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Newbie

Post by jeff2k7 on May 23rd 2009, 2:31 pm

Hi everyone! I guess I am the newest member of this forum and ICS. I want to say "Thank You" to all of you. Your comments and reviews of ICS have helped me tremendously. I have been looking for a way to get serious about learning chess and this definitely seems like the way to go. I am waiting on ICS to send me my login information so I can get started!

I am a very inexeperienced player and relatively new to the game. I don't have a rating and haven't even decided on where to play online games. I've started by reading a dozen books on various topics (openings, tactics, stragegy, etc.) and playing lots of games against the computer. I'm addicted! I can't wait to start studying the ICS course.

As a newbie, I welcome any advice you have.. where to play, what software I should own, books I need to read, etc.
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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 23rd 2009, 3:53 pm

Welcome to the site. I wrote an article for beginners here:
http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com/2008/05/advice-for-chess-beginners.html

If you are truly a beginner, this course will likely be way over your head (no offense meant there, but they presuppose quite a bit of knowledge). However, go ahead and give it a shot and see. No harm, no foul.

Again, if you are really a beginner then you will lose all of your games because of tactics and inexperience, so you will need to supplement the course with games and tactical training (as discussed at my post above).

I like internet chess club, but it costs money. Free internet chess server many like, and it is free. Many like chess.com, which I believe is free. Then there is Playchess.com or some such. Those are the main places to find slow games (i.e., play real chess).

I don't know much about correspondence chess, or where to play it online. Some others here are into that.

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Re: Newbie

Post by HangingKing on May 23rd 2009, 10:28 pm

Bonjour et bienvenue.

So how much newbie are you and what's your age, i think it's important to choose the proper place to begin.

I think if you are young, the best way is face to face with real people because it is more exciting.

As an adult it is still the most exciting way of playing, but you get also more constrains and cannot play or find easily opponents of your strength, you have to move to a club at fixed time in the week, some day you want to play easy because you are tired and there are only strong opponents, another day you want to fight and you are asked to train some newbie and cannot deny it for social considerations, etc...

So an alternative is online playing.

I started, long time ago with Yahoo Games, it was fun at the beginning because my level was quite low and there is a bunch of low players on Yahoo, but i got very upset by the foul language and insults there.

So i moved to ICC, you have to pay 45€/year so there are mainly adults on there, and you get a less foul language there, even if there is still some.
FICS or Chess.com are the same but free.

After it is a question of software, for example i play on FICS and ICC but i prefer blitz-in interface to babachess. But anyway you can for example use arena to play with both.

Just know the in internet chess, it is more difficult to get chess friends. If you say nothing, generally your opponent will say nothing, and you will just play game after game against ascii names... And if you want to say something, you have to write it actually, and it is not the same as talking.

Last point, everytime you change interface you need a delay to get used to it, playing wood OTB or greenish colors of Winboard, or yellow/brown board or even 3D of fritz is completely different.
You will have the impression at the beginning that you "see" nothing.

So, it's you to decide what best suits to you.
I'm more online player, but some other here are more OTB players, while most are OTB & online players.
Then if you decide to play online, decide what you seek, slow games, fast games, nice interface, good ambiance, anonymous, tournaments ?

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Re: Newbie

Post by jeff2k7 on May 23rd 2009, 11:10 pm

Great article! Thanks so much. I've got to take the time to go through all of your blog posts as well! Looks like there is a goldmine of information there.

I thought I might be getting in over my head when I read how experienced everyone else seems to be here. Now that I've had a chance to look over the course guide and material from month one, I'm glad I took the plunge. The concepts are not too far out there (at least so far), but it IS a lot of material for one month. It will obviously take me a lot longer than the others here to digest it all and REALLY understand it, but I'm willing to put in the extra study time!

My problem is going to be applying the knowledge. It's one thing to read a book or article or, in this case, course material and understand the concepts. It's another thing entirely to be able to apply it! There is no substitute for actually doing. I've just got to play lots and lots of games and try to focus on what I learn.

Thanks again for all the info. I've heard good things about ICC, so I think I'll try there first. I think the paid site will keep out some of the cheaters.
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Re: Newbie

Post by jeff2k7 on May 23rd 2009, 11:42 pm

HangingKing,

I really appreciate all the advice. I hadn't thought about the social aspect of playing online. It would be much more fun to play with friends, but I guess it's ok for just gaining experience against a wide variety of players. I'm going to try ICC first. I'll also have to see if there are any local clubs in my area. I would definitely like to play both online and OTB games.

