chess against computer

Chess Against Computer

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kansaspatzer 48 ( +1 | -1 )
Not improving I've been on Gameknot for two years and my rating has barely gone up, if at all, over the last couple of years. I'm only 20 and I don't want to think I would have hit a peak. I know one issue is that I play too fast, but I've always played this fast. Is there any way, perhaps, that I could correct this trend?

Maybe it doesn't equate to OTB as much. My USCF long game rating is 1568, whereas my quick game rating is about 100 points lower.
dc_montana 22 ( +1 | -1 )
You need to study all your games and work hard at improving. Pay attention to your mistakes, new techniques etc. It's the only way. You can't imagine how much effort master players put into the game in order to get where they are.
far1ey 108 ( +1 | -1 )
A few ways to improve:
-read books
-get a coach
-Analyse games (especially your own as well as grandmasters games who play your openings)
-Practice

Books are nice, relatively cheap and give you the basics of chess but a coach can teach you far more then all the chess books in the world. He has experience and you will find it easier to relate your problems to him rather then find a book with aids to the problems you face. Analysing games, yours and GM's and reading annotations by GM's to their own games to find out how they think and assess positions is useful. Above all - practice (which you are doing) but try to take as long as necessary to figure out your moves. Your average time per move is insanely low (2 mins) unless you have alot of time on your hands you should try to play less games so you can concentrate on the games more. Alas, you say you play fast which is perfectly normal - everyone likes a fast game of chess however, you will only improve your fast chess by playing slow chess.
cairo 79 ( +1 | -1 )
Another little thing which had worked for me many times is, play thru some of the Masters games and play them thru backwords. Make sure you sit down with your board and pieces and try to see were the game changed and even better if you have the game with notes! When you discover were the game goes from balanced to unbalanced, you begin to associate with both players struggle for win and defence and you will better understand the thoughts and ideas behind the moves. Do the same thing with your own games as well and you have started to improve from your own mistakes!

Good luck and good chess!

Best wishes
Cairo
rocksham 23 ( +1 | -1 )
As your average time per move is so fast, I would guess you are playing the first sensible move you look at...so before you play that move take a few more minutes to see if you can find a better one, invariably you will.

kewms 109 ( +1 | -1 )
Remember that in an OTB Quick Chess game, your opponent is under the same time constraints that you are. If you move very quickly in a CC game, on the other hand, you are giving your opponent a huge time advantage. If you take five minutes for a move while I take an hour, it shouldn't surprise you if I see more in the position than you do.

Many people play quickly because they don't know what to look for, and therefore think they've found everything important. So you might try developing a check list of things to look for. It might include questions like:
Why did my opponent make that move? What is he trying to accomplish?
How does the move I am about to make improve my position? If my opponent makes the best possible response, is my move still a good one?
What is my plan? That is, what position (better than the one I have) am I trying to reach, and why?
Is this a blunder? Have I checked my opponent's possible captures and checks, and do I know how to respond to them?

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Katherine
kansaspatzer 19 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks for the advice everyone. I think a place to start will be to develop a system for examining every opponent's move rather than reply as I have been doing so far.
ccmcacollister 213 ( +1 | -1 )
kansaspatzer ... I think you hit it on the head ... and from your very question it seems you already Know its time to slow down and look deeper. You probably Are better than when you hit your plateau. The thing is, the more you Know ... the longer it takes to Apply it all sufficiently. I spent a number of times of 10 hours or more upon a single position, when I was playing in Master/Expert events.
kewms has a GREAT Point there~! You may be fast, but how will you do if you gave someone 300 points higher rated 10 mins to 1 min (for you) time odds in a series of blitz games?
If not so good ... then why could you give someone odds of several Days and not expect them to at least see deeper, even if they dont beat you. Maybe 5 minutes to two days?! Can you really see everything in the time you have been spending? And even if so, can you apply all you Know in that time... You can spend more time and still keep interest if you start to find things deeper than you've seen. It is like being an explorer, venturing into the unknown territory.
A good way to tell if you are spending enough time, or starting to rather, is that you do not get "Surprised" by opponent moves. If you are getting surprised, you are not seeing enough. It still happens to everyone once in awhile, but should not be happening much. Once you reach that place ... there is a way to avoid ever falling into a mating net that you can apply ...
Everyone has given very good advice. I wish you luck and skill in your pursuit~!
One systematic thing you can do also, along the lines from Cairo about understanding
high level games ... do that same with your own last 10 or 12 loses till you find the losing point, then simply improve upon each game at that point or earlier if needed. Is guaranteed to add some points. If you do not have games similar enough to benefit from that ... then developing repetoire is in order so that you do have at least two consistent openings to play vs each WT opener for EG.
Regards, CAC
trond 360 ( +1 | -1 )
Learn to calculate I suggest you start doing tactical problems. It will make you a better tactician: improving the chance of seeing tactical shots against your opponents, but also reducing the chance of doing tactical oversights that might make you lose games. But even more important than that: it will help you learn to calculate more accurately and more efficiently (this is important in all positions, not only in tactical ones). This last point is something that I think many of the people devoting most of their study time to tactical problems often miss. One point (maybe the most important point) of doing tactical problems is also to learn to calculate, maybe more important than improving the ability to win chess games by brilliant combinations (that doesn't happen very often).

