Thursday, August 24, 2006

Different Approaches at CTS

It is interesting to see how different the approaches of various Knights at CTS are. I am quite happy about that, because it forces me to think about what I do, and why I do it, and if I really should do it.

Tempo, a leading member of the heavy-repetition-at-high-speed school at CTS, has just posted about his reasons and the conceptual backgrounds of his strategy. Surely his method works for him, for his rating is more than a hundred higher than mine, and it was not when he began at CTS. I saw him coming from behind, catching up and leaving me back.

Of course, sixty thousand repetitions are not for nothing. And he says that this is not all, he does a huge number of non-rated repetitions besides. Wow.

I belong to a different school. We may call it accuracy-over-speed or success-oriented. I'll try to give some comments on my reasons for this choice. BTW, it is relatively new, because up to 20k repetitions I tried to optimize my rating, slowing down only after my success rate dropped too fast.

Firstly, my goal is not training for blitz, but for slow OTB games. This favours accuracy, because in a slow game it is very rare to have only 3 to 10 seconds per move left.

Secondly, the patterns at CTS are quite simple, sometimes even very simple, as Tempo says. That is, they can be found very quickly, even at very first presentation of a problem. But before seeing them quickly, you must see them at all. Therefore: first accuracy, then speed up.

Thirdly, every wrong move is a wrong engram into the memory. Therefore I try to avoid it as much as possible.

Fourthly, the reason of my OTB rating plateau, despite of heavy tactical training, is lack of accuracy, or, more precisely, lack of security. In principle, I am quite good in tactics if I KNOW that there is a tactic, but in games I constantly miss tactics, because I miss simple tactic features (or targets) such as underprotected, exposed or trapped pieces.

Fifthly, I am convinced that you must sow before you can harvest. Thus, if I try to optimize my rating during training, the effect will be less than optimal. I think I do not differ from Tempo in this question, because his training is heavy unrated repetitions. I did this before, but now I find it more interesting to have the constant challenge of being rated. Just like in a game.

Sixthly, an important goal of my training is to distinguish patterns from noise, and so I am quite happy if I am presented problems I never have seen before. By noise I mean such things as winning a queen if there is a mate in one. Even a mate in two is noise against a mate in one (and is punished by CTS). You cannot do such a training if you go for speed.

Seventhly, and there may be many more reasons, just this one: Looking at every target on the board, not missing a single one, looking at targets in the right order of importance, spotting leading features of a position such as quickly seeing if kings or queens are in danger or in safety, and the like. All this is possible with an a-tempo approach only if you have done it more slowly before, time and again.

Today, I had the best CTS session ever: 93/97 correct (96%), with a winning streak of 53 correct in a row, at an average rating of 1442. Only one of the fourteen tacticians with 95+ percent has a rating of 1500+. And yeah, Tempo, we are neighbours in the success ranking now.


At 12:56 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Firstly, my goal is not training for blitz, but for slow OTB games. This favours accuracy, because in a slow game it is very rare to have only 3 to 10 seconds per move left.

This reasoning looks somewhat delusive to me. In an average complex middlegame postition, it's not unusual that you can recognize 10 simple tactical elements. (see for an instance)
No matter if the elements actually play an active role in your game.
If you need 30 seconds for every element in stead of 3 seconds, this has two disadvantages.

First, the most obvious, it will cost you 10 times as much time.

Secondly, the post important, since you need to UNDERSTAND every element in stead of RECOGNIZING it, every tactical element makes use of your short term memory. Since you can only handle 5-10 items in your Short Term Memory, your STM becomes overloaded. This is the message we can learn from the brainscans.

So it has nothing to do with blitz in that sense. What I'm trying to tell, don't stop with accuracy and understanding alone, but finish the transformation of knowledge into skill by making it automatic.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Mousetrapper said...

Tempo, I agree with your opinion, just let me say that I never mentioned the time to use per tactical element, if I need more than ten seconds per move. The only thing I meant is that I want to be sure to have seen ALL elements before I make my decision. If I am lucky, I see all of them in the six seconds before the problem's move, and then I can play a tempo, that is, within 3 seconds.

Just one more thing. Accuracy does not mean slowliness, on the contrary. I try to be very quick with my eyes, scanning the position like a hungry hawk. I guess that my speed per recognition of an average target has improved markedly. The only thing I do is not to move instantly, but putting security first.

And one last thing: The source of my losses OTB is the bad habit of hope chess, as Dan Heisman puts it, that is, not looking at all possible answers of the opponent. Therefore, I do not want to play hope chess at CTS any longer.


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