Sunday, 31 July 2016

Days 119 - 122 / Vellmar Open

To cut it short, I started as 41st and finished as 34th; winning 2, losing 1 and drawing 4 games. Yes, the drawing rate is too high, but on two clear wins I simply didn´t have any time left: against a 2199 woman I was on plus 4, but fucked it up completely with some 25 seconds left for a series of some 5 moves exactly when I had to calculate "who mates whom first" - so I overlooked one winning variation and couldn´t calculate another deeply enough, the second unnecessary draw was against a 2120 dude where I was up a sound pawn but with a serious dark-squares weakness, where I didn´t find the right way to proceed...
The third draw was against a 1780 "wunderkind" who actually made some 150 rating points during the tournament (and although Komodo assured that I played a decent game and a strong opening - so did my opponent!) and the forth draw was against a 2168 guy which I just managed to keep away from my neck.

All in all, I actually did recognized that I am starting to "look" at positions differently and I can identify/name a few decisions which I wouldn´t have made before. These finally lead to 3 draws against higher rated players (where one should have been a loss, but the two others should have been victories).

I expect to gain some rating points (but I am actually too laizy to calculate it now by myself; especially so since the games and results became more important than the rating points during my chess monk journey)...

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Day 118 / 247 to go

Yesterday I took it easy - next to work and travel...

I went for some online blitz games in order to check for which variations I am able to come up with the correct move order. In addition, I decided NOT to be as experimental during the upcoming tournament as I used to be in the last three tournaments.

As indicated before: No work on the day of the first round of a tournament! Hence, I had enough time for a nice bicycle ride of about 80 minutes and some additional 55 minutes of fitness training.  Early this afternoon we will head towards the tournament venue (arriving pretty stressless and with a sufficient time cushion)...

May the games begin!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Day 117 / 248 to go

Today I started with a repetition of some sidelines with Black - using my software programme to get move orders right.

Then I went for my daily dose of Aagaards - and failed ON ALL SIX!

What shock; this never happened before (zero correct) and given that I will start my next tournament in two days, I am somewhat irritated... (Ok Ok, on thre positions the correct move was amongst my candidates and on the other two my move was amongst the top three suggested by Komodo...)
Here is an interesting one that reminds me to ask myself "Where are the weak squares or pieces of my opponent?".White to move:
Can you identify the correct plan for White?

Monday, 25 July 2016

Day 116 / 249 to go

Tonight I went for an extensive session on my Black opening - mainly in order to repeat, stabilise and reinforce correct move orders. With temperatures still being up at around +27, this was pretty tiresome... but I did it on purpose and will continue tomorrow due to the tournament starting already in 3 days.

The plan for tomorrow is to go for my daily dose of Aagaards and continue to repeat/reinforce move orders.
(I am not yet sure about my training plan for Wednesday, due to work+travel. But I will at least continue with ironing any incorrect move orders out, including the usage of supportive software.)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Day 115 / 250 to go

According to Kramnik, chess is like body-building: You only stay in best shape if you train daily! 
Since I am not a pro, I assume that to pause for a day every once in a while (in my case weekly) won´t do no harm (and still allows me to get better)... Soon, I will have a fortnight to focus on relaxation and chess (due to holidays in Spain --- it is yet uncertain whether/how I can document my efforts during that time). Whereas now I am doing something between 90 and 120 minutes a day, I might be able to spend some 120 to 180 minutes during these two weeks (but I believe that I will still take one day off per week then)...

This Thursday I will head towards Vellmar to participate in the tournament. It will be the first tournament where I will take the complete day off (normally I work half a day and then spent many hours in the car before I rush to the first round; this is a thing of the past). I really hope not to lose any rating points yet again. I should at least be able to stop the trend, ideally reverse it!

Today I did 3 Lommers and succeeded on two. Here is a nice and probably well-known one (I am not sure, but I somewhat have the feeling that I saw it before) - White to move and win:

I would have actually done more but in the afternoon we had some guests around (and in the morning I actually did go jogging)...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Day 114 / 251 to go

I have done three Lommers today. Failed on the first two, but I am actually somewhat satisfied with my calculation. The third took me the longest and I was - maybe for the first time - really determined to get it right...    ...and I succeeded!  I hope I can repeat this sort of persistance (more and more often)!

