Sunday, June 12, 2005

Where I am after 155 MDLM days

It's time to take a look back. A year ago my rating had dropped to an all-time low of 1592. My diagnosis was tactical weakness, and I began with tactical training. I played a 9-round swiss tournament with +3-6 against stronger opponents and gained back 30 points. I analyzed my losses and found that I needed a systematic training. That's why I started my MDLM venture.

I spent a total of 200 hours for vision drills (28) and the 7 Circles (172). I have been playing 12 rated slow OTB games meanwhile. In all my 5 wins tactics helped. In all my 3 draws tactics helped against loss. In all my 4 losses tactics, often very simple, played a key role, but also a number of positional and endgame blunders.

And how is my play now? Openings: I get active play in most cases even against 200+ stronger rated opponents, but sometimes losing time. Middlegame: I need a better view for positional patterns and a sense for the right plans. Endgames: Still my point of weakness, I may blunder away many drawn endgames to loss or won endgames to draw or even to loss.

But my main weakness is lack of thinking discipline. I am prone to be euphoric or panic and then forgetting to apply what I know. In other words, I do not lose because I do not know certain things. I lose because I know them but do not apply them.

I come to this conclusion: The MDLM program is a fine thing and I recommend it to every chessplayer who is willing to take a lot of time and effort to improve. After having finished the 7 circles you get a sharp weapon, a sword made of the finest Toledo steel. Not less and not more. But then the real task begins. I mean, take this sword, go to the battleground of tournaments and learn to fight with this weapon! Be a proud Knight Errant!

Even Michael De La Maza did not improve right after his circles. He first had to learn how to think. This is exactly my experience. I got 1 (one!) meek point out of my last 5 (!) games against opponents of a level I want to reach soon. It is not lack of opening or middlegame strategy. It is not lack of tactical vision. It is not bad time management. It is much simpler. Sorry for repeating this, but it must be said time and again: Knowing well, but not doing it.

The 30 rating points I gained since my MDLM start mean nothing. It could be zero, so what? The point is: My improvement has begun now, and my future training, I see it clear as a crystal before me. It must be thinking training. The Seven Circles are necessary, my friends. Keep doing them. But keep in mind that the Real Stuff comes after them. The Real Stuff is Thinking Process.

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