"...a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Continuing Adventures

This is a post I wrote about a month ago and was going to add to but didn't.
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I have continued to play, though I am not going to set any records for the number of games I'm playing.

As far as the lessons go, they were fun but I have cancelled them for the near future.  I left the coach on good terms and may go back.  I enjoyed the lessons but I also felt a lot of pressure about playing quality games.  Of course it makes sense.  Most of the lesson consists of analyzing games I had played, so it makes sense that I need quality games as input for that process.  However, that means that often games that end early either through a blunder of either me or my opponent are not suitable.  At my level this is quite common.  So I felt that I had trouble finding the time to play the long-time control games, then when I did, often they seemed like they might not be very good material for lessons.  So I was starting to feel some stress about it and that's not really what I wanted.  So even though I felt the coach was doing a good job, I am probably going to let it go for the time being.  I also feel some desire to see how far I can get on my own.

As far as playing goes, I have been back on FICS because it is very much easier for me to get a game for my level and time control specifics.  I find that I will only have to wait a minute or two most times to get one there, whereas at ICC I can just sit there with the seek ad up for quite a while.  I still play at ICC as well, it just seems I'm getting more games at FICS.

I did decide to change to e5 as black against e4.  I have been enjoying it.  I don't think I have played a single Ruy Lopez though yet.  I get a lot of people playing the Italian against me and sometimes a couple of other things.  I'm still playing Italian as white, and Tarrasch as black against d4.  It seems with the Tarrasch, the strategy that is the hardest for me to deal with is when people just leave the pawns.  When things open up I like it, but when the pawns don't capture I can find it tough to come up with a good plan.

I have been doing fewer problems though still some.  I have spent a lot of time reading Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul van der Sterren.  I like this book a lot.  It's for beginners like me.  People who have some chess knowledge but not much.  It explains a lot of openings.  One thing I like about it is that often he presents historical information about what used to be popular and why and why things have changed.  This seems to be a great way to introduce a lot of content about the opening.  I feel like the text to variation ratio is pretty good.  I have spent some time with the King's Gambit section which is fun.  I have also just flipped through reading up on various openings that strike my interest or that I have heard of but don't know much about.  Of course, a lot of this material doesn't stick except when I look at it several times.  Still, it's a fun book to carry around and read on the subway.

As far as ratings go, I do feel I am getting stronger.  On FICS I am in the 1480's right at the moment.  That's close to my highest rating which is just a bit under 1500.  On ICC I have struggled more.  I am in the 1280's right at the moment.  I Broke 1300 briefly but it didn't last long.  I'm a bit worried about it but not much.  I am pretty happy with the FICS rating at the moment though of course now that I am close I would like to break 1500.

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