Just about to start the course

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Just about to start the course

Post by Jazzmouse on August 15th 2014, 6:17 pm

Hi
I am about to start this chess course. Any tips how to approach it for best effect? Some background about me:
I played a lot when I was a teenager and in my 20s (reached a rating of approx. 1700) , but work and family commitments meant that I stopped playing for about 30 years. I started playing again about 4 years ago and have got my rating back to about 1700. I only play over the board...internal club tournaments, in league matches against other clubs, and in weekend congresses...never online. Overall I play about 80-100 rated games a year. In terms of resources, I have Chessbase 10 and Fritz 12, the course from ICS (including the openings module), and a few random chess books. I have never studied systematically, but like most folk I know, I have a random knowledge of lots of different bits and bobs, with great gaps where I know nothing. I don't really know opening variations, but do know the basic principles (I am hoping that the ICS openings module will fill this gap). I have never really studied endgames, but have Silman's endgame course book which I could work through in parallel with the ICS course (which does not seem to cover endgames as far as I can see). Also I do have Silman's How to Reassess Your Chess: Do you think I should work through this first, or just start on the ICS course straight away?
Any guidance would be gratefully received.
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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on September 7th 2014, 2:53 am

Sorry I missed your post.

How are you going with it?! I found that basically approaching things as they appear, working from top to bottom, seems to work fine.

Your story sounds almost identical to mine, but I only stopped playing for 15 years instead of 30.

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by PawnCustodian on September 7th 2014, 11:58 am

Jazzmouse wrote:Hi
Also I do have Silman's How to Reassess Your Chess: Do you think I should work through this first, or just start on the ICS course straight away?
Any guidance would be gratefully received.
Jazzmouse

I'd suggest you use the ICS materials and forget about other books for the time being. Since you are planning to learn the ICS repertoire, which is very strategically oriented, the basic course is necessary to gain the full benefit of the repertoire in my opinion.

Much of the material is presented as analyzed full games and you will get a lot of instruction on endgame technique, so no other endgame books are required. If you are not comfortable with the basic endgames then solving endgame puzzles can help, books by Silman and others can fill the gap; I particularly like Hall's "Endgame Challenge!" as an alternative to playing over analyzed games and studies.

Best wishes and good luck!

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by Jazzmouse on September 8th 2014, 3:53 am

Hi BorgQueen and PawnCustodian.
Thanks for replying to my post, and for the advice.  I've been doing the course for a week now, and can see that there is going to be a lot of material to go through each month, so I guess by default I will not have time to study other materials.  
BorgQueen...you say to study the material "top to bottom" is the way to go.  In month 1 though, the order looks a bit strange.  The course introduction seems to start with the 6th or 7th document...before this you get stuff on thinking (which OK, makes sense to be here) and also stuff on PME (which is a bit esoteric to be so early)  Then the introductory test is at the end of the first month.  Its not a problem, but it seems a bit odd.....
The challenge with doing this course seems to be to know how much time to spend on each exercise/game.  I plan to make a timetable for each month so that I just finish the module before next moth comes along.  I am probably going to be able to spend between 15-20 hours a week on it, and if I start to run out of time, I will let the openings module stuff slip behind to ensure I keep up with the main course.  Does this sound like the right approach to you guys?
Cheers
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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by PawnCustodian on September 8th 2014, 11:08 am

Your plan is exactly the way I approached it; use the monthly schedule as an incentive to finish the course.

If you can continue your OTB playing schedule the opening module shouldn't be too difficult to adopt. I used the knowledge for correspondence play since I don't have a club nearby, you should find it easier to master if you can play it in OTB games on a regular basis.

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on September 14th 2014, 10:07 pm

I still haven't managed to study the opening stuff. I don't think I understand how to study the openings course tbh.

