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  1. 23 Jan '14 20:41
    I'm a 15-1600 player, I'm trying to improve and have done from a base of about 1200 in the last two years. I was wondering how you all went about reading chess books. I've seen greenpawns advice to get the pieces out and smell the wood when doing tactics problems, and about half the time I do so, though the rest of the time, for ease and to save faff I do the problems from the diagram. I can see that doing them with board and pieces is better.

    The thing is, I have a fair bit of down time in work where I could read a book, I suppose I could also take a travel chess set with me, but that's not quite as smelling the wood as having a tournament set in front of me on the desk. I struggle to get through chess books, they are heavy going. Which isn't a major problem as I read half a book on openings, get bored with it, read a bit of my tactics book, get bored of that after a couple of chapters and then pick up where I left off with the openings book. So far I have only ever finished two chess books, I have about ten on the go.

    I think I would find it easier to get through them If I could do so without needing to get a set out - but I am currently not able to follow the continuations and sidelines given in my head. I wonder if it's worth me putting any effort into being able to do so. Given the advice with which I agree to 'smell the wood' when doing puzzles. Do those of you who can follow a chess book in your head still fin it easier to have a board set up? Do you think it's more beneficial with the board set up anyway?
  2. Standard member ChessPraxis
    Cowboy From Hell
    23 Jan '14 21:40 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Dewi Jones
    I'm a 15-1600 player, I'm trying to improve and have done from a base of about 1200 in the last two years. I was wondering how you all went about reading chess books. I've seen greenpawns advice to get the pieces out and smell the wood when doing tactics problems, and about half the time I do so, though the rest of the time, for ease and to save faff I do ...[text shortened]... t easier to have a board set up? Do you think it's more beneficial with the board set up anyway?
    Back in the old days I used to set up a board for most chess books. Some books had enough diagrams I could follow pretty well as I tend to lose the position in my head after maybe 6-10 plys. Use an analysis board on a computer during study, you can back up etc very quickly unlike a wood set.
  3. Standard member SwissGambit
    Caninus Interruptus
    23 Jan '14 22:24 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Dewi Jones
    I'm a 15-1600 player, I'm trying to improve and have done from a base of about 1200 in the last two years. I was wondering how you all went about reading chess books. I've seen greenpawns advice to get the pieces out and smell the wood when doing tactics problems, and about half the time I do so, though the rest of the time, for ease and to save faff I do ...[text shortened]... t easier to have a board set up? Do you think it's more beneficial with the board set up anyway?
    I think you play through stuff on a board (whether 3D or 2D) until you get used to looking that far from an initial diagram. Repeat that enough and the visualization will improve naturally.

    When I started playing, I went over an old Reinfeld book on a 3D board, but that's because computer software wasn't very good back then.

    Edit: this advice is mainly for puzzles; if you are going through whole games, you'll probably need a board.
  4. 24 Jan '14 01:42
    The best way to improve is to play the game.

    Books I treated as books you would read. Never felt like study.
    Something like Alekhines best games took ages to go through but
    I enjoyed doing it. Much the same way as you enjoy a good book.
    Look forward to the hour or so you are going to spend looking at games.

    I've always maintained the best way to do tactical problems is to do
    them with the weapons you will be fighting with - a full set.
    I played over thousands of short games and stopped at the diagrams.
    You get the opening errors stored, and check your win v what was played.
    You are psyically making the same moves that were played, your eyes
    are taking in a field of what, 2 foot squared.
    Not squinting at a gawdy coloured icon 2½ inches by 2½ inches.

    I daresay some can transpose what they have picked up from a screen
    to a board. They might be thinking on a small screen and transpose their
    thoughts to the board.

    Don't know, never learned my stuff via a small board on a screen.

    But the best way to get better is play the game.
  5. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    24 Jan '14 03:23
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    The best way to improve is to play the game.

    I second this!

    I haven't done a lot of reading/studying since i started playing on here (like a year and half ago)
    but I knew that you can very much 'learn by doing' when it comes to the 64 squares.

    I've read through (well, more like scanned) through ONE chess book and, although it made me think about /some/ things a little more,
    it probably didn't help anywhere near as much as me going back through some of my older games (won and lost)
    and seeing where the decisive mistakes were made.

