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Snits' Training Journal 
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Knight
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:34 am
Posts: 71
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Rating: 1441
Rating Class: Class C (1400-1600)
Post Snits' Training Journal
I enjoy watching the videos on this site, so I thought I'd track my training here along with everyone else.

A little history:

I started playing rated over the board chess back in January 2007, about 3 weeks prior to fellow Phoenix player
and chessvideos.tv user Stockton. Unfortunately I started this at the age of 35, but better late than never right?

After a wonderful start of 0-9 and a rating of around 480, I slowly started to work my way up. I ended last year with a rating of 1219. After taking most of January off for a wedding and honeymoon, I have gone from 1219 to a high of 1508 so far this year.

These days I play over the board at least once a week (usually twice) at our local club.

Most of my study time has been spent on tactics, and playing over annotated games. I have spent very little time on openings so far. I try to get in as much studying as possible during the week, but also have a job and wife so time spent varies.

Back in January I started playing more blitz online to work on time management, and openings. I think that has helped a lot with this latest jump from 1200 to 1500. I had been hesitant to dive in because I know I have some serious thought process issues that I need to resolve and most likely blitz would enforce those bad habits. Joel Johnson and Botvinnik finally convinced me to do it though, and I have come up with a way that I think makes it effective for me. After I play a game, I will stop and quickly analyze in Chessbase, looking at where I went wrong in the opening (to help improve opening knowledge), and then look for things that I missed, or mistakes that I made. I don't spend a long time on it, but it helps by also putting a little break in between games so if I blunder and get upset I don't go on tilt.

Most of my otb games are against players rated higher than me (usually a lot higher), which helps me improve quickly. Lately it has been mostly class A players and above. I have managed to only lose 1 game to player rated below me in the past 16 months.

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USCF - 1456


Fri May 16, 2008 3:57 pm
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Knight
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Rating Class: Class C (1400-1600)
Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Here are a couple of recent wins at our monthly G/60 tournament.

I was really happy with my play in this first one.



This 2nd game wasn't as pretty, but I thought my last few moves were pretty good. He completely overlooked the mate in 1 threat at the end bringing
the game to a premature conclusion.


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Fri May 16, 2008 4:09 pm
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King

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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Hi snits and welcome to the forum ;)

The first game of the above two looks very impressive. From move 14 on, I think you made all the right moves, while the position was not that easy to win.

The second game was a bit worse I think, but it was still quite ok. 9... dxe5 would have gotten my preference, since your pieces were slightly cramped, and you'd get some more space for your bishops with a trade of pawns. 10... c5 is a good move though, when you're probably already better.

13... c4 looks a bit weird at first, but considering the fact that your knight is untouchable on d5 and you will just get good pressure on the long diagonal, it is probably a good move. 14... N5f6 is again a good move, immediately trying to take control of the long diagonal.

20... Qg5 is again a very intuitive move, but still it's good that you made it :) I think there are quite alot of players who would not play that move. You need some intuition to play those moves, and you obviously have that intuition.

Of course I can't tell how good you are from these two games, but in those two games you played pretty well! With enough practice you can probably go up alot more than the 1500 you said you made.

But maybe I am completely wrong. It would be more interesting if you gave us some of the games you lost :) Then we can see which are the weak spots, and how weak those spots are. Won games are nice to show off, but you learn the most (and we learn most about you) when we analyze your lost games :)


Fri May 16, 2008 4:58 pm
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Knight
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Don't worry I will be posting plenty of those as well. I should have one to post tonight that was the other game I played the night of the 2nd one. I lost that one to an 1800 player.

Edit:

Actually I have it here. So here it is:



Wes started coming to our Monday night club earlier this year, and has been playing in our monthly G/60 tournament on Tuesdays. He just broke
1800 this past month. So far my record against him is 2-7.

7. fxg6 I usually play fxe6, because I don't like opening the h file for the rook. My coach recommends taking the g pawn, but unless he castles short
I'm not sure it is a good thing. Definitely something I need to look at more and work with my coach on.

13..Nge5 Another thing need to work out is how to deal with a N on e5 in positions like this. This has happened in a couple games with Wes. I was looking at 14.Ng5 attacking f7.

14.Bd3 I couldn't decide the best place for this bishop but I need to get it developed and get my rook on a1 involved. I probably should get my King over to h1 instead.

