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Old 08-13-2020, 04:01 PM   #1
buffyslayer1
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Buffyslayer improves (again)

So I guess i decided to make this after a few posts in Yugo's excellent thread.

In my twenties I was a OK player probably just below 2000 elo (we have weird BCF in the UK) I believe i was around 170 BCF but can't recall exactly.

About 3 years ago I took a little bit of coaching from youknowwho, to get back to a level approx where I was. I joined league 45/45 on ICC and played a few seasons there. I think my standard rating was around 1950 ish after this. Hard to tell since I don't know how well ICC correlates with OTB ratings etc.
Anyway in the league I think I got 5 wins and 1 draw in the first season and 4 draws and a win when I got moved up the next season. I am not sure I quite got back to the level I was or not but, this time around I will test myself at OTB chess also.

Due to life really and losing a bit of interest I stopped playing studying again seriously, and just cranked out bad blitz games every now and then.
Chess seems to have had a bit of a renaissance recently with Hikaru streaming on twitch a lot (it’s very good by the way) and the pogchamp tournament of prominent twitch streamers (a few poker players in there also). Started to get the bug a little bit again at that point.

So I started playing again a little more seriously and I played a correspondence game against a friend (he is quite a bit weaker than even me). I forgot how much I enjoyed playing slower times controls (or not time control here) and the game has (obviously) so much more depth than playing bad blitz.

With all that I am playing more seriously again (only for last few weeks) and my aim really is to be a better player than I was in my twenties. I don’t know how achievable this is, not in terms of the pure ceiling on adult learning. More that I play poker/coach full time have a wife/family all that good stuff. Poker is quite time consuming (just like chess) if you want to consistently make money from it and games significantly tougher (not as tough as some would say) than when I started out 12 years ago.

I took a lesson with a IM a week or so ago, we swapped chess for poker coaching. It was quite useful really, since I am an adult who is somewhat capable of learning. He suggested that really I did not need coaching on a lot of stuff, since I can learn it myself. More coaching should come in the form of analysing my games with a player stronger than myself. From the advice he has given I have a rough plan of how to achieve my goals.

First off he suggest minimal opening work, we did go over my openings mainly to make sure I was not doing anything silly like trying to play main lines of the Sicilian etc
Most were actually quite good/suitable with a few suggestions on his behalf. My openings in general are designed to not be huge theoretical battles or lines where you have to know ultra sharp stuff to avoid getting busted. Plus mainly to avoid the kind of game black typically wants (where possible)

As White I play 1.e4
Versus Sicilian I play Bb5 stuff (kinda poorly) he did suggest the c3 line for white which at high level might be a bit meh but it avoids the e6 stuff play can play which avoids Bb5 anyway
V French – I just learnt a little bit of the Tarrasch, like the basic plans/ideas etc.

I have an excellent series by John Shaw on white 1.e4 opening repertoire it’s 3 books and I have followed a lot of his suggestions with tarrasch being the option versus french. The 3rd book in the series I have not bothered with though since he is going with various mainline (ish) suggestions versus each type of sicilian.
V Caro-Kann – I was planning on advanced as per Shaws recommendations. However, having looked just at the less popular dxc5 variation which leads to kind of a french a tempo down. The amount of theory for just this line is already quite a lot let alone the main move Bf5. So I am going to continue with the Panov that I play atm (kinda poorly though, have to improve IQP positions a lot)
V e5 I was planning on the scotch as per shaw but IM recommended perhaps even the scotch gambit as being quite playable below GM level
V the rest of the less popular choices (think this covers like 70% of responses) I am going with shaws recommendations which all seem solid enough.

As black v 1.e4 I have played the Qd6 Scandinavian for quite a while with the a6 line. However, it is pretty bad to be honest vs someone who knows what they are doing both g3 and Bd3 are pretty good responses and white gets a good game and black suffers a bunch. So I am going to try out the 5...g6 variation which is relatively untested and interesting.

Versus 1d4 I play QGA which I switched to from the Benko a while ago. I really like it to be honest and I am surprised (well in blitz) nearly everyone plays pretty poorly versus it. It’s pretty solid and leads to a more open game etc.

