Monday, May 23, 2005

When it comes to chess, I SUCK EGGS

Well, no need to worry about my rating being too high. I have dropped 10 games in a row at ICC, some foolish blunders, some due to lack of tactical skills, some because my opponent simply schooled my sorry ass from move one. I am playing people rated around 1050 or so, so it isn't that I am playing experts or anything. I just flat out suck at chess. This is kinda depressing: I have been playing it and thinking about it way too much for over two months now. I probably could have learned something actually useful in this time: e.g., bone up on circuit theory, built a model of the rat somatosensory system, or made a new weird behavioral task for my rats to learn. At any of these things, I would already have something quite substantive to show for it (data!). This game is flogging my ego: I consider myself a reasonably smart person, able to pick things up quickly. Well, NOT CHESS. It is kicking my ass and taking my name.

The most important thing is, I am not going to give up. I sometimes forget that my skills as a scientist are the result of many years of training at the hands of dozens of teachers, hundreds of hours spent working at math, data analysis, and general rumination about nervous systems. My skills in neuroscience were not there before that toil, but are built up out of it. I guess chess will have to be the same way. This is unlike any other game I have played before.

I am putting a hiatus on playing games until I've Fritzed the ten I just blew. I will also focus my energies on TCT and my thinking drills.

Caissa is a harsh mistress.


Blogger knightwiz said...

Just don't give up! You will improve...

Sometimes after I blunder I get a feeling like "I shouldn't be playing this game.. can't believe that's the same mistake!", but then I play other game and win playing great moves and start falling in love with the game again.

Maybe that's my sin, most of the time I have a love&hate relation to chess.

5/23/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Yes, it's wise not to base your ego on your results. What frustates me the most is that I have the FEELING ches is an easy game, but to quote Nezha, my brains don't want to cooperate. In the meantime it's intriguing WHY chess is so difficult for us. WHY intelligence seems so useless for mastering the game. Just hang on. The more you learn from the game, the more you are going to love it.

5/23/2005 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Here are some ideas that I found worked for me in improving.

Avoid Blitz games,play longer slower games.

Avoid Marathon Chess Sessions and playing when you are tired. Play a few games and analyse them. analyse a game soon after playing it.

Limit the amount of openings you play. Initially play open games.(some may disagree with this one)

Read Move by Move books. Euwe Chess Master vs Chess Amateur, Chernev Logical Chess. Read and Reread them with 2 Chess board in hand (use one for variations).I spent last Spring's lunch breaks playing through Euwes book and I felt it helped me greatly.

Care about winning but care more about learning. The reality is you like I did will lose alot of games in a short period of time.

Read basic chess books and avoid intermediate and advanced books.

check out Dan Heismann website

Hang in there!


5/23/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I second all of takchess's suggestions, particularly to avoid blitz and only play slower games.

One thing I had to train myself to do was slow down myself when it's my turn to move. There's a level of chess understanding that grows with study and experience, and then there's our capacity to be impatient, to make stupid blunders because we don't see what's there. Our minds latch onto an idea and we're off running, missing threats, opportunities, and other ideas we are capable of seeing. Heismann gets into thought processes which cover this area, and that can be helpful, but for me it also applies to our overall mental approach and attitude. For me, the idea of "slow down and see what's really there" helped a lot.

And yes, to get better you have to get beaten a lot. You have to play stronger players and then really work on understanding what type of mistakes you regularly make, and strive to find a way not to make those types of mistakes.

But the main thing is to have fun! I watch Searching For Bobby Fischer about once a year, and it never fails to reawaken the passion I have for chess.

5/23/2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Chess will do that to you. Some time ago I blogged about the same thing - my IQ is supposed to be something special so you would think I would do well at chess - WRONG!!! I am a complete chess moron at this point.

Smarts has nothing to do with it - and you are right about taking years to become good at anything.

Supposedly, it takes one 7 years to become an expert in any field.

5/23/2005 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Many thanks to the encouraging responses. Takchess, I like all your suggestions and will take them to heart. I have Logical Chess and love it. I will read it when sitting here running rats at work.

I also think I need to accept that this is going to take a while. Be patient, enjoy the process, don't freak out and think you (or the game) are stupid. Slowing down in individual games, as Chris and Takchess said, is also key.

