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  1. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    26 Nov '17 23:25
    Greetings players and fellow patzers

    Making plans in chess, hands up, who does it?
    Are they effective?
    Why not?
    Why bother make plans if they're not going to work!?

    Since joining this site over 5 years ago I've enjoyed organic rating growth,
    typically in stages where each time I've actually felt progress
    as many various factors of my game would improve.

    Factors such as:
    Opening theory (reasons why we do things)
    Importance of tempo
    King safety
    Awareness of opportunities/threats (tactics!)
    Identifying strong or weak squares

    But....

    Now stuck regularly in the 1800's (sometimes 1900 but usually not for long)
    I ask myself: "what am I not doing to improve more?"

    Now, half of my games at some point or other I am realising that I don't actually have a PLAN
    and all I am doing is just making what I feel are good, logical moves...
    but then I get crushed by the 2000+ guys and many others who are 1800-1900.


    My questions:
    How do you guys plan your games?
    Should I choose one opening per colour and attempt to master it? (I currently play various openings)
    What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Any guidance would be appreciated!


    ~64
  2. 27 Nov '17 00:28
    'The Plan' is overrated.

    Very few games follow a plan set out from the opening.Those that
    do are wonderful (and easy to note up) and make a false impression.

    In the 1920's and 30's the positional gems of Capablanca and Tarrasch
    were looked at more closely and what they call dynamic play was introduced.
    Players before then were mesmerised by 'the plan' and lay down and just let it happen.

    Usually, unless a severe opening error has been made a game is a set of small
    middle game skirmishes as each side tries to:

    (A )improve their position or
    (B) inflict some kind of weakness on their opponent.

    From the improved position new ideas may emerge that enable (B)
    to be carried out. and once the weakness has been established you
    work out a plan to prove it is a weakness.

    Meanwhile a modern player may gladly accept such a weakness because
    it gives him freedom in another part of the board. Your weakness v my weakness.
    "You gotta give squares to get squares." - Fischer.

    At this level it is the tactical shot that is the decider, that and the fact players
    if they do not have a plan think they must have a plan so come up with some
    cockeyed idea that usually involves a pawn move and you have created a (B)
    for your opponent without any dynamic comeback.

    My plan has always been very simple.
    Point things at the King and see what happens.

    Once or twice I've has a position where I come up with a different plan.
    The most recent was v vandervelde (I'm White)


    Here instead of offering a draw I came up with the idea of dancing my Knight
    about the board till I got it too e3, my King to e4 and I'll play f5
    "...and see what happens."

    Same game 6 moves later.


    I played f5. things got a bit tricky, I do not think vandervelde defended correctly,
    I was just playing on to see what happens and I won.

    Full game. As you can see I played my point things at the King method
    and see what happens. Usually against vandervelde I lose but here
    the late middle game plan only appeared because
    I had run out of ideas and could not see a way for him to break though.

  3. Standard member mchill
    Green Lantern
    27 Nov '17 02:39 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by @64squaresofpain
    Greetings players and fellow patzers

    Making plans in chess, hands up, who does it?
    Are they effective?
    Why not?
    Why bother make plans if they're not going to work!?

    Since joining this site over 5 years ago I've enjoyed organic rating growth,
    typically in stages where each time I've actually [b]felt
    progress
    as many various factors ...[text shortened]... t is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Any guidance would be appreciated!


    ~64[/b]
    Greenpawn34 gave some good advice. You're both stronger players than I of course, but these 3 things have helped me more than any others:

    Openings: Learn a little bit about all the openings, and a great deal about a few. You've mastered the first part, but you might consider specializing 1 opening for white, and 2 defences for black (1 each against e4 and d4) If you have a chess program, play against the strongest setting with your chosen openings, as it evolves into the middlegame. Use the take back move feature explore novelties, learn how to handle these critical positions.

    Game Load: JMHO - Your 30+ games is too much, try to keep it under 20 so you can explore each position more deeply, and leave time for some study.

    Balance competition with study: Tournaments are fun, but if you don't supplement them with some homework, your chess arsenal won't grow. This doesn't need to be a drudgery, you could mix things up. Mon, and Sat. try 30-60 min. on your openings, Tue and Thurs tactics, with endgames on Friday. Keeping to a schedule is best. I don't have to tell you that the strongest players are also the most disciplined students.



    What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    Not sure, but African swallows are non migratory, and don't forget to come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help Help I'm being repressed!
  4. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    27 Nov '17 02:40
    Thanks for the response GP.