Last word (on already way to long section) on openings, I bought chess assistant also. Despite looking like something out of the 90’s its actually ok software. I created classifiers for each of my openings. Which basically means critical positions in CA speak, which means that for each opening I play every time the database updates all the new games are automatically placed into that classifier folder. This is kinda helpful also for organizing the most popular responses and just having a list of games in that opening etc.

My plan is to spend only maybe 10-15% of time on the opening in general. Though it might be a little more if I have to learn something a little new like 5...g6 Scandi.

Onto the more interesting stuff, so talking with IM he said the way he made IM was basically working lots on the endgame and also analysing annotated games collections of old players. In other words studying the classics.
On his recommendation I bought, 100 endgames you must know, Endgame strategy (shrestesky or something, simple chess by micheal stean and Bronsteins zurich tournament.
Funny enough simple chess was my first chess book age like 13, though is was in descriptive notation and I never worked through it all because of that. In my twenties I also had endgame strategy as well but never got through more than a chapter.

Endagme study will be working through the 100 endgame you should know supplemented by some pretty good you tube videos (John bartholmew) on a lot of these positions. Good thing is I know quite a few of the common ones already having looked at them as a teenager and seems they stuck. When IM tested me on a bunch of them I managed to recall the winning or drawing method which is great but there are some I just don’t know.

Importantly as I have found with poker, its important to also test oneself on knowledge otherwise its easily lost. Good example is lucena positon which I bungled in a league game when I was mid twenties (lifted rook to wrong rank) and ended up drawing it. Never forgot it since then though!
So I have been playing out the positions also versus a computer, and Ideally I would like to take randomly some of these endgame and play them out versus a study partner as a practice exercise.
If anyone is interested in this let me know, I would guess I am approx 1800 right now so if anyone if in the same ballpark and wants to practice let me know.

Once I have worked through these endgames, I will focus more on the planning and strategic side of endgame. Armed with endgame stragey and also a bunch of youtube videos on instructive endgames. This will encompass the start of endgame mastery! I also made a vow not to buy another chess book until I have finished these 4!

Middle game work will be working through the other 2 books, using mainly guess the move type methods. Covering up the next move and thinking through the position as to what I would play and why etc. Then going over the annotated notes by the author.
I have started with simple chess, which is a great little book. The ideas in it are fairly basic but I think a good dive back into middle game work. Literally only got through the introduction in which there are 3 games and took me a few hours actually doing guess the move and playing out variations and thinking about the positions.

Lastly but most importantly is tactics training, which I arguably where I am weakest. It degrades with time for sure and talking with IM. He advised that consistent practice is more important than the total amount. So half an hour each day or most days on chess tempo, will see slow but steady progress. Any more than this and actually its likely the brain gets a bit fried and you see quite diminishing returns.

So this in essence is the general plan, obviously there is a lot there and who knows how far through all these aims I will get. Time is the main factor in that we never seem to have enough of it. It’s hard to be disciplined after a long day of poker (especially a tough one) to open up a position and study it for an hour or so. Rather than mindlessly grind an hour of a video game or stick on a movie.

Nearly forgot to add I will join a local chess team again, when they open. I was a member of one for a while, but honestly a lot of the people (not all) at the club were a bit clickly. British chess scene is a bit like that, no wonder we have barely had any new GM's in a generation tbh

Any way's any suggestions or improvements would be gladly received.

tldr - Will study endgames a bunch and old master games with some tactics thrown in!
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Old 08-14-2020, 03:35 AM   #2
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Plan looks solid, GL GL GL!

Subscribing, gonna rail and chime in if I feel I have something worthy to say.
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Old 08-14-2020, 09:26 AM   #3
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Yes! Ok, I will start blogging again now! If for no reason than to put in subtle YKW trolls every once in a while to keep him on his toes .

Do you mind PMing me who the IM coach is? No real reason, I'm just curious. Or, even better, if you have Skype or something, send that in case we want to go over chess stuff sometimes.

Or discord or whatever - I still use Skype probably because I am old and don't have any friends anyway .
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:46 AM   #4
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

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Plan looks solid, GL GL GL!

Subscribing, gonna rail and chime in if I feel I have something worthy to say.

