Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Starting on a New Path

It has been another long hiatus from the game, and a little longer one from this blog. I do confess that though my desire for improvement is strong, my attempts toward that end may seem sporadic due to these long breaks. But there is a factor that frquently and seriously interferes with my attempts, and repeatedly pushes me away on such breaks. That factor is the overwhelming gamut of information one needs to juggle in ones mind to arrive at the right answer while studying a given position.

Every time I return with renewed interest, and start reading articles/books about the game (the general considerations, tactical motifs, positional concepts and so forth), I digest the concepts quite easily. I can now talk at length about these concepts, and can even compose a succinct monograph about them. However, when I set out to solve some intermediate tactical/positional exercises, I somehow do not really measure up. In most cases I do solve exercises that clearly indicate motifs such as "Mate in 2" or even those that announce another motif (like Skewer or Pin or Double attack or something else) that is playable in the first or second move. In those problems I score about 90% (subjective). When faced with a position with many pieces still on the board and a suggestion like "White to move an play for a win", and if the complete solution expects 2 moves, my score drops to about 70% (subjective). Any such raw position that expects more than 2 moves drastically drops my score, especially if the exercise allows only limited time or attempts. I may play a decent move to the best of my knowledge, but that would not be the best move as is often proved by the composer of the solution.

There are also those times when I cannot see it at once even if someone tells me something is possible in the next two moves; and then it is really shameful when that someone, out of sheer irritation with my mental blindness, physically holds my hand and drops it on a piece I should move! When that starts happening, I go back to the books/websites searching for inspirational articles, which take me back to the same concepts I have read so many times. And the whole story repeats and frustration builds until my brain cries out for a break.

This time I decided to start all over again with a clean slate and try a different route. Study end games first. It is a suggestion I have often come across and ignored. So, in the last two days I spent some time understanding K+p vs K endings. After struggling with several incomplete articles that left me terribly confused, I was fortunate to stumble upon this excellent wiki. This article has been so methodically drafted, with logical explanations (also grateful for those accompanying diagrams with the dots and crosses) and principles to bear in mind for both sides, that it arrested my complete attention. I tried my hands at a few exercises from both sides, in which I did well. So far so good.

Now I wonder: where do I go from here? What's the next logical thing to study?

Many thanks.
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