An improvers story

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An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on May 26th 2013, 4:03 pm

Hi everyone.

Just wanted to start a topic to capture my progress (hopefully improvement) as I embark on a new stage of my chess life, and hopefully catch some ideas and support from any of you who are interested to read this stuff.

I am 57 years old and have started playing chess again about 3 years ago after a 20 year layoff enforced by demands of family and job commitments. Currently my English grade is around 140-145, which converts to a rating of about 1750 - 1800. I pretty much got here by a random, unstructured process of half-reading chess books and general play over the board. In a few days time I am fortunate enough to be able to retire from work (man, I am so not going to miss it!!) and this gives me the opportunity to devote some serious time to studying chess. My plan is to aim for about 20-25 hours study a week. I have the ICS course, which I purchased about a year ago but realised I did not have anywhere near enough time to do it justice then, and also some of the Smirnov courses. Having scanned through the material, it looks like the Simirnov stuff is the place to start for me, since it seems to start at a slightly lower level than ICS, and also looks like it will give a more general basic understanding. So, my plan is to start with Smirnov's GM Secrets course, which with all the practical exercises supplemented by training games against the computer (as he suggests) will probably take 2 months to complete. Ideally I want to also get through his Openings Lab course straight after that (he has a fantastic approach to learning and understanding openings), leading up to playing in one or two weekend congresses is September (to get first indication of resultant improvement (or worsening!) of my play).

Wish me luck, and please send any suggestions that you may have found useful in your own chess improvement journey.

VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on May 26th 2013, 8:00 pm

Posting to subscribe :-)

I will be looking at Smirnov's materials again today,... see if I can follow suit.

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on May 27th 2013, 5:28 am

He has some free stuff that you can get from his website. These give you an idea of the video material. But as I said before, the value in the course if from the practical exercises not the videos. Now you could say that he is making a lot of money by providing a set of .pgn files with a few games in for YOU to study and do the work. But this active learning approach seems the right way to go, and it is the first time I have seen it explained and presented so well in chess material.

My daughter is an educationalist, and from what she tells me, the approach of Smirnov seems to be the right way. My summary would be, there are three ways to study chess:
1. Read through a chess book, looking at the diagrams and trying to follow in your head....no good (but this is what I've done for years)
2. Read through a chess book whilst playing out the moves on a real board, stop at each annotation and play out the variations on the board, then go back to the game and continue....also no good!!
3. Go through the game move by move predicting the move of the winning side using your structured thinking technique. Do this under "tournament" conditions. Then review the game reading the notes/annotations provided in the book. Next stage is to analyses the game, first by seeing how each of the winning side's moves fit with the general strategic principles, and then checking each move using your computer engine. Finally write a general report/summary of the game. This is active learning.

I should say that the above comes from his course "Self-Taught GM" which is different to the other courses in that it does not really contain learning material, but instead is a scheme for chess improvement (obviously centred around his other courses). I like it a lot, and he also recommends several places where you can download chess databases, engines, etc for free so you might recoup some of the cost here (but I suspect you already have chessbase, Rybka, etc)

I should also add that I have no connection financial or otherwise with Smernov, apart from the fact that I have bought his course materials. I just like his stuff. But it is a personal thing. Finally note that his material only runs on Wndows, so no good for you Apple types
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on May 27th 2013, 9:07 am

@VG,
You've got another subscriber here! I may not be able to react or comment most of the time but I'll watch this post as frequently as I can. I'm so much interested to see how you go- when financial issue is settled, I'll try the methods and programs you'd use.

@BQ,
Have you subscribed to Smirnov as well? I'm keen on supplementing my ICS study with the personalized program offered by Tiger Lilov which seems to be a cheaper version of ICS and I think it is better for lower rated players like me. Though I appreciate ICS, I feel some hole in my knowledge. I think I have posted somewhere to compare Smirnov's Course VS Lilov's Personalized Training Package but never got a descent reply.

So I'm reposting the issue here: Smirnov's Course VS Lilov's Personalized Training Package: Which is better?
I hope to get it from you guys.


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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on May 27th 2013, 3:33 pm

I don't know anything about Lilov's materials, but it sounds unlikely that the Personalised Training Package, which seems to give 1 lesson with the opportunity for a couple of questions to be answered, can give a full course of study.

Of course, if you can afford personal lessons with him then that would be fantastic, but will cost 1000s of $. One guy in the testimonials section says he has had 30 lessons already.

Why not check out Smirnov's GM Secrets course. It's US$ 57, but he offers a money back deal. So if you get it and think it is rubbish, then you can get your money back. Don't be put off by the sensationalist language of his claims, this is just his marketing, and there is real chess substance behind all this. Also, a few people including me have had problems with the software he says you need to view his material. You could figure out how to fix this, but the videos run just fine if you click on the files directly (your lap top will have some sort of player already) and you can download chessbase reader for free to play the game files if you don't have a .pgn reader already.

Anyway, I will give the GM Secrets course a full workthrough starting in a few days time, so I promise to report back on my findings

VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on May 27th 2013, 11:06 pm

Yes, Ernest, I have subscribed to Smirnov... I just wish I could afford the four courses I would like to study from him... I just can't right now. I can't even afford my gym membership :-(

Hard times for me unfortunately.

