Friday, April 27, 2007

New Circle..New Plan

Well I've decided I need a new approach to my regimen. From now on, I'll be on a 5 day schedule.

Check it out:

HEAVY DAYS --> Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday

Knight Concentric Square Drill (as described in Rapid Chess Improvement)

15 min of Chess Eye

2 hours of Seven Circles

LIGHT DAYS --> Thursday and Saturday

15 min of Chess Eye

1 hour of Seven Circles

15 min of Knight Visualization

1 hour of free study

The 2 hours of free study each week will help me to develop other important aspects of my game such as an opening repertoire to force open games (I'm looking at the Center Game for White, and Center Counter and Benoni for Black), an understanding of some strategic concepts (I've decided to do seven circles of Weapons of Chess before moving on to Simple Chess), and to learn endgame principles (Silman's Endgame Course).

On the light days, I'll be doing 15 min of Knight Visualization. Knight Visualization is a blindfold chess drill taken from the site which seems to have been wiped off the face of the internet. Here is the exercise I'll be starting out with:

Exercise 1:

The first technique that I found useful was to picture and empty board with a knight on the a1-square. The objective is to eventually move the knight to each square on the entire board. Start by figuring out in your mind how to get the knight from the a1-square to the b1-square, then to the c1-square, etc. until you reach the h1-square. After you've completed the first rank, and have the knight on the h1-square, then figure out how to get it up to the h2-square, then over to the g2-square, the f2-square etc. until you get the second rank completed and the knight is on the a2-square. You'll then concentrate on moving the knight up to and along the third rank, fourth rank, fifth rank, etc. until you picture the knight ultimately ending up on
the a8-square. At this point, you will have transferred that knight to every single square on the board.

However, the trick to the above exercise is not only move the knight from square to square, but in doing so, to simultaneously visualize the color of each square that the knight touches as it moves. [As you will see, knowing a square's color becomes very helpful for later exercises]

Picture the knight on the a1 square (visualize the a1-square as black). To get it to the b1-square, one route is to move the knight in your mind first to the c2-square (picture the knight landing on the white c2-square), then to the black a3-square, and then to the b1-square (which is white). Concentrate on both the color and the name of each square the knight touches.

When I first started doing this, it took me several hours to get the knight to each square on the entire board. Now, it takes between 10 to 15 minutes provided I make sure to visualize each square's color that the knight touches along the route.

courtesy of

In other news, I'm up to the last exercise in Chess Eye which is a lot of fun :) The program spits out positions of pieces for both sides and then asks you what the best move is. If you saw the position on a board it wouldn't be hard to figure out, but when you have to keep track of all the pieces interacting with each other in your head, it becomes difficult.

Lastly, if anybody is looking for drills to add to their study plan, the Exeter Chess Club has a great collection of drills they call Mini Games:

I especially like the idea of cut-down chess games :D

Play with K+8p each and...
  • just the rooks
  • just the bishops
  • just the knights
  • just the queens
  • just the minor pieces (knights and bishops)
  • just the major pieces (queen and rooks)

I'm interested in hearing from my fellow knights about your study plans. I figure most people don't have as much time to devote to chess as I do (I have a great job in that respect), so I figure a lot of people just do what they can, when they can. But I'd love to hear about the different goals you've set for yourself, and the different schedules you're on to achieve those goals. No matter how large or small your commitment, I'd love to hear from you :)

Friday, April 20, 2007




DAY 16
IQ Test - 1:55 <- I made it under 2!
Seven Circles - 1312/1312 1 down, 6 to go :D

Well I learned that I need a LOT of work on my endgame. My ELO dropped more than 100 points in the last 100 problems :(

Anyways, here are my numbers for the 1st merry go round:

CTB Circle 1
ELO: 1503
Success: 83%

Not bad for my first run, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. In case you were wondering, my real chess ELO is nowhere near that high. I'm probably somewhere in the 1300's.

