Monday, April 30, 2007

How a patzer can raise his rating by 50 points in a week

Since last week's blunderfest, I have done two things. First, I've been playing just about every day. When I don't play, no matter how much I've been studying tactical puzzles or openings, I just play worse. That game was after about 2 weeks of not playing slow games. Oops.

Second, I have completely reprioritized my thinking. The first and foremost plan in my thought process is now: avoid one-move blunders (e.g., en prise blunders or missing one-move tactics like forks and pins). In sharp positions, when there is the possibility of a sequence of captures, or a tactic, I do my best to think through the possibilities to quiescence. I haven't been spending a lot of time looking for subtle or complicated tactics: when I do that I tend to miss the obvious pin or fork. When the position is quiet, when there aren't direct clashes between material, I don't spend a lot of time thinking. I make sure I'm not making a one-move blunder, and make a move after a relatively quick positional evaluation and make the best positional move I can find that is tactically justified. I save my thinking time for calculation during those sharp positions (just as Soltis and other GMs recommend).

A Knight once told me that simply avoiding one-move blunders will get you to 1400 at ICC. I think this may be an overstatement, but given a modicum of positional, opening, and endgame knowledge, I think it is true.

I haven't won all my games using this 'Just don't blunder'-centric thought process, but my losses haven't been embarassing. And just like I have learned 'book' tactics by starting with the simple, perhaps it is a good idea to focus my thought during games on the simplest of tactics. Eventually, perhaps, this will be second-nature and I can spend more time looking for the sexy combinations.

Tournament game tonight. I'm very nervous, as our team loses the round unless I win, in which case we tie.

Chess is 99% tactics!

Game update added later: I lost. It was a great game. He played the Berlin, which I had been studying for a couple of days in preparation. He had a tough mating threat and after a 10 minute think I found a great move, maybe the best move I have ever played in chess. It ended up pinning his queen to his King so I got his queen for a rook. Unfortunately, after that deep think my mind was fuzzy, I got lazy. I just wanted to simplify. But he smartly tried to complicate the position. Ultimately I made (yet another) one-move blunder and let him skewer my king to my queen, right next to my King, but I hadn't thought through that his rook was protected by his Bishop!!! So I traded back my queen for his rook. Then he just schooled me in the endgame, which technically should have been a draw. I don't swear much on my blog, but FUCK! I was kicking his ass and then I just blew it.

That said, the game once again proved the theory espoused in the post: if I avoid 1-move blunders I will win most of my games (against people U1400). When I lose, it is 9/10 times because I fail to avoid such blunders.


Blogger takchess said...

A Knight once told me that simply avoiding one-move blunders will get you to 1400 at ICC. I don't think this is a overstatement. I am curious regarding those who play at playchess and icc how these ratings compare. If you missed no two move combinations where do you think that would get you? 1700 + would be my guess.

4/30/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Good Luck tonight!

4/30/2007 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger hisbestfriend said...

Central to the "real chess" concept, is that not losing a game is worth 200 points. In otherwords, you be nearly TWICE as good a player.

Not losing seems to be a central theme at this level, right there with not seeing. But I agree. Aaagh!

5/01/2007 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Central to the "real chess" concept, is that not losing a game is worth 200 points.

My bet is that not losing is worth a lot more than 200 points. :)

Real chess is all about looking ahead, especially at checks, captures, and threats, so you are right that avoiding those crazy blunders is necessary for real chess (though not sufficient).

5/01/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Loomis said...

I always thought that "real chess" as defined by Dan Heisman simply meant that you have to consider *all* of your opponents responses to your move. This is in contrast to "hope chess" where you make a threat and hope your opponent doesn't see it or counter it.

Not making one move blunders is a consequence of considering all your opponents moves, it is a result of playing real chess, not the definition.

Sorry about your loss. Though it sounds like you considered the move that skewered you, but didn't see two moves later, i.e. the bishop proctecting the rook. If it's any comfort, that sounds like a two move blunder to me.

5/01/2007 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: right about 'real chess'. That's why I said looking for 1-move blunders is necessary, but not sufficient, for real chess (which involves finding the "best" move, not just a move that isn't a material blunder).

If I can stomach it, I'll post the game once I finish studying it. The thrill of victory snatched away to be replaced by the agony of defeat. These are the days of our lives.

5/01/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

nice going bluedevil. always a pleasure here.

i look forward to the day that we hear you attain your next milestone, and, with such firm commitment--every day, no matter, what--assurdely you will 'burn chess into the circuitry of your brain (Seirawan, one of our personal conversations)' and integrate skills to the next level.

im glad, speaking of '14's' that i am not the one who made that comment of 'simply avoiding one move blunders would take you to...'

maybe you can become the new adam smith of chess writing. and the good scotts, with their whisky and other such contrivances?

if avoiding one move blunders is the FIRST derivative, then searching for the best move is the SECOND derivate of chess.

warmly as always, david

ps, to all who have not seen, apropos Takchess comment on comparison of playchess and icc, i just wrote a large piece which compares ICC bullet players, to blitz at stardard ratings, around 1400 bullet, 1580 blitz, and 1719 standard, with lots of objective data.

5/01/2007 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

sorry about the loss, but think of it as "negetive reinforcement for making you a better player and not making one move blunders ever again."

i wish my only problems were one move blunders...

5/01/2007 06:24:00 PM  

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