A bit of poetry, if I may!
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, / And bathed every veyne in swich licour / Of which vertu engendred is the flour; / … / Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages …
March has indeed been a drought in my improvement, and I long to go on another improvement pilgrimage this April. So far, things are looking promising: I’ve obtained Silman’s Amateur’s Mind and I’m going to play in an upcoming tournament that offers plenty of opportunities for serious games and serious prep. My over-arching goal: revise, revise, revise. I spend so much time going over illustrative games, or plowing through chapters, and yet I hardly retain anything. Also: I’ve finally ordered a new computer to replace my loyal and trusty ThinkPad. This purchase is likely going to be accompanied by some software acquisitions (I’m thinking Deep Rybka and CT Art 4.0).
What else, what else? My tactics are still shite, my vision for positional weaknesses and my grasp of plans are improving (I think). My endgame skills haven’t been tested in a long time (I agreed to a draw in a knight versus knight and pawn endgame and for all I can tell rightly so, and that’s about it). In my opening prep, I’m still focusing on open games and isolani positions (although truth be told I’ve yet to face an opponent in a serious game who goes for the isolani!). I’m using Sam Collins Attacking Repertoire for White and find it quite inspiring, although at times it’s hard to tell what exactly you’re supposed to glean from the games he guides you through. If anyone else is using the book, feel free to message me for training games. (And if not, contact me, anyway — I’m still looking for a regular cool internet training dude/dudess.)
On to some chunks! I’m going to keep it simple. I snatched up two common closed pawn centre ideas at my chess club; they are also found in Silman’s Amateur’s Mind in the chapter on king hunts:
In closed games, the pawn chain indicates the direction of your attack:
In closed games, attack with pawns rather than pieces; attack the enemy pawn chain at its base:
And that’s it! Back to the study board.
Edit: Since this is an ACIS improvement post, I suppose I ought to mention my rating as well: 1689 > 1707. (Though the new number isn’t exactly meaningful because it’s based on three rated games, two of which were rather silly.)