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  1. 01 Apr '11 12:48
    I'm not looking for a debate on the validity of using books as learning tools here. After you know the basics (moves and basic tactics), what do you like for a 2nd chess book? What about after that one? Lots of choices out there, but I'm a 1200 player, so keep that in mind. Goal is to advance to the next step, which for me personally is 1400-1500. As a separate, additional question, how did you find yourself advancing through that particular stage? Please, lets try to keep the thread focused on books, as that's how I'm finding I learn best, but anecdotes are appreciated.

    Many thanks!
  2. 01 Apr '11 13:51
    Originally posted by Regiscyde
    I'm not looking for a debate on the validity of using books as learning tools here. After you know the basics (moves and basic tactics), what do you like for a 2nd chess book? What about after that one? Lots of choices out there, but I'm a 1200 player, so keep that in mind. Goal is to advance to the next step, which for me personally is 1400-1500. As a sep ...[text shortened]... ooks, as that's how I'm finding I learn best, but anecdotes are appreciated.

    Many thanks!
    As 2nd either,Lasker's Manual of chess or Tarrasch' The game of chess.Both are excellent beginner's manuals.Maybe skip the parts on the opening ,those are obviously dated,although I don't think it would cause damage to go through them.
    Or,if you can read Dutch look into Euwe's writings.He's the best for teaching amateurs,imho.

    As 3rd a book with tactics puzzles.If you do those online then a book on endings.But don't go overboard with something like Fine's basic chess endings,get a lighter read.For instance,I liked Flear's improve your endgame play.

    And subscribe to a chess magazine.Most will say New in chess.I say nay,Chess (the magazine) is better for a beginner.

    Some general advice on chessbooks.Never have more than 2 unfinished ones.Never buy a book that was just published,they often get a lot cheaper if you wait a while.

    As for your additional question.I went from 0 to 1600 in 2 years without any study.I just played a lot,watched stronger players and listened when they talked about chess.
    20 years and some books later I'm still only 1900 so I guess the former approach was far superior.

    That's my advice.For what it's worth 🙂
  3. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    01 Apr '11 14:51
    Regi-

    I had a look at your last completed game to get an idea of where you are at. Before I make some suggestions on books, I wanted to discuss a couple positions.



    ok, first position.
    You are Black. White has broken the basic rule of developing minor pieces and playing to control the center and instead is taking a cheap, tactical shot at you. While Nf6 is a good developing move and you attack the Queen with tempo, you miss that the Queen has a good square to go. (e5)

    Next time consider Nc6 instead, developing a piece and defending your e pawn.





    Black has managed to escape real damage and stands better now. How do we know this? Let's consider
    1) White is up a pawn.
    2) Black has a two developed knights and a centralized Queen and a move.
    3) White's pinned knight is gumming up the natural development of the Kingside this should be like a red beeping light. If your opponent cannot get easily to safety, then you should focus less on recapturing your pawn and more on how you can crack open the defense and get at him.

    So what are some reasonable ideas here
    1) Qxc2 - sure, ok you get your pawn back not a horrific decision but not terribly enterprising either- you don't get to keep your left over pieces at the end of the game after all.
    2) If white were to move, they would play either d3 opening a diagonal with tempo, or just Qe3 blunting your Queen's pin and simplifying things So this calls for something more active from Black something like Nd4. First it prevents Qe3 as the Knight check on c2 forks the Queen. Second it is going to capture that c pawn with check preventing White from castling. Note that if White tries to stop the threat on c2 with Na3 then Black can just chop off the Knight with the dark square Bishop. So given the choice I think I would opt for Nd4 and the attack.



    Ok, here what is called for is a little danger sense. Whenever your queen goes on a sortie into the enemy lines, it is very important to be able to get her back out alive. This means keeping track of escape squares- here after the move Nf4 your danger sense should be going off. Your queen has only one way to escape and it is being threatened by the now freed Bishop.

    In correspondence chess, where you have ample time to decide on a move, it can be very helpful to keep a running list of aspects of the position your looking at- sort of like a checklist of dangers etc and when you are deciding on a move, you make sure it doesn't violate anything on your list. Chess is a visual game, so that means really looking and moving the pieces around until you see them naturally.
    In time, you will be able to juggle priorities without any conscious list, but it is critical to develop this ability if you want to improve as a player.

    Now, as for a chess book.
    I think you should have one book like "Logical Chess move by move." Something that annotates every move so you can really understand the thought process with each move.

    As a second book, I might actually suggest something out of GP's library and that would be "the quickest chess victories of all time" - and this is an odd choice I admit. My thinking is the games are short, they all are horrific car wrecks of games where one of the two sides violated opening principles and were punished tactically for it. This is not a book to study traps, but to play quickly through the games so you can see classic motifs etc. and develop your intuition. If you play through all 2000 games I am sure you will benefit tactically and you will see how breaking the "rules" of how to open a chess game get punished.
  4. 01 Apr '11 15:53
    Looking at your rating, I'd suggest simply holding on to your pieces. Before you make a move, see if the square is safe. Do something about it if your piece is about to be taken.

