Need to get back to basics........

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Need to get back to basics........

Post by Bilbo on June 23rd 2009, 6:24 pm

I'm going to pause from the ICS for a while and just go over Month 1 again, whilst working through Artur Yusupov's Fundamentals workbook, and maybe breifly looking at openings.

I've lost my last two OTB games, both to higher rated players but its the nature of the defeats that has annoyed me.

The first was to a much higher rated opponent (150 ECF) and although he outplayed me early and went an exchange up I managed to fight my way back into the game and with him in serious time trouble I had a fairly simple to spot winning move which I missed.

Tonight against an opponent I really feel I should have beat (110 ECF) I got a great position from the opening as White in a semi slav but then miscalculated and chuffed it, losing in time trouble after 57 moves.

What I've realised from these games, and my previous games this season is that I rarely if ever get outplayed. I seem to be stronger than most opponents in the opening (bearing in mind I'm only playing players upto 100 ECF most often with the occasional 110-150 player) and nearly always get great positions, mostly winning.

But I lose due either ingoring my king safety when I feel comfortably ahead or else miscalculating when I go in for a combination or exchange.

It's basically mental laziness on my part, I'm not calculating hard enough at the key moments and I'm negelecting to fully use the ICS teaching method.

If I made proper use of the ICS method in properly assessing my opponents threats and I took my time to actually calculate things through to a conclusion I wouldn't have lose a single game this season.

I know you could argue that that is the same for everyone, but I don't think it is. I clearly have more strategic and positional understanding than most of my opponents (all bar maybe 2 of 39 games) and I'm basically throwing away winning positions.

The good new is that if I can fix these errors I should go on a hige winning run until I start to play higher opposition so that is what I'm going to concentrate on now.

I think I need to do more actual work that involves calculation and analysis rather than just reading theory lectures or annotated games where I'm not really putting any effort into what's going happening on the board.

I think that until I sort this out, and actually start forcing myself to actually work at the board and calculate carefully I'm not going to substantially improve.

On the bright side I'm pleased with how much more I understand what's going on now, I'm seeing things like weak square, holes, potential targets etc which I wasn't seeing before, and more importantly I'm seeing my opponents threats much more. But I chuff things up at the pivotal moment.

So that HAS to change now Neutral

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by hoopy on June 23rd 2009, 6:48 pm

Glad to hear you are facing up to an issue. I think it is easy for us just to pretend we have had a bad day rather than seek out the fundamantal reason form the bad day.
Good luck in your rework!!
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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Bilbo on June 23rd 2009, 7:35 pm

Yeah its definitely a pattern. I guess I just don't like hard work.

I calculate a few moves ahead, think to myself 'That looks ok....' and then just play it.

Invariably I nearly always mess up.

I need to force myself to think even though I find the actual act of calculating unpleasant.

I'm like it with maths too, I hate calculating. If you ask to calculate a simple addition or multiplication I just kind of wait for the answer to 'pop' into my head rather than run through a process of calculation.

So that's what I need to work on. We're not talking complicated combinations here just relatively simple problems that I really shouldn't be getting wrong.

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Blue Devil Knight on June 24th 2009, 9:20 am

Good luck. Too bad the ICS problem sets aren't enough. I find them almost too much. Smile

Aagaard's 'Art of Calculation' is good (though I've only read the first two chapters). I think calculation is what gives everyone the biggest problems. Very few people like it or are good at it. Kotov and Rowson think the best way to improve is to simply practice doing it. A lot. So if the ICS material isn't enough, that's understandable.

One nice thing about Aagaard's book is he has fairly deep annotations on each problem (he has like 100 calculation problems for the second half of the book), and grades the solutions you discover based on what lines you thought through. If you thought through the most important variations, you get N points. He has pretty thorough annotations.

Good luck, hope to see you around here still. Smile

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by cofresi on June 24th 2009, 9:50 am

How do you like Yusupov's book? Does it mesh well with this course? What level work is it?

I'm not sure if you mean you are giving up on ICS or just going on hiatus.
In either case, I don't see why you need to take a break from ICS.

Maybe you mean you are going to mix in other exercises, and not just ICS exclusively.
That sounds like a good thing.

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Bilbo on June 25th 2009, 6:06 am

Oh I'll still be here and I'm still working on the course, I just mean I'm going to force myself to do Month 1 again until I actually start using it.

I think for me chess study is more about a rapid accumulation of knowledge, then move onto to another subject before I have really digested what I have learned.

I never really get my hands dirty so to speak by really pouring over the board and trying to work things out and calculate, I just read the annotations and learn in a pleasant, but unproductive way.

My goal now is to actually start to use the thinking method and make it intuitive.

@cofresi. Yusupov's book looks good so far, hopefully going to start it today. It's basically a workbook built around 24 chapter covering themes Yusupov regards as essential for a 1500 level player.

I'm choosing to use this book because as a work book it will force me to actually think and get used to setting up positions on the board and analysing them.

Each chapter has about a dozen examples followed by a dozen questions and at the end of the book is a 24 question test.

I imagine it will take about 4 hours to work through each chapter, two hours for the examples then two hours for the tests, allowing for the time taken to set up the board each time.

So including the final test that means about 100 hours of study and actual work so a substantial commitment. I think this alongside my ICS study will work out very well as it will get me into the habit of actually 'working' rather than just reading.

I also want to try and get a coach who can analyse my OTB games. I did ask Jack Rudd, via email he's a local IM in my area but he's busy until September.

He did give me a couple pointers on two recent losses of mine though and just those couple sentences were very helpful as he gave me information relating directly to my games that I wouldn't have been able to find in books so I think that's going to be the next step for me, getting a professional to look over my games and tell me the positional and strategic errors I make that Rybka won't be able to advise me on.

