were for lonely teens and political wackos. I am not even sure how I found your blog, but I am glad I did. I never knew these products existed. I have used PCT and CPT for a few weeks, and have been impressed by both.

You and your fellows knights have added to my enjoyment of the royal game. Thanks.

4/01/2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

anonymous,

Glad to be of service :) It's good to hear that my site is of benefit (albeit small) to the chess community. I've found both PCT and CPT to be of great benefit to my chess improvement...keep it up!

Thanks,
Ron

4/04/2007 11:39 AM  

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