An improvers story

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 3rd 2013, 11:43 pm

Well I just did game one of Task 2 in the practical... wow... took me nearly 2.5 hours! I must say it really forced me to think on my feet and really makes you feel like you're the one playing the game! I love this style of training so far. Can't give enough thanks to Victorian Gent for opening my eyes to this course. I can't wait until I've finished so I can try this on the ICS material Very Happy

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Leavenfish on June 4th 2013, 9:10 pm

Anyone notice the 50% discount on one course and 25% off on the other they are offering now?

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on June 4th 2013, 9:19 pm

Nope... better check it out... but I bet I still can't afford it :-P

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on June 4th 2013, 9:23 pm

Where did you see that?

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Leavenfish on June 5th 2013, 12:24 am

BorgQueen wrote:Where did you see that?

The offer was in an email this morning. I log in and find it there also. 50% off on the System of Champions and 25% off the other one. The email reads:


Dear ICS Member,



At International Chess School , we have developed two extra chess courses which complement very well our Grandmaster Package.

The annotated games of both courses follow a very instructive training system, unique to our chess school.

Moreover, both courses include over 60 hours of very enjoyable video lectures.



Please login to your account and read more details about our courses and training systems.



If you subscribe before June 15, you qualify for big discounts.



Best regards,

ICS Team

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on June 5th 2013, 12:47 am

Interesting. I didn't get that e-mail.

Could be my fault though, I am kinda quick on the delete key when it comes to e-mail.

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on June 9th 2013, 1:50 pm

As requested by Sir Nemo, a quick progress report on the Smirnov Practical tasks. I have finished Tasks 1 and 2 of his GM Secrets course. I have spread the work out over 5 days, spending about 2-3 hours per day.

The main point of these tasks is to ensure you understand what Smirnov calls "base strategic principles". You do this by annotating every move of the games he supplies with the appropriate strategic principle. I had studied the explanatory videos in quite some depth, and made my own written notes and interpretations (like being back at University again Smile) so I generally was OK at solving the tasks. What is clear, however, is that chess can't be played according to a simple scheme (there is no such thing as "chess by numbers") and some of the strategic principles seem to contradict at times. For example, Smirnov wants you to avoid exchanges (because these generally increase opponents activity), but on the other hand wants you to make the forcing move in a contact (tactical) situation...and this is often an exchange. But I guess it is making me think much more deeply about chess, which is the point I suppose.

The next tasks look much harder. You have to predict the moves in a set of games using the base principles. So its back in the tank for me. I'll post an update when I've passed Task 4.
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on June 10th 2013, 7:11 pm

Victorian Gent - Looks like you're making solid progress through the material! I have yet to touch the coursework since doing Task 2 game #1. I'm curious to see how you feel about this course once it's all said and done, then I'll consider doing the remaining games again :]

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on June 30th 2013, 5:53 am

As promised, here is a progress report on my experience with the Smirnov materials.

I've been working on them for a month now, and have completed practical tasks 1 to 4 from his GM Secrets course. These four tasks focus on showing how to base your move choice on basic strategic principles (BSPs). Each task involves 5 games (drawn from Smirnov's own games or those of Capablanca). In Task 1 he demonstrates how each move is based on the BSPs. Then in Task 2 you have to annotate games similarly. In Task 3 you have to work though the games predicting the moves using BSPs, and in Task 4 you do the same but also have to provide justification for all the moves played, and also those rejected, using concrete variations. Task 4 is a real ball-breaker! I have spent 4-5 hours per game (and actually have probably not been as thorough as I should have been).

My conclusions about the course so far:
- His method is compelling! When I follow it, I find good moves. Of course it is not chess by numbers, and there are times when I can't see how to use his method to find a move in a particular position. But in such cases, once I see the move that the GM played, I can see what I missed when I was trying to use the system.
- Smirnov teaches us to be aggressive...and I mean aggressive!!! It has been a revelation to me how he uses positional sacrifices to whip up an attack. It's all about piece activity...material factors are secondary.
- If you study the GM Secrets course, there is no point just watching the videos. Everything is down to the practical. And this is hard! Smirnov says training has to be hard ("the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war" is one of his quotes). I am mentally exhausted after a session...and have actually fallen asleep at my desk whist studying.
- Although like all his courses, the GM Secrets course is self-contained, I do feel that if you can afford it, it is well worthwhile to study the "Self-taught GM" course at the same time. Self-taught GM teaches how to study chess and what to study in what order. I found it really helpful.