As far as being a newbie... I am 37 years old, so I am getting quite a late start at this, I know. My experience so far is simply as a student. I have been reading as many books and online materials as I can find. I've played lots of games against the computer and walked through many of the classic games. I have been using ChessMaster Grandmaster edition which has been really great to get me through the fundamentals. I don't know how computer ratings compare to real world ratings so it's going to be fun to get out and play some real people. I haven't played against a human since high school!
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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 12:12 am

Just go anywhere, it doesn't matter where, and play. Don't worry about losing. Beware of a syndrome that people who read and play computers get: they get scared to actually play and lose. They then feel like all their study time has been wasted. This is an awful thing! You must lose 10,000 games to become a good chess player.

On strategy versus tactics. If you are dropping Knights, knowing (and being able to apply in practice) ideas about Knight foreposts, qualitative value of pieces, and other strategic stuff will be useless. I won my last tournament (U1400 division) simply because I was better at not dripping pieces to 1-3 move tactics than the others. When I do poorly in tournaments, it is because I dropped pieces to 1-3 move tactics. There are very few exceptions to this rule for my tournament games (note I am not even 1200 USCF, and hover around 1500 ICC so I am nowhere near as good as the others on this site).

However, you said you played in HS so maybe you are good at tactics and don't drop pieces.

OTOH, I am doing this course (even though I am not perfect at spotting 1-3 move tactics) because I want a more balanced approach to chess. That said, I also do at least 10 tactical problems a day.

Get out there to ICC and get your hands dirty with some slow games, my man! You have a lot of games to lose if you want to improve!

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Re: Newbie

Post by HangingKing on May 24th 2009, 8:48 am

I agree, the more you loose, the more experience you gain. BUT you have to review your games, to get something of it.

If you just win or loose games, it serves nothing, so every 10 games (or 5 or 20, it's up to you) go back to them to analyse them, why did you win (great play or opponent blunders ?), why did you loose (major blunder, opening failure or endgame weakness ?).

The easy way is to pass them through a relatively strong engine (for example install Arena GUI with crafty engine, both free). Open the pgn and do a step by step, if the engine evaluation shows a violent change it is surely a blunder (from you or your opponent). If you get Fritz, just run the "search for blunders" function.

About online rating and federation rating, just keep in mind that you will certainly play 100 times more games online than OTB ! So it is already difficult to compare things.
Also time settings online are generally faster than OTB, so it is about comparing blitz rating and standard rating.
And to conclude, you do not choose your opponents for official rating, so your ICC rating will reflect USCF rating only if you play very slow games and with many different opponents.

What is sure: if your online rating increase, the other one will too, so no matter what the figures are actually, what's important is to progress.

N.B.
Technically speaking, ICC uses elo rating, while FICS uses glicko. I don't know which system uses USCF or FIDE, but it can also be different, especially in the choice of the 'K' constant. It is already enough to explain rating differences.

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Re: Newbie

Post by fanat on May 24th 2009, 9:29 am

Newbie - welcome to the forum.

In addition to doing lots of tactics like everybody suggested I think you need to quickly built yourself up to the course to really appreacite it more and get more benefit.

If you haven't done so already a good book that lays down foundation of strategy is "Inside Amateur's Mind" or any other good strategy read.

I think ICS course assumes you have basic strategy knowledge. A second good book on strategy which is small and easy to follow is "Simple Chess" by Michael Stean.
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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 9:36 am

HangingKing is right about postmortems. Of course I agree, as this is the first point I make at the article I wrote that I already mentioned. My main suggestion for improvement for beginners is 'Play and do postmortems.'

As I said there:
"Some people attempt to improve at chess by focusing on everything but playing: they do puzzles, read lots of books, or (worst of all) spend lots of time studying openings."

On postmortems:
"Unfortunately, it isn't enough to merely play. Just as there are horrible singers that have vast experience singing along with the radio, there are plenty of players rated under 1000 that have played thousands of games of chess. It is crucial, in addition to playing, that you get feedback on your performance."

Here is the unannotated list of recommendations for chess beginners I wrote at the article:
1. Play and do postmortems
2. Read a general overview of chess (Wolff's Idiot's Guide to Chess is the best).
3. Study tactics
4. Study the endgame
5. Don't worry much about the opening
6. Develop good thinking habits
7. Have fun, relax, don't try to force it


Last edited by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 9:45 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 9:43 am

fanat wrote:If you haven't done so already a good book that lays down foundation of strategy is "Inside Amateur's Mind" or any other good strategy read.

I think ICS course assumes you have basic strategy knowledge. A second good book on strategy which is small and easy to follow is "Simple Chess" by Michael Stean.

I agree with this general sentiment.

