Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

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Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by chesstiger on April 17th 2009, 8:59 am

As i am waiting for a sign of life from ICS i am wondering, after reading some of the post on the forum, if people feel their chess strenght is already better, higher, thanks to what they have learned so far? With other words, is the thoughtproces they suggest really so much better then everything else suggested (by Dan Heisman or Silman for example)? Or is it just being busy with chess that makes your chess strenght go up?
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by fanat on April 17th 2009, 9:21 am

chesstiger wrote:As i am waiting for a sign of life from ICS i am wondering, after reading some of the post on the forum, if people feel their chess strenght is already better, higher, thanks to what they have learned so far? With other words, is the thoughtproces they suggest really so much better then everything else suggested (by Dan Heisman or Silman for example)? Or is it just being busy with chess that makes your chess strenght go up?

I think the "thought process" that ICS teaches is not unique. It's very similar to Silman and other authors. They all have overlaps. Silman for instance, didn't come with his "imbalances" on his own but borrowed most of them from earlier authors.

The improvement, in my opinion, comes not from anything unique that ICS teaches but from us sitting down and spending 6-10 hours per week on chess. The ICS "thought process" makes you think about a position for a while and take your time analyzing it. So, obviously your thought process is going to improve and you will become stronger.

The material they provide, while is of great quality is not something we can't find in the books on our own. But the structured environment of the program pushes people, I know it really works for me, and since I feel that I'm taking a class I really try harder than I would have if I studied on my own.

In any case, if you spend 6 hours a week studying chess then you will improve regardless but I think you will improve more with ICS. I'm almost finished with month 2 and I definitely see improvements in my game since I started!
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on April 17th 2009, 9:33 am

Great to see you chesstiger. I hope those damned Romanians respond to your queries soon!

The proof will be in our ratings graphs. Do they go up faster than they did in the previous 13 months? But you ask the exact right question: all these improvement methods are probably not important, as long as you have a plan and stick to it you will likely improve (assuming the plan is essentially sane: sacrificing animals to improve at chess six hours a week is probably not a good plan).

The real test would be to do a study with two groups of improvers, give them two methods (matched for time of study), and see who improves faster, if either. Frankly, it is shocking to me that a series of such studies hasn't been done. THey would be more useful than most psychological studies done by academic psychologists!
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by fanat on April 17th 2009, 9:45 am

Blue Devil Knight wrote:Great to see you chesstiger. I hope those damned Romanians respond to your queries soon!

The proof will be in our ratings graphs. Do they go up faster than they did in the previous 13 months? But you ask the exact right question: all these improvement methods are probably not important, as long as you have a plan and stick to it you will likely improve (assuming the plan is essentially sane: sacrificing animals to improve at chess six hours a week is probably not a good plan).

The real test would be to do a study with two groups of improvers, give them two methods (matched for time of study), and see who improves faster, if either. Frankly, it is shocking to me that a series of such studies hasn't been done. THey would be more useful than most psychological studies done by academic psychologists!

I think we will definitely see that our progress will improve through our ratings but we should keep in mind that's it's easier to gain points on the lower end of the rating. What would be great, if somebody who is at the end of the program or finished it recently will visit this forum and give us their opinion!
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Good question.

Post by Chess? on April 17th 2009, 8:17 pm

I know that after I finish studying I feel my spidie senses are tingling. Then I will jump on Chessbase and the senses will quickly diminish.
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Green Shoots??

Post by hoopy on May 19th 2009, 5:00 pm

Despite my adiction to the short term buzz of Blitz I played 2 proper ( 20+ mins) games tonight. Both players about 2000.


1st game (1980) I had won position & had one of the 2 Rooks+p versus Rook +2Ns. I was trying to remember all of the PME stuff & actually had a won endgame. Then threw it away with "I forgot which way his pawn was going & put a rook en prise!!!!) Shame to blunder such a good game. I'll Try to publish it this weekend. I think it does cover a lot of the positional stuff we talked about.

2nd game won against 2150. He fell into a complex but book trap.