I'm still looking for a great chess movie and there's a new one available online for your viewing pleasure called the Queen of Cactus Cove. I really liked it, it's a sweet coming of age film about best friends who compete against each other in a chess tournament. There's a lot of accurate chess playing in the movie along with the greatest use of subtitles ever. All in all, it's a very enjoyable way to spend 18 min. Plus this kid was hilarious :D

In conclusion, that up on the top has got to be the ugliest picture I've ever posted on this site.

Enjoy ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The End is Near!

Almost done!

Everything is looking good right about now..

DAY 15
IQ Test - 2:15

Seven Circles -> 1283/1312

I have to say, I really love the Chess Eye software. Doing those 15 min everyday has really helped me visualize the board and the pieces in my head when I close my eyes. Every day I warm up with 4 min of exercise #3, 3 min of exercise #6, and the rest on the mating drills where I'm up to exercise #9. I just wish that I could have the Chess Eye generated questions on a piece of paper so I could do it without a computer. I could just write down a bunch of exercises from the program but that would be super time consuming :P

As for the other drills, I'm still getting value out of them :)

For example, yesterday I learned that it's a lot easier to visualize the queens path by visualizing the squares that it doesn't cover. This came to me after a week of jumping my opposite color knight around the queens path before it popped out really nicely :D

And today I realized that I've stopped calculating the squares needed to trap a knight on the corner of the board with a queen. There is a beautiful pattern to this too. For example there are 6 squares on a1, 4 squares on a2 and b1, 2 squares on a3 and c1, 3 squares on b2, 1 square on b3 and c2, and 0 squares on c3.

Is that sexy or what?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Slowly but Surely

Circle 1 is almost completed!

I think it will take another 2 days before I'm ready for round 2.

DAY 12
IQ Test - 2:50

Seven Circles -> 1180/1312

DAY 13
IQ Test - 2:46

Seven Circles -> 1225/1312

DAY 14
IQ Test - 2:25

Seven Circles -> 1255/1312

So I was watching the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer the other day, when I realized how awful it was. I remember watching it as a kid and loving it, but watching it now makes me want to strangle his parents. They are probably the most annoying movie parents ever portrayed in all of cinema history.

That got me to thinking, are there any good chess movies?

For such a large international community of players, there aren't any movies that really romanticize the game. And it is a very romantic game..

I think we are long overdue for a classic movie to do for chess what Rounders did for poker.

What do you guys think?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

First Circle feeling like a Purple Nurple (sp?)

The problems are getting harder but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I should be done with my first in a few days :)

I changed my blog settings to allow anonymous comments!

You are now free to cuss me out to your hearts content ;)

Or if you're not much of an internet badass, remember that ass kissing is always welcome.

DAY 10
IQ Test - 2:22

Seven Circles -> 1086/1312

DAY 11
IQ Test - 2:43

Seven Circles -> 1129/1312

I'm still doing the aforementioned drills, but I figure everybody already knows the regimen so I'll stop posting it every time.

Anyhoo, a new and exciting blog to watch is hardcore pawnography. Very funny stuff :D

And I hope that some of you are making your origami chess sets and getting ready to send photos to!

Maybe you need some more motivation..

Just remember that when you're on that desert island, and you come across a chess playing monkey, you're going to be sorry that you didn't learn how to make a chess set out of two pieces of paper.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Origami Chess!

Did you know that you can construct an entire chess set out of a single piece of paper?

It's true.

I found these instructions while surfing the web and had to try it myself.

If you include the board, I guess it's actually two sheets of paper.

Nevertheless, it's still pretty impressive.

The best thing about these sets is that each one is unique. For instance, I chose a red and white color scheme, and decided to use little pyramids for the pawns, and boxes for the rooks. I also used moist toilet paper to add some weight and allow all the pieces to easily stand up.

I'd love to see what you guys can come up with :D

If anyone decides to make their own set, please send me the pictures!

This way if you're ever trapped on a desert island with two sheets of paper you'll know what to do ;)

Welcome to Hell

Hello! I've officially entered the 5th stage of CTB Studies, so in the coming days the problems will be a lot harder and a lot more epiphaniacious.

Check out my vocab.