16.Bg5 with the thought of 16..Qxg5 17.Qxf7+ Kd8 18.Qxg7 but with my King on g1 this obviously doesn't work since there is the bishop check. Even if he takes on g5 I think he is going okay because after the above he has 18..Rxh4.

21..Qg5 Here is where I really start to go wrong I think. For starters I need to free the pin on my g pawn. My King also seems vulnerable and probably need to defend. I had the thought in my head though 'When Kings castle opposite sides the player who attacks first wins. So off I go kamikaze style trying to get at his King before he gets at mine. The game is pretty much over after I take on d6.

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Fri May 16, 2008 5:22 pm
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Knight
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Post Training for May 16, 2008
Tonight I played through 5 more games in the copy of C.J.S. Purdy's Fine Art of Chess Annotation that I have borrowed from Stockon.

Earlier I worked through a couple dozen tactical problems on chesstempo.com.

Next up for the evening is to work through some more of Renaud & Kahn's The Art of the Checkmate.

Edit: My wife got home from work not too long after I posted, so I only made it through the chapter on Anastasia's Mate (Ch 5).

Anastasia's Mate is basically where a knight is cutting off escape squares and a major piece is attack the King.

Image

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Last edited by snits on Sat May 17, 2008 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri May 16, 2008 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Hi Snits, and welcome to the forums. Glad to see another training journal, and when I'm not so tired I'll take a look through your games. :-) Just wanted to drop a line and say keep up the good work!

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"... the French wages outright warfare over the entire board, calls for stronger nerves, and demands a soul that finds joy whenever the lust for battle is stoked. In other words, Watson is right: it’s a damn good opening!" - Jeremy Silman


Sat May 17, 2008 12:24 am
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King

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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Hi congrats on the journal! :) You play way better then I would play when started, for the first game would say you play better then I do now :) but the second game b5 is just awful. Even if you don't want to study openings keep to general principles control the center squares e4 e5 and d4 d5 develop N before B do just the necessary pawn moves to bring all your pieces in (Yea I say this not that I do it at all, but do as I say not as I do lol)
The fast rating inprovement is due to your tactics training, and since you just started and don't have that many places to play playing online is an excelent choice.
For fast improvement what was told to me was to read trough some miniatures books (less then 25 moves) mainly because it is a great way to train both the tactical, they always end up with some tactical shot, and it sharpens your openings, youl see plenty of opening blunders, so you won't also make those errors! Youl make new ones :) Then study tactics you already do that and analise your own games to see where you went wrong (from all this never made any of those untill now lol)

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Sat May 17, 2008 5:24 am
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Hi snits again :)

Your lost game seems to be based on your opening. I used to play the Grand Prix Attack as white, but when black plays like black did there (g6, Bg7, e6, d6, c5, Nc6, a6) there's really little to nothing you can get as white (in my opinion). Without making big mistakes as white, you can just get shoved off the board because of your opening disadvantage.

Maybe your coach doesn't agree, but I think you should play a different opening. The Grand Prix Attack is just not solid enough. In the middlegame it sometimes gives white a strong attack, but in the GPA you just have a structural disadvantage. Therefore you also can't safely exchange pieces to go into an endgame, because even in an endgame you'll have a worse position.

If you want a more solid but not too complex alternative, you can try the 2. c3 sicilian. White tries to play c3 and d4, getting a strong center. White enjoys more space, more control of the central squares, and easy development. The positions can sometimes get similar to French positions when black plays ...d5 after white plays d4 cxd4 cxd4, or it can lead to Isolated Queen's Pawn structures when black plays d5 before white gets to play d4 (for example 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4).

Like I said, maybe your coach doesn't agree, but I would advise you not to play the GPA as white. I played it as white and I have bad experience with it. If black played well, I always found myself with a bad position and lost many games with it.


Sat May 17, 2008 7:05 am
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
I tend to agree with Phobetor on the GPA.

2.c3 is possible and interesting, although there are some lines where black can make the game pretty dull, although I am not entirely sure on this, it's just my experience as black

3.Bb5 ( e4 c5 Nf3 Nc6 Bb5 and e4 c5 Nf3 d6 Bb5+) lines are interesting and more positional than the open sicilian lines. Notice if black plays e6 you can't go for Bb5 lines but then you have 2.c3 which I think works best against the e6 lines

What I told you was basically my repertoire against the sicilian. 3.Bb5 against 2. ...Nc6, open sicilians against 2. ...d6 and 2.c3 against 2. ...e6. It all depends on what kind of game you want

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Sat May 17, 2008 7:28 am
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King

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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
3. Bb5 is a decent choice, although when white doesn't take on c6 soon, most lines are similar to c3 sicilians. White hopes for quick development, and to quickly play c3 and d4 in the Bb5 sicilian too.

