Takchess Chess Improvement

A Novice chessplayer works to get better at chess using an improvement program based upon the methods of Michael de la Maza and the teachings of Dan Heisman

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Is Intense Game Study a viable alternative for 7 circles ?

It is Rashid Ziyatdinov conjecture in his book GM-Ram that one can become a 2500 player by memorizing 60 classic games and by studying 100 endgames positions and 150 middlegames position in his book. The middlegame positions all come from the classic games in his book. It is interesting that regarding the positions there is no discussion in the book itself about them. Rashid who is self taught offers no solutions or commentary to his positions believe that through finding the answers yourself for black or white to move is the better way to learn.

More on Rashid here

I'm momentarily burnt out on CT-art so alot of my tactical training revolves around the study of games and working through Comprehensive Chess Course V2 of Alburts which has a ton of tactical and endgame problems mixed in with game study. I have done the 650ish problems in CCC once and only have to go through a dozen games to complete it on a first pass.

I believe Rashid methodology would make one a better player.The trouble is I tend to memorize a game know it for a while learn a new game and effective forget the older game. A while ago I had memorized the first game in his book a Mayet-Anderssen classic Ruy and I have repeatedly played games where I use the themes in the position. I have found this with the opera game as well. I have only memorized games that are fairly short to this point so I am interested to see if I can keep longer games memorized as well as retain the original games . I am memorizing the 2nd game in GM-Ram a longer Anderssen-Stanton game now.

If you are interested in Studying these classic games here are some links to game collections I have made on chessgames.com. I also suggest you purchase the books.

GM-RAM Games

Reti's Master of the chessboard

Comprehensive Chess Course V2

Here is my annotation of the Mayet-Anderssen Game .please let me know of any improvements or suggestions on it as it is one of my favorite games. I am not sure it stands up over time given whites better response 11. fxg3!

Paste game into this viewer

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 {This is the Ruy Lopez Classical Defense. This is a casual game not a tournament game. Blacks bishop eyes to create future problems on the F2 square.} 4. c3 Nf6 5. Bxc6 { Bishop X Knight to greedily take the the now undefended e5 pawn.} dxc6 {Creating an open file and stronger development for black.} 6. O-O Bg4 {blacks bishop pins the Knight to queen and cannot easily be chased away. White no longer has a bishop to guard it and the only alternate to the queen guard is d3 and Nd2. if Queen stops guarding BXN opens ups whites queen defenses.} 7.h3 h5 8. hxg4 $6 hxg4 {Opens the H file to blacks rook} 9. Nxe5{Better is D4} g3 {white can't take pawn due to pin.} 10. d4 {tries to block pin} Nxe4 {Opens lines for Queen to h file and creates additional problems for black.
Black can't take bishop due to ....R-h1+ , kxh1,q-h4+, kg1 qh2 mate or the
simple Q-h4. with mate on next move.} 11. Qg4 {Better yet is fXg3 relieving pressure and maybe even equalizing the game.}Bxd4 {reestablishing pin and control of f7. Better yet is ...gxf2, rxf2 rh1+,kXh1 nxf2+,kg1 NXg4} 12. Qxe4 {avoid losing the queen in a knight fork.} Bxf2+ 13. Rxf2 Qd1+ 14. Rf1 Rh1+ 15. Kxh1 Qxf1# 0-1

also at

Mayet vs Anderssen Ruy Lopez Classical game


  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Pawn Sensei said…

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  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Pawn Sensei said…

    That's an interesting theory. I suspect it would take about 5 years to do all of that? If you are playing long games the whole time and spending a lot of time studying chess I think anyone can reach master level. Now 2500? I highly doubt that everyone can reach that level without some talent. But maybe that's the point? If you can't memorize 60 games then you wouldn't have the talent.


  • At 11:59 AM, Blogger Qaundoman said…

    The theory has little force if there is he doesn't explanin his reaons for his claims' plausibility, nor any explanation of methodology for the reader. In short, if the reader doesn't know how to implement the things he says to do, then all that memorizing and position study is not as fruitful as it could be.

    Grandmaster Nakamura has claimed that he has not memorized any full games, let alone 60.

