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Axel’s e3: Still Poisonous…

November 5th, 2018 13 comments

Since e3 Poison was published, I have incorporated some of Axel’s ideas into my repertoire from time to time. Yesterday was one such occasion; I thought it could make for a worthwhile blog post, as it is a good example of how a reasonable player (2100 strength) may quickly go wrong when confronted with an unfamiliar set-up.

Andrew Greet – Patrick Coffey
SNCL, 04.11.2018

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 c5 3.e3
Pat Coffey has been known to play all kinds of weird openings. I had already suffered a bad defeat in the morning round against IM Bryson, so for this game I was happy to keep things solid.

3…Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.Nc3
One of my early games with the e3 Poison continued 5.a3 cxd4 6.exd4 Be7 7.Nc3 0–0 8.c5 Ne4 9.Bd3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 b6 11.h4!? and, though I got into some trouble in the early middlegame, I eventually won in Greet – Williams, Dundee 2017.

5…a6
An important alternative is 5…cxd4 6.exd4 when White will most likely have to play with an IQP.

6.cxd5 exd5 7.Be2 Nc6 8.0–0
It’s Greet – Williams in reverse, with an extra tempo for White. There is a lot to be said for playing IQP positions from both sides, as this is one of the most fundamental pawn structures which can arise from many different openings.

Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 8 recap)

September 19th, 2018 32 comments

Welcome to my eighth and final Woodpecker Method training blog. It was the 25th of July when I started on this journey, with the initial aim of solving 984 exercises (comprising all 222 Easy and 762 Medium exercises in the book) over a 28-day period, followed by repeated cycles with the final goal of solving all 984 within a single day.

As usual, I’ll start by recapping my results from previous cycles.

1st cycle: 1033 minutes; 88.9% accuracy

2nd cycle: 663 minutes; 93.7% accuracy

3rd cycle: 366 minutes; 98.7% accuracy

As I explained in last week’s blog post, I decided to adapt the schedule in order to finish early and give myself time to recover before the Batumi Olympiad. So, rather than three more cycles lasting 4 days, 2 days and 1 day, I went for two more cycles, lasting 3 days and 1 day respectively.

Cycle 4

I solved all exercises in a combined 267 minutes. I was happy with this time, which knocked 27% off my time from the previous cycle. I didn’t write down my answers or keep score this time, for a couple of reasons:

* In my third cycle I was already close to 99% accuracy, so there didn’t seem much point in tracking what could only have been a small improvement.

* I already knew most of the solutions quite thoroughly, so it seemed logical to skip writing/checking answers in order to save time.

There were still a few positions where certain details of the solutions remained unclear in my head. Whenever that happened, I noted the number of the exercise and my answer, then checked the solution at the end of the session.

Cycle 5

The big one! Solving 984 exercises in one day sounded daunting at the beginning, especially after reading Axel’s story on page 9 of the book about spending 22 hours in a basement! Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 7 recap)

September 12th, 2018 22 comments

Welcome to the latest Woodpecker Method training blog. It feels strange to say that the training program is approaching its end when I am only up to my third cycle, but the ever-shortening time limits mean that there is, indeed, not much time remaining. First, let me recap my results from previous cycles, using a set of 984 exercises.

1st cycle: 1033 minutes; 88.9% accuracy

2nd cycle: 663 minutes; 93.7% accuracy

Adapting the Schedule

I finished my second cycle on the night of Wednesday the 5th. After taking a look ahead at the number of days before the Olympiad, I decided to bend one of the ‘rules’ of the method, and avoided taking a rest day before starting my third cycle. I wouldn’t normally have skipped the rest day, but if I followed the exact schedule of training days and rest days as prescribed in the book, I would have had to solve 984 exercises in the morning before the first round of the Olympiad!

Despite making that change to save myself a day, the prospect of burnout and insufficient recovery time was still weighing on my mind these past few days. To solve 984 exercises in a day, then plunge straight into a high-level event the very next day, seemed to be asking for trouble. I asked Axel and Hans Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 6 recap)

September 5th, 2018 37 comments


Welcome to the sixth of our weekly Woodpecker Method training blogs. I have one day remaining in my second (14-day) cycle, and I know several of our blog readers are at a similar stage. In last week’s post, I noted my numbers in the second cycle as 450 exercises (222 Easy, 228 Medium), solved at over 95% accuracy in 238 minutes. As of last night, the totals were 858 exercises, with accuracy at 93.8% and time 548 minutes. Average speed and accuracy have declined slightly since last week, which is to be expected, since the Easy exercises made up a significant chunk of last week’s total. Although I don’t yet have a final second-cycle total to compare with my first, it’s obvious that my overall speed and accuracy are on track to be considerably better.

I’ve left myself 126 exercises to solve on the last day, which is a little on the high side, but I should manage it okay – Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 5 recap)

August 29th, 2018 29 comments

Welcome to the latest Woodpecker Method training blog. It’s now five weeks since the book was published, which for me has meant spending four weeks completing my first cycle of exercises (984 in total), followed by one rest day with no chess, followed by the last six days working on my second cycle. From the comments to previous blog posts, I see that a number of you guys have already finished your first cycles and several others are approaching that stage.