    Point and shoot... simple yet effective.
    Sometimes I do make such moves which lead to "see what happens" kind of thinking,
    but lately I need something more concrete if I'm to break through this new barrier.

    I like how your game ends in a clear mate threat,
    all which essentially came from nothing,
    you were just "seeing what happened".

    Perhaps even at top GM level there is no "plan" during games,
    just play accurately and hope your opponent screws up, if not then it's a draw.

    Maybe my plan should involve getting more chess books for Christmas?
  5. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    27 Nov '17 03:12
    Originally posted by @mchill

    Openings: Learn a little bit about all the openings, and a great deal about a few. You've mastered the first part, but you might consider specializing 1 opening for white, and 2 defences for black (1 each against e4 and d4) If you have a chess program, play against the strongest setting with your chosen openings, as it evolves into the middlegame. Use the take back move feature explore novelties, learn how to handle these critical positions.
    Thanks mchill.

    Your first point quoted above has been on my thought-radar for a while,
    the problem is I have a "variety is the spice of life" attitude and so
    I play literally whatever opening I feel like doing in the moment.

    What I may do, starting January 1st, is adopt set openings and see how I get on.....
    I'll need some time to consider what openings to pick.

    As for your other points, between 30-40 games I have found to be quite comfortable
    providing the time controls are 3/7 or longer.
    I tend not to move in every game every day, so this helps me not get carried away, as I know from experience this causes mistakes.

    I also play blitz and tournaments on other sites occasionally, although not as often as I'd like,
    but also I do plenty of tactics training (lichess.org is good, and free) and I have channels I follow on youtube e.g. chessnetwork.

    Also books..... I have maybe 5 or 6 that I've actually flicked through,
    only 1 or 2 of them I can honestly say were useful!

    p.s. Oh, and of course I never miss a Greenpawn blog
  6. Subscriber ogb
    27 Nov '17 15:12
    Originally posted by @64squaresofpain



    Maybe my plan should involve getting more chess books for Christmas?


    ChessQueen.com is Alexandria Kosteniuk's website..I bought her three DVD set called Guide to Opening Ideas. All you need to do is put the DVD into the player sit back to relax. The course goes thru every known opening/defense being used today. Concise explanation of what White/Black wishes to accomplish.
  7. Subscriber Ragwort On Vacation
    Ex Duris Gloria
    27 Nov '17 15:27
    GP has given you a succinct and thorough overview of where chess thinking about planning is currently.

    Specifically I think you do best by playing players a little better than yourself and really going through the games properly afterwards. Clarity and depth of vision will be the main difference between you and the stronger player so in looking back at your game you ought to be able to pinpoint what it was that your opponent saw that you did not and make sure that when you look at positions in the future you don't move until you see it or properly discounted it.

    We have played four games on here and so far you have only held one draw. That said only one game was a romp Game 11940795. In this game I tried a slightly iffy response to the quiet 4.d3 against the two knights defence that can lead to more open play. As a reader of GP's blog you will have seen him try this too. You did not really get to grips with it, allowed yourself time wasting moves of the a and h pawns and thus missed the idea that won material for me involving loose rooks, discoveries and central pawn pushes (tactical patterns). The other three games you were in at least for a while. In the drawn game you failed to put the boot in when you had a chance in the late opening phase and let me escape with the draw. Game Game 12306886 was very interesting. After the unusual b pawn offer you inflicted the doubled pawns but ended up advancing your pawns onto your remaining bishops squares which then took up an inactive position on the king-side. Somewhere in the tactics that followed from move 17 you must have missed the consequences of the the creation of the passed pawn, or that the weak d pawn would tie your pieces down or that you would be dumped in a lost endgame after I'd forced everything off leaving me with two pieces versus one on the queen-side. From my point of view I worked out most of those lines in those phases whilst it was your move and just had to check them when it was my turn. The remaining game we have discussed before and comes down again to the assessment of endgame chances when I had two connected passed pawns to compensate for being the exchange down and a pawn whilst you went wafting round with your rook on an irrelevant pawn hunt.

    So, where does that leave us? I would say sit on your hands and don't make weakening pawn moves unless, like GP says, you have some real counter-chances elsewhere on the board. Be doubly careful that it is forced or worth the tempo if it is a or h. Do some endgame work. If you think it's boring concentrate on endgame tactics - they can be just as pretty as any mating combination. You are not seeing some dangers early enough and are not trying to push the game towards a draw when you're down, or prevent your opponent doing so when you're up. Knowing how to catch your opponent in a draw when you are a pawn down can feel as good as winning sometimes, whatever the "truth" of the position. Go through your games.

