Thursday, December 21, 2006

Calculation Skill Exercise

Here is an exercise, promoted by Jeremy Silman in "How to Reassess Your Chess - The Complete Chess Mastery Course", to practice and improve your calculation skills. A Word of Warning: this exercise is difficult and time-consuming! However, I think it is one of the most useful and improving exercises you can do.

Take an annotated game from one of your favorite players and play out the first 10 moves or so until you reach the beginnings of the middlegame, stopping when it is your move (your favorite players move, that is).

Now, cover up the moves and figure out what is going on, using your thinking technique (or Silmans', if you prefer, by recording the imbalances, etc.) and derive your candidate moves. Write down all your candidate moves! Now, without moving the pieces, analyze out each candidate move in your head. Analyze each branch as far as you think you need to.

After you are done with this move, make the move in the game and the response and do it all over again. Continue to do this until you complete the game.

Afterwards, go over the game annotations and compare them to your annotations, paying attention to the logic and the tactics in the game and how close you came to the actual play. Play over the correct analysis when it presents itself different from your own.

This method should help you in developing your calculation and tactical skills and plan development.

Enjoy and Merry Christ*mas to everyone, Christian or otherwise!


Chess Relearner said...
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Chess Relearner said...

(Reposting to correct a small error.)

For completeness, this appears to be an extension of the "Stoyko" exercise, as it was invented by Steve Stoyko. (The Stoyko exercise looks at a single position, not each move in the game, but does so in much the same manner as Silman's exercise.)

Prior to my almost 38 year disappearance from the chess scene, back when I played as a high schooler, Steve used to sometimes play at the chess club in New Jersey that I frequented at its Wednesday evening sessions. During a bit of a lull in the action one evening (it might have been in 1966 or 1967), another member saw that Steve and I were both not playing, and suggested to Steve that he play me. The young Mr. Stoyko looked over at me and slowly said, "I think he should play someone else."

Ah, well. He was, after all, probably 800 points higher in rating....

Blue Devil Knight said...

That seems to be a good technique. I wish someone would sell a chess book explicitly built to do this. E.g., just five master games, with a board diagram every two moves so you don't have to have a board handy. It could be structured so you would have to play as white (or black), and multiple alternate moves are discussed. It would be a great help. Just that, with five games would probably be like 400+ pages, and would be incredibly hard to write well.

Pandolfini's book from his ChessLife columns is the closest approximation to such a book I have seen.