Blog Status Going Forward

For the last few weeks I’ve been busy, trying to make up for my lack of … anything during June.  In the process, I’ve produced several YouTube videos of varying quality, and I’ve enjoyed this new medium.  I’ve also spent hours going through GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate, which is opening my eyes.  Let me go through everything and detail what the plan is going forward.

First, I think the videos are here to stay.  I’m having far more fun speaking my thoughts than I thought I would, and I’m getting far more engagement than my regular game analysis posts.  I mean, frig, I’ve gotten more comments in the last two weeks than I’ve had in the last six months.  Maybe that speaks more to YouTube’s ability to reach people more than my meagre SEO skills, but it’s still telling.

I would like to commit to a weekly schedule, where I post a chess miniature at a minimum, and if I have time I can supplement it with questions and comments I get from readers/watchers.  That should give a good mix of things I like doing while also meeting your needs.  Hopefully it’s useful and entertaining for all involved.

That said, my first love has always been writing, and I don’t want to completely abandon that.  I think I can find a good compromise.  Last night, a YouTube viewer asked a question requiring further analysis, and I then updated my blog post with writing and variations.  This allows me to answer questions and provide further insight, some of which may be better suited for writing rather than video.  If there are countless variations, it doesn’t make sense for me spend 20min going through them all on camera when I can list them on my blog’s dynamic board and have someone go through them at their leisure, if they care.

That’s the current plan, then: videos, with blog posts expanding on questions and comments.  Seems good.

In addition, do to some feedback I’ve received, I plan to create videos of some of my games going forward.  I didn’t think there would be any appetite for this, considering I’m a random chess guy, but apparently there is.  This remains tentative and may change.  I still plan on analyzing every game I play and have played in a blog post, but that will be on hiatus for the next few months.

Finally, here’s my personal chess update.  This is tangentially important, as what I’m studying tends to flavour my chess analysis.  I am approximately 40% through the practical part of Calculate Till Mate.  This chart may not mean much to you, but I’ll explain:

My progress through Calculate Till Mate’s practical section.  Click for full size.

I made this spreadsheet to track my progress.  For those that don’t know, every course GM Smirnov produces come with practical exercises to test your new skills.  As I finish each item, I update the spreadsheet.  The more blue, the closer I am to completing it.  Each section focuses on a different skill.  Section 1 is pure calculation, Section 2 is combinations and tactical motifs, and Section 3 is visualization.  There are also bonus sections, but I may skip them, as otherwise I’ll be spending the rest of the year on this one course.

I’ll write a full review when I finish, but suffice to say, it is excellent, it is difficult, it is advanced, it is great.  It is pushing me to my limit, and I’m already seeing progress.  My mind focuses on tactical ideas far quicker and it’s becoming automatic, which is neat to see.

Anyway, completing this is my main focus.  It’s going relatively quickly, much faster than when I studied GMPU.  However, I’m currently in the longest section.  Training Task 11 has 260 (!) positions to calculate.  Even if I spent only 1min on each, it would take 4.5 hours for this task alone.  I obviously spend far more, as these are difficult tactical positions, so who knows how many hours I will invest by the end.

Once I’m done, I will start my endgame study in earnest.  I will go through Smirnov’s course Endgame Expert, and then I will go through Fine’s Basic Chess Endings.  That will probably take a year right there (Fine’s book is 500+ pages).  My endgames are currently stopping me from being a strong player, so I’m going to change that… though I’ve said that before, and I always end up not studying the endgame.  Hopefully stating this publicly will make it happen.

That’s the general idea, then.  More videos, some blog analysis still, maybe some random writings at time, and I will finish Calculate Till Mate and then study endgames hardcore.  And if I make videos about endgames, then I am killing two birds with one stone!  We’ll see.

Thanks for the support, everyone.  For the first two years, I’ve been mostly writing to the void.  I never really intended for this blog to become anything, but feedback has been great and serves as further motivation.  Every comment is appreciated, so thank you, and wish me luck.

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