Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Repost: Generic Training Schedule

Putting together a training schedule for yourself sounds like an easy task. No problem! I'll just study openings on Monday, do some middlgame strategy on Tuesday, then perhaps some endgames on Wednesday, and sprinkle some online games here and there. But in reality, if you are like me, it's difficult to do because we, as chessplayers, are averse to doing anything that is not really fun. Half way through your opening sessions you find yourself suddenly emmersed in a bullet tournament on ICC or Playchess. Endings? Bah! I know Lucena's - good enough.

It is a lack of discipline in our non-playing activities that keep us right were we settle in the rating scale. ANY player can steadily improve if they apply a basic schedule to their studies and become persistent in executing those studies. In fact, I would venture that outside of any extraordinary talent, any player can see improvement up to the 2100-2200 rating level using this study plan as a guide.

This 4-day study plan encompasses all facets of chess study as well as playing blitz and rapid games on a steady basis, which is important if you want to get feedback from your play for obvious reasons. The study plan rotates on this 4-day schedule. After you complete Day4, revert back to Day1 the next day.

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

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

The first step in any study plan is to know how much time you have to spend doing it. This is where the # of units comes into play. If, for example, you can devote 4 hours a day to studying chess, then your Study unit of time would be 1 hour, as each day contains 4 study units of time. On Day1 you would:

Study Openings - 2 hours
Solve Tactics - 1 hour
Study Strategy - 1 hour

Of course, not everyone has 4 hours to put aside to study chess each day. If you have an hour a day, your time unit = 15 minutes. In this way, you can automatically customize your schedule depending on how much time you have. An alternative is to make the unit of time 30 minutes, and simply run the schedule as time permits. For example, you set 30 minutes of time as your unit:

Study Openings - 1 hour
Solve Tactics - 30 min
Study Strategy - 30 min

In this method, it does not matter that you complete all the activities for a particular day on that day, but it is important to maintain the order in which you do that activity. It may take you 2 days to complete the Day1 program, so be it.

To implement this study program effectively, we need to have at our disposal some good chess books on each subject. Consider obtaining a good Opening, Strategy, and Endgame book, as well as a tactical puzzles book.

For openings, I personally like the "Starting Out" series by Everyman Chess. For strategy, Pachman's Modern Chess Strategy or Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by Watson are good books. For endgames, A Guide to Chess Endings by Euwe and Hooper, Fundamental Chess Endings by Muller and Lamprecht, or Just The Facts by Alburt are all good books and all very readable. You might prefer other books. These are just suggestions.

For more details, see the source of this summary at ChessOk.com


ShakhMat said...

I Like your method for coding the topics of study and time units.
In my opinion, 1/4 of the study time dedicated to openings is extremely high. I think that up to 2200 one should dedicate less than 10% to openings.

Best Regards,

Sebastian Schereschevsky

Mark said...

Useful Advice.

I don't pretend to assign hard and fast values to how you spend your time studying, but have tried to offer more of a framework that a chess enthusiast can operate in to find out what they need to improve upon. If you have read most of the other articles dealing with GCTS, it becomes clear.

I agree that studying openings should be one of the last items on your list until you hit 2200, if ever, as endgames should be tops on that list right next to tactics. But chess players are a varied sort.

The reason for the 4-unit opening study is strictly a place to begin from. After a couple cycles, most people find that they replace the opening cycles with an endgame or tactics or Strategy cycle, and in fact, that is what I have done. I currently have 2 opening cycles in my 16-unit cycle which works out to about 12-13%. I personally do this to keep fresh on the Caro-Kann and the Semi-Slav defenses; and the White side of 1.e4 always needs constant attention. But that is just me.

Thanks for posting Sebastian and Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

I am going to implament your schedule right away! Thanks for bringing the blog back to life. -Luke