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A general question on improvement from 2100 towards FM/IM

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  • A general question on improvement from 2100 towards FM/IM

    Hi all,

    I'd like to know your thoughts on improving towards the FM
    and later to IM title standard.
    I'm currently rated 2104 FIDE (unfortunately dropping about 40 points
    - bad season with practically no training due to life duties...),
    which I got to mostly on my own, studying some classic books, games,
    and playing tournaments and team leauges. I've been at cca. this level
    since 2003 (!) and I would like to finally get on with rigorous
    training to reach my long-term goal in chess - to become an IM with a
    rating and strength above 2400.

    I know this probably is a rather general question, but how should I go
    about training to improve from expert to IM strength? I know my
    thought process is often a bit chaotic (I probably trust my intuition
    too much at times, and just play the move that jumps at me with only a
    little "safety check" to make sure it doesn't drop anything ).

    Then I'm playing the same openings as in my youth (I'm 26 now, been
    playing competitively since 13) - not that they're incorrect or
    anything, but I might use some exposure to new types of positions,
    probably? I play Taimanov sicilian and the KID as black, and e4 as
    white - mostly main lines (open sicilian as well, with it's sh*tload
    of theory ). I've let go of the Vienna game in favor of the
    exchange Spanish recently.

    As to tactics and calculation, a year ago I confirmed to myself that
    with enough exposure to excercises I'm able to see motifs and patterns
    well, especially when I get a familiar position - then I had no
    problem beating a young FM and a WIM during one weekend...

    I feel that despite playing the same openings/sets of positions for a
    while now, I have some trouble with transition from opening to the
    middle game - at least that's where I spend an inordinate amount of
    time... Between moves cca. 14-20 I regularly spend 8 to 15 minutes per
    move (at 90 minutes for 40 moves and then 30 mins for the rest of the
    game, with a 30 seconds increment from move 1), and then suffer during
    the time trouble that I inevitably get into due to this...

    I feel that time trouble is the single one most affecting my results,
    and it mostly stems from my indecision and sometimes inability to
    choose a solid plan for the middlegame.
    I sometimes get quite a bad position right from the opening - this
    mostly happens with players above 2200, but I sometimes get nervous
    when a lower-rated player equalizes easily against me (or gets a
    slightly better position as white)...

    My endgame isn't too bad for my level I guess, but I wouldn't say that
    I shine in this department as well...

    All in all, I'm aware of at least some defects in my play, but can't
    decide what would be the best way of getting rid of them and in what
    order...Hence my question: How should I go about eradicating
    weaknesses stated above? Which one would be best to start with? There
    are so many and so little time now that I've become yet another
    working class hero

    Thank you if you got this far reading my looooong post, and I'd
    really appreciate your thoughts on how to pursue a goal of becoming a
    titled player...

  • #2
    You might be interested in reading the experiences of British expert (rated ~2100) Tom Rose who decided to try and get his IM title. His series of articles give you a good idea of what you are facing.
    Chessville - Editorials - Rose's Rants, by Tom Rose
    The Hoppers

    Comment


    • #3
      You're a lot stronger than me, so I can't offer any specific advice.

      I will say two things, though:

      When you're stuck, finding a teacher is often a good idea.

      And two, Dvoretsky is the only author I'm aware of who's work was specifically focused on the idea of getting somebody of around your strength up to the next level. I would attack his books with a passion - although be careful as some of the books have been published with different titles/translations and you don't want to buy stuff more than once.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd hit endgames hard. I've been told by more than a handful of strong players that I'm stuck where I am because I don't know endings very well.

        Also, they say they were stuck at some point, and advanced 200-300 points once they began understanding those pesky endgames.

        Endings.
        Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

        An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

        My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

        Comment


        • #5
          Hellow Friend,I think you should prepare more seriously in this game.Recently from a chess Tournament I earned 45 elo.
          Though my rating is below to you but I think,if you want to cross 2300 level or to go IM,You should to strengthen your Positional play.
          I think You should read 3 books which have helped me much.
          1.My System(If you already read it,then read it again,everytime you explore new things from this book sure.
          2.Think like a GM(By A.Kotov)A fantastic book which will help u for sure.
          3.Play like a GM.(By A.Kotov)
          And just read chess.com article.It also helps me a lot.
          I hope these will help u for sure.
          Last edited by Perseus; 03-10-2012, 03:51 PM.
          Ranadeep

          Comment


          • #6
            Stay up to date on your (and other) openings as much as your comfortable with. Good luck
            I float like a pawn island and sting like an ignored knight

            Comment


            • #7
              Try not to get checkmated too much.