Thx mate
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:49 AM   #5
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

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Yes! Ok, I will start blogging again now! If for no reason than to put in subtle YKW trolls every once in a while to keep him on his toes .

Do you mind PMing me who the IM coach is? No real reason, I'm just curious. Or, even better, if you have Skype or something, send that in case we want to go over chess stuff sometimes.

Or discord or whatever - I still use Skype probably because I am old and don't have any friends anyway .

Sure I am just too lazy to type out full name! IM Marcin KRYSZTOFIAK is his name.

Will pm over Skype always good to have chess friends. I don't really have many that are strong players. I do use discord so must be down with the kids!
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:53 AM   #6
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

so far endgame wise worked through some basic ones most of which I knew already tbh but refreshing never hurts.
Looked at lucena, Phildor 3 rank defence, short side defence in r+p, the rook pawn with K on g7 safe squares and first rank defence all of which I knew but practiced a bit using comp and chessable as it had a basic endgame course for free

Plus vancura postion which I confess I didn't know this one so good to add.
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Old 08-14-2020, 12:55 PM   #7
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Vancura position is hideous. I think there are several types of it and some are basically impossible? I dno, I "learned" the ones in 100 endgames you must know but am sure I'd screw it up by this point.

I don't seem to end up in too many endgames OTB where other factors don't play bigger role (significant material difference, big time pressure, etc.).
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Old 08-14-2020, 12:57 PM   #8
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Also, I definitely contacted him in 2017 and we went back and forth via email. Looks like he only gave/gives lessons on ICC and I wasn't on ICC - ok, that's probably one of the main reasons why. I didn't want to sign up just to do some trial lesson or something.
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Old 08-14-2020, 02:08 PM   #9
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

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Vancura position is hideous. I think there are several types of it and some are basically impossible? I dno, I "learned" the ones in 100 endgames you must know but am sure I'd screw it up by this point.

I don't seem to end up in too many endgames OTB where other factors don't play bigger role (significant material difference, big time pressure, etc.).
I thought there was just one with rook behind pawn on rooks file and pawn on 6th rank? You can only draw with king far enough away from pawn.

Also discovered there is a workbook version of the 100 endgames. Once I have worked through them all this would be my next one to practice them in practical terms
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:32 PM   #10
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Same Buffyslayer of EatMyStack a decade ago?
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Old 08-17-2020, 04:07 AM   #11
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

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Same Buffyslayer of EatMyStack a decade ago?
No I don't think so, never heard of that site until now.
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:44 AM   #12
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Short update

I am still going through openings, found a few free books on chess able which also covered a bunch of the basic ones i have been refreshing. It's quite a good site so shout out to Yugo for telling me about it (yes I have been in a cave).

Moved onto to some other basic ish ones, Knight and Bishop v King. This one is quite tricky actually. IM linked me to a good couple of videos on it also by Simon Williams and the W technique which i had not heard of before. Now to test it out v the computer and see if i can win it consistently!

Also signed up for chess tempo premium as it's cheap, since my calculation and tactics are really poor atm. So one nice feature is you get a breakdown of the type of tactics you do poorly at (trapped pieces for example I seem to do very poorly at). For the ones I get wrong there are common themes that seems to occur. Seeing the right idea but messing up the move order, seeing a winning move (like winning a piece) and then playing it missing a better move (like a mate). Not linking together 2 idea in a spot, so seeing there is a knight fork somewhere and there is a mate threat but not linking them together to find the overall right plan.

It really is quite a weak area and I see now why IM wanted me to focus on standard tactics as my calculation is below my other average skills!
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:40 AM   #13
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Oh man, move order is so tricky. Even knowing that move order is tricky doesn't always help. Probably not a bad idea to actively think on every single problem that you don't get quickly "ok, can I switch move orders/tactical ideas here."

I should do that too .
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Old 08-22-2020, 05:24 AM   #14
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

What replayer is best to post games with? Tried chess.tv but it seemed buggy
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Old 08-28-2020, 01:19 PM   #15
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Thought I would update. Not really that much to add except I still suck at tactics and calculation. Likely I am 200 or so points at least below overall strength (which is not very high anyway).
I have been consistent and I also understand improvement maye be slow. In the few blitz games I have played i do feel like I noticed some improvements and spotting tactical ideas even if I don't always implement them correctly.

