Friday, 20 December 2013

Problems Worth Noting

Its about a year since I started accumulating my Problems Worth Noting file. I solve several Problems of the Day each morning over breakfast and record the problems that I find particularly instructive. The problems of the day that I have been using can be found at:  (Easy and Medium)


When I find a problem that I want to keep, I hit Alt/PrintScr to copy the window to the clipboard, and paste it into Paint. I use the crop function to cut out the board image and save the result to a file. About once a month, I paste the new problems into a word processor document, and add my solutions.

The criteria for inclusion are that the problem be simple enough for me to have a realistic chance of finding the solution in a clock game, but difficult enough to cause me trouble. There would be little value in simply recording the problems that I failed to solve, because many of these would be unreasonably difficult. (They could also have many solutions or no solution at all.) There would also be little value in recording problems that I solve quickly and effortlessly. I sometimes make a move or two before recording the position to make it easier.

About every six months, I work my way through the file, solving the problems, correcting my solutions, and adding comments to tell me how I could have found the solution more easily. I have just finished my second pass through. I currently have about 280 problems. (I do not have an accurate count because I have not kept a tally of the small number of problems that I have deleted from the file.)

I think this has been one of my more successful training exercises. It shows very clearly where I am falling down. My main failings appear to be:

* Failing to take stock of the position before I start analysing moves.
* Failure to look at all my first moves.
* Failure to follow all checks, captures and threats.
* Failure to check my solution.

My main failure is failure to look rather than failure to see. I tried hard to address this failure. My accuracy and speed did appear to as I worked through the file, at least when I was able to maintain the increased discipline.


  1. I use the "Snipping Tool" to copy a problem from the screen ( ) then insert it into anki via CRTL v ( ). Good thing about Anki, it runs at ipods too ;) and the syncronisation between desktop and ipod is transparent. You can edit every solution later easily too.

    The high speed tactics training creates these "bad habbits" you mentioned, i have them too.
    I start calculating forced moves before i even saw/recognised every single piece. I forced myself to count the material first ( at least ), which can be done very quick ( )
    To see all ! checks can be speed up by the fritz-boardvision training ( ) and to look at every possible move is a "mobility" check ( )
    So if you look for all checks or all of your possible moves then this is a "board vision training".

    I think it is important to do many puzzles this way:
    This helps to develop: understanding, board vision, chess memory/awareness, pattern of weaknesses and pattern how to make use of such weaknesses ( Plan B ). Only "CCT" ( Plan A ) is not enough

    1. That is interesting. I was not aware of the snipping tool. What I am doing is probably just as fast. Looking at the problems after one month is certainly helpful. Your check training link does not work. For the mobility training, do you practice counting the numbers of moves for each side and subtracting the results? The chesstempo link provides lots of good advice.

    2. I did re-test the check-training-link, it worked. You may try the link "Board Vision : Fritz - Check" in the section "Other Board Vision Exercises" at my blog ( right hand ) instead. ( "Board vision chess training - learning to quickly spot checks" at youtube )

      The snippingtool might be half a microsecond quicker ;). Its smaller so it starts quicker. Alt/PrintScr is already done at start and the "crop function" is "already selected" too. Last but not least, the "board" is automatically in the clipboard. <- Dont take that serious ! ;)

      High speed tactic puzzle training does help to improve but its not sufficient !!

      Better player have better board vision : ( see 4:00 - 9:00 ) There are scientific papers about that . Why? because better player did look for those things regularily. They did develop special hardware ( neural networks ) in their brain: ( see 41:00 - 44:00 ).
      GM's can memorise a chessposition within 3 sec: ( same video 19:00 - 20:00 ) . A good chesstraining has to create ( some of ) these skills ( too ). A proper thoughtprocess might do?

      I use my mobility trainer to improve my positional "vision".

      ( Shannons evaluation-functon is: material+0.1*mobility
      thats enough to write a chessengine which can win. So material-vision and mobility vision are of ( high ) value )

      But i dont count the moves , i "judge" them. Several chesscoaches ( f.e. Silman ) suggest to compare the comparable pieces of both sides in a given position ( thought process ! ). The black minor pieces with the white minor pieces, black and white rooks...

      My mobility training: i look at every position and compare the mobility of the queens... knights ( and usually "ignore" the pawns ) and then quess the overall mobility.

      The chesstempo link help you to make a board vision training with every tactical position.
      Getting aware of all relevant features of a position ( quick ) should be one of our goals.

    3. Sorry it is the material link that did not work. I get a page in German.

      Yes, if I was saving directly to the word processor file, the Snipping Tool would be significantly faster. Saving each position to a file has the advantage that I can easily see how many new problems I have and paste them in when I have a decent batch. I might be worth changing in mid stream.

      Is there a tool for generating FEN from an image file with a single board position?

    4. I have switched to the Snipping Tool. Thanks.

    5. Chessboard Capture Program :
      Does read chessboards from screen and creates "fen"

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