    I only looked at one of your games and found a perfect example of what I'm talking about. You give the game away with move 6. You go for a classic fork, but you didn't notice that the sqaure was being supported by black's knight, so you give away your knight. When you give away your pieces you tend to lose:






    Learn to hold on to your pieces and take them when your opponent offers them and your rating will go up. When you do, your higher rated opponents won't easily give up their pieces either and you'll be ready to learn something else.

    As you learn, you're rating will go up and you'll play better people, so you'll continue to lose, but to better players.
  5. 01 Apr '11 16:25
    yeah, I got too excited about that fork and never noticed the N in the corner. One of my palm-to-the-forehead blunders. Delighted that you brought it up. Are you saying that I should seek to avoid exchanges altogether, or being at a material disadvantage? Perhaps there is something you'd recommend to help with my board vision. With two young children and a full time job, I'm often under a bit of a gun to get my moves in.
  6. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    01 Apr '11 16:43
    what was the 1st book again?


    anyway, despite being quite critical against book hoarding (because that's what it ALWAYS ends up to), I'll recommend, as always:

    chernev's "logical chess move by move".


    it is the best book at revealing what chess really is about. simple, clear, instructive. no tricks, just the core of chess. how simple chess is, under all the technical clutter that we so much love to focus on. everybody should read it. even higher-rated amateurs, if they for some reason haven't yet.
  7. 01 Apr '11 16:44
    Board vision comes with time. Burn your fingers enough times and you'll stop doing it. Until you do, you'll continue to lose.

    Books won't help much until you do learn to check before you move. It takes dedication because most of the time you'll think it is a waste of time, but it doesn't take but one bad move to cost you the game.

    What I'm trying to say is stop blowing it off as if it was 'just a little blunder that I make from time to time'. If it was simply an uncommon mistake, then your rating would be higher.

    You should strive to never give up a piece. You should go 20 or 30 games without giving away a single piece (on accident) before you can say "it is simply a blunder I make from time to time". Because as long as you simply make that blunder, your rating won't go up much. Material advantage is huge at your rating.


    One thing I'd do if I were you is tactics puzzles. They'll show you things that you didn't know could be done. Once you learn the basic tactics you can take your opponent's pieces even if he doesn't simply give it to you. That's the next level after you learn how to hold on to your pieces, you learn how to take your opponent's. Tactics puzzles will also show you different kinds of checkmates. It will help you to see what is possible on the board.
  8. 01 Apr '11 17:00 / 1 edit
    2nd game of yours that I opened





    Giving away your queen for a bishop and rook is not a good exchange. Protect your queen, retreat if needed.


    One other thing, try Nc6 before playing Nf6 the next time you run into an early Qh5. Good job avoiding the huge error g6.
  9. 01 Apr '11 17:04
    @ Eladar: Tactics puzzles...like on chesstempo.com? As for the blunders, I know they'll dissipate as long as I learn from them and my board vision will then improve over time. I'm trying to focus on eliminating them, but it's not happening as quickly as I'd like, as I'll open a game 2-4 times and get interrupted and then finally make a move. I realize that it will take some time, as my proverbial fingers are getting burned by a doozy at least once a game. I don't like it.

    Would you consider tactics prior to strategy as something to focus on at this stage? I regard my 2nd largest problem being unsure of what to focus on when there's no clear move for me.

    Thanks for the reply.
  10. 01 Apr '11 17:13
    I cussed myself out for years before I figured out two things:

    1)It was just going to take time. Eventually you'll learn to check the board. An easy way to fix your problem while playing here is to make it a rule to check to see if the square is safe before hitting submit. If you don't have the time to check, then close the window and make the move later.

    2)It's just a game and we're human. No need to get angry over it.


    I would suggest doing tactics puzzles. As I said earlier, they will teach you what is possible. Until you know what's possible, getting yourself in position to do it is meaningless. That's my point of view.
  11. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    01 Apr '11 18:18
    Originally posted by Regiscyde
    @ Eladar: Tactics puzzles...like on chesstempo.com? As for the blunders, I know they'll dissipate as long as I learn from them and my board vision will then improve over time. I'm trying to focus on eliminating them, but it's not happening as quickly as I'd like, as I'll open a game 2-4 times and get interrupted and then finally make a move. I realize that ...[text shortened]... ng unsure of what to focus on when there's no clear move for me.

