Originally posted by Porky1016
I would like to improve my game and wonder what the best way to do that would be. Is there a recommended book or books. I am limited on time due to other things eating up available study time so I want something efficient. I have a USCF rating of around 1300 and would like to improve. I know I won't make GM rating but to hold my own against A and B players haven't really played for a long time but am just now getting back into this wonderful game.
Yes. I just finished reading Dan Heisman's "The Improving Chess Thinker" and he convinced me that the biggest problem in the games of players under 1800 (and sometimes over) is a flawed thinking process. Specifically, they fail to consistently ask, each and every move, "If I make this move, what are ALL of the checks, captures, and threats my opponent can make in reply, and can I safely meet them all?" Heisman calls the failure to do this "Hope Chess", because these players often end up making moves in highly analytical positions after little or no analysis of the move they actually make, using general principles of play to guide themselves instead.
Simple, right? But it takes time and hard thought. Internet correspondence chess sites like RHP are ideal for developing this habit, because you have time -- assuming you don't overload yourself with too many simultaneous games. Some other suggestions:
When evaluating candidates for your move, first look for all of the checks, captures, and threats your opponent has. ("If I don't move, what can my opponent do?" ) When possible, try to find replies that allow you to counter a threat with a bigger threat, or which otherwise allow you counterplay, instead of playing strictly defensively.
Then, look at all of your own checks, captures and threats. Don't spend a lot of time following a non-forcing line in evaluating moves. The probability that it will occur is minute. When you find a good move, look for a better one.
Finally, when you have "the move" be sure to see how your opponent can reply. Assume best play by your opponent. Look at all of the checks, captures, and threats which he can make after your move. Consider ALL recaptures he can make after you make a capturing move, not just the one you want or expect.
Don't use online databases when evaluating moves in a game. You won't learn how to think that way and will likely be misled. In an opening, consider what strategic goals you have and ask how candidate moves further those. Try to understand an opening from first principles.
You'll make a lot of mistakes in analyzing because your board vision and tactical vision haven't developed sufficiently. They will improve with practice.