For the sake of it I also played some online games. Neither increasing nor decreasing my rating, but I did get an interesting variation on the board a view times. I guess that is also something I can go for in a tournament match...

I called it a day after I did some sort of variation comparison of two different authors - on one of my openings with Black. Actually, they do differ in what they advise, and I don´t consider the different years of publication the main reason for it. Interesting to recognise these differences. My choice was/is to make... 8-)

Day 113 / 252 to go

Due to work, travel and a family dinner I paused - as simple as that.
 "The Seventh Seal"....

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Day 112 / 253 to go

Today I started with one Lommer - but didn´t succeed. The following position is not the starting position, but already the one after diving a few moves into the variation:
The point here simply is that I wasn´t really able to calculate all the stuff arizing now and simply drew the conclusion ---- aaaahhh, White will make it. And guess what, it was, of course, a mistake!  8-(
Will I ever learn to calculate deeper + more precisely?! Hmm....

In addition, I did my daily dose of Aagards. And today I have a really amazing and somewhat exciting one (at least for me): Black to move
One hint: My Coach made me aware of the value of looking for in-between moves and I actually incorporated this into my PAT. But I didn´t go far enough when considering in-between moves in this position. So, yes, you may well move with the piece other than the night!
The actual move made is really pure joy...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Day 111 / 254 to go

I only came home at 20:50 tonight. Nevertheless, I started with one Lommer - and got it wrong (a calculation error - one that I would say I should be able not to make!). It is, after all, a rather simple one I am willing to share:  White to move and keep the draw:

Then my boss kept me busy with one phone call and one email to be answered on the spot (yes, after 2200).

After this, with temperatures still reaching 30 degrees here, I managed one additional Lommer and got it right.
But now, I really can´t go any further (while claiming that it would still make any sense and elevate my abilities)....

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Day 110 / 255 to go

Again I managed to do 6 Aagards, including one interesting position which I didn´t solve according to the book, but according to Komodo both moves are pretty much equally strong - at least when allowing Komodo to calculate for some 5 minutes! However, and that is what I was lacking anyway, I had the textbook-move on my shortlist, but didn´t really went into the calculation (and as such missed an important ressource for Black)... Here is the position - White to move, can you find the two pretty equally strong moves for White?
With temperatures even now reaching 27 degrees celcius, I am not really able to focus on any Lommer puzzles tonight. (Tomorrow I will start with Lommer and only later on move to either some Aagaards or use my software to hammer some opening variations into my head...)

Monday, 18 July 2016

Day 109 / 256 to go

Today I started with 3 Lommers - I got one right and made two rather silly calculation errors with the other two. (Although this means that I didn´t get the solution completely right, at the board I would have started with the right moves and thus surely wouldn´t have made these kinds of calculation errors...)
Again, NONE of these puzzles were really "Lommer-style" but rather normal pawn-endings. This makes things a lot easier and also more motivating and less frightening/frustrating!

In addition I proceeded with my opening for Black.

At the end of today´s session I did 6 Aagaards. Here is the one I "kind of" missed (Black to move):

The top move is about tactics, which is anyway somewhat a weakness of mine (I really have to do more tactic excersises in order to sharpen my senses at that end). However, my two candidate moves are amongst the top 3 and for Komodo, all three moves have a very narrow range of +0,06 only. So despite my lack of tactical foresight, I didn´t misunderstand the positional aspects at all.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Day 108 / 257 to go

Hmm, today I started with 6 Aagard positions - and for the first time ever, I solved all them. (Should I mention that I did so in about 30 minutes, whereas normally 6 positions take me some 60 minutes?)
I am not yet willing to believe it is simply because of my 3 months of intensified training, I assume the positions where simply fairly easy. Nevertheless, it is a clear statement and a motivation!

