Monday, September 06, 2010

Long Term Improvement Plan

Update: September 6, 2010

I've been thinking about my improvement plan a lot lately and when Thomas commented on it, I figured now is as good a time as any to update my plan.

I finished The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess 3rd ed. - as for Logical Chess, as I said in the comments section, I've read most of it.  Now I'm just going back and transposing the games.  I've got a whole separate post I'm going to write about the way one is supposed to study GM games.

Tactics - I was doing quite a bit clear up until May of this year.  Then I basically stopped.  I'm still wondering about the benefit of doing tactics on ChessTempo.  I was trying to do 30 a day.  Maybe 20 is about right.

The best update is that I'm playing much more often than before.  I still need a play more games - long games.  Teamleague has helped a lot with that - but I'd like like to play a bit more - perhaps twice a week.  Sometimes I think 45 45 is too quick for me.

I think the general idea for my long-term plan that I've outlined below is still valid, but I doubt the dates will be accurate.

Right now, I want to intensely focus on the following:
1) Play as many long games as possible - shooting for two a week - 45 45; 60 5 or longer

2) Analyse the games and analyse the games. Let Fritz analyse them.  Annotate them myself.  Use the whisper feature during the game.  Review the opening - see where I went out of book - learn how to stay in book longer.

3) Go over GM games - I've not been doing this - I need to let my brain absorb quality games.  As a side note, I should also watch my teamleage team play games - and comment and think about those games - as time permits.

4) Tactics - I think 20 a day is about right - shouldn't take too long (10 mins or so) to do 20.

First published January 1, 2009

The biggest obstacle I face is carving out time once a week to play a slow game. I figure if I can get at least one slow game in a week, then I'd make great improvements.

Redhotpawn has been a great resource for me. I enjoy being able to take as much time as possible to evaluate a position.

I continue to work on tactics almost every day. My goal is to do 20 tactics a day at chesstempo.

The other area that is lagging is finishing books I've started and going over as many GM games as possible. I'm mostly done with Wolff's book and I've dabbled a lot with Logical Chess Move by Move, but have yet to finish it.

At this point, let me back up a bit. The premise of my goals and improvment plan is based on Dan Heisman's article entitled "An Improvement Plan." Currently, I'm trying to finish steps 1 and 2. From there, I plan to complete the remaining steps and would hope to complete the whole "plan" by January 2015.

Here are the details:

Goals Without an End Date
Play one long game a week (60 5), review, annotate
Go over several annotated GM games a week (reading books)
At least 20 tactics every day

January 2009 to June 2009
Finish The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess 3rd ed.
Finish Logical Chess Move by Move
Read Everyone's 2nd Chess Book
Read or review archived Novice Nook articles

July 2009 to December 2010
Study positional play (I'll fill in the books later)

January 2011 to January 2013
Fill in the gaps ... enlist the help of a professional instructor

February 2013 to 2016
I would hope by the time I reach this phase, I would be around 1800 (2000 FICS) and would begin to fine tune my game and eventually reach a rating of 2000 (2200 FICS). As I write this post today, I do not know how reasonable this timeline is. It may take me an entire lifetime to reach 2200 FICS. But for now, I feel I need to set some goals and dates.

FICS Standard Ratings
Date................Rat. .....RD.........W.......L.....D.....T........Best (date)
12/19/07...... 1628.....110.6.... 102... 89.. 6.... 197.....1733 (04/17/07)
01/25/09...... 1668....134.8.....128....111..7.....246.....1733 (04/07/07)
09/06/10...... 1614....97.2......142....128..9....279.......1733 (04/07/07)
03/29/11.......1603....66.2......167....158..12....337.....1733 (04/07/07)


  1. I think it's an excellent plan to get you to where you want to go! Good luck, and we'll be watching :)

  2. Great Study Plan! Good Luck! Maybe we can schedule a slow game sometime? It would take a little planning due to the Time Zone difference but it might be fun!

  3. Hi,
    I am regulary following your blog and was curious about your long term improvement plan and what you are currently reading (or have read).

  4. Quite frankly - I'm not reading anything regularly. A number of years ago, I heard that one of the best books to read for amateur-low-rated players like myself was Logical Chess Move by Move by Chernev. So many people liked it and thought it worthwhile that even some said they referred to it regularly - or that it was one of the books they re-read every so often and still learn from it. I don't think I've ever encountered a negative review of that book. With that said, I started to transpose the text of the book into the .pgn database of the games from the book. So as far as reading goes, I am occasionally transposing the book into .pgn format. The idea was to be able to read the book on a computer and see every move and comment on the same screen. What also spurred this idea of making it into .pgn was a group of chess players on the old chessville forum who re-created the Polgar "brick" into .pgn. Since there were over 5,000 problems, they pooled their efforts and got it done fairly quickly. Other people who wanted to get the file would have to prove they owned the book by giving and solving a problem or two and then they'd send the requester the .pgn file. The publisher or someone with authority got wind of this and told them to cease with the sharing of that file. They stopped, but the file still floated around on the Internet. Anyway, I'm on game 10 of 33 for transposing. I've read most of the games in the book - so now I'm just going back and transposing. I don't transpose regularly, so it's slow going.

    As for the improvement plan - I did finish reading Idiot's Chess - good book. I should probably read it again. That's it for reading. Like I said above, my biggest obstacle is playing regularly. Just these past several months, I've been getting pretty regular at playing chess. I play in the FICS 45 45 league with a really good team - in between tournaments, we play our own internal tournament. Since I'm the lowest rated player, I usually lose - but most of the time I'm putting up a pretty good fight. They are also really good about going over the games with me. I'm getting close to playing a game a week now. For tactics - I was doing great earlier this year - doing 30 problems a day, but that has dropped off. I'm focusing more on playing long games.

    Thanks for commenting and asking about my plan. I should update it and bump the post. After reading some key Dan Heisman articles, I've learned that playing lots of slow games is perhaps the best thing to do to improve. So my plan will probably be pretty simplified - play lots of chess and analyse the games like crazy.

  5. I'd forgotten about Team League...I was trying to hook up with STC my last go around a few years ago, but Team League seems more fun.

    I'll have to check it out more at lunch :p

  6. It just rocks :). But I have a minor irritant. Could you please help me out?
    I have the following distracting white areas that does not go away.

    I would like the white areas also to be black :).
    Could you please help me out?