Since my rest day last Wednesday, I have worked through 450 exercises, 222 of which were Easy and the other 228 Medium. My accuracy so far in this cycle has been over 95% and the solving time has been 238 minutes.

Of course, it’s a near certainty that speed and accuracy will increase to some degree when solving exercises for the second time – but even so, I am happy with those numbers – especially the speed, which has improved considerably since my first cycle.

My ‘deadline’ for completing the second cycle is Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday – Week 4 recap

August 22nd, 2018 23 comments

Welcome to the latest installment of the weekly Woodpecker blog. This marks the end of my fourth week of training with the book: a significant milestone, since four weeks is the recommended duration for one’s first cycle of solving.

Last Wednesday I noted that I had some significant catching up to do. I’m happy to report that I did finally achieve my first target of 984 exercises by the end of last night. The next step, as recommended by Hans and Axel, is to take at least one full day off from training before beginning the second cycle. My schedule before the Olympiad is tight, so I’m going to have to limit myself to no more than a single rest day in between cycles.

The end of the first cycle seems like a good time to take stock of the numbers and reflect on what has gone well and what I could have done better.

Summary of results

I took a total of 1033 minutes to solve the 984 exercises, with a total score of 88.9% (using my modified system of one point for a correct solution, half a point for being partially correct, and zero for being completely wrong).

What went well:

1) I achieved my goal of 984 exercises! This was not easy and required some discipline, as the business of preparing to sell my property has taken so much of my time and energy lately.

2) The system I mentioned last week, of solving 12 exercises at a time, then immediately noting the time and checking the solutions, has worked extremely well. Several times this week I was solving late in the evening, and I don’t think I could have faced the tedium of checking 48 solutions in one sitting! But breaking everything down into mini-sets of 12 has made it so much easier to push through tiredness.

What I could have done better:

Only one thing stands out: my pacing was much too uneven. After solving just 72 exercises in Week 3, I had to compensate by doing 306 in Week 4. This time I was able to recover and get the job done. But in future cycles, when the daily quota of exercises gets higher, I can’t afford to build up such heavy arrears.

It will be interesting to see how it goes over the next 14 days. How have my fellow woodpeckers been doing this week?

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 3 recap)

August 15th, 2018 25 comments

Before I start the main blog post, let me say thank you to everyone who has pointed out the wrong position in Exercise 11. We made a blunder when replacing an exercise; we have already inserted the correct position in the Forward Chess version; and we will do the same with all future reprints. The correct position can be found here: Replacement for Exercise 11 (pdf)

***
With that out of the way, welcome to the fourth of our weekly Woodpecker bulletins. Once again, I shall update my progress of working through the training program advocated in The Woodpecker Method in preparation for the Batumi Olympiad, while inviting blog readers to share their progress and ask any questions they may have.

The past seven days have not been the most productive for me in terms of training, as house-moving developments have taken much of my time and focus. I’ve now worked through a total of 678 exercises, which doesn’t sound so bad, but is an increase of just 72 over my total seven days ago. My average speed and accuracy for the Medium exercises has remained similar to before.

Before setting training goals for the next seven days, I want to share one of the problems I’ve had with training, and how I’ve dealt with it.  Read more…

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Woodpecker Wednesday (Week 2 recap)

August 8th, 2018 46 comments

Welcome to the third of our weekly Woodpecker bulletins, where I will continue to update my progress of working through the training program advocated in The Woodpecker Method in preparation for the Batumi Olympiad, while inviting blog readers to share their progress.

In last Wednesday’s post, I noted that I had worked through the first 390 exercises in the book, of which 222 were Easy and the rest Medium. Seven days later, the total stands at 606, which means I have solved 216 Medium exercises over the past seven days: an average of almost 31 per day. I am satisfied with the total, which keeps me on schedule for my first training goal of 984 exercises within four weeks of my starting day.

This past week was quite challenging as, in addition to the day job here at Quality Chess, I am preparing to sell my property and move to a bigger house, so all this has been taking a lot of my time and energy. My solution to this challenge is to prioritize my chess training in the early evening, and postpone any housework until afterwards when I’m tired, rather than the other way around.

My usual daily goal has been 36 exercises in a session, or 24 if I’m tired and/or have little time available. (I find multiples of 12 to be logical as this corresponds with the layout of the book.) I managed either 36 or 24 every day with the exception of Monday, when I simply felt too tired to do anything in the evening. I compensated by solving 24 positions on Tuesday morning before work and 36 in the evening to get back on track. Unfortunately I haven’t finished checking my solutions and adding up the times, but my accuracy for the five days from Wednesday through to Sunday was around 92-93%, and my average time was about one-and-a-quarter minutes per Medium exercise – although obviously the solving time for any single position varies wildly, from a second or two when the idea instantly comes to me, to five minutes or more when I have to set up the position on the board and look harder.

How has everyone else been doing this week?

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