So, now I will move onto the next practical tasks. The next 4 are about learning the right way to calculate. They don't look as time intensive as the previous tasks, so I expect to take about 2 weeks to do them. I'll post an update when I'm done

VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on July 1st 2013, 1:04 am

Compelling :-)

Thanks for the update VG!

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Re: An improvers story

Post by ernestosim01 on July 1st 2013, 8:21 am

well then, my next obsession will be the acquisition of 'self taught'. i tried to visit his site and found that purchasing there is rather complicated. maybe it's just me though.

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on July 15th 2013, 6:24 am

Here’s another update on progress with the Smirnov GM Secrets course. I have now pretty much finished the practical part. Tasks 5 to 8 were all about learning the right way to calculate variations. This has been really helpful since for the first time I have an idea of which moves to consider at each point in the variation. Smirnov teaches that you should mainly calculate the forcing lines only, and this does seem to simplify the calculation method a lot. I obviously need to do loads more practice of calculation, and he provides 80 examples at the end of the course to work through, which I will do over the next weeks/months.
Task 9 then brings all the stuff he has taught together into a thinking system which you are supposed to use for each move of the game. This is the central point of his method, and you are supposed to develop this thinking system as you acquire new chess knowledge, and certainly after every game you play (and analyse according to his method). In Task 10 you then review 10 of your recent games using the new thinking system and see how you could have done better using it. I analysed 5 losses and 5 draws and in every case I could see how the thinking system would have avoided the loss of at least half a point. Finally he gives a big set of games and positions for future analysis which I will use as revision material and for practicing calculation.
My next step is to play training games against the computer using the thinking system until it becomes a natural habit. Smirnov says you should spend at least 3 weeks on this, and each training game should be analysed thoroughly using his analysis scheme (from the Self-Taught GM course). With a couple of vacations over the next few weeks, this is going to take me up to the end of August. I have a weekend tournament then, so it will be a good opportunity to assess if I have gained any benefit. I’ll post an update after the tournament. Wish me luck!
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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on July 15th 2013, 8:40 pm

Excellent, thanks for the feedback. I'm going to study this in detail next... sounds like it's a good companion to ICS.
Dreading studying 80 games though! That is going to take a lot of time!

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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 July 16th 2013, 5:24 am

It's the last task that has 80 games (and 80 positions for analysis) and I don't think you are supposed to just sit there and work through them all before you can be considered to have completed the course. They are more for long-term development and revision I think. On that basis, and based on my experience, to complete the course (without the last task) will take:
Videos - 6-7 hours (since you need to watch the two central ones several times to absorb it all)
Task 1: 5 hours
Task 2: 2 hours per game, 5 games = 10 hours
Tasks 3 and 4: 4 hours per game, 5 games each task = 40 hours
Tasks 5 - 8: 30 minutes per position, 5 positions per task = 20 hours
Task 9: 1 hour
Task 10: Analyse fully 10 of your own games = 40 hours (I fell short of this...those old losses are just too painful to revisit for too long!!)
Then 3 weeks of practising it in daily training games with subsequent analysis.
I put in about 3-4 hours per day on the practical tasks, so I am scheduled to finish the whole thing in 2 months (not counting vacations which have gotten in the way a bit) which is Smirnov's estimate of how long it takes.
So it's been pretty intensive, but I feel I have learned a lot, and now have a systematic thinking process. Hope it does not desert me when I sit down and play OTB!
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on July 16th 2013, 8:09 pm

That's what happens to me... every time I study things like this, it all tends to disappear once you sit down at the next match.

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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 Tweety on July 22nd 2013, 12:32 pm

Hi everyone!! It's been a long time since last time I wrote here.

I also like very much Smirnov's courses, he explains everething in a very easy to understand way. The first thing I noticed about his courses is that he puts a lot of effort in teaching us how to think and I think he is right because chess knowledge is useless if I don't know how to use it. I've been using his method of thinking either solving problems or otb and I can say it works. The only problem I have is that I forget to use it all the time when I play otb. The way to solve this is, like Smirnov says, to play games against the computer until you implement your thinking process in a natural way, without thinking of how to think!