              "The most important aspect of going from expert to master is the accuracy of your calculation." -- GM Alex Lenderman

              Active Library (updated 07/11/15)
              *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

              The King In Jeopardy
              Perfect Your Chess
              Sharpen your Tactics
              The Middlegame, Book I
              ICC Tactical Trainer bot


              "It's not the book. It's what you can understand and learn from it."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Phoenix View Post
                Try not to get checkmated too much.
                Gee, never thought of it in this simple way

                Sorry for getting back to you all so late, and thank you all for replies!
                I guess something of what every one of you said is useful advice - I read most of your book recommendations, maybe it's time for me to re-read them again...

                I read Rose's rants in the past and really enjoyed them; however it kinda frustrated me that he didn't really improve that much and then probably gave up... On the other hand, I'm 26 now so hopefully I'm not "over my zenith" yet

                As a side note, I sent an e-mail with more or less the same wording to some of famous teachers / trainers / writers (Heisman, Silman, Pogonina, Smirnov to name a few) - basically all for whom I could find an e-mail address

                So far, Dan Heisman got back to me with some useful advice - to play stronger players and how to try and speed up. Common sense, really - but sometimes we perhaps need someone else to tell us in order to really "get it"

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with some of the other suggestions. Getting a GM or IM level coach to help you make the transition would probably be the most productive suggestion. I have been getting lessons from GM Viktor Gavrikov and they have been very helpful in teaching me what to do when I don't know what to do (which sounds like your problem). I have been teaching my students the things that Viktor has been teaching me and they have experienced some phenomenal improvements in their level of play with 1200 players suddenly having 1800 or higher level performances.

                  Simply being exposed to the thought processes of a GM or IM will raise your level of play.

                  Viktor is based in Bulgaria and can be reached at viktorgavrikov@yahoo.com though he is moving this week and may be offline until next week while he sorts out finding a new internet provider.

                  We have our lessons on playchess.com and talk simultaneously on Skype. I pay for the lessons through Alertpay.

                  Vladimir Drkulec

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Crash View Post
                    I agree with some of the other suggestions. Getting a GM or IM level coach to help you make the transition would probably be the most productive suggestion. I have been getting lessons from GM Viktor Gavrikov and they have been very helpful in teaching me what to do when I don't know what to do (which sounds like your problem). I have been teaching my students the things that Viktor has been teaching me and they have experienced some phenomenal improvements in their level of play with 1200 players suddenly having 1800 or higher level performances.

                    Simply being exposed to the thought processes of a GM or IM will raise your level of play.

                    Viktor is based in Bulgaria and can be reached at viktorgavrikov@yahoo.com though he is moving this week and may be offline until next week while he sorts out finding a new internet provider.

                    We have our lessons on playchess.com and talk simultaneously on Skype. I pay for the lessons through Alertpay.

                    Vladimir Drkulec
                    Hi Crash,

                    Thanks very much for the advice! I think you're right, some things you can't learn from books and seeing/hearing a GM thought process "live" should be very helpful...
                    Could you please elaborate some more on what lessons with GM Gavrikov look like? Are you analyzing your games, or master games, or does he teach positional concepts from some model games during the lessons, etc.?
                    I'm not sure if it's ok to ask publicly what he charges for the lessons - after quickly googling him I couldn't find anything of this sort. If you would be willing, please feel free to PM me with what I should expect from the financial point of view.
                    Many thanks again...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rooster85 View Post
                      Hi Crash,

                      Thanks very much for the advice! I think you're right, some things you can't learn from books and seeing/hearing a GM thought process "live" should be very helpful...
                      Could you please elaborate some more on what lessons with GM Gavrikov look like?
                      The chess interface is through playchess.com which is chessbase's online chess server. At the same time he calls you on Skype and that is the voice portion of the training. Usually Viktor gives a series of examples and exercises which he asks you to solve in some cases and sometimes he just shows you a number of games, game fragments and positions to illustrate some lessons or multiple lessons. Often you will start with a game fragment in training mode and then he will give you the whole game and elaborate on the ideas revealed.

                      Lately we have been doing work on endings and various examples of pawn breakthroughs in endings and also fortresses which have arisen surprisingly often in my own games or the games of my students almost as soon as Viktor covers them. We have also done courses on hanging pawns, various pawn centers, isolated pawns and so on. I send him my games and sometimes he will directly analyse them and make some suggestions and he also has various full and partial repertoires with original analysis in which he offers improvements on recent theoretical works. He gives you plenty of opportunity to direct the course of study. You save the lessons in chessbase format and can go back and refer to them again and again. He also offers good advice on tournament nutrition and for example told me about alphalipoic acid as a supplement that helps with blood sugar. He is a font of wisdom on chess psychology and every other sentence is some new revelation about some aspect of chess.

