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  1. Standard member ivan2908
    SelfProclaimedTitler
    08 Oct '13 14:08 / 1 edit
    Years ago, my love for chess turned into kind of an addiction, I used to play many games here (short time controls, thinking 10 seconds per move) and additionally, I was playing a lot of 5 minute blitz games on chess servers. Even though I was learning chess like a madman (chess books, memorizing openings, chess tactics servers) my game has reached a certain point and stalled. After a while, sensing that I know chess much better then I play it (sometimes losing from amateur friends without much clue about chess), I got fed up by this plateau and quit for the time being.

    Years later, after a long hiatus, I can sense what the problem was : I was favoring quantity over the quality, I was trying to learn everything at once and I was trying to apply all the new found ideas mainly into my 5 minutes games, which now seems mindless to me. It was due to my youthful impatience I guess.

    This time I am adopting a different approach - on here, I play fewer games and use a great deal of thinking. On the top of that I make a careful and systematic blunder checklist before making a move while trying to apply all the new chess ideas which I got by reading "Predator at the Chessboard" tactics book and by going through annotated GM games.

    The result is much more enjoyable chess than it was years ago, and I feel like I am slowly imprinting the new patterns of thinking into my brain.

    This works for correspondence chess but as I learn more and more in the recent weeks, I have noticed that my OTB and online games suck. Since new and improved chess ideas are stuck in my head at the moment, they affect my thinking and playing, almost by distracting me. Blitz games or even longer time controls simply doesn't give me enough time to think, analyse and blunder check everything at this point - and when the time controls start to favor my opponent, I just return to my old habits and play the panic move out of the top of my head ( which is often erratic or serves no real purpose in the position ).

    While all the above is certainly an overly long introduction, the question I am about to ask is relatively simple : Could I benefit from STUDYING chess for half a year instead of PLAYING - limiting my chess only to few carefully thought-out moves on this site twice a week (three games 7/7 time controls) ?

    I recently read a post from a GM who is suggesting such approach in order to break the plateau. Six month of quality studying (with an emphasis of analyzing and going through master games + tactical training ) and then slowly returning to play (slow time controls) until you get fast enough to be able to apply your knowledge to rapid and blitz games.

    Any insights/experiences on the topic ?
  2. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    08 Oct '13 14:52
    I don't really know the answer, but I appreciate your post, as you have given me food for thought. At first blush, I think your idea has merit.
  3. 08 Oct '13 14:55
    No,

    I think taking a break for half a year dedicated to studying is not appropriate for you.

    Advice from GM's is very likely to be suitable to pro's only. Based on your rating graph, this is not the case. I see the plateau you reached is just a little higher than mine, and I'm far from a pro. :-)

    Learning should not only exist of studying, but also practising the real thing. Compare it to other sports. They will train on specific elements, as well as stamina, speed and strength, but they'll never ignore the actual game.

    You said that previously you knew more about chess than you could actually show on the board. It's likely to happen again if you're going to ignore the game and stick to studying alone.

    It seems as if you are having trouble making decisions when playing in real-time. Maybe you could try working on that?
  4. Standard member ivan2908
    SelfProclaimedTitler
    08 Oct '13 16:10 / 2 edits
    I understand what you mean, until a while ago I would have given the same piece of advice to others. However, that one paragraph in the article resonates with me very much, I can relate with it;

    "1) Too much play
    Playing chess - practice - is very important for improvement. When you play chess (over the board, at tournaments), you put into practice what you have learned, you use your brain to think chess, you are in the testing environment, you test your accumulated knowledge and skill against another person.
    However, too much play and too little study holds you back. You can repeat the same mistakes over and over. You will tend to follow your own old patterns and not have time to develop a different, correct thinking process, and to learn proper strategy and new ideas.
    In this case, you should take a long break from playing and concentrate only on study for several months. You will make a significant improvement."

    By the way, the article is aimed at sub-2000 "chess fans", not grand masters.

    A nice compromise would be to play an occasional long OTB or online game, but blitz just seems to be detrimental at this point.
  5. Subscriber Marinkatomb
    wotagr8game
    08 Oct '13 16:54
    Originally posted by ivan2908
    Years ago, my love for chess turned into kind of an addiction, I used to play many games here (short time controls, thinking 10 seconds per move) and additionally, I was playing a lot of 5 minute blitz games on chess servers. Even though I was learning chess like a madman (chess books, memorizing openings, chess tactics servers) my game has reached a certai ...[text shortened]... ble to apply your knowledge to rapid and blitz games.

    Any insights/experiences on the topic ?
    I've found that giving yourself rest days is important, Playing every day dulls my senses.