I would never have though I would have a chance against guys like this before. Maybe I am seeing some green shoots of success. ( Or maybe just lucky today - you note that I haven't printed anything like this when I lose!!)
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Chess? on May 19th 2009, 6:20 pm

Hey Hoopy, I just the book trap was from one of your Knight openings B03? Nice play on both games!
I have scheduled about 6hr per week on study. From time to time I have brief moments of “hey I can play this game!” But then it all goes away. Especially lately, it seems my game has gone to the toilet.
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by BobbyBlunder on June 3rd 2009, 12:20 pm

ICS is a great course (I am on Month 10). The emphasis is on helping the student develop a good chess thinking process. Strong players seems to have this naturally, while the rest of us need to develop it deliberately.

As someone who has been studying chess for some 35 years I would offer some advice on the course and how to study. In my experience it is better not to expect immediate improvement as for many students changing the way one plays often causes a dip in performance until the new skill is absorbed into 'unconconcious excellence at the board. So please do not be disappointed or discouraged if things do not go well at first. Plough on through and enjoy the process of learning rather than look to short term results for rewards.

It is my view that the student having completed the course should develop their 'chess culture'. By this I mean become familiar with all the classic chess games and delve deeper into chess concepts not covered in the course. So I see ICS material as a great start but there is more to do after that. It seems to me that playing through the game collection of great players in the light of this material will be beneficial as well as classic books such as Zurich 1953 Bronstein and Euwe & Kramers Middle Game 1 and 2.

People have commented that they feel a tactical supplement is needed and it seems to me this is a great idea. My own favorite is the Test your Chess IQ series which has the benefit of requiring the player to unearth defensive resources for the opponent to get the full marks.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by hoopy on June 3rd 2009, 6:36 pm

Hi BB. Nice to hear from someone who has nearly completed the journey (or at least the main part). Like you I've been v impressed with the material - despite my attention to detail & expectation of perfection as a few of my comments elsewhere have suggested. It is interesting your order of study. I did E&K about 30 yrs ago. It would be interesting if I did them again to find out if my previous attempt was superficial or real. Do you genuinely believe you have improved in a measurable ( Elo) sense and that this type of material takes on a different context after the course?

Thanks in advance for your views.
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by BobbyBlunder on June 3rd 2009, 7:35 pm

Hi. I have not played any tournament chess since starting the course so I cannot claim extra ELO points, but I am convinced that any student will understand the game substantially better having diligently gone through the material and will have a strong players approach to solving problems at the board. I am equally confident that this in time will mean better play and (all other things considered equal) a higher rating.

Yes it will take some time but the real improvement comes from unlearning our flawed thinking process and replacing it with a superior method of internal dialogue. Problems solving in general is about asking the right questions. Ask ourselves the right questions, draw from our chess culture and superior problem solving will occur. This will not by itself lead to a superior sporting performance. There other aspects at work such as how hard are we willing to work at the board, can we concentrate for 4 hours and not let the win turn into a loss by blundering after 200+ minutes of play and so on.

I also believe there that revisiting classic material in the light of the study and using the methods provided to the student will help reinforce the ideas and help the rate of absorbtion into our chess thinking. (in fact I have just read one of the playing techniques PDF's and they say more or less the same thing). I would also advise staying clear of rapid chess and limiting ourselves to classic time controls. We need time to think to make this work until it becomes natural.

Looking back over the course I think they deal with many of the aspects of chess thinking which is part of the strong players approach. If any area is neglected it is the idea of 'falsification'. Rowson has come to the conclusion that one of the approaches to the game that distinguishes the strong from the weak is the effort that strong players put in to disprove their own conclusions about the position, while weaker players tend to look for ideas that support their initial assessment. In short one must play for the opponent and make a great effort to unearth resources for them and not assume they want to roll over and die.

We all have it within us to become master players. The combination of self-belief combined with the unbending will to succeed is all you need. The concept of talent does not kick in until we reach 2400+ or so. Elo 2200 or 2300 is all about effort on and off the board and studying in the right way. I spent most of my life studying the wrong way because I just didn't know any better. We start with ICS. Lets get our minds right!