                      The training is based on what he calls courses which usually have a span of several weeks. The first ones deal with his theory of critical points and critical constructions which I haven't seen explained in the same way anywhere else and I have almost every recent book and many of the old ones published on chess. If you can absorb those lessons you will be able to find the correct moves or at least good moves in ambiguous situations based on his ideas. We do a lot of work on tactics and he somehow finds examples which really stretch your limits. The move that seems correct is usually not the one that you should play. He also has some very neat terminology (for example, trampoline moves with the queen where the queen bounces all over the board making threats against the critical points in your opponent's position).

                      I pretty much let him direct my path as I constantly feel that I am learning new things.

                      Are you analyzing your games, or master games, or does he teach positional concepts from some model games during the lessons, etc.?
                      All of the above, though for the most part he covers grandmaster rather than master games. I do tend to send him all of my games and he usually mentions some of the alternatives that he has ready as far as courses are concerned and they are often tailored to things that he has seen in my games.

                      Diboss who sometimes posts here is the former Windsor player who also is studying with Viktor and really enjoying the lessons as well.

                      I'm not sure if it's ok to ask publicly what he charges for the lessons - after quickly googling him I couldn't find anything of this sort. If you would be willing, please feel free to PM me with what I should expect from the financial point of view.
                      Many thanks again...
                      LEARNING CHESS with VIKTOR GAVRIKOV

                      I am not sure how up to date the links are but it does give a decent overview of the process.

                      Vladimir Drkulec

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A bit out of topic, but I have a question Crash, since you are exposed to a GM. Do a GM still read positional chess books or endgame books from time to time?
                        " Deep calculation is not what distinguishes the champions. It does not matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand what you are looking at. When I contemplate my move, I first must consider all the elements in the position so that i can develop a strategy and develop intermediate objectives"

                        -- Garry Kasparov--

                        "Tactics must be guided by strategy"

                        --- Garry Kasparov--

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ryan_c View Post
                          A bit out of topic, but I have a question Crash, since you are exposed to a GM. Do a GM still read positional chess books or endgame books from time to time?
                          We do occasionally discuss chess books. I get the impression that Viktor is very widely read but many of the games and examples that he uses come from Informant or the Chessbase Megabase with his own annotations. There are also many classical games by the likes of Rubenstein, Morphy and Alekhine. He quotes many games from his own praxis both over the board and games played online. We look at quite a few endgames and he has quoted Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual and a significant number of endgame studies often with improvements on published solutions.

                          I also run into grandmaster Bator Sambuev who is the highest rated CFC player on a regular basis since he plays in almost every major Canadian tournament. He usually has a Russian chess book with him and he seems to be interested in just about every position around him. He often walks around between rounds and looks in on people as they are analyzing their games and offers suggestions. He is very generous in that respect.

                          GM Ben Finegold is like that as well. He will often seek out kids who play an interesting game and then hold court while he analyzes the game. One of my former students who still plays and who I still occasionally have training sessions with, had a particularly brilliant game in a Sicilian Sveshnikov against a player rated FIDE 2100 which he made a point of analyzing with her. She does not regularly play the Sveshnikov and seemed to get into it by mistake but somehow worked out the correct ideas and won a very nice game.

                          Vladimir Drkulec

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I did that just the other day. I almost never play the Sicilian itself, but a lot of my openings are very Sicilian-like because I utilize the c5 push in tons of my games, and also like to fianchetto my black bishop quite often.

                            The other day I totally got owned right out of the opening in a Sicilian I decided to try for kicks, but the player was 100 points weaker than I was and eventually, I wrestled my way out of trouble and won the game. I should have lost, but the point is that trying new things is risky and fun.
                            Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

                            An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

                            My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I started playing the Dragon/Dragadorf through the back alley by playing the Sniper and getting some Dragonish openings and liking the resulting positions.

                              One of my former students who is now helping me with the advanced class I teach on Friday nights has signed up for lessons with Viktor Gavrikov. He gained about 450 rating points in a year or two when I was working with him but he kind of lost his forward momentum for a while when he stopped playing once he got into university. Hopefully he can regain and then improve on his previous form.

                              It would be nice to have another expert/master in Windsor. His sister also came out and played a sharp game with one of the girls who was the first to represent Canada in the WYCC out of the class two years ago. It would be nice to have both of them playing more.

                              Vladimir Drkulec

                              Comment

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