On top, I continued to work with my opening for Black - stepping into one major side-line (which I faced twice during the last tournament).

Tomorrow: Lommer-time!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Day 107 / 258 to go

I have done 3 Aagards --- and solved them very very fast. Actually, in any of these positions the moves were pretty obvious for me (I didn´t even go for my PAT). But I would say that this finally a step forward and a clear sign that my training efforts start to pay off. One of the positions was actually a typical set-up from my opening with the black pieces.

In addition, I did continue to strengthen my Black opening - both theoretically and practically (online games; I found one opponent who did play a rare line a few times in a row; this actually helped me to practise it). I am still glad I bought that DVD - it is a great one.

Day 105 + 106 / 259 to go

Thursday and Friday I was packed with work (some 16 hours), travel (some 10 hours) and preparing a short speech --- ZERO change for a decent chess lesson...


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Day 104 / 261 to go

Just like yesterday, I started with 3 Aagards in order to practise my PAT. Here´s the one I missed today:
The reason for missing it was - just like yesterday - that I didn´t apply my PAT consequently enough: I lacked to ask myself whether there are any in-between moves!  I really have to force myself (much more) to to go throught the complete PAT-structure!

And just like yesterday I followed up with two Lommers. BUT: Not only did I solve both, I
actually proved that there exist a second solution NOT provided in the book! (Furthermore, just like yesterday, I experienced that Komodo 9,3 - run on the 64bit-version with 4 cores - is NOT really good at identifying the Queen-versus-c-pawn ending in a draw..) However, the two positions weren´t really puzzles in Lommer´s definition/sense - they were pretty straight forward and rather easy pawn-endgames. (Nevertheless, I succeeded!)

Finally, just like yesterday I called it a day after I did follow some opening variations with Black.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Day 103 / 262 to go

Hmmm, I did three Aargaards today, but again failed on two. Here´s a good example of what I missed because I was trying to short-cut my PAT (I simply didn´t go through my personal checklist and lacked to ask myself for attacking moves for White):
Although my choice is ranked second best and still "good enough" to win, I am somewhat disappointed that I wasn´t 100% focused...

In addition, I did two Lommers. The one below was quite easy based on the knowledge of the "f-pawn rule" in a Queen versus Pawn ending (White to move):
Interestingly, Komodo 9.3 took not only amazingly long but also a few moves to play to recognise that exd ends in a draw! (At the same time it is somewhat worth to mention that e5 wins, as the stalemate-option for black with his f-pawn is not working due to the remaining d-pawn).

Finally, I went into some sidelines of my opening with Black. I actually bought one of these learning DVDs and the style of the commentator/author/speaker deserves a very big LIKE!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Day 102 / 263 to go

Today I spent about two hours with my opening for Black - with a special emphasis on the current "main line" (which I didn´t really treat with the necessary accuracy during the last tournament).

After that I tried to solve 3 Aagards - but failed on two. I missed one because of a calculation error (which I only recognized after I consulted good old Fritz - since the solution in Aagard´s book wasn´t that satisfactory for me) and the second one was actually all about a re-occuring theme: Although the move as such was part of my candidates, I failed to see the thematic move to follow - just like I missed it on my training day 68!

Here´s the position - if you remember the thematic move I missed back then, this one will be very easy for you (or maybe you simply identify the common characteristic of both positions) - below, it´s White´s turn:
I guess, now (after I missed it twice) I have a fair chance not to forget that kind of moves again...

Days 85 - 101 / 264 to go

NOPE - I didn´t not quit! Not even thought about it. (Sorry for my silence.)

Nevertheless, there were a few circumstances coming together which somewhat forced me to take a break: next to the usual job+family, there was also the Euro 2016 to which I simply had to pay some tribute and last but not least I had an old pal - FM Zimmer - visiting me for a few days.
We actually had a nice session on one of my openings - helpful and at the same time (very) motivating: thanks, dude!

During these days I actually played my first ever 30min rapid chess tournament: I started on rank 29 and finished 15th (with a hypothetical rating gain of 20 points). I take this as a success.