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by HangingKing on June 25th 2009, 11:10 am

Bilbo, I 100% recognize me in your first post !

I guess there are "scholar" people who progress continuously at attending a course, and some other that have a more chaotic progress line, like you and me.
Every brain is not connected the same way, just look at some ELO rating graphs of your opponents on your favorite chess server. I did that, and it's impressive, some are really really smooth, while some are russian mountains, but eventually every serious player end at the same point.

In my own case, i accumulate potential, that i do not manage to express on the board, then some day there is a tilt, and my ELO jumps to the next step.
Then follows a period of euphoria and you feel allmighty, try insane things and loose a lot more, until you figure out how to put a little order in your new skill, and begin to masterize it.

The facts that blunders (and big blunders) exists at upper and top level proves that everybody face the same worryings.

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Blue Devil Knight on June 26th 2009, 1:32 am

Good point about chess improvement often following a course of punctuated equilibrium, where many of the learning and mutations in our thought are happening "under the surface" until suddenly things just click and we are better. The jigsaw fits. Insert favorite metaphor here.

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Bilbo on June 27th 2009, 6:52 am

The spirit of Stephen Jay Gould lives on........

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by HangingKing on July 7th 2009, 8:30 pm

To continue with thoughts, i have difficulties to make progress.

Well in fact i feel i have progressed because i manage to comment postmortems and analyse them in a decent way, but when i play i do not manage to apply these principles to myself !

Sometimes when i play, i know what i should do to win, but i'm reluctant to do it because i get bored of playing always the same games. In consequence i beat often good players (200 elo above me) because i play the game seriously and loose again players same than me or weaker, because i want to try something new.

When i look at my results it is generally

+++++=++++++ ------+---=--- +++=++++ ---+---+---

with 10 or more wins in a row followed by an equivalent amount of lost games, with sometimes a win here or there !
It is very very rarely something like this : ++-+-+--+++-+--+-+-++--

As a consequence, my rating on the long term is not raising.
How can i keep these mighty wins in a row and avoid these disastrous loosing series ?

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by Bilbo on July 8th 2009, 1:12 pm

I feel like my own progresss is contiuing nicely to be honest, although I've only been playing around a year and have obviously yet to plateu.

I would say I'm definitely improving all the time, although I still lose games of course, but as I hate losing with a passion the reasons for my defeats become hardwired into my brain so I don't make the same mistakes twice, at least hopefully not!

My biggest weaknesses is calculation, I seem to always get a better position than my opponent and any mistakes come at the moment where I need tactics or accurate calculation to be able to convert my space, structural, developmental advantage etc in a concrete material gain. Then I often chuff things right up Razz

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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by fanat on July 14th 2009, 10:03 am

Bilbo wrote:I feel like my own progresss is contiuing nicely to be honest, although I've only been playing around a year and have obviously yet to plateu.

I would say I'm definitely improving all the time, although I still lose games of course, but as I hate losing with a passion the reasons for my defeats become hardwired into my brain so I don't make the same mistakes twice, at least hopefully not!

My biggest weaknesses is calculation, I seem to always get a better position than my opponent and any mistakes come at the moment where I need tactics or accurate calculation to be able to convert my space, structural, developmental advantage etc in a concrete material gain. Then I often chuff things right up Razz

I'm in the same boat as you! I've been only playing for 1 year exactly and obviously have lots of holes in my game.

My copy of "Build you your chess Vol.1" will arrive some time this week. Very Happy

Also, this summer I will spend a lot of time doing tactics and endgame to really build a good foundation.

I've got "Understanding Chess Tactics" which is outstanding. Really breaks out and explains the tactics with difficult examples and I'm doing lots of puzzles from various tactic books.

Learning endgame still gives me some trouble. It's not that easy! I've got a copy of "Essential Chess Endings" by Howell which is excellent but I find it a bit difficult at times. It's a bit more advanced book than I thought! So, I've swallowed my pride and starting to work with an easier book - "Just the Facts! Winning Endgame Knowledge in One Volume" and it's nice and easy. I will go through it and attack "Essential Chess Endings" right after.
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Re: Need to get back to basics........

Post by HangingKing on July 14th 2009, 10:42 am

Anyway endgames are worth to pratice because a lot of players are obviously weak in this area.

It is important for 2 reasons :
- 1 because you don't want to loose a game when you are 2 pawns up and not special position advantage for your opponent.
- 2 because you often save (do a draw) in some situations where you are lost.

I think i'm not bad at endgames, but it is difficult in some situations, especially when the pawns are located in some weird arrangement.

But i don't count the number of games i managed to draw with K+R vs K+R+P and sometimes with 2P down.

In endgame to win you should have only 1 goal, promoting.
So, no matter how much material you give up if it helps you to get a single queen, because a queen on an almost empty board is way too powerful.

And if you need to draw, just block the pawns with your king, and check the other king in perpetual.

But the difficult part is with a lot of pawns on more or less the same files. You often ask yourself should i move my king, or move pawn 1 ahead or 2 ahead, which one should i move, etc... ?
In fact it's just like Nicomaque matches game, you want the opponent to take the last match. here you want the opponent to move his king backward. So count the pawns moves until they are blocked by each other and act accordingly.

Finally my advice to become good at endgame is fairly simple. Try to finish all you games !

So don't resign (unless it is really obvious that you are lost) and don't draw (unless it is a dead draw, repetition, etc...) too easily. Trying to find the best defense in these situations helps a lot to improve endgames.

In other words try to make the longer game you can (of course, try also to give up when necessary, and don't do like computers that play 140 moves games just to be sure it is a dead draw).
You have to find the proper justice between being taken for a complete moron, and practice your endgame skills.

But you will be soon surprised to win or draw in some situations you thought were hopeless.

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