I have reviewed the endgames so far i have learnt with about 95% success rate. My idea is to keep reviewing once a week until have these just snap known off by heart. One thing that is pleasing is the mate with bishop and knight I seem to have down. I practiced today and nailed it using about 25 secs on the clock.

Other things I have worked on is learning the alapin to c5. I wasn't going to spend too much time on the opening. But since I had a shaky understanding of bb5 lines as a anti sicilian and it doesn't solve e6 anyway I thought I would bite the bullet.

Mostly have just been organising the lines i will play and typical middlegame and endgame position's to be followed by playing through a ton of specialists in this openings games. That would be (apologies for misspelling all these) tviakov, pavolvic and sveshnikov. I did manage to beat a 2150 at blitz already though we both badly misplayed the opening due to having some clue on middlegames.

One nice thing about this opening is that you get a lot of IQP postions and I play tarrasch v french and panov v caro kann and the QGA v d4 so I have some exposure to them already from both sides. That also feels to me how one should be opening repotoires as well, with middlegames where you have a good feel for the plans and they can be similar across many openings.

Also thinking about breaking my rule of no more books with the 100 endgames you must know workbook. Doesnt feel like i am totally breaking it since its essentially a collection of positions/tests related to the original book.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:38 AM   #16
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)



Going through specialist games is especially great. I always know I should do that but then don't necessarily do it - or do it very carefully.

When you say you are "200 or so points at least below overall strength" in tactics and/or calculation what do you mean and what are you basing that on?
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Old 09-01-2020, 03:17 PM   #17
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

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Going through specialist games is especially great. I always know I should do that but then don't necessarily do it - or do it very carefully.

When you say you are "200 or so points at least below overall strength" in tactics and/or calculation what do you mean and what are you basing that on?
I mean say I am 1800 fide then I think my tactics sit around 1600. Mainly basing it on puzzles I fail which are supposedly fairly easy.
Saying that chess tempo seems a little random in how it assigns puzzle difficulty. I had a mate in 8 (granted all forcing) being around the same as a mate in 2.
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Old 09-01-2020, 05:23 PM   #18
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

I am pretty sure chesstempo's problem ratings are generated based off of user attempts. E.g. if people find it hard on average the rating goes up. So a rating is only "inaccurate" when the puzzle is very new - but I'm sure it quickly gets to a rough rating of where it "should" be.

Are you doing chesstempo blitz or standard?
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Old 09-01-2020, 05:53 PM   #19
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Ah ok maybe they were new puzzles then.

I am doing standard, not sure that is best but its what IM recommended for me. Likely due to my calculation being poor not actually spotting the motiff as much.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:21 PM   #20
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

I, too, think you should do standard puzzles and don't rush, keeping looking until you have solved it. Calculation is all about going slow and deliberately. The gains come when you hit that "wall" where you want to give up but you push through and solve it. I feel I remember Aagaard and Ramesh both saying this in different ways multiple times. And probably a lot of other great chess trainers.
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Old 10-15-2020, 10:04 AM   #21
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

I have been meaning to update for a while, but kept forgetting.

So I joined Chessmood after hearing a podcast with the owner (perpetual chess) and trying out the free content on the site.

I really like the site, there is a lot of good content, and stuff added all the time as well and updated pretty consistently.

They have opening courses based on what they are recommending for players to improve growth.
Main ideas sections, as well as specific moves are covered in the courses.
What I really like though is they added in a advanced section with more detailed lines and model games them.
Specifically also on what you are likely to face from players who don't know the theory.

They also stream once a week, playing blitz just using the 'chessmood' openings. All the streams are recorded and uploaded as well. Seeing a 2600 GM take apart players of all levels is quite instructive. Often there are streams where the GM goes from 800-2400 on chess.com and you get to see all levels of play.

Throw in, the middle game courses (which I am focusing on, along with opening), endgame courses and themed tournaments for members based on openings. The site is pretty good overall.
You can find study partners who are looking at the same content and its been very helpful. I found one and the few sessions we did have been useful so far. I really forgot how nice it is to study with someone else. I used to do this a lot in poker but kind of got away from a it a bit. Partly because I am not staked, and most groups revolve around this these days.