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by Jazzmouse on September 16th 2014, 7:48 am

For the opening module, I am only going to work on it if I finish the main course stuff before the end of the month (because (a) I figure that the main course is the more important, (b) this way I will limit the time I spend on openings (easy to get sucked into doing too much opening study), and (c) you always see the advice that weakies like me should not spend too much time on openings).
My approach will be based on some advice I got some time ago from a strong player re studying openings, along the lines of:
1. Play through the main line up to the point where the opening is finished.  Make a note of any sensible deviations from the main line by the opponent in getting to this position.
2. Play some games (2 or 3) against your computer starting from this "start position"
3. Then backtrack from this start position to the first of the opponent's sensible deviations that you identified, play through this variation to the point where the opening is finished, play some games against the computer, go back to the next opponent's deviation, etc, etc

He said that although it seems crazy to learn the opening "backwards" in this manner, you focus on the main lines and the moves of the opponent that seem sensible to you.  You ignore al the other variations and only look them up after they have come up against you OTB. Although this means from time to time you will have to deal with a variation "cold", there is no way you could have learnt all the variations in advance anyway (not unless you are a GM or IM).  
I'll give it a go and let you know how I get on.
The first month seems to be going OK...I will post a message when I get to the end with observations, etc.
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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on September 16th 2014, 8:00 am

That sounds very logical! This is what I do (and why I fail):

I go to study something like, the Sicilian.
I play out 1.e4...c5.
Now I have a bunch of variations to look into, including things like 2.c3.
For each variation on move 2, I try to remember which ones I should look at, sometimes even make some notes.
Move on to the black choices to each of the moves I have in store...
Before long, there are too many branches and I just throw it all out and label it as "impossible for me".

To this day, I haven't succeeded at learning any opening to any depth. I just "wing it". And yes, that costs me games.

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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: Just about to start the course

Post by Jazzmouse on September 20th 2014, 12:44 pm

I have come to the conclusion that I am being too superficial with my study of this course material, so after 3 weeks, reluctantly, I have started again, this time having much more active approach to the material. Better to be slow and thorough I guess.
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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on September 21st 2014, 11:37 pm

Totally agree Jazz. No sense paying for good courseware and not studying it to the best of your ability!

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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: Just about to start the course

Post by blunderking on October 8th 2014, 3:30 pm

Started playing after a gap of 12 years (had beaten a few 1900s and 1800s then and quite a few losses to ~1500 and 1600) ...Played a few rated games. Currently at USCF ~1760. Started this course a couple of days ago. Lets see where it takes me.

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on October 8th 2014, 8:13 pm

Good luck!

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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: Just about to start the course

Post by Jazzmouse on October 9th 2014, 6:17 pm

Hi Blunderking
Hope you have fun with the course.  I have just finished month 1 and will post some thoughts on my experiences, but in the section of the forum devoted to month 1 (rather than here).
It looks like this forum was pretty active a few years ago, and there is lots of good stuff about the course in the various discussions. Now however it seems that it only a couple of us who visit the forum.  BorgQueen runs it and does a good job (thanks BQ!)  Hopefully a few more will join in and make the forum active again.
Keep us posted on how you get on with the course.
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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on October 9th 2014, 8:38 pm

Thhanks Jazz.

I too wish this forum would be more active. I don't know what it is about this forum that means it is so inactive. I guess once the course is completed (or members stop studying it), people just fade away...

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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: Just about to start the course

Post by blunderking on October 10th 2014, 1:11 pm

I am going through the first month material. I signed up for the core course, opening preparation and the essentials and practice.

I have not yet started the exercises related to the todo lists. However, i watched a few videos in the essentials and practice (i watch them while commuting to work). The attack 1 video seemed reasonably well explained. Will post my thoughts on the other sections of the course as i digest the material.

Did you go through the entire course, how much impact did it have on your over the board tournament play. Do you play longer online games (i.e. G/30 or G/60)?

I desperately need to lose my blundering ways. Last week i played in a tournament and I dropped a rook in two games in a row.

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Re: Just about to start the course

Post by BorgQueen on October 12th 2014, 9:46 pm

I did the whole core course over 12 months and it definitely helped me to get a better understanding of positional concepts, but I really need to repeat it to solidify the material.

My rating has climbed around 100-150 points and I don't play anywhere near as many blunders as I used to.

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Content will be assimilated.
Resistance is futile.

----
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: Just about to start the course

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