Previously I mentioned Kotov’s recommendation for increasing your tactical ability.
In a rare example of putting my money where my mouth is, I recently did this exercise, spending 45 minutes or so on this position:
This is Guganashvili – Gurevich, Chicago Open 2007, right out of Chess Life.
To recap the concept of the exercise:
- Set up the position on a board.
- Set your chess clock for 45 minutes.
- Analyze without touching the pieces.
- Spend the last five or ten minutes writing out a tree of the variations you saw.
- Stop the clock and compare your analysis to GM annotations and/or Fritz.
The objective is to increase the organization, speed, clarity, depth and breadth of your calculations. You do this by repeating the exercise using lots of different positions over time. Depending on the particular mental muscle you are trying to isolate, you can vary the task: gradually shorten the clock to increase your speed, predetermine a required calculation depth, etc.
I am not going to post the lines I calculated (because like all bloggers, I’m shy) but I will say that I was modestly pleased at the breadth of ideas I came across, and dismayed by the lack of organization in my thinking (indicated by the degree of confusion I suffered when I tried to record my efforts at the end). The key is to not allow yourself to become discouraged, whatever your result may be. It’s all about improving the second, third, fourth, fifth times.
If anybody cares to give this position a try, let me know and I’ll put the Chess Life annotations in the comments to this post.