Also you get a 1-1 call with GM Avetik (the owner) to discuss your learning path.
He was pretty happy with mine with some minor amendments, for openings he suggested just get down e4 versus e5 and Sicilian , your black openings versus e4 and d4. Then focus on the middle game courses and endgame courses they have. I decided not to go with the recommendation versus e4 and d4. They are choosing Acc dragon v E4 and Benko v d4.

Even though the Acc dragon is not a huge Sicilian, I don't want to invest all the time in the anti c5 systems. Benko is fine but I am pretty happy with QGA even though I don't know it that well. It's solid and you get to actually play it a lot also and White seems to be very under prepared for it.

So I know I said I would not do too much on opening but, it ends up I have been really. I wanted to learn the scotch rather than playing bad Ruy Lopez versus 1.e5. I covered the material in the main course for scotch and most of the advanced sections. Also practiced on chess tempo opening trainer, as well as checking any games I play in 5+3 blitz for mistakes I make versus my pgn of the opening.

I have to say its the only opening I know really well, have very clear ideas on the middle game plans, which once the memorization part was over I mainly have focused on. My results have been pretty good with it (I think around 65% wins over 100 games) and I get good positions out of the opening most of the time.

In addition to this I have been looking at the classical games and the attacking games courses on average getting through 1 game every couple of days.

Though I have not seen massive ratings gains online, I am not doing badly. I created a new Lichess account to play just 5+3 and focus on openings. They suggested 5+3 and a new account which is a good idea. Since a) you don't care about rating and get disheartened losing points playing new openings. b) You get enough time to think about openings and when you get a crushing position you don't lose on time.

With the new account I think I got it to around 1950 or so playing totally new systems v e5 and c5 for me (Grand prix attack) and only knowing Scotch v e5 really well.

Essentially short term plan is to get a really good feel for these openings, particularly middle game plans in the Grand prix attack. Then onto a new version of Scandinavian v e4 and finally QGA.

I was thinking of switching from Scandi, but funny enough online I am winning about 60% or so of my games as black. I always feel worse out of the opening, but I think maybe I just have experience in the opening and it suits me despite not really knowing the theory beyond about move 5. So in the middle game manage to create chances etc.

So once this is done (I think it will take a month or so), pure focus will be on classical games and endgame courses.

I started playing League 45 45 again, won my first match where opponent plays some weird Philidor move order which I exploited and drew my second game playing white versus sicilain. I will upload the games later if I can find a good way to host them.

The second game I am not happy with as I took a draw by repetition in a slightly better position out of the opening. Mainly because I could not see any real plan for the rest of the middle game although there are some. I just don't have a good enough feel for them yet tbh.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:28 PM   #22
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

45+45 games may be the most valuable thing you're doing. But all the other stuff will add up too. You are an inspiration for us all - keep it up!
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Old 10-17-2020, 05:15 AM   #23
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Thanks yugo

I feel like i can do more, but time always stops us or some days you just want to chill and not do much chess.

They actually added a new pgn for scotch today. The ide with the pgns is that they upload a very basic skeleton pgn.

I think because a) piracy issues and b) it forces you to fill it out yourself improving recall.

This one I think has scotch quizzes in it to test your knowledge. So I hope I do well in it (fingers crossed)

OK so I will just link to team 45 replayer for my games.

Game 1 which I spent a bit too long prepping. Opponent from all his games loves an early c5 even where its pretty bad.


http://team4545league.org/pgnplayer/...r.php?id=98401

I liked my idea of Nd5, even though computer prefers nf5. Basic idea was I wanted to kick the d4 knight and then play g5.
I have no idea why he played kd7. It looks scary castling kingside for sure. But keeping the king in the centre and trying to run to queenside looks like suicide.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:46 PM   #24
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Re: Buffyslayer improves (again)

Some days you want to chill....wtf is that? I don't think I even remember :/.

But, yeah, I know what you mean. And burnout will lead to zero chess improvement. This is definitely a situation where 10 minutes a day of very high quality study will dominate someone who binges and keeps quitting.
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