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by AoxomoxoA on July 8th 2009, 11:26 am

1) There are some reports, that with 16 h training a week and an age lower 25 the increase of 100 points is possible.
2) I try to play as often as i can a slow game in the net and monitor the rating

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by hoopy on July 8th 2009, 12:25 pm

There seems to be a concensus conclusion if you add the above comments to what we read elsewhere.

1) We are all understanding the game better and convinced we are improving as a result if the course.
2) But it is not ( in most cases) being reflected in gradings

So many comments to this effect make me think/hope that there is a step change that is achieved at last stages of the course.

Today for example I played 9 internet games ( It ok I'm not working today) and easily winning all of the games. Ended up only winning 3 which destroyed my grading! . I reckon this is because I am still "Thinking" about the material and is not yet natural. As a result I am spending less time thinking about the tactical side of the game & therefore introducing a new error into my game.
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 8th 2009, 12:52 pm

If my ratings don't improve, then I haven't improved. I don't care about whether ICS can increase my understanding. The only reason I do ICS is to get help winning real games, which needs to be reflected in my rating.

Hopefully the two merge of course and blah blah all that happy horseshit. But the ultimate measure is the rating. I know people who know a lot, but can't beat anyone in a real game. Indeed, that pretty much sums up my situation! Smile

Frankly I am very demoralized right now as my performance as so bad at World Open. I will post some games here when I have the heart to look at them. I haven't been able to look yet.


Last edited by Blue Devil Knight on July 8th 2009, 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by BobbyBlunder on July 8th 2009, 1:00 pm

It is very likely that most students will not see a performance improvement for a while. It is likely that most students ratings will fall during the study process. Only after assimilation will most students see a climb in their rating.

This is very normal. So stick with it. The next stage requires us to 'go through the wall'. You will need to be tenacious. Really tenacious. After all if it was easy there would be more Masters!

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 8th 2009, 2:06 pm

Yes, in particular I think the most important part of this course will be the last four months of problemsolving. I need to remember that, and keep plugging away to finish each month so as not to delay too much.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by hoopy on July 8th 2009, 2:16 pm

BDK You seem to be going through the same emotions as me at the moment. Your first post. It is (paraphrasing you) not about understanding but it is about beating better players. If I wanted to "understand things" I would have taken a philosophy or religion course. I went for chess to be a a winner.

Your second point is consistent with my earlier one. "This month 9-13 will make all the difference". It is clever marketing from ICS to convince us that this will happen & that we will continue to pay our cash for this length of time before we can find out!!
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by BobbyBlunder on July 8th 2009, 2:45 pm

Yes, know of players who became titled players who dropped 200 points when rebuilding there game. I went through it myself in fact I have dropped 150 points from my peak in an effort to improve my game. It can be emotionally devastating - I have to admit I packed it in for a while. Fortunately I am addicted to the game(!?). I can state categorically that my playing strength is higher than it is ever been. I can tell because of my recent encounters with Masters in the last two tournaments - generally I would always feel pressure in the game and might swindle them but always had the feeling I was being outplayed (even when I was over 2200).
That is no longer true I can feel us playing as equals.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 8th 2009, 3:31 pm

LOL hoopy. It's all marketing. Smile

For me, Rowson convinced me it's all about solving tough problems, problems that take at least 20 minutes to begin to get a feel for.

BobbyB it makes sense and I have definitely seen drop in quality before an improvement.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Bilbo on July 8th 2009, 5:07 pm

I definitely agree with you BDK that the real improvement only comes when we get our hands dirty (well minds) and really travail over the board attempting to solve the solutions.

The ICS method has been brilliant for me in this regard in that previously if you would have shown me a game position I would not have a clue what to do unless I could play through the moves leading up to that point, I guess because in only having moved the pieces on the board do you feel a connection to the game.

With the ICS think method I no longer need to have known the moves that led up to the position, I can work the position out myself using their method.

I'm finding in glancing through books like Silman's reassess your chess and the amatuers mind that I can work out what's happening in a position now where in the past I just wouldn't have bothered looking.

