Category Archives: Chess

Chess Coaching Services (and Reasons for Doing So)

I’ve decided to provide chess coaching services (services found on my “Schedule David” page, found by clicking here) for many reasons.  The most-in-my-face reason is that I constantly field questions by tournament players, as well as some online players, the most ever-present being: How in the world did you improve your chess so quickly?  When I played tournament chess between 2008 and 2010, I got the question regularly, especially toward the end of that period, when I began scoring against Experts –I am better than 20% against Experts in the 2000-2099 range.  After not looking at a chess board in about four years –I left play due to migraines experienced as a result of diabetes, and other diabetic-related issues[1]–, I have been able to return to study and competitive play, and I am getting questions much more now.  What has compounded the interest of many players is that I’m an adult making this kind of progress, and adults typically a horrifically difficult time improving.  Many adult players will sit in a 100-200 point rating band for 20 years, despite playing regularly and studying the game.  I can name many examples.  This all sort of a secondary reason for availing myself for formal coaching and advising –in “advising,” I mean to say that I will also be offering the programs that I used for my improvement.  Answering the number of questions put to me would otherwise be impossible without a practical means of making room in my busy schedule.  I have always felt rude for holding my routines, etc. as closely guarded secrets; but not only does it take time to convey to a group of individuals, but it also took a tremendous amount of time in research to develop my training methods and routines. Continue reading

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Long is the Way, and Hard…

Despite not having a Beatrice to guide me on my way, I have made it through the seven circles of hell.  Not Dante’s, de la Maza’s.  (Click here for details.)  On March 5th I completed my first run through de la Maza’s Seven Circles of Hell program.  I noted the variations I would make in the program in the previous blog post on this topic (found by clicking here).  The big question is, did it work?  I have to let the numbers do the talking.  While I don’t have chess.com (blitz rating) data points that I can use to find what kind of linear regression is at work, the charts the site offers can make for a good estimate of what happened.  Here are the charts of the progress.

 Circles 1

 

Circles 2

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Seven Circles of Chess Hell

Seven Circle

 

My humanity is one of incessant self-overcoming.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

 

The Seven Circles of Chess Hell is a chess training regimen developed by Michael de la Maza, an MIT alumnus, laid out in his book Rapid Chess Improvement.  I’ll briefly describe the program and then talk about my experience with it and future intentions.

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Road to the 2015 World Chess Open

chess two knights mate

I have not competed in a USCF chess tournament in over four years.  In fact, I have not studied chess in over four years.  Grad school has a way of stymying such pursuits.  Nonetheless, despite not having studied or played much more than an occasional blitz game (five minutes on each player’s clock), I am finding through chess tests, assessments, and online ratings that I might be as much as 400 points stronger than my last official USCF rating, which is 1567 with a 1608 peak.  To give the casual reader some sense of how absurd that 400-point jump in strength is for an adult player —especially for one who has not studied in that period—, most adult players struggle to gain 50 points a year with significant study (e.g., two 3-hr. trips to the chess club and 5 hours of study per week of tactics, openings, master-annotated games, and endgames).  I’ve had friends struggle to gain a total of 100 points over a few years.  Intrigued by this increase in strength, and stimulated by my love of the game, I have decided to compete at the 2015 World Chess Open chess tournament in Arlington, Virginia.

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