I should also accept that Tasc Chess Tutor may take me more than 10 weeks, given my 85% rule for each section (After a Step, go back and repeat sections in which I didn't get 85% on all tests. Repeat.). The thing is, I really like TCT: if it takes me longer, then it is like getting to enjoy a good novel for an extended period of time.

I guess I should relax and enjoy this interesting process, get out of this exam cram mentality in my quest for chess skills.

Wouldn't it have been sweet if Napolean Dynamite had added 'chess' to his list of skills he needed to meet girls (Napolean to Pedro: "Girls only want boyfriends with skills, you nunchucks skills...bow hunting hacking skills...").]

5/24/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger CelticDeath said...

LOL! I'm glad to see I'm not the only Na-pole-yon (as Uncle Rico would say) fan around here.

"What opening are you going to play today, Napoleon?"

"Whichever one I feel like! Gosh!!"

"Do those rooks have large talons?"

5/24/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger fussylizard said...

Work on your tactics, and focus on general principles. Heisman's Novice Nook at has lots of great info on general principles.

If you want send me a game or two in PGN and I'll look over them and make some suggestions...

5/25/2005 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Christian said...

Novice nook of Dan Heisman is really great. Even as a non-novice, having played chess for years, I have profited a lot from his suggestions.

5/25/2005 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

I think your doing great. It usually takes people to 1200 or higher to get where you are in terms of objective self-assessment. This is the true path of chess improvement. Post-mortems are a sign of a genuine chess student, i.e. working towards NEVER losing again if the themes that took place in your recent losses occur in the future. And, perversely, you will be better off if you actively seek games where you will get your butt kicked hard.

I predict someday relatively soon you will be 200+ points higher and probably have less ego than you did at 1000. It's more out of the mature recognition that all players, even strong ones, occasionally will play SUCK EGG moves. It takes many, many years to become what is known as a "weak" master.

What a game! Can you imagine...Yay! I'm weak!

On a more positive note,
I am guessing that when I finish my tactics training and start to really integrate it into my standard games, playing will give me a deeper satisfaction and enjoyment than I can get from playing now.

5/25/2005 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

BTW Caissa is tough, and more of a daemoness than mistress. ;-)

5/25/2005 03:31:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

These comments have been helpful. In order, I think the important things for me to remember are:

1. Slow down and be patient. Enjoy the game. Improvement at chess is not like cramming for a biochem exam, it is more like studying to become a black belt or good fly fisherman. I don't do it for the end result, but because I like the process of thinking through abstract challenges. Slowing down is also important in individual games: if I think I have found a good move, don't take it. Look for better moves. Don't play superfast games, but slow games. Take the time to analyze losses. Enjoy the challenges.

2. Study the basics. Heisman, move-by-move chess.

3. Stick to the program, work my chess every day it is scheduled. If I have to choose between writing at my blog and doing thinking drills, do thinking drills and write tomorrow! Chess is more important than talking about chess! (No offense, Knights :-))

5/25/2005 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Margriet said...

You all seem to forget the most important:
It is a game!
To play!!!!
And the greatest fun is you can play with people, and make friends by it!
Try to play as much as you can with people in a chessclub or play real tournaments, on your own level, there is allways somebody you can beat.
On computer you miss so much of all the fun.

5/27/2005 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Margriet, what a radical idea. :) I am presently looking at various places to play: there are at least four groups that meet weekly here. I am presently deciding which I want to make my home.

5/27/2005 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger JavaManIssa said...

Don't give up, it sucks when you lose but it's part of learning. Some things i've noticed to help blundering:

Playing slower, managing your time better.

Playing against a computer it'll punish you for your mistakes and if you can get to the endgame without losing or even drawing is great!

Good luck!

5/30/2005 02:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your words describe how I have been thinking. I suck eggs too.
I guess from the previous comments it will take time. Today I have been reading the other Knights Blogs. Not ready to commit to the "400 ponts in 400 days". I have played through "Logical Chess - Chernev" and really like it. I'm winning more on correspondence sites. But....have played in two slow time control tournaments on FICS (STC Open and STC Maymania. Unfortunately I'm 10 - 0 which is hard on the ego.
I look foward to following your progress, I'll just lurk in the background for the meantime.

6/02/2005 01:49:00 AM  

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