January 2023 Recap and February Plan

February Recap

I played in the 2023 Minnesota Open Tournament. I started off strong but then faded out the last day.

I made good progress on my Chess Steps “Thinking Ahead” workbook. I’m hoping to finish that this week. Then I’ll move on to the last book for Level 2, “Mix.”

I kept up with my Chessable study of Learn Chess the Right Way. Every day (from what I remember) I added 5 new puzzles from book 5 and reviewed all the open puzzles from all 5 books.

I signed up for Don’t Move Until You See It to help with visualization. It has only been a couple of weeks, so I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.

I played more 5-minute Blitz in February. I feel like my rating is really low (800 vs 1600 rapid) and I’d like to get that up. I am treating this as a “raise my floor” task to practice not making the first move I see, and working on seeing the dumb things my opponents do (which they could say about me as well). When I plan to only play one game at a time, I find it is easier to focus. My rating went up 160 points in February.

Spring Break

Every so often I find it is important to take a break. That was something I learned early on from the book Peak Performance. It is important to do chess every day, but doing the same thing every day can lead to burnout or diminishing returns.

For one week I’m going to pause all my regular daily work. Honestly I’ll still keep my Chessable streak alive, but limit that as well. I’m not going to add any new Chessable lines, I’m not going to look at Chess Steps, and I’m not going to do any visualization training.

Instead I’m going to start reading Life & Games of Mikhail Tal. It will be a break from my normal routine, and a book I’m excited about reading. I’ll take my time and enjoy it, and play through all the games. I have no goal to get through a certain amount, I’ll just see how it goes.

Changing Daily Tasks

Here was my list of things to do every day:

  • Learn Chess The Right Way (Chessable): Review all open lines (20 minutes)

  • Learn Chess The Right Way (Chessable): Add new puzzles (5 minutes)

  • Review openings in Chessable (5 minutes)

  • Chess Steps: Thinking Ahead (30 minutes)

  • Review annotated game (10 minutes)

  • Play online rapid game (45 minutes)

  • Puzzle Rush (15 minutes)

Here is my new list

  • Learn Chess The Right Way (Chessable): Review all open lines (20 minutes)

  • Learn Chess The Right Way (Chessable): Add new puzzles (5 minutes)

  • Review openings (Chessable) (5 minutes)

  • Visualization Training (10 minutes)

  • Chess Steps: Thinking Ahead

I was doing too much.

  • I wasn’t really putting in the effort for annotated games

  • Puzzle rush was good, but I wasn’t putting in the time. Easy to drop for now

  • Playing - I don’t need to play 10 rapid games a week, 3-4 where I’m more focused is better

Previous Goal Update

At the beginning of the year I set some goals for myself here: 2023 Goals

Play 10 OTB games

This one is done! I played 2 tournaments, the [2023 Winter Open]] and the [2023 Minnesota Open Tournament.

I need to think about when I will play the next tournament. It feels like the spring is focused on scholastic tournaments around here, so I am trying to find time to play at the local chess club.

Learn Chess the Right Way

My goal was to finish this by June. I’m ahead of schedule on that. I’ve been adding 5 new puzzles to book 5 each day. I also review every open line for all 5 books every day. This takes me about 20 minutes most days.

Finish Workbooks

I originally just wanted to finish the “Workbook,” “Plus,” and “Extra” workbooks, then I learned that I was missing “Thinking Ahead” and “Mix.”

I am still working on the Chess Steps Level 2 workbooks. I’m hoping to finish the “Thinking Ahead” book this week and then will move on to “Mix.” I’m hoping to be done with both of them by the end of April.

I stopped working on Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids so I can finish Chess Steps first. I may or may not come back to that one.

Review Games

I wanted to play through 75 games from The Most Instructive Games of Chess. After the first 20, I realized I was not putting in my full effort. I put this on pause because I just felt like I was doing too much.

New Goals

I started working on visualization training from Don’t Move Until You See It. Aiden shared this:

Goals are not made of stone. They’re made of water.

Goals should be changing, but always moving you forward. Here are the new goals I have for March:

Goal 1: Chess Steps

Finish the level 2 “Thinking Ahead” and “Mix” workbooks. I should be doing about 1 page per day. That will have me finishing them both by the end of April. I’ll track that so I know how close I am to being done.

Why?: The visualization training in “Thinking Ahead” seems to be really helping. I’ve seen success after working through these workbooks and I think they are a great resource. Previously I stopped as I started seeing results, so this time I want to finish.

Goal 2: Learn Chess The Right Way

Continue my routine of:

  • Review any open puzzles that need review in Chessable

  • Add 5 new puzzles to Book 5

If I can keep this up I should be done by June. After that I’ll have to think about how I want to keep moving forward.

Why: I see improvement in my games from studying these books. There was one tournament game where I used ideas from all of the first 4 books in one game. Drilling these patterns over and over until I learn them is a bit repetitive and boring, but I do not want to stop before I’m sure I know them all. It is that daily practice that is important

Goal 3: Visualization

Do 10 minutes of visualization training from Don’t Move Until You See It every day.

Why: I feel like games I lose are because I have trouble visualizing, especially seeing my opponent’s threats. I’m not sure this blindfold training is helping, but I want to give it a shot for at least a month to see how it is going.