And yes, black can sometimes make the game dull. But then the game is dull for black too! ;)

And from experience I've learnt that dull & equal positions only seldom lead to a draw. I have won and lost many dull positions :) So certainly a dull position doesn't mean that you can't win anymore and only get draws.


Sat May 17, 2008 7:34 am
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Knight
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
Hi everyone, thanks for the replies. Yeah the openings are all openings that the coach has been playing for many years. So he understands all the positions that arise plus is usually better than whomever he is playing and can outplay them. Well my play against the French was all me after Nxe4 in the first game. The Polish Defense, the Sicilian GPA, the Alekhine's Defense, the reversed Sicilian against the English, and the Center game (actually the way he plays this it is a combination of a lot of different openings) are openings that he plays.

I am slowly working on changing my openings, but with time constraints it has been the lower priority so far. I know I have to in order to keep improving plus I know it will be best for improvement the more opening systems and their resulting position types I get familiar with.

I have been updating my training schedule and openings are now getting a dedicated time slot.

Now the problem is coming up with openings. There are many systems that seem interesting to me such as the Dutch Defense, the Chigorin Defense, the Modern Benoni. At some point I want to play the KID and the French. Dan Heisman highly recommends playing both of those openings for a while to get exposed to the structures that arise. The Caro-Kann also interests me. I know if I am know not careful I could easily lose myself in the sea of chess openings as they all are pretty interesting. :) I always carry around Gabor Kallai's 2 volume series Basic Chess Openings and More Basic Chess Openings which covers main lines in a lot of systems and talks about plans and counterplans.

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Sat May 17, 2008 9:08 am
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Knight
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Rating: 1441
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Post Another recent loss
Here is the other game I played the night of the first game I posted.



This one is against my coach who is a NM and original life master (300 games with a rating above 2200).

Alekhine's Defense. Probably not the best thing to play against someone who has played the Alekhine's for around 30 years.

4.a4 I need to study what the correct response is to this. I have been playing 4..a5 to stop the pawn from harassing my N.

11..N8d7 Theory is to put the N on c6. I was looking at putting it on f6 and supporting d5.

13..Bxf3 Probably pointless to trade the bishop off here. It is a common trade in the Alekhine's, but the usual tactics that win you a pawn aren't there
so probably better to not give up the bishop pair yet.

24.Be3 At this point I should have traded off his dark square bishop. I have a couple opportunities to do so in the next few moves and I didn't do it.

28.Qe5 Here I am at a point where that illustrates one of my greatest weaknesses. Lack plans/planning. I am not sure how to proceed right now. I want to keep my N trained on h6 because if his Bishop gets there I have some back rank issues possibly arising especially after I move my R off the d-file and over to the c-file. At that point if he could dislodge my N and have his B on h6, he has Bxd5, and if I take back exd5, then Qxe8+ Rxe8 Rxe8#.

29.g4 Another weakness of mine is that I still have trouble saying do I need to respond to a threat. I was so caught up thinking about the line above when
I should have been looking at how I could make trouble for him. Much better than 29..h6 would be 29..Qb5 then 30..Nfd6.

31..Rc1?? Complete chess blindness and the my game is toast. Overlooking the fact the the bishop is trained on c1.

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Sat May 17, 2008 11:30 am
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Knight
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Rating: 1441
Rating Class: Class C (1400-1600)
Post Goals
Here were the goals I came up with at the beginning of the year. I thought I had a realistic chance at hitting 1600 by the end of the year. Making the kind of
gain I made last year wouldn't be too realistic a goal, especially considering my dismal start at rated chess. I have gotten off to a good start though.

