Archive for the ‘Woodpecker Method’ Category

Chessable – Updated ‘Woodpecking’ Functionality

March 21st, 2019 2 comments

Many of you have bought our books (and no doubt some other publications) on the Chessable platform. We like what Chessable are doing and we plan to make more books available on their format. Considering that the concept of “spaced repetition” is central to their approach, it is no surprise that The Woodpecker Method has been an especially big hit with the Chessable audience.

Yesterday, Chessable informed us of an important new technical feature which will enhance the user experience, especially with the Woodpecker and other exercise books. See their blog post for a full explanation. To summarize it briefly, you can now customize the number of days and intervals between solving cycles in a way that was not possible before. This obviously fits perfectly with the method advocated by Smith and Tikkanen, but it’s a useful feature for other books too, and we applaud them for continually improving their product. Once again, we encourage anyone interested in Chessable to check out their blog post for a more technical description of the recent upgrade.

Categories: Chessable, Woodpecker Method Tags:

Woodpecker in Ethiopia

December 12th, 2018 1 comment
Woodpecker in Ethiopia 

We received the above photograph and the email below from Michael Schimmer of Frankfurt, Germany:

“For a three weeks’ adventure trip to Ethiopia I wanted to take with me ONE paper book – a chess book of course.

The book should have:
a) decent paper
b) decent cover sides
c) decent binding
considering I would use it in a tent or in some wild spots…

I came up with The Woodpecker Method, as I loved Pump Up Your Rating from Axel Smith.

And yes, The Woodpecker proved itself worthwhile. Usually we chess players praise first and by far foremost the content, but here I want to praise paper and binding as well. Very good job!

The attached picture was made 3600+ meters above sea level in the Simien-Mountains – and the book survived later on 100 meters below sea level as well without visible problems.
Keep on working on good content AND on good paper/binding – both is much appreciated.”

Thanks Michael! So if anyone was wondering if you could do your Woodpeckering 3600 metres up a mountain in Ethiopia, then the answer is yes. I am sure Axel and Hans would approve.

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

Woodpecker Wednesday – guest post by GM Axel Smith

September 26th, 2018 40 comments

Andrew Greet asked if I would mind answering questions appearing in the comments to his blog posts. However, I see that Andrew has already done that, while also sharing his own experience. Thanks! It’s also nice to see all the readers’ efforts. I hope you have enjoyed all the hours of solving. Just like many of you, I consider the boring part to be checking the solutions. But sometimes it has to be done.

As I am afraid to find silly mistakes, I usually don’t read anything I have written after it’s published. But this time a reader gave the book back to me, with marks to a lot of games. “White and Black have been confused in too many games,” he said. “It’s not possible that the world champions blundered that often.”

But the book is right in this case – these blunders really were played by the elite, even though some of them were in simuls and exhibitions. Doesn’t it feel good to excel over a world champion?

However, one real error was accidentally added during editing: diagrams 11 and 18 are similar, but with the wrong solution to the first. Given the time it took me to solve the replacement exercise (pdf), I guess I need to Woodpecker!

My wife is already on the way. She hasn’t played in two years, but after smelling the new book (always the most important thing to her) she started solving. With limited time available, she skipped the introduction, and several times she asked me questions that definitely are discussed in the book.

“Read the introduction!” was my constant answer. Read more…

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

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…

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

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…

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

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…

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

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…

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags:

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?

Categories: Woodpecker Method Tags: