zaterdag 5 december 2009

Step 6 and Stoyko exercises

At the moment I use two training methods. The first is step 6 of the steps method. I already did this book once (over a period of more than a year) and had an overall succes rate of about 85%.

At first I thought it would be best to concentrate on the exercises I failed to solve. But when I started to pick up the book I noticed that I didn't remember most of the (1300) positions. For this reason I decided to go through the book again. Not surprisingly my succes rate is now about 95%, and I also solve them a lot faster than I did the first time. I consider this work to be largely a kind of maintenance of acquired patterns.

The other method I recently started is doing 2 Stoyko exercises a week. I have chosen this method to improve my calculation abbilities. Last season I noticed that most of my opponents calculated deeper than I did. So this is probably my weak spot.

Below a description of the Stoyko exercise that I copied from Dan Heismans website.

FM Steve Stoyko suggested this very helpful exercise. First the reader should find a rich middlegame position. You can find them in many Kasparov, Shirov, or Speelman games, or in the books The Magic of Tactics, Genius inChess, or How to Think in Chess. Take out a couple sheets of paper and a pen or pencil.The idea is to write everything you can possibly visualize from the position, like you were playing the game without a clock and you had to see and record everything before you move.

Write down every line that you look at (no matter how bad!), along with that line's evaluation. This should fill up several sheets of paper and take 45 minutes up to 2+ hours! If you chose a sufficiently complex positions dozens of variations should be considered. Consider lines to as much depth as you think is significant.You can show your judgment of the evaluation (who stands better and by how much – you don’t always have to say why) with any number of methods:
  1. Traditional: =, ±, ∞, …
  2. Computer - In pawns; negative means Black is better: +0.3, -1.2, …
  3. English: White is a little better, Black has compensation for his lost pawn, etc.
When you are done, take your analysis to a good instructor, player, or software program. Look at each line to see how well you visualized the position (any retained images, illegal moves, etc.?), and also compare your logic (was that move really forced?) and your evaluation.In general the Stoyko exercise, if done properly, should help you practice and evaluate the following skills:
  1. Analysis
  2. Visualization
  3. Evaluation
Steve claimed that each time he did this exercise he gained about 100 rating points!

12 opmerkingen:

Manny zei

Thanks for sharing your training program. Where are you getting the positions for the Stoyko exercises?

Tommyg zei

The Stoyko thing sounds awesome! My coach basically wanted me to do the same thing (but without writing things down and without the double checking afterwards)

Do you think Stoyko exercises would be beneficial when done with a complicated position from one's own games where things went wrong OR should Stoykos only be done with a fresh and never before seen position?


Phaedrus zei


For reasons I will go into in a future blog, I have modified the Stoyko exercises a bit. So at the moment I am using complex tactical positions. These are taken from Pata Grapindashvili's book "Imagination in chess" and Agaards "Excelling at chess calculation".


Using your own games to generate positions can even be more beneficial than using book positions. The only problem for me is that I do not have a coach. One would need a coach who can find the time to analyze the position deeply himself, and check your analysis and evaluations. Therefor I have chosen to use positions that are thoroughly analyzed in a book, so that I can check my analysis against that of a much better player who has given the position a good look.

chesstiger zei

Calculation and visualisation are big and important parts in chess. So i hope you succeed in mastering them.

Tommyg zei

Hey Phaedrus!

Thanks for the help! What I think I am going to do is for every chess game I lose (which is a lot right now) I am going to try and ascertain the "turning point" of the game. The place where I MOST went wrong and then do the Stoyko exercise with that position. I sometimes have access to a coach to help me check it but I will most likely use an engine.

I tried it today with a recent loss and it was very educational!! I learned one very important thing: I don't consider all moves! Even with tons of time there was one option I didn't consider..!

I think this is going to be fun and educational. Thanks again for the post.

Phaedrus zei

Chesstiger and Tommyg,

Thank you for your encouragement.

BlunderProne zei

Oh Great (sigh) another training process I've yet to try... I'll put it on my list.


Phaedrus zei


In the words of the profound philosopher Forest Gump: "Life s**ks". ;-)

Scheming Mind zei

Very interesting. I myself have done this sort of excercise however this is much better than what I was doing. I played against a computer and I was just writing down all of the canidate moves of a position, and then after writing them down, and calculating the lines, choosing the move and then after the game was finished using rybka or something to tell me what move it thought was best and comparing. I don't know if it helped, but it did allow me to get inside my thinking process and show me how little of a thinking process I have. It seemed that most of the moves werent even calculated or I just used intuition without calculation. Yikes. I will try this out though. Thanks.

Farbror the Guru zei

Very interesting! I have only tried a few Stoyko exercises because I had trouble to find suitable positions.

The top candidate is of course to study your own lost games.

I am a GM at overlooking the obvious!

Phaedrus zei

Scheming Mind,

Good luck, and I would love to hear it it is working out.


I try to get positions that are heavily analyzed by a gm. This allows me to compare my calculations with those of a much stronger player.

Phaedrus zei

Scheming Mind,

Good luck, and I would love to hear it it is working out.


I try to get positions that are heavily analyzed by a gm. This allows me to compare my calculations with those of a much stronger player.