Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Generic Training Schedule Revisited

It will be beneficial to discuss the Generic Training Schedule in more detail here, so let's take a look at the 4-day rotational schedule:

Day1 - SO2, VT1, SG1
Day2 - VE2, PL1, VT1
Day3 - SG1, VG1, PL1, VT1
Day4 - SO2, VE1, VT1

Key:
S = Study
V = Solve
G= Strategy
E = Endings
T = Tactics
O = Openings
PL= Play (4x 5min, 3x 10min, 2x 15min games)
# = Units of Time

You'll notice here that Solving Tactics (VT1) is something that is included in each days schedule. The reasons for this are obvious: Missed tactics result in over 90% of losses at the class level (<2200 rating). It makes sense that working on tactics each and every day should be a primary concern for all class players and is one of the best ways to improve your game. 'Seeing' positions over and over in tactical exercises gives patterns to the brain that you can call upon in your games. There is no shortcut to this kind of training. Remember our creed:

AMATEURS PRACTICE UNTIL THEY GET IT RIGHT
PROFESSIONALS PRACTICE UNTIL THEY CAN'T GET IT WRONG

Further, lets break down the schedule by game phase:

Opening: Day1 - SO2; Day4 - SO2; TOTAL: 4 Units
Strategy/Middlegame: Day1 - SG1; Day3 - SG1, VG1; TOTAL: 3 Units
Endings: Day2 - VE2; Day4 - VE1; TOTAL: 3 Units
Tactics: Day1,2,3,4 - VT1; TOTAL: 4 Units

One could surmise from this information that Openings and Tactics seem to be the most important parts of the game for the class player given this trainng schedule, and this might be true for most players. Whether you agree with this or not is entirely up to you, and it should be clear that a student could, if they chose to do so, modify this schedule slightly to accomodate more focus on parts of the game they feel they need work on.

For example, in my most recent games I have found that my opening and middlegame seems to be fine, but have lost my way in the endings somewhat, allowing draws in advantageous positions, and not exactly defending tenaciously in disadvantageous positions. So I might take 1 unit of time from one of the opening sessions and apply it to Endings. It so happens that Day4 has both Opening and Ending study that day, so I might adjust the schedule for Day4 to:

Day4: SO1, VE2, VT1

In this way you can customize your study time to fit your personal needs. A word of warning: I suggest you not move more that 1 unit. You still want to be sure you get a rainbow of studies across the chess spectrum. Over-focusing on one aspect of your game can make the other parts stale, so it may be best to make small adjustments and see how it goes from there.

For me, Today is Day3 and I have VG1/PL1/VT1 to complete so....

Any suggestions or comments are always welcome here at the chess-training blog so feel free to post a comment!

Good Luck!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for the further discussion of the training plan.

I am adopting the generic training schedule because it is a results-proven chess-school method, systematic and balanced. If I had a more solid foundation with experience in all phases of the game, devotion to tactics-only would not be ineffective but I feel it is unsatisfactory for making all-round progress as a chess player, especially for a habitual “thrasher” such as myself.

Your suggestion to work with repertoire-oriented annotated games is also very helpful. I recently came to the same conclusion myself as I am just beginning to understand how to study the opening.

Do you think fast games are better than slow for beginners? Or did you have more intermediate players in mind when formulating the training schedule? A great part of the learning curve, at least for me, is developing the chess thinking process through slow games while acquiring pattern recognition skills through tactics practice. Playing slow games facilitates learning how to plan and strategize, whereas solving tactical problems develops pattern recognition skills and intuitive accuracy. Don't you agree that slower games are more beneficial for less experienced players?

My only opportunity to play OTB is my chess club that meets once a week; otherwise I play games with computer. I am not playing on-line and not inclined to blitz now because the faster the time-control my ratio of blunders to “best moves” increases exponentially.

Also, I think it is important to incorporate analysis of one’s own games into one’s training schedule. For students working without a coach, chess software can be very helpful in obtaining a second opinion as long one relies on one’s own independent annotating and analyzing.

Until about six months ago I was on-line Go player. It is not uncommon for western Go students to incorporate chess study methods in their training and GM Soltis’ book “Inner Game of Chess” is particularly recommended. I couldn’t find that title, but when I began reading “How to Choose a Chess Move”, I just fell in love with chess. Your excellent review of “How to Choose a Chess Move” seemed to me happy confirmation that the generic training plan is the methodical direction in which my chess study must continue if I am ever to develop into a skillful player. As the saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

I know I can get it right with practice because I don’t always get it wrong!

Bob said...

I revised the four day schedule to suit a lower rated player (me). The totals are what counts: of the 16 time units, there are 2 units of play every day (total 8), and 1 unit of tactics (total 4). The rest is 2 units endgames, 1 unit each strategy and openings.

Why? Because low rankers need lots of play and lots of tactics. So I have 50% of the time involved in play (I include post game analysis in this time); 50% in study. Of the study time, 50% is tactics; 25% is endgames; 12.5% each for strategy and openings.

I may be a bit light on the strategy part but I don't think I am light on the openings, which for lower class players, general knowledge is what is needed, not detailed learning of lines.

Mark said...

Bob Writes,

"I revised the four day schedule to suit a lower rated player (me). The totals are what counts: of the 16 time units, there are 2 units of play every day (total 8), and 1 unit of tactics (total 4). The rest is 2 units endgames, 1 unit each strategy and openings.

Why? Because low rankers need lots of play and lots of tactics. So I have 50% of the time involved in play (I include post game analysis in this time); 50% in study. Of the study time, 50% is tactics; 25% is endgames; 12.5% each for strategy and openings.

I may be a bit light on the strategy part but I don't think I am light on the openings, which for lower class players, general knowledge is what is needed, not detailed learning of lines."


Bobs
PL8
VT4
VE2
SG1
SO1

Original
PL2
VT4
VE3
SG2
SO4

First, I agree that one needs to play alot and do tactics alot, and
I would say your schedule looks reasonable, but what makes you think you need that distribution? That distribution says "I am good in the openings, strategically fit, mediocre in endgames, and horrible tactically". Is that a fair assessment of your strongpoints and faults?

It's all a personal choice, but the original goal of the breakdown is an even distribution for all stages of the chess game so you can determine which parts of the game you are the weakest at during your play. This you have obviated somewhat by assuming that you are strongest in openings and strategy by spending the least amount of study time on those two areas. Of course, if that is true, then that breakdown may work for you.

Remember, if it works, then that is what is right for you.

Great comment!

Bob said...

Mark,

Perhaps I am looking at the training schedule in a different manner, more suited to a lower ranked player.

You say that when I push openings, strategy, and endgames to the bottom in terms of time commitment, I am saying that these are the things I know well enough and therefore need less study time. I believe such an argument hold true at a higher level, where the idea of balancing study time and specific needs seems very apt.

What I am instead saying, though, is that since I am a real low-ranker, my tactics are SO bad and my lack of playing experience is SO evident, that I need to concentrate on these very fundamental things. Indeed, strategy, openings, and endgames are failings as well, but I'm not even ready to dive into these except at the introductory level --- hence, they have a place in the study plan, but a much less prominent one.

An extreme example of what I'm saying is that if you have never played chess at all and know nothing about it, you must devote all your time to learning the rules and learning how the pieces move; you can't yet study openings or endgames!

I hope this clarifies my approach, again, aimed at perhaps a much lower level of player than perhaps your baseline program is intended for.

Mark said...

Bob,

Excellent points made in your comment, and I agree with you in every respect.

You have taken the time to develop a modified training schedule to address those players that fit the category you just described. I hope that other bloggers read this and have some further input to provide.