Wills Chess Blog
Adventures in chess in Cambridgeshire

Coathangers, Visualisation and mental anguish

By Will
Having memorised 33 games from GM ram last time around I thought it would be pretty simple to do it again. However this time I realised I needed to understand alittle more about aspects of learning to make the process more efficient. Last time I put together a simple repetition plan so that in a typical period I played through everygame at least a few times which, inevitably, became a monster to try to actually do.

This time I discovered an article on Wired magazine "Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm" By Gary Wolf:


I usually am distrustful of such things since I have read a whole pile of chess "improvement" articles and books. However, the most interesting thing is that the algorithm is used in a free program called Anki which some kind soul has created a pgn plugin for.

My experience so far is that using the program with the game details is enough so organise the memorisation of the games in an efficient manner. I add 2 games a week and play through these everyday then they are graded by difficutly of recall and hey presto! the algorithm tells me when to review them. So far I have added 14 games in half the time it took first time around.

And like last time the other things I am reading about chess seem to stick much better. I am also reading the Yusupov Chess Fundamentals Build Up Your Chess and adding this to Anki to recall.

My head hurts.....

By Will
As most chess players know there is always the itchy feeling that we don't have the right chess books or that we are studying the wrong ones. I am (again) having this feeling after buying the Yusupov books on The Fundamentals Build up your chess and Boost your chess. I am now truly torn again having pulled my previous training plans apart several times over in the last couple of months.

I think I understand why this is. For the past ten years I have been married to a nice woman who I think is pretty attractive. However, whenever we go shopping there are inevitably younger and prettier women in the vicinity. How many guys have been busted checking out these alluring creatures without the usual emotional baggage of years of being together? Pretty much all red blooded males I guess!

So, by analogy, the pretty chess book you bought and promised to be faithful too looses it's lustre and eventually you eyes wander to a "new" way of doing things with the promise of faster improvement or more fun.

Back to chess study and enough book promiscuity.....

And now normal service will resume....

By Will
Well, I haven't posted for a long time mainly because I haven't looked at a chess board in nearly 2 years. I reached the point that it consumed so much of my time that I didn't have time to do much else and my attitude stunk. I've been there before with my PhD and other pursuits so took the decision to cut it off. Since then I changed job and have been working hard to understand what exactly I am supposed to do.

Now things have changed and I am back playing and studying chess alittle. I've had a proper think about what I enjoy about a chess game and what I want to get out of it. Now I am after fun, tactics and not the pursuit of a GM level opening repertoire (seriously I bought three books on the Sveshnikov, how was I ever going to master such an opening before I reached 90 without understanding alot more about chess and counter attacking??).

So I have chosen to play the King's Gambit against e5 (OK there is a bucket load of theory but it is in keeping with the idea of actually having fun), the Smith Morra against the Sicilian (simplistic and used by players far better than me), the Fantasy variation against c6 (in keeping with the KG I think?!) and the Korchnoi Gambit against e6 (I played this before but it is simple and is pretty universal against various move orders). So far so good...

Against e4 I have taken up the Nf6 Scandinavian which is working out OK so far, d4 I am trying the Fajarowicz gambit which is also interesting (and has few positional lines). Against all else I am going to play sensible opening moves becuase I am not bothered about having a defence against 1 f4, c4 or any other openings since at my level they are unlikely to be played well anyway.

Some games to come....