    Thanks for the reply.
    you should do tactics every day. it's the #1 priority for an amateur player, especially in the beginning. a slow but steady way to improve. and there are no quick fixes.

    if you feel rushed here, you should play with longer time controls. I never played faster than one move in 7 days here, and even then I sometimes felt rushed. take your time, it's the whole idea of correspondence chess. and the very thing newcomers most often underestimate.

    as you get better, you'll see that stronger players almost invariably play slower than weaker players. the stronger, the slower. often even in the 'easy' positions. almost no strong players make those 'blitz moves' the weaker ones make almost exclusively. cc is all about discipline and work ethics.

    you'll see loads of low rated players giving the excuse of "yeah but I play really fast". which is exactly why they're low rated. making a crappy move fast doesn't give it any more merit. a crap move is a crap move, end of story. and making it in a correspondence game makes the excuse downright idiotic.

    take your time, and NEVER move until you're absolutely sure you're not overlooking something basic. practice that every single move, and over time it'll slowly become 2nd nature. it's much better to work a single move over multiple sessions than one long session. because while you're away, working, doing chores, taking care of kids, your brain will keep working on the move. and often the revelation will come away from the board, you'll just suddenly realize something strikingly obvious like getting mated in 1.

    doing the above every move will take care of most of the blunders. it won't transfer directly to short time controls, but with practice (on short TC) that'll eventually happen as well.



    do tactics. work hard. take your time. focus on discipline. - that's about it.
  12. 01 Apr '11 18:27
    Ok, now I'm in need of tactics resources.
  13. 01 Apr '11 18:29
    To continue with what wormwood said, do tactics puzzled with long time limits too. Chesstempo is great for that. Give yourself plenty of time to look for unsupported pieces. Give yourself plenty of time to look for moves that threaten checkmate.

    Try to make the moves in your head, completely working it out in your head before making your first move. This is called calculating and if you can accurately do it in your head, then you will get a lot better. It will take a very long time to practice it before you will be able to do it well, and tactics puzzles are a great way to practice.
  14. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    01 Apr '11 18:32
    Originally posted by Regiscyde
    I'm not looking for a debate on the validity of using books as learning tools here. After you know the basics (moves and basic tactics), what do you like for a 2nd chess book? What about after that one? Lots of choices out there, but I'm a 1200 player, so keep that in mind. Goal is to advance to the next step, which for me personally is 1400-1500. As a sep ...[text shortened]... ooks, as that's how I'm finding I learn best, but anecdotes are appreciated.

    Many thanks!
    I think Ken Smith and John Hall's book entitled The Modern Art of Attack would be a great second book.

    It was intended as a sequel to Vukovic's The Art of Attack, with the focus on the era of Tal, Fischer, etc.

    Smith uses complete annotated games to show various attacking motifs, and how they are executed.

    A great example is the St George Attack against a black fiancehttoed kingside, which manifests itself in various openings under the name of the Yugoslav Attack in the Sicilian Dragon, various lines of the Saemisch King's Indian, the Benoni, and the Pirc/Modern. He covers the attack conceptually in the annotated games, and uses great players in a variety of related openings to show how the positions come about and how they were executed.

    Of the books I've read, it has been a great influence on my game, in that I tend to recognize certain signature positions and opportunities on the board, regardless of the move order or particular opening, and then "the plan" kicks in, and my planning and execution become much easier.

    Even more importantly, the book was hugely enjoyable to read, and I have read it multiple times simply because the games are so great. It's like a collection of chess poetry to me, with great games from Tal, Stein, Fischer, etc.

    The book is out of print, but there are still new copies floating around. Here's a link I found, where a guy is selling new ones for $4.95. He's giving away gold, in my opinion.

    Paul

    http://edwardlabatecards.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=21_108&products_id=186&zenid=41def5f3459e1d1e3b6185ac4ece31ea
  15. Standard member wormwood
    If Theres Hell Below
    01 Apr '11 18:43 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by Regiscyde
    Ok, now I'm in need of tactics resources.
    mostly any problem set will do. the work (journey) is what improves you, not the memorization of a specific puzzle (the destination). focus on the journey, not the destination.

    the only big difference really is short time controls vs long time control tactis. short ones develop your pattern recognition and intuition, and long ones develop more calculation. both very important, but separate aspects of tactical ability.

    the important thing is do do them on a daily basis, even a little. keep on a steady diet of tactics for a couple of years (if not the rest of your life).



    also remember that actual playing is what incorporates all that you train into 'chess ability'. practice alone is not enough.


    I did 100K+ fast problems on chess tactics server over 2 years or so, which got me from 0 to 1800.
    http://chess.emrald.net/

    I also did CT-ART for slow tactics, but not anyway near the same scale as CTS. not sure if any of that stuck with me. I should do loads of more slow tactics...
    http://chessok.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=312


    but like I said, pretty much any problem set will do. GM larry christiansen did reinfeld's seriously Old tactics book until the pages fell off, and became the tactical monster he is. the polgar sisters did the 'polgar bricks', with similar results.