Steve, great point on anchoring the shadows and thinner negs.
For me though it also applies to non-pyro developers. Shadows and highlights come easily w/ understanding exposure and dev, but it took me years to discover how to begin to control midtones to put them where I wanted, and my first epiphany in that search was beginning to work w/ thinner negatives and, as you put it, anchoring the blacks.
It's enlightening, if given the opportunity, to see what other photographers consider they're favorite negatives to print and resulting prints. Actually might be interesting thread.