Is that sexy or what?

Anyways, here's what I did today:


Read through Concentric Square Exercise Solutions

Concentric squares
a. 2:00 of randomized king and rook placement
b. 2:00 of randomized king and bishop placement
c. 3:00 of randomized king and knight placement
d. 1:00 of randomized king and queen placement

Sight Drills
a. 2:00 of randomized knight placement
b. 2:00 of randomized bishop placement
c. 1:00 of randomized rook placement
d. 2:00 of randomized queen placement

IQ Test -> 3:41

15:00 of Chess Eye <- I'm on exercise 3 and it's getting interesting.. :) Seven Circles -> 1018/1312

In other news, the local kids at the YMCA are improving greatly! I played about 10 little kids while giving them advice on how to play better chess :) Some of them are starting to understand that it's important to develop your minor pieces before engaging the enemy. Most of the kids are so kamikazeish (vocab is so sweet today) that the deciding factor in the games comes down to who is patient enough not to lose their pieces to a premature attack.

I also recently received my copy of Pandolfini's Weapons of Chess! This way I can supplement my tactics training with some basic strategy. The book is perfect for a regimen like mine. Each lesson is on a different strategic theme that can be read in 5 min or less. Perfect for the train or carpool. I'll probably start the next chapter of Silman's Endgame Course and play some FICS to close out the night :)

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Three Days of Pain and Regimen Change

At my wife's insistence via iron grip on the balls (ouch), I recently learned that I haven't actually been having an affair with the lovely Chessica as I thought, but rather with the flamboyant Chester. Apparently my wife feels more comfortable by restricting my sexual trysts with board games to homosexual affairs as opposed to straight ones.

So with one fell swoop of the rolling pin, I'm gay.


Despite a natural aversion to this lifestyle change, I have been faithful to my man these last three days, I just haven't been able to post. And I've made some changes to the daily regimen!


Read through Concentric Square Exercise Solutions ____

Concentric squares
a. 2:00 of randomized king and rook placement
b. 2:00 of randomized king and bishop placement
c. 3:00 of randomized king and knight placement
d. 1:00 of randomized king and queen placement

Sight Drills
a. 2:00 of randomized knight placement
b. 2:00 of randomized bishop placement
c. 1:00 of randomized rook placement
d. 2:00 of randomized queen placement

IQ Test _____

15:00 of Chess Eye

Seven Circles


I've shortened the duration of all the drills, and randomized their position on the board. This will help me to spot the attacking squares based on the king and rook/knight/bishop/queen positions rather than just memorizing which position comes next. And instead of using the solutions manual to check my answers, I will take 10-15 min to read through it prior to jumping into the randomized drills.

As you can see, the rook is back on the sight drills albeit only for one minute. I've also made it a practice to walk all around the board in a circle while doing the sight drills to make sure that the piece's path is solid in my mind even if I take my eyes off of it. Occasionally I'll add a knight and see if I can jump all around the path of the piece, being careful not to jump on a square where it could be captured. This helps to test if I can maintain the path when I add complexity to the board.

I've left the Knight IQ Test intact (see my first post for link), and I've added the Chess Eye Visualization software. This software will help me to visualize the board in my mind and make each square and it's notation second nature. It will also be good training should I ever want to play blindfold chess, which for the record I think is awesome.

Here's a link to the Chess Eye Software if anybody is interested in adding it to their program. I highly recommend it, it's a lot more comprehensive and efficient than flashcards.

Here are my records for the last three days, just so you don't think I was slacking.

Concentric Squares
a. Rook -> 4:43
b. Bishop -> 7:28
c. Knight -> 12:45
d. Queen -> 1:35

Sight Drills
a. Knight -> 4:19
b. Bishop -> 3:13
c. Queen -> 6:08

IQ Test -> 4:24

Seven Circles -> 819/1312

Concentric squares
a. 2:00 of randomized king and rook placement
b. 2:00 of randomized king and bishop placement
c. 3:00 of randomized king and knight placement
d. 1:00 of randomized king and queen placement

Sight Drills
a. 2:00 of randomized knight placement
b. 2:00 of randomized bishop placement
c. 1:00 of randomized rook placement
d. 2:00 of randomized queen placement

IQ Test -> 3:17 <--- Blazing Speed! Ha-sha!

