Monday, 12 November 2007

Knights Errant

Over the weekend I played in a tournament in Sheffield and picked up a new book called 'The Complete Chess Workout' by Richard Palliser. It's a compilation of 1200 tactical problems, all from real games and most of them quite recent. So I thought this would be the ideal way for me to join the Knights Errant in the Seven Circles of Death.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, it's a technique of going through a set of about 1000 tactical problems seven times, each time with a shorter time period to complete the 'circle'. This is based on the techniques developed by Michael De La Maza in articles here and here. He improved 400 points in 400 days using the method and so it developed a cult following with some of the followers forming the Knights Errant blogging group to document their journey and help each other through the torture :). The idea behind it is that pattern recognition of the basic tactical motifs is of paramount importance in chess, and by doing the same set of problems seven times, this will fast track the process.

Anyway, I think this book will be a good way for me to do the circles, and so I've updated my sidebar to include the relevant Knightly links and will apply to join the cult right away. I'm not 100% sure on how I'll organize it, most likely just go through the 1200 puzzles all at once, then do the same again 6 more times. But some people have broken the circles down into sets of 200 or so. I guess I'll see how I'm feeling and how long it takes to get to the first 200. There can't be too long a time between circles or the pattern recognition could ware off, especially with my poor memory. Another thing is I won't be able to dedicate my life to the circles like De La Maza did, and I will still be playing regularly, not just training.

For the record, my current standard rating on FICS is 1454. So if I'm not rated 1854 on 16th December 2008 I am burning the book :)


Samuraipawn said...

Hi Dean! Welcome to the cult of the circular hell. ;) I was also thinking about burning my book when I finish the circles, if there is anything left of the bloody thing when I'm done. It's already starting to fall apart. :D

Dean said...

Thanks Samurai, I'm very pleased with my new cult name!

Temposchlucker said...

Welcome aboard!

likesforests said...

Welcome! I'm not a knight, but I often fight alongside them. You seem to have the right idea, that you want to keep your circles short enough so that you remember the problems the second time around if you're aiming for pattern recognition. Good luck, and remember to have fun, so you are around and playing a long time. :)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Welcome to the world of insane tactics.

I saw that book for the first time this weekend, and thought, "Man that would be a great book for the Circles." Excellent choice! I'm almost jealous as I wish I had had that option.

As for the period between Circles, I think Loomis had a nice solution, especially good for those using books. Do as many as you can in three weeks in your first circle. Then do that set over and over until you can kill them all fast. Then do another three-week cycle starting with the next problems.

Or something like that (I think he actually would then start another three week cycle, which would involve going over the original problems and then into more problems, until he could do all the problems in three weeks, and then shorten the time to do all the problems).

There has been lots of discussion of this topic (e.g., Dante's Discontents).

Dean said...

Thanks BDK, the book starts off a little tougher than I thought, mostly at least two move combinations or mates where I need to think for a good few minutes on each problem. It feels good when you're able to push yourself to visualize a mate in 3 though. It's maybe a little tough for absolute beginners, but hopefully I'll just about be able to keep up with it. I'll probably do circle 2 once it gets so tough I'm getting most wrong.

Glenn Wilson said...

Welcome to the club!