Sunday, 21 October 2007

Chess Improvement strategies

I do this blog mainly for myself, as I've such a bad memory I wouldn't know if I'm improving or not. I'd get disheartened if I thought I was standing still (even if I was actually improving). And it helps to look back if you played someone before as to how the game went, what your thoughts were etc. It's a bonus if someone else gets any help or info from it.

As of late, I've tended to just comment on the blog for OTB games, not a lot of my FICS games.

I take a lot of my improvement strategy from the Novice Nook articles by Dan Heisman at Chess Cafe. You can download all his articles from the archive section.

He places a lot of emphasis on long time controls, and generally playing people slightly better than yourself, hence the reason I play in the U1600 section in Teamleague (and U1650 is the lowest in OCL).

Of course the main thing at the 1400 level is tactics, understanding and recognising the patterns, and the 'seeds of tactical destruction' as Heisman calls them.

As of late I've also been 'spectating' some of the teamleague games as they're being played, mostly involving higher rated players than myself. The big thing I get out of these is listening to the other spectators, usually 1900+, commentating on the game and potential moves and strategy. It's very helpful, and you can query things you don't understand. This has helped me appreciate things a lot more, and made me think about a lot of things I've overlooked. Especially to fight a lot more in the endgame, after seeing lots of fascinating rook endings.

I suppose what I should do more of in the future is looking over annotated master games, probably starting with Morphy.

I played in the FICS STC Saturday swiss yesterday, it's surprising how much 3 back to back games take out of you mentally, it reminded me of the few tournaments I've played in and suppose playing it regularly would help me to acclimatise myself to those types of situations. I played people slightly better than myself, lost the first two and won the final game.

Check out the fascinating game (for me anyway) on BDKs blog. I'll have to try out that opening!


Anonymous said...

I also observe at FICS...most instructive ( if people comment ). The BDK game I saw yesterday. His is also a great blog to follow

BlunderProne said...

I tend to keep a data base of my games and I strongly believe in self annotation. I blog about some of them on my site as well as a myriad of other chess related topics.

Its important to understand YOUR games. Where you start to stray out of the opening. Understanding in depth the common positional themes and how to play them better next time.

It's Ok to check your effort with with a strong player or computer ...after you do the work first.

If you are still in the gather knowledge phase, then a good games collection book with lots of verbose annotations is recommended ( not one with reams of computer analysys... but one like a Bronstein narating Zurich 1953 for instance).

My 2 cents... for what its worth

Dean said...

Hi Blunderprone, I've been a long time reader of your blog. I keep meaning to copy my games into a database, but haven't gotten around to it. I just keep them all stored as seperate pgn's. Part of me thinks that looking back at games more than a couple of weeks old is a waste of time because I have improved since then. But just looking at the last six months would give me a good idea of trends, etc.

I've never reviewed games without fritz before, but I understand what you're saying - the turning points should stick out in the game, then I can look back at my moves to see where I made the mistakes to leave the advantage to my opponent. But then again, it's so easy just to let fritz tell you.

I've heard good things about the Zurich 1953 book before, so have added it to my amazon wish list!

Thanks for all the advice. Dean

Anonymous said...

Hi Dean, I just ran across your blog. You say that you're a beginner chess player looking to improve your tactics. May I suggest a book that Dan Heisman recommends? It's called Chess Visualization Course, Book 1: General Tactics and can be found at
. It contains a ton of exercises -- 800 of them! The positions in the book are all taken from real games and are presented in increasing order of difficulty based on the length of the variations that you are asked to visualize. The website contains 24 sample exercises taken from the book that you can play over. Check it out and good luck with your chess!