Seven Circles -> 864/1312 <-- Ok, so I was slacking a little on Day 7 ----------------------------------


Read through Concentric Square Exercise Solutions

Concentric squares
a. 2:00 of randomized king and rook placement
b. 2:00 of randomized king and bishop placement
c. 3:00 of randomized king and knight placement
d. 1:00 of randomized king and queen placement

Sight Drills
a. 2:00 of randomized knight placement
b. 2:00 of randomized bishop placement
c. 1:00 of randomized rook placement
d. 2:00 of randomized queen placement IQ Test -> 3:26

15:00 of Chess Eye

Seven Circles -> 932/1312


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Day 5 Bitches!

The problems in CTB are definitely getting harder, plus I'm probably a little rusty after my two day hiatus. All in all though, I think I'm making good time :)

Concentric Squares
a. rook -> 5:39
b. bishop -> 10:04
c. knight -> 16:47
d. queen -> 2:22

Sight drills
a. knight -> 3:44
b. bishop -> 3:48
c. queen -> 7:53

IQ Test -> 5:27

Seven Circles
a. 1st circle -> 735/1312

I breezed by the drills pretty quickly today, probably because I stopped tapping the board and just visualized. I forgot my board and wasn't about to start tapping on my laptop screen ;)

When doing the sight drills, I found it helpful to look at another area of the board while trying to keep the path visible in my peripheral vision. Because even if you can make a piece's squares easily pop out while focusing on it, it won't help you in a real game if your sight goes away while trying to move your other pieces. I really should've been doing this from day 1, oh well..

In some alarming news not related at all to chess, my wife saw a cyclist get hit by a cab, fly in front of a truck, and die :O

She saw some things on the street that really ought to stay inside of your body :P (ugh..)

The moral of the story is to always look both ways.

In more important news, I received my copy of Silman's endgame course! I've never studied endgames before, so naturally I'm real excited to start :D

I'll probably read the first chapter of the book and play some games on FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) to close out the day :)

As always, don't die.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Day of Rest

No regimen training today..
I wanted to spend some time with my wife and mondays I teach chess to kids at the local YMCA! :D
The Harvard Chess Club got back from their exhibition match in China so now the chess program is back on :)

The HCC is full of very strong players, most of them 2000 or higher. I think the lowest is a 1800 and the highest is a 2400. That being said, they got absolutely massacred in China.

In past years they've lost, but by narrow margins. This time their best player could only draw at best!

The international aspect of chess is one of its most attractive qualities to me. The fact that the game is so deeply respected in every culture of the world is incredible. I hope that when I become a stronger player I can participate in tournaments all over the world.
That's very much a pipe dream, but it still makes me feel good :)
I'm back on with the training tomorrow, I'll probably just play some games at ICC for today.
See you tomorrow!

P.S. It's very hard to teach chess to little kids when they all are at different skill levels :P

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Halfway done with circle one!

Day 4 went really well. My brain wasn't hurting and I started on the daily regimen really early in the day, which I think helped.


Concentric Squares
a. rook -> 5:31
b. bishop -> 8:53
c. knight -> 19:05
d. queen -> 2:55

Sight Drills
a. knight -> 6:26
b. bishop -> 6:42
c. queen -> 10:50

IQ Test -> 7:36

Seven Circles
a. 1st circle -> 623/1312

Yahoo Chess --> defeated a 1240 with black, I still have to buy some kind of program to analyze my games with though :/


As you can see, I got rid of the rook sight drills. I'm able to make out the rooks path a lot easier than the bishops, so when trying to visualize both paths together for the queen, the rook path would be dominant and block out the bishops (if that makes any sense). So I'm cutting it out of the routine until my bishop squares pop out just as easily.

If anyone has any comments/suggestions on how to improve this blog, feel free to post it in the comments section.