I would like to thank GM Nigel Davies for inviting me to contribute to this site.

My name is Steven Carr. I am 57 years old, and I am trying to improve my chess. From about 1998 to 2013, I played almost no competitive chess. Since then I have been playing mostly in the Merseyside Chess League, on Board 1 for Wallasey.

My current grading is 184. I would like to improve my grading to over 200.

Is such an improvement possible for somebody who is not as young as he once was?

To sharpen up my mental thinking skills, which seem to have slowed a lot since my youth, I have been attempting lots of tactical exercises.

For example, I recently completed the Step 3,4, and 5 workbooks in the Steps training system by Brunia and Wijgerden.  That is 1440 exercises in all. I can recommend the Steps books as a very good and thorough coverage of tactical themes, although the strategy exercises are very basic. I haven’t started Step 6 yet, but I believe that covers more strategy than the previous steps.

I have been reading research about memory and chess. Allegedly, a chess grandmaster has stored 10,000 patterns in his head. I say allegedly because other people put the number at 20,000, and I have also seen estimates of 50,000 to 100,000 positions.

I don’t know how these numbers were arrived at. They seem like pure guesswork to me.

But I have decided to test the theory that memorising patterns will improve your play, by putting my studies into a ‘spaced repetition’ program. This repeats the exercises on a schedule that is determined by the perceived difficulty of the exercise. To put it simply, the system keeps nagging you to solve a problem until you get it right, and find it easy to do.

Will this kind of training pay off? We will have to wait and see.

Steven Carr

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About Steven Carr

I am 57 years old, and I am trying to improve my standard of play. From 1998 to 2012, I had a break from chess, playing very few games in that period. I now play more competitive chess and I currently have a English grading of 184. I hope to get a grading of over 200 one day. I normally play in the Merseyside League and play Board 1 for Wallasey.