Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's what ya' know that kills ya'!

I had a lesson tonight. We went over my games from last week's tournament. I had two main problems. One, I need to think ahead, play real chess. I got tired and stopped blunderchecking (hung a rook) and looking for elementary one-move tactics. This is just sloppy and lazy. Second, I was weak in developing my pieces to their best (most active) squares, overlooking active/threatening development because of my overcautious nature.

Quote for the day from Heisman (and my original motivation for using a thought process): "Ask yourself the following question, “Of all the games I have lost recently, what percent were lost because of something I did not know, and what percent were lost due to something I already knew, but were not careful to look for?” If you are like most non-advanced players many, if not most, of your losses are due to a tactical oversight on a pattern that you already knew: putting a piece en prise, miscounting the safety of a piece, missing a simple double attack or fork, allowing a back-rank mate, etc. Since you already are familiar with those tactics, that means either that you played carelessly, did not practice “Real Chess”, or have no consistent thinking pattern."

I don't need to think six (or even four) moves ahead. I need to consistently look one or two moves ahead! Near the end of a one or two day tournament, even that seems like too much work...

I am enjoying not working on memorizing opening variations. Just focusing on principles is helping me learn more about what makes those "best moves" best, and has me playing more thoughtfully from the start. My guess is that this minimalist approach will serve me just fine until I hit 1500 or so at ICC. Schroer's four principles of opening development are very simple but good (to remind everyone: knights before bishops, move only the e and d pawns, move each piece only once, and develop kingside pieces first). While there are exceptions (3...a6 in the Ruy, and of course dealing with tactical exigencies), they typically lead to a solid position.

I completed the first minicircle of Stage 3 in Chess Tactics for Beginners. These problems are definitely harder than the Stage 2 problems (the image to the left is one example of a mate-in-two with white to move, though I do the problems without the category labels attached). There are some three-move tactics, and much more subtle two move problems (no obvious discovered attacks, for instance). That I still don't instantly see the solution to problems like those above shows I really need this tactical work!

# CirclesPercent Correct
Problem Set 11498-99-100-100-100-100-100
Problem Set 21590-93-96-99-99-99-99-99
Problem Set 3185
Problem Set 40
Problem Set 50
NOTE: Circles done with CTB.


Blogger Unknown said...

I've seen a list of the common chess dictates that span over 2 pages - Knights before Bishops, avoid doubled pawns, don't pin the King's Knight before castling, etc. You're never going to be able to remember every single one of them - something will always be missed. The difference I think is whether the ones you miss are less harmful than the ones your opponent will miss.

And, as always, it's just experience. The more you play the more you get to practice.

One thing I do is never play 3 rounds in 1 day if the games are G90 or over. There's just no way to avoid the fatigue - even if you're in great physical condition.

Take the bye in the 3rd round.

2/02/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: if my opponent hasn't had a bye, then we're both in the same boat, so what the hell. I am trying to avoid taking in caffeine (Diet Coke) to get me over the hump. It seems unsportsmanlike (though if my opponent does it, perhaps I'll do it too).

This weekend there is a really tough tournament: G75 for three games and then the fourth game (at 7PM) G90! It kills me. But it is good practice for forcing myself to think when I'm tired (hell, I did it all the time in school: I just need to dig deep and work it).

I look at Jon's four rules as useful heuristics to be broken when the position calls for it. The overall goal for any good opening (imo) is is to actively develop all the pieces, subject to the constraints provided by one's opponent. If I can learn to do this well in the opening, I will be happy. Then I'll start to book up again. My opening repertoire is changing dramatically right now, and until I settle on what I want we'll see.

2/02/2007 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

For a complete list of rules find Reuben Fine's excellent work entitled "Chess the Easy Way". In it he covers a list of 30 rules (including those 4 given to you by Jon), along with some basic principles.

It is out of print but you can usually find it for around a $1.00 used.

Good luck in the tournament this weekend, I had actually entertained thoughts of attending. Maybe next month.

PS Read my latest post (yes I finally updated the blog) on the benefits of just playing an opening to learn it, versus trying to memorize the lines prior to actually using it.
Playing and reviewing has been much more effective it would seem. Plus it is a lot more fun.

2/03/2007 02:20:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

Sounds like coaching has been of great benefit to you. I look forward to reading of your continued progress.

I am doing the chess tactics for beginners. There is some slight overlap in some of the problems in
CTFB and CT-ART3. Some of these are in Level 10 and 20 of CT-ART.
One noticable difference is they are categorized to make it easier. ie: Knight Sacrifices.

The solution to your posted problem did not jump out at me. It took some thinking. The sacrifices where your opponent capturing piece blockades the escape square are harder for me to see that some of the other themes.


2/03/2007 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Sancho: I've got it, though his are somewhat different (develop kingside pieces first isn't in Fine's list).

2/03/2007 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tak: I try to do them without the labels attached, as then they are a bit too easy....:)

2/03/2007 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Sancho Pawnza said...

Well the develop king side pieces first is basically a more direct version of Fine's Seventh Rule of the Opening "Castle as soon as possible, preferably of the King's Side".

I overheard one of our "park" players explain the rule to a new player at the club with "Move that mofo off the street and quick! Get your soldiers out of the crib and the King into his castle." or something like that.

Either way you can't castle King's side if your pieces aren't developed.

2/03/2007 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Chivers said...

I don't think that puzzle is for beginners you know, it took me ages! Although I didn't read the bit about it being a mate in 2 until after - so I was partly looking for stalemates as well.

Btw, like Jim I agree 'that too many wordy rules' makes for a mental checklist that is actually impossible to use. However, I think opening principles are may be better understood by thinking over the implicit facts of the initial position.

For instance, after 1. e4, d2-d4 will be relatively easy to get in, since the Qd1 supports it. After 1. d4 Nf6/d5, the same cannot be said of e2-e4, since there is a king on e1 not a queen. This accounts for some major differences between 1. d4 and 1. e4 openings.

Another thing is that after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6, d2-d4 will be easier for white to get in than d7-d5 for black, since the supporting c2-c3 is available for white, but c7-c6 is not available for black.

Hope this is of interest.

2/05/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tom: good to know I'm not the only one who had some trouble with that problem :)

I'm about to post more on openings, retracting my previous statements :)

2/05/2007 09:48:00 AM  

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