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  1. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    11 Apr '10 14:15 / 1 edit
    I'm just interested in what you guys do, if anything to try and improve your game. I've found the whole subject quite perplexing ever since i got serious about the game a few years back.
    I've done reasonably well myself, on here at least, getting into the 1900 bracket from struggling in the 1600's but there's a few smelly games in the pile which is going to put me back into the low 1800's pretty soon.
    My own improvement can be attributed at least in some way to taking a ridiculous amount of time over my moves. very deep analysis and going over and over the lines. recently i've become more slap dash and i'm basically going to reap what i have sewn!with at lesat 100 points being knocked off my rating barring miracles.
    I know however with a little application i will pull things back. The subject of general improvement however seems far harder to solve. Particularly in the OTB format.
    I do work incredibly hard at the game but over the past year or so i've actually gone backwards in my league and tournament games. I have a very modest ECF grade of 87 and was really expecting to rocket myself into the 120-130 bracket this year. Unfortuntely i'm going to be lucky to break 90!
    I've tried training against programmes, Chess problems, endgame study, Studying hundreds of master games and my latest fad is endless blitz on playchess with a couple of hours of opening study thrown in. However i'm stuck where i am and i just don't seem to be able to move. I know there is a school of thought that suggests we are all programmed to reach a particular level at chess and even with the most intensive study plans it's unlikely we will ever break our genetically programmed ceiling. I have a feeling this could be me.
    However i know there are players i have played on here with ECF grades 50-60 points better than mine and i can beat them. True, they are playing simultaneous blitz while i take days to reply but i can do it!
    I'm just interetsed in any ideas on the very vexed subject of chess improvement?
  2. Standard member Nowakowski
    10. O-O
    11 Apr '10 14:30
    Originally posted by Talisman
    I'm just interested in what you guys do, if anything to try and improve your game. I've found the whole subject quite perplexing ever since i got serious about the game a few years back.
    I've done reasonably well myself, on here at least, getting into the 1900 bracket from struggling in the 1600's but there's a few smelly games in the pile which is going t ...[text shortened]...
    I'm just interetsed in any ideas on the very vexed subject of chess improvement?
    Endgames
    Master games
    Self-Annotation


    and a good problem book with a strong #2 tool-set; even 15-20 minutes before bed
    each night will have its effect.


    -GIN
  3. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    12 Apr '10 02:02
    Originally posted by Nowakowski
    Endgames
    Master games
    Self-Annotation


    and a good problem book with a strong #2 tool-set; even 15-20 minutes before bed
    each night will have its effect.


    -GIN
    Rec'd. This formula has worked for me, and I wish I had started earlier.
  4. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    12 Apr '10 03:11
    I see two possible reasons-

    1) you are gathering knowledge not skill. I think Rowson covers this idea best but accumulating knowledge about chess has very limited reward. Practicing the skills that you use over the board translates into strength.
    knowing 4 ply deeper in your opening lines is probably not worth being able to calculate faster and more accurately.


    2) burnout- if you really have worked hard at master games and played through hundreds in a couple years.. that is a ton of work. My biggest rating gains have always come after getting sufficent rest. If you study the game 5 days a week for 4 hours and then play on the weekends.. your results will suffer.
    chess players have a tendency to obsess on the unknown looking for an edge, but really sub master level, most of it is in just doing what you know extremely well.
  5. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    12 Apr '10 06:50
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    I see two possible reasons-

    1) you are gathering knowledge not skill. I think Rowson covers this idea best but accumulating knowledge about chess has very limited reward. Practicing the skills that you use over the board translates into strength.
    knowing 4 ply deeper in your opening lines is probably not worth being able to calculate faster and more accu ...[text shortened]... an edge, but really sub master level, most of it is in just doing what you know extremely well.
    yes i'm aware of Chess For Zebras. That particular line about Knowledge and not skill is something i've often quoted myself. However in the desperation to improve you often go back and start doing stuff you already know is of limited value. I'm actually quite uncertain of the value of studying master games at all and yet there i am still putting lots of time into it. The hamster on the wheel scenario bears some resembelance.

    I take your point about resting up and that's something i intend to do during the early part of the summer. My main point in posting here though was simply to get some fresh ideas on the specific training techniques people use to try and improve. Rather than studying master games for example, explain how you study them. Do you just play through th games and read the notes? or go a little deeper.
    I was hoping to employ any interesting ideas into my improvement plan.
  6. 12 Apr '10 08:14
    I think playing lethargo chess might be a good idea.
    There might be a correlation of number of hundreds of games to rating.

    Since like grandmasters have played zillions of lethargo games.


    Masters usually have played hundreds of games of lethargo.
  7. 12 Apr '10 09:11
    Talisman -- and this is from a player who doesn't have a high rating -- I have found that working on tactics, at least 20-30 minutes each day has helped me a lot. First it helps me to play the WHOLE BOARD. to be cognizant of the value of open ranks, files, and diagonal, and to be aware of almost a mutitude of mating positions and to take advantage of them, not to mention discovered checks and ways to sack the queen. The improvement comes slowly, but little by little, one can become a better player. This is all probably known to you ad infinitum and tactics, tactics, tactics is recommended almost always. But hopefully this will help.
  8. 12 Apr '10 15:10
    What have you studied specifically regarding identifying candidates and when and how to calculate? I found "Excelling at chess calculation" by Aagard to be really good for me, and to work on the skills I am reading "Imagination in Chess" by Paata Garprindashvii which has some flow diagrams with how he recommends structuring your thought process with a bunch of good thought provoking problems which are a good supplement to tactics training: by this I mean the problems require you to use the tactical elements to conduct an attack rather then a simple forced you sacrifice a bishop here to draw white into a fork two moves later.
  9. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    12 Apr '10 15:25
    Originally posted by mcreynolds
    What have you studied specifically regarding identifying candidates and when and how to calculate? I found "Excelling at chess calculation" by Aagard to be really good for me, and to work on the skills I am reading "Imagination in Chess" by Paata Garprindashvii which has some flow diagrams with how he recommends structuring your thought process with a bun ...[text shortened]... then a simple forced you sacrifice a bishop here to draw white into a fork two moves later.
    Well i've looked at a couple of those " NOVELTY" How to calculate books. The highly regarded " IMPROVE YOUR CHESS NOW" by Jon Tisdall and another recommended book which i read years ago by a chap called Mark Buckley. It was so good i can't even remember the title! I've also looked at choose the right move by Soltis. The problem with these books is that they tell you in a structured way what to calculate. None of them really define how to mentally cut the meat from the fat when your looking at a tactical mess on the chess board. I've tried blindfold chess which i actually became reasonably good at. this was recommended by tisdall in his book to improve calculation. However, i didn't find this personally to be the case.

