The Chess Wanderer

"Les pions sont l´âme du jeu" Francois-André Philidor, 1749

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Steinitz the Bohemian Caesar

Every night before bedtime I read the Steinitz biography for a half hour or so. The more I read about him, the more I like him as a person and as a player. I feel like my personality is a lot like his. He wasn't very popular among his peers and the press but it doesn't seem like he meant to offend people. He just lacked a softer touch.

Yesterday was an off day for tactics. I seem to be stuck on chapter 5, King Tactics. The funny thing is I'm going through the puzzles only for the third time and I am seeing LESS than I saw on the firt time through. Does that happen to anyone else?

Won my nightly FICS game last night. It wasn't my best game but it did include a Queen sacrifice and a back rank mate.

I have been thinking about hiring a chess coach to help me along the way. I'm not sure if I should wait till after the 10 circles or do it now? I'm afraid that if I hire the coach now that I won't have time to do my homework on top of the program. On the flip side I need help identifying and fixing my weak areas. Has anyone else used a coach before?


At 3/02/2005 9:47 AM, Blogger Jens said...

Do you feel that there is enough time besides doing your circles and playing regular games to introduce new elements into your training? I am asking because IMO it would be a waste to approach a coach unless you have some possibility to implement whatever drills (s)he would ask you to do.

At 3/02/2005 10:49 AM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Thanks for the input.

My thinking is I can always do the circles after I build my foundation. It's like building the walls of a house then going back to do the foundation. You basically have to take down the walls first, then put it back up again. It is my suspicion that this is why so many people seem to hit a wall in their advancement because they neglected their foundation. I have seen a LOT of people playing slow games online for years without a significant improvement. Their tactics are good but there is something lacking in thought process.

I was going to keep this to myself for two reasons:

1. I think most people will disagree with this point of view.

2. Lately I have been trying not to get into arguments about why I do what I do. I just let my results speak for themselves. Sometimes I'm right, most times I'm wrong, but I gain nothing by arguing with people AND from my experience I tend to offend a lot of people like Steinitz did. I don't think anyone likes making enemies do they?

Don't get me wrong, I still feel this program is necessary for chess mastery, but lately I've been wondering if I'm putting the cart before the horse.


At 3/02/2005 11:14 AM, Blogger fussylizard said...

I have thought about the chess coach thing as well. IMHO I think a coach makes sense when you are not really sure where to go next. Personally, my two major weaknesses right now are tactical prowess and thought process. I'm addressing the first with the MDLM plan. Once I finish the seven circles of hell I will probably focus a bit more on the thought process by playing slower games, and maybe playing against the computer where I can have a list where I can check off the steps in the process for each move. If I don't seem to make significant progress on the thought process, I will seriously consider finding a coach at that time.

As far as foundations go, you have to have it as you noted. According to Lev Alburt's books re: the Russian training system, it is all about getting a solid foundation in endings and tactics, and then openings and middlegames.

At 3/02/2005 2:25 PM, Blogger Temposchlucker said...

MdlM wrote about his experience with a chess coach...

At 3/02/2005 4:03 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Concerning your missing tactics or feeling like you see less than you did before. . .

It happened to me. It's not that I see less, it's that I see so much more that after I started the training, sometimes I would miss what I used to see, which wasn't near as much as I see now, so it was easier to see it before the training.

Um. . . did any of that make sense?

Anyway, don't worry. . .it all comes back.

At 3/02/2005 5:41 PM, Blogger Don Q. said...


I think this is a reasonable question, but it is as much a question about preference as anything else. To become a strong player, you will need to learn some positional play, some endings, and some tactics. You can actually mix and match these preferences to your own liking. IMHO, the order is not important.

At every club, you'll find some young kid who is a terror on the board because he plays like a drunken tasmanian devil in the middle game but who can't hold a drawn ending. You'll also find dusty old positional players who you damm well better beat in the middle game because they will squeeze you in the ending.

Now eventually you want to assimilate both of these styles, but there's no reason to not let yourself focus on one or the other first. Seeing as it is already too late to train to be World Champion (since you're older than 6), you might as well just ahve fun with it.

At 3/02/2005 7:18 PM, Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

I have no experience with chess coaches. I do know they cost money. It would most likely depend on how you best learn. Some people can read a book and they've got it down. Some people need to see it visually. And some people like the personal interaction. One thing about coaches is that you're personalities have to meld correctly. The nice thing about computer software, and books, is that you don't have to deal with that, and overall they are cheaper.

Also about the FICS. I don't think I'll be able to join you this round. I don't have time to play 20 standard games with work and "the program" and I'd prefer not to sandbag it just to get into a tourney that may prove difficult right now for me to stay in reliably. But keep posted on the next go round.

At 3/03/2005 1:04 AM, Blogger logis said...

I wouldn't worry to much about forgetting what you already know (have studied before).

Me, myself and I (am i paranoid or do i see myself as a schizofrenic person? :) ) always think after a game that i know so much about chess but i do so little with all the knowlegde i posses.

In comparisson, I am about 1900 FICS standard while Jens is 2100+ FICS standard. Yet Jens always says i am as good a player like him. I doubt that, Jens is just polite saying that. I have played Jens on FICS a few times, doubt that i ever won of him (or it must have been in a blitz game).

But i think what Jens means with "You are as good a player as I" is that our knowlegde about the game is the same. Jens is just better in implementing this knowlegde then me. :)

With other words, it's good that you study hard. It's good that you learn new things. But after the study there is still the step of implementing it in your chess thoughproces.

One day it will all click and then you will see, have the feeling, that you really learned something.

On the subject of a chess coach. Maybe its better that you first find a stronger player with who you can discuse things (maybe in your chess club??).

And as last, be obnoxious or annoying if you can't help it, we don't care since we love a good debate. :)


At 3/03/2005 3:57 PM, Blogger Pawnsensei said...

Thanks for the useful input guys. I guess no one else has used a coach before. I saw Raksashas uses one and seems to like him. He was also pretty reasonable. I may check that guy out.



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