    Training tactics has it's place but does not teach you how to "get the positions". Work hard to look for tactical ideas in every position. Many will not work, but you will start to pick up pawns and other material the more you look for them. You will also miss fewer chances to put the boot in when your opponent goes off the point. Try to choose active set-ups for your pieces in the opening phase. It doesn't have to be strictly book or theory it just has to be functional. Go through your games.

    Consider the psychology of playing stronger players. Does playing symmetrically and "threatening a draw" tempt indiscretion. Does "showing no respect" and choosing the overtly aggressive option at each turn put them on the back foot and at disadvantage?
    What can you learn if you try these ideas?
  8. 27 Nov '17 17:33
    As I have said before Playing on here is different from one to one OTB.

    My 'see what happens approach' is IMO the best approach because we
    are all playing many games at once at different times of the day and,
    in my case and I'm sure with others, we are making moves within 10
    seconds of logging on and jumping from one game to another as Black and White.

    Also in some cases we should not be playing.

    As a fellow RHP member can vouch prior to posting my last blog
    I was in bed with flu/pneumonia making moves on a tablet.
    I was hanging pieces and ruining my positions.

    Luckily I appear to have got away with most of the other blunders
    because of my opponents game load.

    Here as Black I played 12....c6 missing Qxd4.


    I have since then won back the piece and am looking good.

    If any of these very dodgy positions had been one to one OTB
    I would have lost the lot instead of just the three or four from 20.
  9. Subscriber vanderveldeonline
    medieval punk rocker
    27 Nov '17 19:26 / 2 edits
    Plan used to be something very popular in comments in "Chess Messenger"-'s issues from 1940's to 1970's.

    People talked of "not having plan" or "choosing wrong plan".

    John Watson wrote in his "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" that players usually don't have a Big Plan, since situations on the board changes from move to move, it is more a bunch of 2-moves sequences.

    For an amateurs the major issue here is to connect FORREST = Strategic Evaluation of position (weak or strong fields, possibilities for ending considering good or bad Bishop, weakness of certain Pawns, etc) with TREES IN FRONT OF THEIR NOSES = 2-moves concrete sequences.

    Watson also shattered that style of commenting game in magazines, for example "With this move I finish my development" or "I found better place for my Bishop"etc. This sort of comments comes always AFTER the game, when the player in retrospect wishes to give his moves deep meaning, whilst in reality his minds were flying somewhere else and he was only trying to find least disasterous 2-moves sequence (I attack his Rook, I am defending my King, I am putting my Bishop from his Pawn, etc.)

    Bronstein gave some useful pieces of advice in evaluation of position:

    - check Kings (exposure to attack or protected)
    - check Rooks and possibilities for their movement
    - check immediate attack possibilities
    - check weak fields at your opponents
    - try to find opponents' pieces with too many duties

    Plan as such is a myth.

    Ideal thing would be to understand the opening you play, and than follow as much the strategic theory as possible, whilst you always keep in mind 2-3-moves sequences as tactical possibilities.

    Like this game from yesterday, in Round 3 on Table 1 of Belgrade Trophy.
    White won.

    It began with typical positional pressure on Isolated Queen Pawn.

    Then we saw tactical mind-game with Knights.

    Then It transformed into Rook endgame with extra Pawn for White .
    The endgame itself is very interesting, and is full of funny blunders.

  10. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    27 Nov '17 23:00
    Originally posted by @ragwort
    GP has given you a succinct and thorough overview of where chess thinking about planning is currently.

    Specifically I think you do best by playing players a little better than yourself and really going through the games properly afterwards. Clarity and depth of vision will be the main difference between you and the stronger player so in looking back at ...[text shortened]... turn put them on the back foot and at disadvantage?
    What can you learn if you try these ideas?
    Thanks Rags,

    I have often analysed my games when I felt something was missed,
    or if there was something instructive that would be beneficial to learn and understand.

    I haven't annotated any games recently, but literally just earlier today I resigned a game vs @Aspasia
    which was upsetting because it was a game where I felt I had good chances at some points.

    I've quickly knocked up some notes for the game below.
    I played White.




    Maybe reducing my game load could also be a good idea,
    just spending more time per move could be what's needed.