On the other hand I believe that Smirnov's courses and ICS give you evetything you need to play chess. Smirnov how to think and ICS chess knowledge, the only problem is to find the time and energy to study.

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Re: An improvers story

Post by PawnCustodian on July 22nd 2013, 5:18 pm

Tweety wrote:Hi everyone!! It's been a long time since last time I wrote here.

The only problem I have is that I forget to use it all the time when I play otb. The way to solve this is, like Smirnov says, to play games against the computer until you implement your thinking process in a natural way, without thinking of how to think!

Tweety

I really found this video informative about OTB preparations. It runs a bit long, but covers all of the bases; chess knowledge, memory, visualization, and tournament preparation.

http://en.chessbase.com/home/TabId/211/PostId/4008284

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on July 24th 2013, 4:09 pm

VictorianGent - I now have all of Smirnov's courses and have done up to task 6 in the GM Secrets course. I also have been studying the Self-Taught GM course and following his advice on analysis and such. I've had great results OTB as a result of my analysis of previous games as well as my training games against Fritz 11. Last week I managed to score a beautiful tactical win against a 1758 USCF player(Dean Clow) at the Denver Chess Club :]

Glad to see you're making steady progress, i hope to catch up to you soon!

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Re: An improvers story

Post by BorgQueen on July 24th 2013, 10:29 pm

Cool :-)

I am only seemingly making progress in rapid games. My rapid rating is around 1950 (ACF) yet my standard rating is still hovering around the 1700 mark.

I wish I could afford to enter more tournaments :-/

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on August 4th 2013, 4:40 pm

Sir Nemo - Thanks for the encouraging news about your experiences. At the moment I am just trying to play training games against the computer with the aim to get the thinking method punched-into my brain. First tournament is at the end of August and I will be happy if I play 5 games keeping to the thinking system, even if my score is crap. I think the thinking system is the first step to getting some sense into my chess.

VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on August 25th 2013, 5:52 pm

Victorian Gent - Your tournament is coming up rather soon is it not? Best of luck to you m8! Do you have a twitter account where you'll be posting your results after each round? I'd like to keep up with how you're doing in the tourney :]

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on August 26th 2013, 12:13 am

Sir Nemo - Thanks for the good wishes.  I don't know how to use Twitter, but I will post something here after the tournament (which runs from Friday 30th Aug to Sunday 1st Sept).  My latest British grade is 140, which translates to FIDE/USCF rating of approx 1770. I will be playing in the "under 165" section, which means that I will probably be about midway in the field.  
Preparation for the tournament has not been good so far since I have been travelling pretty much form most of the past 4 weeks, so little opportunity for chess.  But I will play some training games against the computer this week to refresh my understanding of the Smirnov thinking system.  My target for the tournament is to play all 5 games sticking to the Smirnov method.  Afterwards I will analyse my games and either spend some time revising the "GM secrets" course (if I still am not sticking to the method) or will move on to look at his openings course.
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on September 1st 2013, 4:55 pm

Well...tournament did not go as well as I had hoped. Only scored 1.5/5. That said, my opponents were all rated higher than me and as a result my expected score should have only been 2.0/5...so only half a point behind. What did I learn?
- When I actually used the Smirnov thinking system, I got good positions. Problem was that in the heat of the moment I seemed to abandon it and play "hope chess" (as Heismann calls it).
- It is clear that I am not analysing anywhere near enough variations, but am relying on instinct and general positional "feeling". So I think I need to work on my calculation skills.
- On two occasions I played much too quickly, missing a winning line, even though I had plenty of time on the clock.
So next step is to really work at increasing my work rate at calculating variations. Either by revising this part of the Smirnov GM Secrets course, or by working through his Calculation course.
I'll post an update at some point when I come up for air.
VG

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Re: An improvers story

Post by SirNemo on September 1st 2013, 5:11 pm

1.5/5 isn't too bad considering you haven't played tournament chess in awhile! I suspect you will learn from your losses (ala the Smirnov method in STGM) and get back on the horse and win some tournaments!

I've been waiting all day for this update :]

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Re: An improvers story

Post by Victorian Gent on September 2nd 2013, 2:02 am

Thanks for the encouraging words
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