At the end of June I set new 2023 Summer Goals for myself. This is a check-in on how they are going.
Here is how I’m doing on each goal:
Objective 1: Solidify my foundation in basic tactics
Result 1.1: Do 500 “hanging piece” puzzles on Chess.com
I switched to doing hanging piece puzzles on Lichess hanging instead of Chess.com. I really like the Dashboard for puzzles on Lichess which is missing on Chess.com. I started with the “easiest” setting and then moved up to “easier” and then “normal.” I still missed some, usually because I was just going too fast, which is something that I see in games too so I need to train myself to slow down.
Result 1.2: Complete 30 pages of Chess Steps with 40-80% accuracy
I finished Chess Steps 3 Workbook, and started on Extra. I only got 1 out of 12 right on the first page, so I got worried. But my head really wasn’t in it. I re-did it and have been doing much better. The mate-in-2 puzzles I am working through now I am getting 100% correct.
When doing Chess Steps, I have a notebook and I write down all the moves for a page of puzzles at a time and then check the answers.
Objective 2: Play and analyze lots of games
Result 2.1: Play 100 blitz games and do a quick analysis of each
I’ve played 62 blitz games, but I have not always done a good job of analysis. I would say I’ve analyzed half of them. This is something to work on. I really like playing blitz, so some of the games are just for fun.
I’ve been really deliberate about my mindset before games. I have been trying to take a minute to pause before a game and remember that it is a game and is supposed to be fun. I do not take loses as hard.
I’ve won about 60% of my games in the last month.
Result 2.2: Play at least 1 rapid game a week and analyze
I’m not sure the best way to measure this. I was planning on making sure I’ve played at least 1 game each week, so if I did that I counted it as a successful week. By that metric, I’ve played 3 of the 4 weeks, which is what I was expecting this month. Maybe I should count the number of games. There are 13 weeks in these 3 months, so I should get 13 games. By that metric I’m over 50% complete.
Result 2.3: Play 1 OTB tournament
There are not many local tournaments in the summer, but there is one in September.
Objective 3: Build pattern recognition in openings and endgames
Result 3.1: Review endgame flashcards each week
I missed one week when I was gone, but that was planned and expected. As long as I do them every week for the next 2 months I’ll meet this goal.
Result 3.2: Review my Chessable endgame course each week
I’ve been right on track with this.
Result 3.3: Review my simple opening courses daily
I do this every day, though it only takes me a few minutes a day now. The courses I made on Chessable were not long to begin with, and now that I’m doing them regularly I only have a few lines to review each day.
The next step could be to add a few moves to the end of each line, but I’m really trying not to focus as much on openings.
Learnings from my Games
Here are some themes I’ve been seeing in my games
Tactics are still a big part of what wins/loses games. I guess that will be the case forever.
I do not always have the right rhythm, playing too fast or too slow. There were cases where I could have easily won but I missed something simple because I was going to fast. Alternatively there are times when I just play too slowly and am scrambling at the end of the game
Since I’m playing mostly blitz now, it is a big shift to go back to rapid. Some times I will play the rapid game like a blitz game and I have to force myself to slow down. In another case I got tired and distracted after 20 minutes of one game and started making mistakes.
I need to play simple chess. There were a couple of games where I just tried some complex series of moves and they never ended well. I should work on my calculation, but also I do not need to try to be so fancy.
There were times when I thought I saw a good move, but did not stop to think what my opponent’s next move would be. In these cases I would leave a piece hanging or have some other unintended consequence.
Be sure to focus on the games. There were times I was doing other things like making lunch, and then I would lose. When I give it my full concentration I do much better.