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James Altucher


Learning accountability list

I write these to remind myself of what I need to learn (else I will forget) and also for future days when I am just fooling around or not using my learning time appropriately I can focus on these lists to see what I need to do.

Always the question is: whether you are trying to learn a language, learning a sport, doing career stuff - Is the activity I am doing now moving me closer to my goals are further.

    1. What Am I learning this weekend?

    I'm playing in the George state championship.

    I stormed out the gate, winning the first two games against very strong players.

    Then lost the next two. Going into the final round in a few minutes.

    2. I make small tactical mistakes

    Here's an example. I was playing a strong player, rated 2417 and is probably going to win the tournament.

    But I had a fine game here. I played the opening just right. But my prior move, Ne7, was a mistake.

    In the image attached, white can win a pawn in about 4 moves. See if you can see it. It's a bit complicated but there's no excuse that I missed it.


    3. Here's another small tactic I missed

    This one was frustrating. It's basically an easy tactic. I just missed it.

    I'll tell you the answer to this one. I had just moved Bb3. He simply took my pawn on d3 with his Knight. if I take it back (which I didn't) then he would take my bishop and I would have a horrible position.


    4. Keep the bigger picture in mind. KEEP THE BIGGER PICTURE IN MIND.

    This was game one against a 2303. I won. But it was hard.

    I was playing white. Notice my queen in the corner. It can't move it all. It literally has no squares.

    Normally, this could be a sign that I am losing and, in fact, I am not doing so well. But the good news is that my queen and pawn are so close to his king that I can fight for chances.

    BIG PICTURE: if I can break through on the queen side and get one of my rooks down to his territory I can distract his rooks and not only escape with my queen but checkmate his king.

    SMALL PICTURE: I can win a pawn.

    In the position attached I play b4 which is a good move. He can't take with his queen because then I just take it.

    But he can't take with his pawn either because...Ra8!! I sacrifice a rook, free my queen and checkmate him. I saw this.

    But I didn't stay focused on this . He maneuvered well and I won that a pawn but I could've forced my rooks down to the 8th rank in about 3 or 4 moves but I focused on winning the pawn.

    The pawn ended up winning the game for me later. But it would've been a win in just a few moves if I stayed focused on what my real goal was: CHECKMATE.


    5. There's always counterplay. ALWAYS

    As I mentioned, I had 2 wins and 2 losses so far.

    Remember the position two ideas ago where I lost a simple pawn when he did Nd3.

    Here is the position just two moves later. I am down a pawn and my chances are sightly worse.

    But I was feeling dejected (so psychology is something I need to work on) and assumed my chances were worse than they were.

    Summarizing the pros and cons in this position:

    CON: I am down a pawn and strategically it was a bad pawn to lose, a strong center pawn.

    PROS: His kingside pawns are a bit weak. His queen is off to the side. I have more space and more active pieces.

    I did Ng5 to attack his f7 pawn and he fought back and won,

    But much better was to do e5!, attacking his knight.

    When you do that it scatters his pieces around. He gets uncoordinated and the pawn on e5 is like a knife slicing the board in half. THEN i do Ng5, f5, I have my r on f1 staring at the position. All my pieces are activated.

    Note, I'm stsill not doing well there but he has to play very exactly or he loses quickly.

    IN ALL FOUR GAMES, whether I was winning or losing there was always massive counterplay for both sides after it had already seemed like the game was over.

    I don't know how to practice his part except to go over my games more.


    6. Need to understand attack the queenside motifs in the Sicilian.

    Earlier in that same game. I knew castling queenside was no good. But I didn't really understand all the motifs for attacking there.

    I backed off my bishop, thinking it was good to keep more pieces on the board to attack with.

    But I should've taken his knight (remove a defender) and then aim for a quick b4, even if he can take it easily. I can even sacrifice another pawn after that on c3.

    The key is to get the lines open, get my rooks in the game aimed at his king. AGet my queen there. Push his queen around, even sacrifice a piece if I have to get the a file open and then mate down there.

    Even BxN, BxB, and then B4 immediately would probably give me more play than I ended up getting.

    For instance, if he takes with his pawn and then I do Be3 attacking his queen, he does Qa5 and then I do Nb5, he attacks my piece with a6 and I ignore it by playing Nfd4, bringing all my pieces in the game, I'm probably winning in a few moves. That position is in the next idea.


    7. Position from last idea.

    You can see if he takes my knight with his a pawn then I take the pawn with my a pawn and my rook is now attacking his queen and staring straight at his queen. this is crushing. I need to get these positions tattooed into my head.


    8. SO...

    Keep big picture
    there's always counterplay
    queenside attacking motifs

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