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Studentofchess' journal 
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Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
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Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Studentofchess' journal
Hey everyone! I've contemplated creating one of these training journal's in the past, but for a variety of reasons I haven't. However, right now I'm going through a "season" where I am both extremely motivated to improve my chess game and should have a little more time available to actually focus on doing so. It is a fact of life that a goal committed to writing has a much higher probability of succeeding, so that is part of my motivation. However, I'm also hoping that creating the journal on this site, where others can review my work and offer their own input, will help in my improvement. Lastly, it always feels good to "give back" and so if anything I do here helps others improve, then so much the better.

I enjoyed reading through the two new journals recently started by Laramonet and BeatCousinBob, so will probably provide some background info, goals, etc. as they did a little later when I have some more time to add to this.

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Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:15 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
OK, so here's some background info:

- I learned to play chess when I was 6, but didn't really start playing any games until later in grade school (4th grade I believe).
- Playing on our school's chess team is what first got me interested. Due to my competitive nature, I wanted to be the best in our (small) school, so I remember making a commitment to play 30 minutes every day during the summer before 7th grade.
- Since nobody else was really doing anything to learn, I achieved this goal w/n just a few months. I believe I had 3-4 books at that time. This led to an increased interest in the game.
- I played in my first non-scholastic tournament around the age of 13 - this got me even more interested and I started saving up $$ to buy more chess books. Also, started getting the state magazine and Chess Life & Review after that tournament, so had even more stuff to read. In high school, I got my first (very rudimentary) chess computer, which gave me someone to play against and I continued to improve.
- Since I lived in a small rural town, I had nobody to play, no clubs, coaching anything....which led to getting involved in correspondence chess. I think this was also very helpful.
- By the time I graduated from high school, I had won or shared first in the youth state championship 3 times. Now, I come from a small state, so that wasn't really any great achievement, but it fueled my further interest in improving.
- In college, due to studies and other commitments, I took a couple years off. Then, the US Open came to our state and so I started playing again my Junior year of school (I ended up tying for 1st or 2nd in the Class B section!). That basically got me started on a 6 year window of time where I played quite a bit. By the end of that time I was rated around 2150 USCF. And then the long layoff came....
- Due to getting married, having kids, and starting a business, I decided to put the game on the back burner for a while. Truth is though, I was getting burned out. I didn't want to quit because of how much time and effort I had invested into the game - thinking about it made me feel terrible - but in reality I welcomed the "freedom" of not having to study all the time.
- After approx 16 years, in the spring of 2008, I was just killing time on the computer and ended up reading about everything that had gone on in chess "while I was away." Somehow this got me interested and I started playing blitz on-line, which led to discovering the various on-line chess sites that are available.
- The next thing I know I had decided to start studying again and to play in a tournament (last June). I can't believe how excited I was. I didn't do very well (+2, -1, =1) and was quite rusty. However, I've played in a couple tourny's since then and a couple one-day events. I still feel like I am rusty - like I've forgotten MORE about chess than the total sum of what I currently know....but stuff is starting to come back to me.

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Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:52 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
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Rating: 2075
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Goals:

Well, I just turned 44 and one of the depressing things is that I know my brain is past its peak performance for this game. On the other hand, I am hopeful that I am still far enough down on the learning curve, that some focus and effort can help me get at least past 2200. After reflecting on my chess playing history in the previous journal entry, I realize that the bulk of my learning occurred in the six year window starting during my junior year of college. I guess that's not strictly true because I'm sure there was significant learnings in the 5-6 years of middle school - high school....that laid the groundwork for the improvement that took me from a Class B player to the 2100+ range.

The other thing is that I am completely self-taught. I've never had a single lesson and have just tried to develop a plan for study that I thought made sense. More on that in a minute.

So my primary goal is to reach the Master class (2200+ rating). While my rating is around 2050 - 2100 right now, I assume the jump from 2100 to 2200 is more significant than the jump from 1800 - 1900. So, I may need to set some smaller benchmark goals along the way (back over 2100 by a certain date, 2150 by whenever, etc.).

