I am re-working through a set of problems in Step 2 of Tasc Chess Tutor (TCT). In the test I just did, the task was to capture or lure away a piece defending an otherwise undefended piece. I got 66% my first time around (about 3 weeks ago), and 100% today! More importantly I am starting to appreciate how this skill will help me in real games. When first starting to play, the board was a horrifying chaos to my untrained eye: there were so many possibilities and I had no clue how to evaluate most of them. I had no idea what pieces to move in the opening, and in the middle game I thought I had to find complicated multi-move combinations to win. I would try foolish combinations, ones which I knew probably wouldn't work. I failed to appreciate that good moves are often the result of finding simple weaknesses in my opponent's position, such as an underdefended piece. I am beginning to appreciate that in most games at my beginner level, 4-ply depth of thinking is not usually needed. I can use simpler stratagems like looking for weakly defended pieces and try to snag them using basic tactics (this is one aspect of another insight: don't try to rush mate, but develop
). That dizzying chaos is slowly getting trimmed down into slightly less horrifying, and more more manageable, sets of candidate moves.
The insights are coming not like a ton of bricks all at once, but more like a very complicated game of Tetris
where I get the piece to fit just every now and then. As the Knights said, the insights come faster, ironically, when I slow down and really chew on each problem, and force myself to look for better moves or countermoves when I think I've found a good move (sometimes literally making myself take my hand off the mouse and grip the table so I don't impulsively make a move).
[BEWARE: PREVIOUS TETRIS LINK CAN STEAL HOURS FROM YOUR LIFE!!!]
Also, I have taken the Knights' advice and slowed down my games, so now I am chewing up most of the time on my game clock. I also stopped playing when tired. This has helped: I enjoy the games more, seem to learn more from them, and even manage to win a little more too. I still suck, and make stupid mistakes, but I am having more fun making them...