Monday, December 9, 2013

Memory: Openings, Revision

The memory approach I documented in Memory: Openings works, mostly.

Picking just one game from an opening book, is too simplistic. Often, one game and all its key variations is too much. It is important to limit the amount to be memorized to 5-7 chunks. Chunks are made of easily memorized pieces composed of existing knowledge (tactics . . . clear positional ideas). It is important that the chunks are not too big, they will vary depending on your understanding of the positions.

I think the key to doing this better is to build study plans. Opening book chapters are likely groupings for organizing a course of study. Each grouping of 5-7 chunks I will call a seminar. Each seminar will be broken into 5 sessions. Each session will have a pass on each chunk.
  • Course (of study) -- an opening variation which is broken into seminars
  • Seminar -- a selection of 5-7 chunks to memorize and the set of sessions
  • Session -- a continuous effort on memorization a set of chunks, 5 sessions cover a seminar
  • Pass -- inside a session on a chunk
Often it will be useful to have a seminar on the breadth of a part of the course. For instance, suppose I am preparing the Ruy Lopez as white, and I want to memorize a particular approach to the Berlin Wall (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8)

On move 4 black has several ok alternatives to Nxe4 that I need an approach for, plus a bad move that is common enough to require understanding how to exploit.

Ruy Lopez, Berlin after 4.O-O

The usual move here is for black to open things up with 4...Nxe4 and in this breadth seminar, I will include the line that leads to the Berlin Wall, but I also want approaches for 4...Bc5, 4...d6, 4...Be7, and 4...a6?!

Chunks for the Seminar

  1.  4...Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 the Berlin Wall. Later deviations will be in other seminars, as will the lines of the Berlin Wall I am preparing
  2. 4...Bc5 5.c3 transposes to 3...Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.c3. I will add enough to refresh that line
  3. 4...d6 is similar to the Steinitz. 5.d4 . . .
  4. 4...Be7 5.Re1 d6 6.d4 can be played with two replys . . .
  5. 4...a6 trying to get out of the Berlin loses a pawn for insufficient compensation 5.Bxc6 dxc6 (5...bxc6 is handled the same) 6.Nxe5 Nxe4 loses to 7.Re1 (6... others 7.d3 and consolidate the pawn)
Passes A and E are just getting a handle on two tactical sequences. Pass B transposes to another Ruy line. Passes C and D are larger and may have to be expanded into several chunks, or provide the basis for later seminars. Chunks within a seminar should be of similar weights, but some transpositions, combinations,  and traps may be lighter. If a chunk is heavy, you should consider expanding it into its own seminar and provide just a stub in this one. In this instance, chunks B&C should have their own seminars.

If there is not enough material in a seminar (chunks B and C are pointers to other seminars), then extra material should be brought in. Here, I would bring into this seminar later side lines like 5... Be7 (after 4...Nxe4 5.d4)

Preparing Seminars

After choosing a variation and a collection of illustrative games (perhaps a chapter in an opening book), go through the games using Soltis three pass method. The key thing is to get a feel for the general plans and endgames that develop.

Then comprehensively document the lines that you want to memorize. Use a word processor so in the furture you can go back and modify/reuse when you find lines that you want to change. Build tables like in an opening encyclopedia. Pick out search tabiya positions for periodic checking of databases for new ideas. These should not be too deep in the tree, so that you miss new ideas, nor should they be so shallow that there are too many games to review. Make sure to document transpositions.

Prepare all the seminars before you begin memorization. Review that all the chunks and seminars are of appropriate size and split up ones that are too large.

Chosing key games for memorization

Some of the games you use to understand the variation may be ones that you want to memorize. Add them to the list of games to memorize, but do not do them for a while. It will be a change to test your memorization of the lines.

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