Another goal is to play in our state invitational / championship. I was almost included this year as I was the 2nd Alternate; seems like would be alot of fun. So that is clearly a goal for next year.


Training Plan:

Whenever I've studied in the past, I simply tried to focus on the three major aspects of the game (opening, middlegame, endgame) and I would read from books within each of those areas. Some of the reading I've done on this website as well as ICC has helped me see the need for incorporating tactics training, as well as making sure you get enough actual playing time (vs simply studying for 3-4 months between tournaments without any actual playing mixed in). Another thing I've come to appreciate is studying the games of specific players that have the same style as yourself.

So right now, I am doing the following:
1. Openings - Reading books on the openings w/n my repertoire and doing database searches to review other games in these lines. Also, in-depth review of the handful of games I have played thus far.
2. Middlegame - Re-reading (i.e. read when I was young) "Complete Chess Strategy - Volume 1" by Ludek Pachman.
3. Endgame - A Guide to Chess Endings by Euwe & Hopper. I'm focusing on Rook Endings since those are the most common.
4. Tactics - Chess.com's 3 free puzzles on Tactics Trainer every day + ATS and/or ChessTempo as time allows. Trying to do at least 10 puzzles per day on ATS.
5. Famous Player - Re-reading the book on Karpov-Kasparov 2nd Match.
6. Will try to fit in a balance of blitz (to get broad exposure to various opening variations) and slower games, probably Game/60 whenever I can. I just finished a 45/15 game on ICC before posting this....should have won, was up an exchange for a pawn w/ a better position, but took my sweet time thinking I would win the game before time really became an issue and ending up only drawing the K+R+P vs K+N+2P ending.

So, that's what I've got so far. I would really appreciate any input anyone has, either on goal setting or training plan. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing. Will also probably post some games I've played either to make this mildly interesting as well as get more feedback.

Thanks in advance for any input, tips, encouragement you all will provide!

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Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:22 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Quick training update:

Thursday I reviewed Games 7 & 8 from the K-K II match, this led to a review on Rook endings (since Game 8 was an instructive game on Rook activity) where I reviewed the famous Alekhine-Capablanca Rook ending, and then I went through a few similar positions where the outcome of the game is completely determined by the positioning of the Rook (i.e. in front of the passed pawn or behind it).

On Friday I followed this up by starting to review the minor piece section of the aforementioned book on endings.

Saturday & Sunday I was attending kids events all day both days and so managed to read through several lines in one of the variations I play with White.

Today, I played half a dozen blitz games (I'm awful at blitz) and reviewed two games in my Middlegame Book which finished the chapter on minor pieces.

I've managed to do the three free tactics problems on Chess.com, along w/ 10 problems on ATS, each day but Sunday. I guess for measurement purposes, I'll log some stats here so that I can check my progress on how many I've completed over time.

1. Chess.com - To date I've completed 328 puzzles (started around Sep 1), solving 214 of them correctly for a 65% pass rate. However, I'm really struggling over the last couple weeks and my rating on this site is down to 2328 (usual range is low to high 2400s with an alltime high of 2544).
2. ATS - To date I've completed 195 problems, solving 139 correctly (71%) with a rating of 2122 and RD of 54.6. I forget what RD stands for (rating difficulty?) and/or what it means and don't see it on the stats page - can anyone help me w/ this?
3. Chess Tempo - I'm new to this, have only visited the site a couple times based upon what I've heard from others on this site. To date I've completed 13 standard problems and passed 12 of them.

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Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:00 am
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Thanks for the update. I don't really have a direct comment other than to say that I enjoy reading how others are training and also so you know that people are reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

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Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:04 am
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Training Update -

Since previous update (last Tues):
Wed - Minor Piece endgame study + Tactics
Thur - G/60 on ICC + Tactics

Was out of town Fri - Sun taking some time off w/ friends, brought my opening book w/ me, but never really got a chance to spend any time in it.

One interesting thing that happened this past week: my old laptop had recently died and it had been about a month since doing a backup of Chessbase. Naturally, I was concerned that I had lost all my analysis work from recent tournament games. However, I got it back on Wed and nothing was lost....yeah!!