  • At 3:22 AM, Blogger takchess said…

    I had not heard that about GM Nakamura,that's an interesting tidbit. The case he made is not as welllaid out as MDLM claims. However here is the basis of it and in some ways finds some agreement with MDLM and the "Soviet School of Chess" I should add that a big part of his ideas for chess improvement includes the study of about 250 positions of which 100 or so are endgames. This is in addition to the memorizing of games. All his middlegame positions are from these classic games.
    Here are some of the points of his argument.
    1) Not so important as to how much you know but what you know in chess
    2) He likens Chess to a language the words being the patterns of simple positions.
    3) He refers to the Russian chess folklore of 300 position. There are 300 positions that a GM must know and are the backbone to his knowledge. His book is an attempt from his personal study of what those 300 position are.
    4) A GM KNOWS what to do when he sees these positions and can see these underlying positions within the framework of a game. Much of his strength comes from reducing a game to a known winning position or when down in material a drawn position.
    5) He feels that the classic games that he recommends learning are of more importance than studying newer games.
    6)He believes in the building of knowledge from these positions from simple endgames to more complex endgames to middlegames. he downplays the role of opening knowledge until after understanding these positions

    His book does have some tips on time management, opening study, chess philosophy,chess strategy.

    As to your point
    "In short, if the reader doesn't know how to implement the things he says to do, then all that memorizing and position study is not as fruitful as it could be"

    His books message is here are the positions that you need to know,you need to study them, understand them completely and understand how slight positional differences would effect the position. I think that he believes that the journey of learning the answers helps strengthen ones recognition and understanding of the position (rather than having the solution handed to you)

    Also I believe that he sees this as the solid base for improvement but not at the exclusion of the playing of games against strong competition or other studies.

  • At 1:21 PM, Blogger Patrick said…

    The guy is trying to sell his book. He'd probably tell you it can cure the common cold and take out the trash too.

    I think circles are overrated and there are 1,000 viable alternatives. I prefer a flexible approach based on a particular person's strengths and weaknesses.

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger King of the Spill said…

    I think his suggestions are good and he simultaneously is completely off base about the results for an average player. I know of one person in particular who has quite alot of master games memorized and does tactics/endgame problems regularly, but after several years is still floating around 1550 USCF. He doesn't make many mistakes, but he doesn't control the board like a master and is vulnerable to creative or even unsound ideas.

    I think everyone has different potential in different areas: learning and recognizing tactical patterns, calculating ability, opening decision making and memorization, creativite thinking, etc. If someone truly has untapped master potential, they probably could get to master level a variety of ways.

    Also I think everyone starts with different depth and number of "blind spots", and that can take a very long time to overcome.

    BTW - Nice dynamic game example.

  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger Qaundoman said…

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  • At 3:47 PM, Blogger Qaundoman said…

    I think what he's saying is probably true. Certainly the claims about the number and kinds of positions one must know in order to play at Master level. But my intuitions are that without a trainer to guide one along, one's progress would not be nearly as rapid as those who, say, were brought up in a chess academy in a former Soviet state, for instance.

    About Nakamura: I don't remember where I read it (probably in the world's worst chess magazine, namely, Chess Life) but Nakamura claimed that he thought it was a waste of time to learn games. He said he pretty much just studied openings and some endgames. But this was a couple of years ago. But he made it pretty clear that he thought game memorizing, studying classic games, and so on, was just not something he needed to do.

    If he got to GM without ever doing that stuff, then hey, more power to him.

  • At 9:04 PM, Blogger takchess said…

    although I said that it's for self teaching, upon reflection that might not be the case. Rashid is a chess coach and did go over these positions with his students. Although I think they still can be helpful to use in selfstudy. As for Nakamura more power to him as well. but it is interesting to note Kasparov has memorized at least a thousand games and Rashid at one time was a 2500 player which does make his claims to me more crediable.
    Patrick as for your comments,I think in the pseudoscience of chess improvement its best to find a path that for you. I don't believe that the circles are over rated I just think they are too damn hard to be find the discipline to do them consistantly.So I find myself on and off again doing different thing then back to the circles.


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