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Blue Devil Knight wrote:The danger of studying positional chess at the expense of tactics is that you will spend a half hour thinking about where a Knight belongs, and then proceed to put it on a beautiful square where it is en prise. Smile
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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on May 28th 2013, 3:33 am

Hi BQ. Which course have you bought from Smirnov? Good luck with it.
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on May 28th 2013, 11:02 am

None of them, I've only subscribed to the free stuff.

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Resistance is futile.

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Blue Devil Knight wrote:The danger of studying positional chess at the expense of tactics is that you will spend a half hour thinking about where a Knight belongs, and then proceed to put it on a beautiful square where it is en prise. Smile
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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on May 29th 2013, 8:49 am

I might get Smirnov's GM's Secret Course in few weeks. As I see it: ICS module gives us an excellent WHAT to study, while Smirnov's the HOW to study! I like that he includes a week-long tournament preparation.

It'll mean I'll defer 4 to 5 months of ICS tuition. Nonetheless the first 2 months I got from them will take me around 5 months to digest.

On the other hand, Lilov's personalized training package (one-off $59) also attracts me much. I emailed him re this and he explained that he will study 10 of my recent games and then will build a self-study plan for me. Studying in a scheme built around correcting recurring flaws in my own games (at a lower cost) seems to me a good idea.

Still in a dilemma!

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on May 30th 2013, 4:39 am

That's a great service... to analyse your last 10 games and give you a study plan ... all for $59?!

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Blue Devil Knight wrote:The danger of studying positional chess at the expense of tactics is that you will spend a half hour thinking about where a Knight belongs, and then proceed to put it on a beautiful square where it is en prise. Smile
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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on May 30th 2013, 6:32 am

Well. that's what I thought. Lilov told me that the lesson will be forwarded through email with homework for him to check (homework is inclusive of the fee). There'll no face to face encounter through skype which is fine with me as I can't have a good schedule for this.

Here is a quote of the ad:

Personalized Self-Study Program

By ordering the Personalized Self-Study Chess Training Program, you get an easy-to-use, straightforward, training guide designed to help you with your self-training and based on a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of your playing style and chess skills. This special personalized guide will optimize the most important and possibly the longest part of your chess training and will make it more effective and productive with the desired results coming up shortly after you have started using the program.

SERVICE PRICE PAY VIA PAYPAL 1
Personalized Study-On-Your-Own Chess Training Program $59.00

What do you think? Is it better than Smirnov?


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Re: An improvers story

Post by PawnCustodian on May 30th 2013, 7:55 am

BorgQueen wrote:That's a great service... to analyse your last 10 games and give you a study plan ... all for $59?!

Doesn't sound like a very sound business plan, does it?

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on May 30th 2013, 12:17 pm

I will be really interested to hear how you get on. I will start Smirnov GM Secrets tomorrow. I will post some feedback in a few days time
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 1st 2013, 1:40 am

Subscribed.... I read this post at work yesterday and scored myself a copy of GM Smirnov's courses. Mind you, I didn't have to pay so that's a great advantage.... I have gone through the GM Secrets course and I can tell you right now the material is nothing new or groundbreaking. HOWEVER, it opened my eyes to a lot of things I'm always missing in my games. I really think this course is great as a pre-ICS course so the student can really soak in the importance of the thinking process(which is really what this course is focused on).

I don't think I will go through GM Smirnov's other courses as I believe ICS will fill the void of everything I need after the GM Secrets course. In a recent tournament, I put to use the ICS thinking model as best I could and had a 1920 performance rating and gained 262 USCF rating points by beating players much higher rated than myself. I felt good about the final results, but analyzing my games afterward left me concerned with my overall thinking model. ICS demands a lot of its students as we are all aware, and the thinking model it proposes in month 1 required a lot of memorizing. Granted, I started playing chess again after a 5 year departure of the game only a month ago. I will use GM Smirnov's thinking techniques for my two upcoming tournaments and then I will reassess my thinking model with the ICS thinking model yet again.

I must give a much deserved Thank You to Victorian Gent for creating this thread and introducing me to GM Smirnov's course as it has really opened my eyes. For anybody looking to purchase the GM Secrets course, I'd only recommend it if you feel your thinking model is lacking.

Good luck in your study Victorian Gent!