I've been playing around w/ SCID a little bit - a consequence of the old laptop crashing and needing to either repurchase Chessbase or learn this new program which is free. At this point I prefer the "feel" of SCID so will continue working w/ it w/ the idea of eventually switching to it.

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Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:50 am
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Training Update -

Monday - Analyzed game played last Thursday. This crossed over to reviewing notes on the opening variation played in that game. Also did Tactics work.
Tuesday - Only had time for a few blitz games and to do Tactics work.
Wednesday - More analysis on last Thursday's game, 45 min in Middlegame book (started section on Rooks), and Tactics work (1 hour, 15 min).
Thursday - 30 min in Middlegame book (open lines for Rooks), 1 hour, 15 min on Tactics, another 15 min in Middlegame book.
Friday - 15 min in Middlegame book, I was tired and mentally fatigued so just quickly played through a dozen games I've saved from a variation that occurred in one of my games in January. This led to a quick review of another dozen games in a side variation that interested me. No tactics work this day, I was just too tired.
Saturday - Between one daughter's volleyball tournament, and another daughter's dance competition, the wife and I were in different cities, and on the go from "o-dark-hundred" until almost midnight. However, I planned ahead for the inevitable breaks between games and brought my Endings chessbook along w/ travel chessboard and worked through 3(!) different Rook endings. All together, I probably got in close to 1.5 hours of study.

Sidenote for those following along - here is the approach I use in analyzing my games: first run through the game I enter in CB (or SCID) and simply add notes as far as what my thinking was during the game. Second pass through the game I actually analyze (on my own). Third pass through the game is checking my work w/ the computer. This takes much longer than what I used to do in my "previous chess life" but probably produces much more benefit.

Next tournament will likely be a one day, 4 round, Game/60 the last Saturday of this month.
Tentative plans for future tournaments:
April 17-18 (Master/Expert Class tournament)
May 22 (One day, Game/60 tourny)
June 19-20 (Open Tourny)
July 17-18 (Summer Open)
Sep 4-6 (State Open)
Oct 16-17 (Fall Open)
Dec 11-12 (Winter Open)

....and of course....qualify for state invitational (championship) in 2011!

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Coming out of retirement!


Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:35 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
A few things for anyone out there who happens to be following along....

(which as a quick aside reminds me of a funny line from the movie Marly; Owen Wilson is a newspaper writer and runs into a reader who says how much she loves his articles and reads them everyday, his reply: "So you're the one.")

1) Updates - instead of entering a new post every time I update my journal, I started editing the last post. This way it won't grow into a huge thread just for simple updates. Probably also makes it easier to follow along. So, like I said, if there are one or two people out there actually reading this stuff, keep an eye on the updates as they will get edited / updated.

2) Games - today I'm going to learn how to post games into my training journal (feel free to post / PM me any tips) so I can either share recent games or things that I've studied. For example, the K-K game I reviewed last week where Kasparov preferred activating his Rook (and losing a pawn) vs. hanging on to the pawn but allowing his R to be tied down was very instructive, and might be worthwhile posting here.

3) Goals - something I've been thinking about, that others might find helpful (as I've read through other journals). In goal setting, it is important to set your goal, have a plan for reaching it, and have it be quantifiable (e.g. reach x rating by x date). But then, after doing that, one should focus on the things that are going to propel them to that goal. This is because there are things outside of your control that you cannot do anything about. Therefore, focus on what you can control! Example: If I am in sales and I know that 3 out of 10 people I talk to will buy my product/service, and my goal is to sell 10 widgets per day, then I know I need to talk to a little more than 30 people per day. If I simply focus on doing that - outside of improving my skills, et. al. - I will reach my goal. When presenting my product/service, I shouldn't worry about that particular person's decision - whether they decide to buy or not is outside my control - but if I focus on what I can control, the law of averages will carry me to my goal.

If I want to increase my rating to 2200, I need to focus on the various aspects of my training, working hard and being consistent - I can control that! I may or may not achieve the results I desire in a particular event, but if I separate that one event's results from the big picture, stay focused on what I can control, in the long run I will have success.