    I don't play OTB much (well, hardly at all) but I can only assume that there isn't much difference,
    as the basic fundamentals are precisely the same:
    I make a move,
    he makes a move,
    I make another,
    he makes another,
    ... I pause for a second then curse loudly for my lack of foresight.

    Anyway yeah, GP is right:
    The more you play, the better you.......... play.
    >.<
  6. 24 Jan '14 03:51
    Hi 64.

    "I don't play OTB much (well, hardly at all) but I can only assume that there isn't much difference, "

    There is a world of difference.
    Opponents cough, splutter, belch, grunt, yawn, sniffle, they fidget, they squirm,
    they eat at the board, they drink at the board, they fart at the board.
    They hover their hand over the pieces, do not put their pieces on the centre of the square,
    they knock over pieces, thump clocks, they look at you and pull faces of
    disdain, anger, or a sympathetic smile.

    In a tournament you will be surrounded by these nutcases.
    You will not be able to take your eyes of them, every instinct in your body
    will be telling you to get out of the room.......'you are not safe here.'

    You learn a lot by playing the game.
    The first lesson is try to keep your eyes on the board and ignore everything
    going on all around you.
    The second lesson is learning to look and behave like them.
    You don't want these lunatics looking at you and thinking. "he is not one of us."
  7. Subscriber 64squaresofpain
    The drunk knight
    24 Jan '14 18:35
    haha yes, perhaps there is a lot of difference...
    Not to fear, though, as i'm pretty sure i'd fit in well with the, erm... Community? Asylum? i dunno.
  8. Standard member bill718
    Enigma
    25 Jan '14 12:42
    Originally posted by Dewi Jones
    I'm a 15-1600 player, I'm trying to improve and have done from a base of about 1200 in the last two years. I was wondering how you all went about reading chess books. I've seen greenpawns advice to get the pieces out and smell the wood when doing tactics problems, and about half the time I do so, though the rest of the time, for ease and to save faff I do ...[text shortened]... t easier to have a board set up? Do you think it's more beneficial with the board set up anyway?
    What you just described is a problem many players face. Greenpawn is correct in suggesting you physically move the pieces, it will help you remember the book lessons better. If you cannot do this however, reading will help, but will normally be your 2nd best choice. Even world champions struggle with this. Back in the 1960's Boris Spassky was overheard saying "studying endgames is like quitting smoking, it's a smart idea, but not very enjoyable"
  9. Subscriber venda
    Dave
    25 Jan '14 13:40
    "The first lesson is try to keep your eyes on the board and ignore everything going on all around you."
    I'm not sure this is true.
    I've played very few competetive OTB games but all my opponents in matches have made a move and then got up, gone to the bar, wandered round the room looking at the other games etc.
    I went to watch a tournament in Sheffield the other year and even the grandmasters were doing this.
    This obviously wouldn't happen in blitz games of course.
  10. 25 Jan '14 15:19 / 2 edits
    Hi Venda,

    Getting up and having a stroll about is what you do after you have some OTB experience.
    Trust me these good guys will still have the position in the head and have an idea of what is going on.

    I liked playing these up and down guys weaker guys, they often lost track of things.

    Personally I always sat at the board and looked at all kinds of variations
    on their time. Some of my best ideas have come on their time.

    If ever I went for a wander it meant, I have set a neat tricky trap and
    relished the wait to see if he would fall into it. (the wait is best part of the combo.)
    Then I would pace up and down the aisle like a leopard ready to pounce.

    Or the game is over and I can afford to stretch the legs and nip out and have a roll up.
    But usually I stayed at the board, it is where the game is being played.
  11. 01 Feb '14 19:10
    It's an interesting question you bring up, Dewi. I'm about to start my first chess book, and I think I'll definitely need a chess board to follow all the stuff that happens or could happen. I would be possible to play the lines on a screen. But I think it could be hard for me to stay equally focused and concentrated, comparing to a real board. Plus, reading a book in front of the computer just doesn't feel right and relaxed. Then I could just as well watch a video.

    But shame on me, I don't even have a board yet. It seems to me that chess shops are somewhat rare here, I guess I need to order one online. In the meanwhile I'll try to find a better chess app which allows setting up positions more easily.