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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on June 1st 2013, 11:02 pm

Uhhm... How one acquires Smirnov's lesson for free? Very Happy

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 1st 2013, 11:15 pm

Oh we won't go into detail on that :]

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on June 2nd 2013, 3:26 pm

How can you do Smirnov's GM course in 1 day? You can watch the videos, but that is not the point. The Practical work will take at least a month of 4 hours per day, probably longer if done properly. I start tomorrow so will let you know.
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Mystique on June 2nd 2013, 6:29 pm

It is really wonderful to see that this forum has come to live again.
Since early 2012 I started the ICS main course year 1 ( I am in month 5 now), and played at first only online(correspondence) chess games only.
Several months ago I joined a chess club, and noticed that playing OTB is much harder than playing online. This experience has shown me that I have troubles with the right planning, calculation, time pressure and seeing a few moves ahead. (The possibility of try out some moves in online correspondence games makes your visualization skills lazy). Many advises from the chess club players in what to study has kept me from the ICS track, and now I just have the feeling that I have to start from month 1 again (Especially the board visualization) but somehow it is mentally hard for me to start all over rather then to continue. Nevertheless I took lesson 1 of the visualization exercises again, and now with my OTB experience it looks a bit easier but I can’t make it in the recommended 3-10 minutes per session.
Each week I could spend 3 training session of approx. 1,5 hrs, so I must try to achieve max. efficiency in what to learn each session.
For example session 1: theory + board visualization (BV) session 2: exercises + BV session 3: opening theory + BV
Could this be effective or has someone another suggestion? And has someone the same experience as me and studied the lessons over again. And did it help? (I remember that I didn’t study all the center lessons completely but studied just a few games for each center)
After reading this forum and the reference to the Smirnov courses, I also look into the youtube channel were the lessons of Smirnov has been posted. This seems also really helpful, and explained in simple words. So I will also follow the experience of VG about this course closely.


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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on June 2nd 2013, 10:04 pm

Yup, good question... how do you get it for free?!

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 2nd 2013, 11:39 pm

@Victorian Gent - I went through the course videos and accompanying MS Word documents for the course. You are correct in that I have not attempted the practical test section of the course. However, the point of my post was not about the practical portion of the course but rather what the course covers as far as material. I really think GM Shirov's course is great for anybody struggling with the thinking process, and like I've said before it really turned a new leaf for me as well. My thinking process has always been somewhat solid and my most recent tournament results show this as proof, however Shirov's model seems to suit me better than the ICS thinking model at the moment and I will spend the rest of this month doing the practical section of the course while using Shirov's thinking model. I have two 2-day tournaments coming up at the end of this month in back to back weekends and I hope to utilize this new thinking model to my full capacity and hope to achieve yet another 1900+ performance rating.

I will be following your progress as well! I will refrain from posting my progress reports on your thread as to not 'thread jack' or take any attention away from your original post :] I have faith in you(and anybody else who is serious about their studies)! I hope you go far, sir Very Happy


@BorgQueen - In my line of work, we have lots of 'resources' we use to get information free. If you'd like, shoot me a PM and we can discuss further :]

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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on June 3rd 2013, 8:42 am

I wish I'd know the secret too! Sad

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Re: An improvers story

Post by PawnCustodian on June 3rd 2013, 10:25 am

Mystique wrote:
For example session 1: theory + board visualization (BV) session 2: exercises + BV session 3: opening theory + BV
Could this be effective or has someone another suggestion? And has someone the same experience as me and studied the lessons over again. And did it help?

For Board Visualization, in addition to the ICS Lessons I tried "Chess Eye" and Ian Anderson's "Chess Visualization Course".

Even though I thought all three helpful, I feel that the best practice is to simply go over the ICS annotated games and whenever a variation was given to attempt to follow the variation in my mind's eye without moving the pieces. Some of the variations can be quite long and frankly it is hard work, but with practice it gets easier.

Having a schedule like you've laid out here is a good idea. Repeating lessons isn't really necessary since you will see the ideas recurring over and over again as you progress through the course (unless you really were distracted the first time through).

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on June 3rd 2013, 6:12 pm

I've started working on the Smirnov materials. I have viewed the first 4 videos from "Self Taught Grandmaster". The first two of these give some general ideas about how to study chess. the third video then gives practical advice about how to analyse games (own and other peoples), how to play training games with computer, etc. From what I can see the scheme for analysing games may be worth the cost of the course by itself. I have never seen this type of help anywhere else in the chess literature. The fourth video outlines the first of 4 stages in the improvement plan. The first stage of this first step suggests starting with his "GM Secrets course" so that is where I went next.

The GM Secrets course has 6 videos. The first is an introduction which sets up the philosophy of his teaching approach. The next two videos are the meat of the course and in them he provides a description of a thinking system (based on selecting moves from base strategic principles and then a method for calculating variations). This sets you up to start work on the practical exercises. The remaining 3 videos are interesting but to be honest feel a bit like padding. They deal with preparing for tournaments and preparing for specific opponents (something most of us can't generally do since our opponents games don't feature in ChessBase). But as I say, the main point of the course is the thinking system and the exercises you need to do to master it.
So I've done the easy bit (the videos) now the time comes to work through the practical exercises. This is going to take time and willpower!! Looks like I will need to spend the next few weeks "in the tank". If I come up for air mid way through, I'll post an update, otherwise, wish me luck and I'll see you at the other end!!
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on June 3rd 2013, 7:23 pm

Very interesting.

Now I really wish I could afford it!

Sorry Nemo, PMs are disabled on this board.

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 3rd 2013, 8:04 pm

@Victorian Gent - I will also be starting the practical portion of the GM Secrets course this evening. Let us know what you think after task 2!

@BorgQueen & @ernestosim01 - shoot me an email at beneaththemasses[at]gmail.com and I'll get you sorted :]

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