For someone who is truly a beginner (and it doesn't sound like Jeff2k7 is), those books are too advanced. Much better for beginning strategy are Wolff's Idiot's Guide to Chess and Pandolfini's Omnibus of Chess Strategy. The former title may insult people's pride, but it has great stufff on strategy.

Wolff's book is, in my opinion, the best single book for a beginner to read if they are starting out in chess. It has a little bit of everything, all at a very high level of quality. Each chapter has a lot of problems to work through too, which is key to reinforce the concepts. The strategy bits I found quite good.

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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 9:47 am

Jeff2k just go out and get your hands dirty, play and get a rating at one of these sites. It is impossible to evaluate how good you are, how truly "beginner" you are. Many people say they are beginners when they are rated 1500. True beginners would start with a rating around 500-700, so there's a lot of variability in what criteria people use to self-identify as a beginner.

One thing I have noticed, when someone says they are a beginner, adult improvers like myself never have a shortage of advice. Smile

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Re: Newbie

Post by fanat on May 24th 2009, 11:48 am

Blue Devil Knight wrote:
fanat wrote:If you haven't done so already a good book that lays down foundation of strategy is "Inside Amateur's Mind" or any other good strategy read.

I think ICS course assumes you have basic strategy knowledge. A second good book on strategy which is small and easy to follow is "Simple Chess" by Michael Stean.

I agree with this general sentiment.

For someone who is truly a beginner (and it doesn't sound like Jeff2k7 is), those books are too advanced. Much better for beginning strategy are Wolff's Idiot's Guide to Chess and Pandolfini's Omnibus of Chess Strategy. The former title may insult people's pride, but it has great stufff on strategy.

Wolff's book is, in my opinion, the best single book for a beginner to read if they are starting out in chess. It has a little bit of everything, all at a very high level of quality. Each chapter has a lot of problems to work through too, which is key to reinforce the concepts. The strategy bits I found quite good.

Idiot's Guide is actually an excellent book! I completely forgot about it. Pandolfini's books is more a bathroom reading. I'm sorry but I found it not very useful at all and it's better to skip it in my opinion! I actually have a paper copy sitting on my shelf.

First time I've read Idiot's Guide, most of the stuff on chapters on strategy was way over my head! But not to worry, after a little bit of more studying after I came back to it, it started making much more sence!
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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 24th 2009, 12:32 pm

I've noticed people have a love/hate relationship with Pandolfini's books. I dislike all I have seen except for two: the Omnibus of Strategy, plus 'Russian Chess', which is six thoroughly annotated games with a focus on strategy. I never got the love of his endgame book, though.

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Re: Newbie

Post by chesstiger on May 25th 2009, 5:31 am

Welcome to the forum and goodluck with the course Jeff2k7!

You may say you are a beginner but in my eyes everybody with less elo then 2000 rating is a beginner. So yes, i am a beginner aswel.

The thing that makes a chessplayer a good chessplayer is not having much chessknowlegde (i am sure BDK has more chess knowlegde then many of us here at the forum) but the implementation of that chess knowlegde in your thoughtproces. Theory is fine but you have to bring it the correct way in practise aswell.

So the best advise BDK gives in his beginners blog post/page is in my eyes '6. Develop good thinking habits'.
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Re: Newbie

Post by HangingKing on May 25th 2009, 4:14 pm

chesstiger wrote:less elo than 2000 rating is a beginner

You are making our lives a misery ! affraid

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Re: Newbie

Post by Chess? on May 25th 2009, 11:45 pm

Welcome and best of luck Jeff2k7. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands? Razz
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Re: Newbie

Post by hoopy on May 26th 2009, 12:20 pm

Welcome Newby.
Since everyone else will have given you some advice - much of which I am sure is excellent, I can give but one piece of advice... Enjoy your chess & have fun - everything else is a bonus.
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Re: Newbie

Post by jeff2k7 on May 27th 2009, 3:58 pm

Wolff's book is, in my opinion, the best single book for a beginner to read if they are starting out in chess. It has a little bit of everything, all at a very high level of quality. Each chapter has a lot of problems to work through too, which is key to reinforce the concepts. The strategy bits I found quite good.
I went out and bought "Idiot's Guide to Chess". What a fantastic book! I wish I had started with it. It took me 4 or 5 different books to gain the knowledge that is in this one book! I read each chapter and worked through the problems until I had a solid understanding of the material. If I had a rating, it probably went up 100 points or so just from reading this book. Thanks for the great tip!
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Re: Newbie

Post by Blue Devil Knight on May 27th 2009, 6:44 pm

I'm glad you liked it. That was pretty fast! Smile

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