Monday, September 22, 2008

Experience quality versus quantity, with a top seven list

Experience playing chess is important for improving at the game, but not all experience is created equal.

Tonight, extremely tired, I jumped onto ICC to play a quick blitz game. Got one against a 748-rated player who has played four thousand blitz games. Not to pick on this chap in particular, as this is quite common. For all I know, he doesn't even want to improve at the game. I have no problem at all with that. He is probably more sane than we are. My point is that those that do want to improve need more than just playing time.

This is sort of obvious, I know. But sometimes I get the impression that people think you can build up GM-level intuitions just by playing a ton of games. It is a kind of natural reaction against that other horrible fate: becoming a chess scholar. One who knows more than anyone else about the game's history, strategy, the names of all the mating motifs, but who simply sucks at the game. I'd rather kick the chess scholar's ass at chess than have his book knowledge.

So, how do we navigate between the Skylla of the hyperexperienced patzer and the Charybdis of the ineffectual chess scholar? It must be the quality of the time spent with chess as a whole. Am I using my chess time in a way that will promote improvement? Given my present level, what should my improvement priorities be? These are hard questions to answer, but they should be answered for oneself periodically in the quest for improvement, at least every six months (my own suggestions, geared toward the beginner, are here).

On to the list. If I have missed any please add them in the comments.

Top seven ways to get the smallest possible return on your chess investment
1. Never perform a postmortem analysis of your games. Don't think about them at all once the flag has dropped.
2. Do not get a chess coach or advisor and go over your games with her, or seek advice about ways to improve.
3. Play only blitz.
4. Play only lower-rated players.
5. Never study chess when you are not playing. Don't study the endgame, tactics, go over annotated master games, or read the chess improvement literature on the web.
6. Do not try to optimize how you select moves in games. The first move that pops into your head is probably best anyway.
7. Spend your chess time blogging.


Blogger transformation said...

chess blogger oscar repeat: obvious!

9/22/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

DK--thanks, but I have very little more to say this time around. :) I will probably only post once or twice a month.

9/22/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Explain your opponent why his win over you wasn't justly

9/22/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Say "chess is 100%" tactics and act accordingly.

9/22/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

the list is too funny :)

I'd add: do not play tournaments, do not join chess clubs.

9/22/2008 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo and Chess: good additions!

It is always good to think your losses are not your fault, that you are really much better than the person you beat. Screening yourself off from criticism is a wonderful thing to add to the list :)

9/22/2008 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger likesforests said...

Don't set aside a few moments every day to study tactics. Openings are where it's really at.

9/22/2008 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger likesforests said...

"Why must I lose to this idiot??"

9/22/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Play without plan, play hope chess.

9/23/2008 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Polly said...

LOL Great list! Here are a few pointers:

Don't bother to think on your opponent's time. He's going to do something you didn't expect any way.

Speaking of time, pay no attention to the clock. It will distract you from what is occurring on the board.

Only pay attention to your king and the squares it can go to. The other pieces and squares aren't important.

9/23/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Convert to Islam, then realize chess is haram (forbidden). Per Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

9/25/2008 11:04:00 AM  

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