OK, enough philosophical rambling for now, it's time to catch up on some tactics work....

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Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:10 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Image

From the game Karpov-Kasparov, 2nd Match, game 8.

(Hey, look at me, I got a diagram posted!!)

Now, after 23.h3 (creating luft for the king), Kasparov plays 23. ...Ne4 opting for active play for his pieces in exchange for the pawn, rather than passive defense with 23. ... Rd8. MOST INSTRUCTIVE FOR US MERE MORTAL CHESSPLAYERS

The game concluded: 24.Rxd5 Rb1+ 25.Kh2 Nxf2 26.Rd8+ Kh7 27.Rd7 a5 28.Rxf7 Rb2 29.a4 Nd1 30.Re7 Rb4 31.Nd4 Nxe3 (31. ...Rxa4 32.Nf5 Kg6 was also OK) 32.Nc6 Rc4 33.Rxe3 Rxc6 34.Re5 Rc3 35.Rxa5 Ra3 (AGAIN, ACTIVITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PAWN) with a textbook draw, though Karpov made him "prove it" by playing on another 14 moves.

I have some other great examples of this from my recent Rook ending studies, perhaps I'll post a few of those later...

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Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:57 pm
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Hey, I'm still watching. I don't think it's a problem to create a long thread with updates but I understand your reasoning. I liked the K-K example. How many players of my level would actually give that pawn up? I'm sure my natural reaction in a blitz game at least would be to play Rd8. But this goes a long way to explaining why I'm not yet World Champion. :D

I do like your training journal and since I'm an "old" guy too (with a wife and two daughters), I'll be following your progress with interest. Hoping you crack the 2200 barrier. I'll just be happy to crack the 1800 barrier myself!

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Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:02 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Training Update -

Sunday - Tactics (did a little extra to make up for missing last couple days: 3 free Chess.com Tactics Trainer problems, 10 problems on ATS, and then 10 problems on Chess Tempo), Reviewed Game 10 from "Maneuvers in Moscow" book (i.e. Karpov-Kasparov II), watched augelmo's round 3 & 4 videos from Minnesota Open. Started Dennis M's video on Knight vs Bishop endings, stopped at 10 min point in video as he suggested to go back over the game and find improvements.

Monday - Did some more analysis on my last practice game during my daughter's VBall practice! Only had time for tactics work when we got home, but again did a little extra to make up for missed training over weekend: 3 freebies on Chess.com, 15 on ATS, 10 on Chess Tempo.

Tuesday - Once a month I have a board mtg that runs late into the eve, however, when I got home I watched the first half of augelmo's video from Round 5 game in MN Open.

Wednesday - Just about completed analyzing last practice game (30min), + Tactics (3 free + 10 on ATS). Was reading through some other training journals yesterday during a break at work and checked out the CTS site per Tyger's journal.

Thursday - Completed analysis of last practice game (below), did another longer session of Tactics (20 problems on ATS). Note - I've been struggling with the timed tactics on Chess.com, so I tried doing them in the morning, when my mind would be fresh, and aced all 3 of them. Coincidence?

Friday - Lots of work today. Played another G/60 practice game this morning (draw), and entered my in-game thoughts. This afternoon I did some opening study on the line played in that game. Evening played a couple games of blitz and watched some videos.

Saturday - Morning - Failed all 3 freebies on Tactics Trainer, so much for the "being sharper in the morning" idea. I'm down to 2275 right now on this site which is discouraging considering I was normally between 2400 - 2500. Reviewed an annotated game on chess.com. Evening: reviewed an annotated endgame in local magazine, did 25 (!) tactics problems on ATS, and finally, watched curtains latest video. Another instructive Rook ending to review - textbook draw, but of course not so easy w/ only a minute left on ones clock...

Sunday -Took my endgame book w/ me to another of my daughter's competitions and worked on a N v. 2pawns endgame. Later that eve, finished Dennis M.'s recent video on B v. N endgames (after doing some analysis first as he suggested), and then started working on analyzing my latest practice game.

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Last edited by studentofchess on Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:03 am, edited 4 times in total.



Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:08 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
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Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
So, I'm still adding daily updates to one entry, but thought I would try uploading a game to see if I could figure this out. This is my last G/60 practice game on ICC that I've referred to above.





I haven't completed analyzing yet, but a fairly clean game by me. A couple inaccuracies in the middlegame, but a good finish to the game. I particularly liked the mate at the end which looks like something one would find in a tactics training puzzle....

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Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:28 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
Week of March 15th:

Monday - More analysis work on last practice game. After I get a little further along, I'll post the game w/ analysis in case anyone wants to check my work. I'm going to do some middlegame work next, and then finish with tactics. See update below.

Tuesday - Had to work late this eve, so not much time for chess. I did, however, get in a few Blitz games during a break earlier in the day. At home I completed 15 ATS tactics problems, as well as the 3 chess.com problems. Compiled my list of "loose ends" that I still want to get back to (see next entry).

Wednesday - More analysis work on last practice game (wow - this is hard work). Reviewed Games 11, 12, & 13 in K-K II (see post below). Tactics - completed 3 Chess.com, 15 ATS, and a few on Chess Tempo; had a good session / felt sharper.

Thursday - Played 7 or 8 blitz games, quickly reviewed 12-15 games from TWIC, did some opening study, and then Tactics (3 chess.com + 10 Chess Tempo.

Friday - Out of town at one daughter's event - from the hotel I worked on analysis of last practice game, and reviewed an annotated game in Chess Life.

Saturday - Still out of town; from Starbucks (Internet access), I managed to complete a few tactics problems. Completed 6 endgame studies in-between performances at daughter's competition.

Sunday - Back home today; Tactics: 3 chess.com, 15 ATS, and another handful on chess tempo. Also reviewed several games in one of my opening variations.

Just a quick update on tactics given the amount of time I've spent on this part of my training:

1. Chess.com - To date: solved 237 of 364 for a 65.1% pass rate. Almost 40 more problems completed since 2/23. Pass rate exactly the same, though rating is still down (currently 2305). My only concern about the rating - am I getting stronger in this area?
2. ATS - To date: solved 261 of 352 for a 74.1% pass rate (time is NOT a factor with these problems). That's another 157 problems completed since 2/23, with a slight uptick in pass rate. Current rating up to 2193. Again, they give Rating/RD as 2193.2/30.4 -- anyone know what the RD stands for?
3. Chess Tempo - To date: solved 40 of 54, again 74% with a rating of 2054.

Schedule Update - There is a tourny this weekend, but I will not be able to participate as one of my daughter's has a two day competition. However, I am getting excited for the following weekend's one day, 4 round, G/60 tourny. I'm anxious to see how I play given the amount of work I have been putting in....

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Coming out of retirement!


Last edited by studentofchess on Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.



Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:01 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 247
Rating: 2075
Rating Class: Expert (2000-2200)
 Re: Studentofchess' journal
My "loose ends" still to be completed as soon as I get time:

-- Review the Rook ending from latest curtains video. I know with the weaker side's Rook behind the pawn, it is a textbook draw, but good to review.
-- Review opening line from two recent blitz games, one today and one last week.
-- There is something else.........but my feeble mind is drawing a blank right now :D
EDIT - I remember now, I still have some un-analyzed games from my last tournament - one is a key opening variation that I haven't gotten around to relearning yet, must get done before next tournament. And yet I still feel like there was something else....


Here is a miniature from one of my blitz games today. I haven't analyzed it by any means, but spent maybe 2 minutes running it through the engine to see if I made any gross errors. The main thing is 15.Nd6+ which at first looks good, but in reality throws away White's advantage. Can you spot what Black should've played on his 15th move?


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Last edited by studentofchess on Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:18 pm
Rook

Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:58 am
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 Re: Studentofchess' journal
From Game 11 of Karpov-Kasparov Chpp Match #2, Game 11. Karpov is defending the Black side of a Nimzo-Indian and appears to be minimizing White's opening initiative. After having played 21. ...Rd7, in response to Kasparov's 22.Qg4 he relaxes and plays the routine 22. ... Rcd8. However, this move actually loses. I'll post the solution shortly.....

Image

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Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:08 pm
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