'HOW TO' series: The tactic battle
Do you like making mistakes? Me neither. But I suppose you've heard it over and over again: Learn from your own mistakes; they are stepping stones to success, an essential part of self improvement, precious lessons and the catchy quotes continue indefinitely. Well, as much as I would like to state this viewing angle is overrated, I have to admit that failure has a point. No wonder the cultural fascination attached to it!
Take our passion for example: you are guaranteed to lose a game now and then, even if your name is Magnus Carlsen. And yet, thats not such a bad thing; how else would we find out what we had to work on?! But no matter how you put it, I bet these negative vibes are not happily welcomed by your brain. Wouldnt it be better to minimize the in vivo unpleasant experience, replacing it with in vitro training? Pilots cannot afford to lose lives every time they make a blunder, so they train extremely hard beforehand. Shouldnt we do the same, instead of repeatedly learn the same things the hard way?!
OK. So you want to improve, otherwise you wouldnt be reading this. But how exactly to do that?! This is the hardest part but the good news is that it can be done! Remember Botvinnik and his training method, with the radio on, trying to foresee any unpredictable tournament situation, when the noise would be unbearable for an untrained ear?! (the closer the experiment to the actual playing conditions the better)
Heres where Chessity comes in! Before going any further, quiz question for you: What would you play with Black in the following position?
Black to move
(lAmi A 2368 Sandu M 2221, Romanian league, 2011)
If your answer was 1Rg2+ and perpetual check with Qf2 and Qh4 thats correct! Unfortunately, both the undersigned and my opponent missed this very simple resource. I could come up with a whole list of excuses, but shouldnt I actually admit that I simply couldnt handle the pressure and time trouble?! Is it possible to overcome this somehow?
Speaking of in vitro experimentation: an even more sophisticated training device than Botvinniks disturbing factor (alias the radio), is now within your reach the chessitys tactics battle!
Check the battles countdown!
I assume you are already familiar with the website and you know that every weekend you can check your skills for 30 minutes in a very useful and attractive solving competition. The format of the battle is specially designed to come as close as possible to the situations you might face in a classic game: you have time pressure, rating loss pressure, fear of failure (I cannot stand that X sound when I get one position wrong either, it simply scratches my ears!), the angst of looking stupid in front of the other competitors and so forth. On the other hand, you also have the motivating factors, such as the rewards in the end, the satisfaction of getting things right, the happiness of simply witnessing your brains growth! Besides the IQ benefits, everything is wrapped up in such a motivating and appealing package that I am afraid it can easily become addictive! It is of course free of charge and offers everyone a chance to beat a grandmaster. Dont worry about nerve wracking positions, the system wont give you more than you can handle! So beginners are welcome too!
But why Chessity and not blitz games, you may ask
I personally believe the latter training method is more useful for openings check than for real time troubles. In a normal game, you are faced with a certain position, which requires a certain reaction therefore the tactics battle input, where you have to give the best move. You cannot afford to base your response on instincts like in a blitz game, where the mouse also plays an important role at times. Plus: I highly doubt one would check the entire game after the blitz session has finished, maybe just the opening and that would be it. Whereas after a tactics battle, you can give it another shot and try to solve the positions you missed! I know that in a practical game your opponent would never ever give you a second chance but during the training, it is very important to have a constructive feedback: what did I do wrong? And why?
We all have at least one Achilles heel and it is important to discover it rather sooner than later. And preferably by losing chessitys rating points than Fide ones
After the tactics battle comes to an end, you can take a deep breath and check your skills again with the positions you got wrong.
After the event you can start the special game "errors" at "Train/Games"
and solve the puzzles you got wrong during the battle.
With more time on the clock and almost no pressure, would you perform differently? And which is the underlying reason for that? The answer to these questions could give you an important insight to the real problems you might be facing over the board. Maybe you have an anxiety problem, maybe you had an unknown theme which still needs to be worked on, maybe you are too impatient and this is what dragged you down, or was it pure tiredness and you just simply need to learn how to relax?!
If you are true to yourself and really want to learn from your own mistakes rather than brush them under the carpet, this is one way I would definitely recommend! After all, mistakes are only mistakes if you dont learn anything from them. It is so much better to distil the mistakes collection into EXPERIENCE!