Homework: how to get the most out of it?

Originally published at: https://killerchesstraining.com/2022/02/08/homework-how-to-get-the-most-out-of-it/

Dear friends,

This has been a quiet week for us. There have been some fluctuation in people’s ratings. Mainly up! Please let us know your results on the Forum. We care, as do your fellow members of the academy. Don’t forget that we can all learn from each other’s games and stories.

We have a number of new members, so we wanted to take the chance to tell you a few things about homework club that you may now know and a few ideas to how to approach it.

First off, we have two homeworks. Friendly and Killer.

As a starting point the Friendly is created to give a score of about 6/12 (excluding the warm-up sheet) of 5-7 for players up to 2100. This of course means some will get more than 7, some less than 5. The Killer is the same, aiming at players with 2400+.

You can only submit one sheet per week, as we have limited time to mark them. And if you are late, the marking will be limited. But send anyway!

At times some players under 2100 feel more comfortable submitting Killer Homework. This is fine, but they will struggle. A lot of our strongest members do the Friendly Homework. And they don’t get 18/18. Sam Shankland sent Friendly 72 to Jacob and made a mistake on Page 2 and one on Page 3. At times we joke internally that the Friendly Homework should be called the No Friends Homework!

The idea with the homework is to create a feedback loop for you. To think, decide and then rethink, before receiving the solution and importantly the explanation in class. When you are failing and exercise, you are learning. When you are solving it correctly, you are reinforcing what you have already learned (hopefully).

There was a blog post shared on Facebook suggesting that exercises are best when the student scores 85% of the positions. We disagree and suggest that the scientific data did not necessarily come from a group of motivated students, but school children who are forced to participate. Either way, evaluating an exercise is not as simple as a solved/failed dichotomy. Often we reflect this in a percentage score. But even a solution that is entirely wrong is not entirely wrong. It will have a lot of good things in it, often with a detail that is wrong. As such, a score of 4/12, could be 75% correct. It is a complicated discussion 😊.

If you are struggling with submitting homework, consider using the following strategy: First, press the bell on your left on this thread on the Forum to receive notifications when Kallia uploads the new sheets. Start on the Sunday 9 days before the class. If you are on Killer Homework, solve one exercise each day. Two if on Friendly. On the 7th day, the Saturday, put aside one hour to do the mixed sheet (which is best done in one session according to the time limit). This way you are doing something every day. You can obviously choose to do the mixed sheets whichever day you want.

And you should never feel that there is a time limit on tactics and calculation. Calculation is best learned slowly, so you are in full control of what you are trying to do. Thus, take the time you want/need and feel comfortable with. Don’t try to solve too quickly. The key thing about calculation is that you do not want to be guessing.

Your friends at Killer Chess Training,

Sam, Kallia and Jacob


I would need some practical guidance on how to approach the Friendly Homework exercises:

  1. Should the proposed position be reported on the board? Physical and/or virtual (no engine) – is there any difference?

  2. I understand that I should not move the pieces in the search for the “solution”: it compromises the training. However, I find myself in serious difficulty in visualizing beyond the second move (sometimes even 1+1/2)…

  3. How much time should be devoted to consolidate the previous week’s exercises on ChessTempo? Should one try to memorize or it’s enough try to understand?

Thank you very much for your help!


Excellent question, Marco! @JacobAagaard needs to answer this!

  1. I think solving on an actual board gives a little extra. Playing through the solutions online is fine (chesstempo). You need to understand the ideas. Not replicate them with your hands.

  2. This is something to work on. There are a few exercises. The first is probably where you should start. Which is to look at the exercises and then put them on the board from memory. It is not easy at all! Another is to take a complicated book (old chess informants) and play through the games on a board, then set up the end of long variations that you have gone through in your mind on another board. This is a bit tedious and definitely tiring and challenging. Just do it for a few minutes every day and within a month you will have improved in this skill immensely. Few are in total command of it.

  3. Memorisation would be entirely wrong. You want to understand what is happening. I know with chessable and woodpecker memorising has been elevated as some sort of wonder drug, which it is not… It is useful, but limited. Many other things are useful too.