Things have not been going well with the Chess studies this week. Four things in a row went bad, causing me to reconsider the whole idea. I mean, if you’re not having fun, why do it?
The first thing was the realization that I just don’t like visualization training. I’m getting 95% or more correct, but I find the failures really frustrating. The current theory of mastery that I’m working under is that you have plateaus where your performance is steady for long periods. Every now and then the practice you’ve been doing coallesces and your performance shoots up to a new plateau. The key is to love the practice so that you enjoy all the time you spend practicing without improvement. In the case of visualization, I don’t love the practice. Which is a pitty, since the visualization trainer I’ve been programming is getting pretty nice.
The second thing was the new program I wrote for when I’m playing Chess. Thought process while playing is something I’ve talked about before, and mine isn’t very good. I’ve noticed several problems with it while playing recently. So I wrote a computer program that flashes up reminders about thought process every 30 seconds. I’ve got two monitors, one of which can have the Chess game while the flashing messages pop up in the other screen. Cannibilizing code from Visualizer allowed me to write the program in about an hour, at which point I realized that using the program would be considered cheating on the web site where I play chess. “No outside assistance at all” would include a program flashing up thought process tips.
Those two things combine with my poor performance of late. I track the percentile performance of my tactics training in terms of success rate and Glicko rating. I look at 50th percentile or better as good, since it indicates some improvement. I’ve had one day where either of the two measures was above 50th percentile in the past week. Finally, my last two game have included my most idiotic play since I began this whole thing. “Oh, hey, let’s drop a queen for a rook and then walk into the same knight fork twice.”
So I took a day off from Chess and thought about it. I could give up and move on to some other project, or I could soldier on through. I figured that I know what happens when I give up: I’ve given up on my Chess game three times already since high school. So let’s see what happens when I soldier on through. That’s what the Simple Method of habit formation recommends in any case: keep track of how things are going, and if they aren’t going well change what you’re doing.
So, here’s the new plan. Tactics every night as usually, but I will develop a new tracking system to better fit the plateau paradigm, and not punish me for not improving constantly. Then I will play a game against the computer, which will allow me to use the thought process tip program. Then I’ll play a game online against a real person without the thought process tip program.
That’s how we “display some adaptability.”