Code:
Mar 2008  1300 USCF           * Completed Feb 2008 *
Jun 2008  1400 USCF            * Completed Mar 2008 *
Sep 2008  1500 USCF            * Completed Apr 2008 *
Dec 2008  1600 USCF



Here is the long term goals I have set for myself:

Code:
Mar 2008  1300                          * COMPLETED Feb 2008 *
Jun 2008   1400 Class C               * COMPLETED Mar 2008 *
Sep 2008  1500                          * COMPLETED Apr 2008 *
Dec 2008  1600 Class B
Jun 2009   1700
Dec 2009   1800 Class A
Dec 2010   1900
Dec 2011   2000 Expert
Dec 2012   2050
Dec 2013   2100
Dec 2014   2150
Dec 2015   2200 National Master



Below is the digest view of my USCF data that is compiled by Wayne Zimmerle's nifty MSA tool.

Code:
This is data from 01-01-1991 to 05-17-2008

Current Official rating is 1304    Current UnOfficial rating is 1483
Best Unofficial rating = 1508   Best Official rating = 1508   Lowest rating on record = 484
51 Opponents   Total Rated Games =  149 --->     45 Wins   6 Draws   98 Losses

Best Upset = 689 points -- MICHAEL RICHARD OLDEHOFF -- 1348  VALLEY CHESS 20070506 05-06-2007
Best Draw = 761 points -- JOEL F JOHNSON -- 2204  VALLEY CHESS CH20080414 04-14-2008
Worst Loss = -19 points -- DEAN SIMONSON -- 1180  VALLEY CHESS PV20071125 11-25-2007

Highest Rated Opponent Win = WESLEY WORDEN -- 1818  VALLEY CHESS CH20080407  04-07-2008
Highest Rated Opponent Draw = JOEL F JOHNSON -- 2204  VALLEY CHESS CH20080414  04-14-2008
Lowest Rated Opponent Loss to = NANCY L JONES -- 829  VALLEY CHESS 20070506  05-06-2007

Most Recent Wins in a row =  3 ending on 02-25-2008 at VALLEY CHESS CH20080225
Most Recent Draws in a row =  1 ending on 04-28-2008 at VALLEY CHESS CH20080428
Most Recent Losses in a row =  9 ending on 02-11-2007 at VALLEY CHESS 20070211

Results against 123 higher rated players: Wins =  21   Draws =  5   Losses =  97
Results against 0  equally rated players: Wins =  0   Draws =  0   Losses =  0
Results against 26  lower rated players: Wins =  24   Draws =  1   Losses =  1

Results against 102 players rated + 200 : Wins =  12   Draws =  3   Losses =  87
Results against 32 players rated +/-200: Wins =  19   Draws =  2   Losses =  11
Results against 15 players rated - 200 : Wins =  14   Draws =  1   Losses =  0


I will work on coming up with some training goals in the next couple of days.

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USCF - 1456


Last edited by snits on Sat May 17, 2008 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat May 17, 2008 1:42 pm
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Post Re: Snits' Training Journal
I think that your goals are attainable though you might surprise yourself and attain them more quickly than the schedule that you have set out for yourself. Just don't do what I did and quit for long periods of time. That plays havoc with schedules of the sort that you have set for yourself.

I was about your age when I took up chess again after a ten year hiatus and jumped from an old rating in the B to A range and reached 2200 and managed to get the NM title in a little over a year. Of course I fell back a bit after some health problems intervened.


Sat May 17, 2008 2:07 pm
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Knight
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Rating: 1441
Rating Class: Class C (1400-1600)
Post Training for May 17, 2008
I started the day with about 20 problems on chesstempo.com. Then I played through another 5 games in the Purdy book. I should finish the book within the next week.

Next up is some opening study.

Edit:

I worked through some of Starting Out: the Nimzo-Indian.

I finished off the day with working through some of Convekta's Strategy 2.0 software. I was going through the advantage in development section.

Some of the major points brought up:

Code:
*  3 Main Opening Principles
    1. Quick mobilization of pieces
    2. Fight for the center
    3. A player who has a development advantage should strive to open the position

* An advantage in development is temporary, and therefore utilizing it requires rigorous action. Otherwise your opponent has time to consolidate his position.

* In the opening sometimes a tempo is worth more than a pawn.

* The best way to defeat a gambit is the return of material at the proper moment.



I'm still trying to decide what openings to pursue. Some possibilites:

Black e-pawn defenses:

Sicilian
Caro-Kann
sticking with Alekhine's
Spanish
French

Black d-pawn defenses:

Benko Gambit
Modern Benoni
Dutch Defense
KID
Nimzo-Indian
Chigorin
Grunfeld

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Sat May 17, 2008 3:06 pm
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