Doing a lot of problems on the chess tactics server for instance will only test your "tactics instinct", it doesn't test our ability to solve deeper combinations or to calculate. Learning to calculate demands problems that will take you at least 30 seconds to solve, and at least another 30 to (quality) check that your solution is correct and that you didn't miss anything important. This second step (quality check) is very important. I've lost several games and half-points because I thought I had a nice combination going my way, but overlooked something crucial. So the job solving a tactical problem is not done when you think "Oh yeah, the solution is probably ...". Instead make SHURE you are correct, because this is what you will have to do in real games when no one is telling you: "there is a five move combo in this position!".

I can recommend "Learn chess tactics" by John Nunn and "Chess tactics for the tournament player" by Lev Alburt, as I've gone through these myself. But I guess most books with non trivial problems will do. There is a very nice collection of problems at -> dejascacchi.altervista.org, of which I've done all the "easy" ones three times and a few hundred of the "medium level" once.

While a lot of tactical problem solving probably will help you improve (a lot), don't forget other aspects of chess and the common good advices on how to improve. My own improvement over the last few years also comes from reading several chess books, including the two mentioned above. Other books I've read are: "The amateur mind", "How to reassess your chess" and "How to reassess your chess workbook" by Jeremy Silman, "Just the facts" (endgame book) by Lev Alburt, "Logical chess: move by move" by Irving Chernev, "My system" by Nimzowitsch, and "Understanding the chess openings" by Sam Collins.

Unfortunately, there are some (self experienced) bad side effects of doing a lot of tactical problems:
-Seeking complications when quiet play is best
-Trying for cheap blows, even if it might give you an inferior position
-Sloppy calculation: thinking you have a combination going your way, but overlooking something important (will happen often if you're not used to doing the quality check step)
-Being overly aggressive: trying for attacks that fail badly (but at least you had fun losing :-))

But I believe you will find that the positive effects will be larger than the negative effects, especially now that I've made you aware of them.

Good luck
Trond :-)
heinzkat 51 ( +1 | -1 )
I would say, the only thing that is important is the "quality check" like trond calls it. "If you find a good move, look for a better one". No!!! Just look WHY it is a good move, and justify it for yourself. Look as deep as is needed, sometimes that's only half a move ahead. If you find that your move isn't correct, THEN look for a better one. Don't waste your time on looking at other moves while you haven't "refuted" your "first" move.
Greetings ;-)
bittersweet_ballad 29 ( +1 | -1 )
this may sound funny, but.. ..learn how to mate with a bishop and a knight. I recently did, and I feel that I can coordinate my minor pieces much better even during the middle game.

Also, I used to play a lot of only pawn and king games - they taught me how to handle my pawns better.
jamesdriggs 43 ( +1 | -1 )
The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky is very insigtful. He says to start by alalysing your own games immediatly after playing. I agree. While it is fresh in your mind, write down why you made a move. You can annotate the game while you are playing it and again when you get done. If you do this, you will gain points from seeing your own mistakes, what caused you to lose a game and how you might have won one easier.
Jim
farhadexists 152 ( +1 | -1 )
Advice A lot of good advice there, I'll repeat the ones that helped me improve my rating from 1500 to 1700+

You MUST reduce your average time per move. I used to be insanely fast too, always below 10 min/move. I was stuck around the 1500s for a long time, it was only when I started to analyse the game more that my rating improved.
Sounds simple, but true : Check for any potential threats before making your move. Most importantly, analyse your opponent's previous move, try to understand why he made that move.
There are a lot of books out there on how to improve your game, pick one of the classics, like My System, or Game of Chess, or Lasker's Manual of Chess. Another book that helped me a lot was Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move. Aimed for beginners, but improved my game a lot. Of course, preferably borrow the book if possible before you decide to buy it.
One method, which might be a bit unpopular, but can improve your rating, is don't resign too easily. I used to do that a lot, and never got much endgame practice, which is still my weakest point. I think as long as you're not stalling, your opponents won't mind too much. Trust me, in the last few months I've won or drawn several games, which I would have resigned normally. But remember, just don't take it too extremes.
I repeat, there's a lot of excellent advice in this thread, if you're serious about improving, I think you can do it. I've played you before, if I could get to 1700, you can do even better! :)

Farhad
wschmidt 78 ( +1 | -1 )
My two bits.... Lots of good advice here. I'll add a corallary to the "slow down" theme that several have mentioned:

Drastically reduce the number of games you're playing and use the extra time to really examine the positions in the remaining games. I just checked and you're playing 42 games. If you cut that in half and double the analysis time for the remaining 21 games I guarantee you your rating would increase. If you reduce the number of games you're playing to 10 or 12 and use the time for increased analysis and study, your rating will soar.

Bonus advice: if you absolutely don't do anything else, when you finish a game, immediately run it through a chess program to see what your tactical errors were. That alone will boost your rating somewhat over time.
vertho 67 ( +1 | -1 )
I'll have to agree with capablanca here, learning the endgame first will teach you how to become a good chessplayer. I strongly suggest you work the web looking for endgame lessons and theory.

Also, there are a lot of websites out there that have games annotated by masters that have been sent in by lower level playes. -> www.chesscafe.com is one of them. Apart from all the other really good material for improving your chess that you will find there, playing through these annotated games will be rewarding for you.

best of luck.