The reason I'm doing Yusupov's workbooks is also to force to me actually work and solve positions for myself.

I think merely reading instructional books and following through annotated games isn't enough. It's too passive, albiet a lot more pleasant and enjoyable.

Thus I came to the conclusion that it wasn't more knowledge that I needed but rather more effort from myself in actually working to solve what is going on in a position.

If I fully used all the knowledge I already have I believe I would only need to work on my opening preparation to be one of the best players in Devon where I live. My experience of playing opponents so far in the 150's is that their strategical play isn't better than mine, they merely think harder and calculate more accurately.

So making myself actually do the unpleasant graft of analysis is more important than all of the knowledge in the world.

In the past I havn't thought this. My belief was the more I learnt the easier playing chess would be so I wouldn't have to think and could beat weak players playing instantly like GM's in a simultaneous.

Now I see it's not the knowledge but the correct application of it, coupled with accurate calculation and analytical skill that makes the difference.

So from now on it's all problem solving and hard work for me.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by AoxomoxoA on July 8th 2009, 6:06 pm

Blue Devil Knight wrote:LOL hoopy. It's all marketing. Smile
For me, Rowson convinced me it's all about solving tough problems, problems that take at least 20 minutes to begin to get a feel for.
BobbyB it makes sense and I have definitely seen drop in quality before an improvement.

I like Temposchluckers thoughts about chessimprovement. important seems to be patternrecognition. that not only in tactics but in positional play to. Here we are starting to see the pattern but to weight/judge the pattern we need experience. thats might be the reason some writer mention a delay (about 1 jear) in the success of learning in chess.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by cofresi on July 8th 2009, 8:24 pm

You have a certain way of swimming, running, playing an instrument, whatever. You have internalized that way of doing things for a few years. Now you ask yourself to adopt to a new change in technique, a new focus.

It will mess you up for awhile. But if the old ways did not make you a master, then the new way will at least expand your perspectives.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Blue Devil Knight on July 9th 2009, 10:42 am

Setting up a position and moving pieces around is almost always better than the read and nod method of chess improvement.

From Nigel Davies:
I recently saw a newsgroup discussion about tournament preparation.

Everything under the sun was mentioned from openings to endings and strategy to tactics with everyone having their own idea about how it should be done. I just commented that “the how is more important than the what."

It really doesn’t matter what you study, the important thing is to use this as a training ground for thinking rather than trying to assimilate a mind-numbing amount of information. In these days of a zillion different chess products this message seems to be quite lost, and indeed most people seem to want books that tell them what to do. The reality is that you’ve got to move the pieces around the board and play with the position. Who does that? Amateurs don’t, GMs do.

Chess is not a game that can be learned from a book any more than tennis or golf. It may look rather academic and there are some scientific elements to it. But the truth is that wiles and playfulness count for far more than “knowing the book.” Interestingly my grandmaster colleagues tend to be quick witted, jovial and street wise rather than serious and lofty intellectuals. And most of us will recommend keeping a clear head both before and during a tournament rather than hitting the books.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by Bernardonff on July 9th 2009, 11:02 am

Just for fun I checked my rating performance in ICC before and after doing month 1. It improved a lot (dont know if it will keep like that):

Before: +5 -3 Performance 1501
After: +5 -3 Performance 1616

Not a lot of games, same score, but I've beat tougher opponents.

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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by fanat on July 9th 2009, 2:08 pm

I'm in month 5 now and I definitely feel that I've improved!

I've been studying chess seriously for only 1 year so I'm still learning lots of things and far from a "plateau".

I still suck at endings and most of my losses are in the endgame so I've got a copy of "Essential Chess Endings" by Howell and going to be studying that books intensely until I finish it!
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Re: Does one feel improvement after six hours a week of chess work?

Post by chesstiger on November 5th 2010, 12:32 pm

Pushing this up again to ask the same question now that most of us are well up in months in this ICS course.

Does one feel that one (still) improves by following this course and doing six hours of study a week?
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