Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Importance Of Visualisation

Visualisation is a very important technique that every chess player must grasp if he/she is to improve.

The ability to not just transfer ideas that you see in 2 dimensions - be it on a computer screen or from a book and able to visualise it in 3 dimensions is an important skill.

How good are your visualisation skills?

A very good way to tell is to setup a set of 10 puzzles (that are hard for you at your current level) to do every day. Set up the puzzle in the chess board. Now time yourself in 5 minutes for each puzzle.

Record how fast you can come up with the different variations to the puzzle. What you considered, what you did discard. Put your thoughts to paper. If you find the winning solution, record the time at which you got the solution.

Once the 10 puzzles are finished, now pick another set of 10 puzzles and work on them on the computer screen.

Again time yourself for 5 minutes and work out the variations as well as the depth of your calculations. And put them to paper as you did earlier.

Do this for 1 week.

The idea behind this is not to achieve the answers but to look at what you've written down.

If you're like me, (yes, I do have a visualisation problem), you will notice that not only do you calculate more variations in the same amount of time when seeing it in 2 dimensions but you also notice the depths of your variations tends to stretch further and you arrive at the solution quicker.

I know how tedious and cumbersome it is to have to constantly setup the board for each puzzle but unfortunately, IMHO this is the only way to improve if your visualisation skills are not up to par.

Remember: the greatest enemy in chess is not your opponent. It is yourself.

The famous Chinese was strategist Tsun Tze once said,"Know yourself, so that when you fight 100 battles, you will win 100 battles."

PS: Hmmm.... I'm starting to sound like a fortune cookie.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Down With Flu

I'm at home and not at work as I'm down with the flu, hence my lack of postings in the last few weeks. Apologies to one and all.

A running nose, a hoarse voice and a persistent dry cough is what I just need. :)

Anyway, the U1600 Norths Bears team failed to make it to the next round. We garnered a total of 13 points against St George with a forfeit win, another win and a draw with David, Peter and Andrew grabbing the points (I wasn't playing on that day due to pressing matters).

Unfortunately. Norths other team, the Grizzles scored 4-0 with 2 forfeit wins. This meant they pipped us by a point to grab the last qualifying place for the 2nd round. Ouch!

With that, it looks like the closure of the U1600 rounds for me and quite possible, the end of the Grade Matches.

All up, it's been a pretty dismal performance by my standards. I got a combined score of: +3-5=0 with a performance rating of 1490.

PS: Incidentally, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all flu cases in New South Wales are related to swine flu while it's an astonishing 100% in Victoria. Yikes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fun Chess Openings Test

Out of curiosity, I decided to try the quiz link posted on Greg's blog. The quiz was linked from Farbror's weblog. And this is my result:

The Rolls Royce of chess openings.... hmmm... :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Losing To Kids

I lost last night to 11 year old Peng Yu Chen (rated 1624) in the U1600 NSW Grade Match playing on Board 2 v St George Saints.

We transposed into a French like position (I was White) and a mistake on my part allowed him to capitalise and break through on the Queenside. During the game, I felt that I should have created better counter chances and this is one game where I would have to slowly go back and look where I went wrong.

Chen's youth belies a strong maturity in his playing ability and I'm not ashamed to have lost to him. He played a great game from start to finish.

Peter played on Board 1 and drew while Roger lost and David won so that leaves our group with a 1.5-2.5 score.

Speaking of losing to kids, while talking to a few older chess players in the club, one of them remarked to me on how he takes a little bit of comfort that he once drew with an extremely strong kid some time back. The kid has since surpassed him by leaps and bounds.

One thing I do realise about kids' playing style is their fearlessness.

When I see some older players playing against kids, I find that some of them have a propensity to seek "safe" lines for fear of being caught short in tactical play. I'm not entirely certain if that is the way to go. I myself have held the belief that one should always play to one's own personal playing strength and style. I myself am more inclined towards tactical play and will not hesitate to resort to tactics or sacrifices (if the situation warrants it). It would be a mistake for me to play in a more conservative and positional style (building up slowly etc.) because I am just not accustomed to it. I am at the stage in my playing where I favour dynamic play and tactics over positional play and I love playing to the edge of my seat at times.

In addition, rather than facing them with apprehension, I've always advocated to play to the best of your playing ability and not be afraid to tackle them on. Some of the kids I've come across are very good tactical players and with the aid of coaches and more resources like time, they can often raise their game to a much higher level and more rapidly than mature adults like me can ever do in a comparative period.

I am indeed happy to see them improve because it is a good image for chess if more kids take up the royal game.

Speaking of child prodigies, here's a very interesting excerpt about Illya Nyzhnyk below. In the video, he was only 10 at the time and already had an ELO rating in excess of 2200!