I've done it! I've completed the 7 circles!
I feel like I've graduated chess grade school :D
God those last two circles were BORING. Having completed the circles I have a few issues with them. First off, more and more after my third and fourth circle my brain stopped thinking. It began to just memorize and recall the solutions to the problems, so I just coasted through. I don't think this is a good thing. It's good to memorize and recall the tactical themes in the problems but I'm afraid I was just looking at familiar formations of pawns to remember the answers. Now don't get me wrong now, I'm a big advocate for the repetition of problems to get the most value out of them. But there comes a point when you don't get enough value out of the problem to justify the time spent. For my future circles I'll stop when I feel their value has been exhausted. Maybe after 5 or 6. Since there is no shortage of tactics problems and they all contain the same tactical themes within them there's no reason not to push yourself.
I've also compiled an errata list for CTB:
379 - Qb7# not listed as an alternative
389 - Rh2+ is a blunder pure and simple.
519 - Ne7# not listed as an alternative
1160 - 3...Kb8 4. Nd7+ Ka8 6. Rh6 seems like an interesting line to include
1202 - The alternate solution lists Qxe6+ instead of the Qxh7#.
1258 - 1. Bg8+ Kh8 2. Be6! seems like it should be included.
1264 - Kc4 should be listed as an alternative.
1289 - Kc7 should not be listed as an alternative because it loses.
Keep in mind that this list would've been a lot more exhaustive if I had thought of the idea from day 1. This is just what I could catch from my last circle. I know I'm missing one in particular where a mate is available but they want you to win the queen instead. Feel free to make this list your own, update and post it on your own blogs so fellow circlers can use it.
So I've been done for a week now, and have started CTI, Chess Tactics for Intermediate Players. People who're doing CTB will be glad to know that CTI builds on some of the same problems in CTB which is pretty cool. It will be the same problem but a few moves back so you have to figure out how to get to the recognizable position. I'm thinking once I finish my 7 circles of CTI I'll do a super circle of CTB and CTI. That would be pretty badass. CTI is super hard, they're starting to include "quiet moves". Moves that aren't forcing, but are devastating nonetheless because there's no way to stop it. These are really hard to calculate correctly because it feels like you're opening the flood gates of infinitude so you really have to be sure there's no response. I feel like this is my first introduction to positional chess.
7 CIRCLE WRAPUP
Well when I started the circles my rating was around the high 1200's. During the third and fourth circles I maintained a mid 1700 rating for about 20 games. But as the problems became memorized, I could really feel my brain muscle atrophying and I became lazier in doing the circles because I no longer needed to push myself to find the solution. I guess that laziness must've carried over into my games. Anyways I'm currently maintaining a mid 1600 rating for all my cumulative games. So I've experienced a 300-400 rating increase from doing the circles and playing regular slow time games. All in all I'm happy with my progress but I don't feel like I'm anywhere near where I want to be. After all I still get my ass handed to me by the old russian men in Harvard Square. I think I've reached the Class B plateau described in this great article: Ratings and Expectations
I really want to be at the level where I can read books like Pawn Power by Hans Kmoch, and positional books like Reassess your Chess but I just don't feel like I'm tactically sharp enough yet. For now I'm going to stick to the circles program with emphasis on playing and analyzing a slow time game everyday. As for my future as a blogger, I don't think I'll post every month. So if that means I'm no longer a knight, then feel free to update your sidebars accordingly. In fact, the only reason I started this blog was to distribute my Concentric Square Exercise solutions. I had initially emailed them to BDK so he could post them on his blog but he convinced me to start one of my own :)
As for my controversial comment on BDK's blog, I'll admit that it wasn't phrased in the most diplomatic fashion, but I just feel that if you have something that works, what else is there to talk about? I guess I'm not much of a blogger ;)
I wish everyone well, and I hope someone gets some use out of the errata. And you can count on me to read your blogs when I'm procrastinating ;)
I'd like to leave you with the one problem that prevented me from getting a 100% success rate on my last circle. You'd really think I'd see it coming after seeing it 6 times..
(White to Move)