    The titles you mention sound interesting. i'll probably take a look at a few reviews on amazon.
  10. Standard member Talisman
    Time traveller.
    12 Apr '10 15:26
    Originally posted by National Master Dale
    I think playing lethargo chess might be a good idea.
    There might be a correlation of number of hundreds of games to rating.

    Since like grandmasters have played zillions of lethargo games.


    Masters usually have played hundreds of games of lethargo.
    Excuse my ignorance but what the hell is lethargo chess??
  11. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    12 Apr '10 15:41
    so ECF 87 is roughly 1700 Fide? This is a very common place to get stuck. I had similar problems around 1750 - spent a year with no improvement. I took a break came back fresh, and then evaluated what my weaknesses were with a fresh perspective.

    As far as methods of improvement- the things that have worked best for me

    1) go over my own games
    2) study master games
    3) deepen my opening understanding
    4) study the endgames and middlegame configurations that come up the most in my openings
    5) tactics problems

    there is nothing new int this but the specifics might be worthwhile to discuss.

    1) This doesn't mean plug in the moves the night after the game into chessbase with fritz on. I go through the next day and record all my thoughts, lines I considered etc. Then I take it to an IM who goes over it with me. We spend 30min to an hour per game depending on what things I missed etc. Lastly, after a couple months I go back and re-annotate them. This is helpful to see things with fresh eyes. I often find thematic flaws over a group of games that I might dismiss if I just looked at the game after I played it.

    2) Solitaire method. I give myself 5min per move and I record all the variations I calculate. I compare my lines to the annotations so it's important to stick to games that are well annotated. Frequently, I choos the right move, but I didn't consider or calculate deeply enough to justify the move.

    I also do stoyko exercises- I think I get more out of this than studying tactics. 15min, I take critical middlegame positions and I calculate it out as deeply as I can.

    lastly, I collect interesting positions and ideas in a seperate chessbase folder.

    3) I went to an IM discussed my openings, collectively we changed some of them to better suit my style of play. Once I had settled on the specifc variations, I plugged them into CPT. As I play blitz or CC I add new lines that I play, including bad lines so I can save up the refutations. I then go through and drill my openings about once a week or so. I also keep track of what is played against me OTB and allot the proper % of time based on what I see the most. I.e. I spend more time studying the c3 alapin in the Sicilian than I do my intended main defense since the vast majority of my opponents play that.

    4) This could just be included under opening prep. I look at the most common endgames i.e. do I frequently get the bishop pair vs closed center, knight vs bishop etc. I and study them based on what I am most likely to see.
    Likewise for middlegame I work on pawn structures. Do I play with or against the IQP? etc.

    5) I do chesstempo.com, shredder puzzles on my phone and have a couple books I drag around.
  12. 12 Apr '10 16:02
    Originally posted by Talisman
    Well i've looked at a couple of those " NOVELTY" How to calculate books. The highly regarded " IMPROVE YOUR CHESS NOW" by Jon Tisdall and another recommended book which i read years ago by a chap called Mark Buckley. It was so good i can't even remember the title! I've also looked at choose the right move by Soltis. The problem with these books is that the ...[text shortened]... s you mention sound interesting. i'll probably take a look at a few reviews on amazon.
    Yeah I don't think the Aagard book was unique, there are a lot of calcualtion books and that is just the one I read, he cites a lot of other stuff so there might not even be much originality in it, just as I said it helped me a lot and I know what you are talking about finding your way through a tactical maze. An interesting thing he brings up (which is a part cited from elsewhere) is a 2000 player was asked to record his thoughts as he calculated and it was found that most of the time was spent with him returning to the same lines over and over.
  13. 12 Apr '10 19:25
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    so ECF 87 is roughly 1700 Fide?
    No...the ECF grading site has the following equation: FIDE = ECF*8 + 650. So 87 is about 1350.

    1700 would be 131. My ECF is about 135 this season.
  14. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    12 Apr '10 19:46
    Originally posted by untergang
    No...the ECF grading site has the following equation: FIDE = ECF*8 + 650. So 87 is about 1350.

    1700 would be 131. My ECF is about 135 this season.
    wiki provides this

    For players graded ECF 215 or below the ECF have issued the formula

    ECF x 5 + 1250 = Elo[1]
  15. Subscriber Ragwort
    Ex Duris Gloria
    12 Apr '10 20:32
    Originally posted by nimzo5
    wiki provides this

    For players graded ECF 215 or below the ECF have issued the formula

    ECF x 5 + 1250 = Elo[1]
    This is now out of date and was changed back to the old conversion formula with the overhaul of the ECF grading system last year. As explined in this link on the ECF grading website 90 ECF is about 1320 national eg USCF and 1370 FIDE.

    http://grading.bcfservices.org.uk/help.php#elo