    I have a tip for studying GM games which i have found quite effective. I generally play through the game quite quickly at first. Once i reach the end, i play though it backwards quite slowly. Once i get to the beginning i play though it forwards, slowly. This way you pick up what the important moves were. My feel for certain openings has improved immensely doing this. I never spend more than half an hour on one game (unless it's brilliant) and try and cover a few games in a specific opening line at a time. Annotations are great, but you remember the things you find yourself much more easily than something you read..
  6. 08 Oct '13 17:07 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by ivan2908
    Years ago, my love for chess turned into kind of an addiction, I used to play many games here (short time controls, thinking 10 seconds per move) and additionally, I was playing a lot of 5 minute blitz games on chess servers. Even though I was learning chess like a madman (chess books, memorizing openings, chess tactics servers) my game has reached a certai ...[text shortened]... ble to apply your knowledge to rapid and blitz games.

    Any insights/experiences on the topic ?
    you sound a little like me, a much better student of chess than a player. We suffer from too much information and try to assimilate it all. Andrew Soltis has an excellent book on the process of studying chess and takes out much of the mystification with lots of practical suggestions.

    Chess learning should above all be fun, this is half the battle. Yes i would study master games, first go through the game to get a feel for it, then again noting points where the game reached a critical juncture and try to understand what has happened. Try to look for improvements. The greatest strides i made was simply entertaining myself with a chessboard looking at games and trying to figure out what has happened.
  7. 08 Oct '13 19:05
    "...Since new and improved chess ideas are stuck in my head at the moment."

    That's the one.

    With some it takes time to gel, others the pieces just fall into place right away.
    You are possibly the former.

    The new order is conflicting with the old order.
    All that baggage you have picked up is weighing you down.

    My advise is to play through it.

    You can do the crawl and the breats stroke.
    Now you are onto the backstroke.
    To get this mastered you have to stay in water.
    OK you will find yourself choking at the deep end for a few times
    and because it's the backstroke you won't be too sure where you are going.
    (or if you will ever get there.)
    But you will and do so you must stay in the water.
  8. 08 Oct '13 19:27
    I would reccomend playing against opponents that are generally higher rated than you.

    This is to allow you to try and use your new and improved ideas. Playing opponents weaker (or previously equal) will only have you playing the same ideas you were playing when you were their strength.
  9. 08 Oct '13 19:39
    yeah the best way to get better at something is to give it up and read about it for a year, that works really well.
    NOT
  10. 09 Oct '13 07:31


    "... However, too much play and too little study holds you back. You can repeat the same mistakes over and over. You will tend to follow your own old patterns and not have time to develop a different, correct thinking process, and to learn proper strategy and new ideas.
    ... "



    I agree on this point, but I doubt the advice that follows. You really need the practice, the real thing. E.g. tactics puzzles often show a pretty well structured board, where the opponent just made one mistake. You're more likely to find chaotic situations with multiple threats and opportunities at the same time. Positions you'll encounter may differ completely from what's in the books. How will you asses them?



    "... In this case, you should take a long break from playing and concentrate only on study for several months. You will make a significant improvement."

    By the way, the article is aimed at sub-2000 "chess fans", not grand masters.


    Think about this: GM's are not sub-2000 chess fans. And may never have been. So how are they going to advice them?
  11. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    09 Oct '13 11:35
    [/b]
    [/quote]
    Think about this: GM's are not sub-2000 chess fans. And may never have been. So how are they going to advice them?[/b]
    This is just completely wrong. I played both GM Daniel Ludwig and GM Ray Robson when they were sub-2000 chess fans. At one point, Daniel was rated about USCF 1000.
  12. 09 Oct '13 12:32
    Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps not. The main point was that GM's are not sub-2000 chess fans, or are they? I added "and may never have been" for the natural talents that hardly struggled to get past that level.

    Anyway, I prefer advice from "strong players" rather than GM's, because I believe they have better feeling with the level of an average player.
  13. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    09 Oct '13 12:51
    Originally posted by tvochess
    Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps not. The main point was that GM's are not sub-2000 chess fans, or are they? I added "and may never have been" for the natural talents that hardly struggled to get past that level.

    Anyway, I prefer advice from "strong players" rather than GM's, because I believe they have better feeling with the level of an average player.
    I think the flaw is generalizing about GMs as a group. Some are excellent teachers, and some are not.

    At the same time, I suspect that GMs probably have a better idea of what it takes to improve than anyone else, if for no other reason than that they understand the game better.

    Given that the forum is composed of players such as we, if I were a third party and I had to choose between advice from a GM or from anonymous or semi-anonymous posters like us, I would take the GM more seriously.
  14. 09 Oct '13 13:04
    You have a few good points there. I don't fully agree, but I think we can live with that.

    What do you think about the suggestion made by the GM in the first post of this thread? I.e. quit playing for half a year, solely dedicated to studying etc.

    @ivan2908: Can you give a reference to this statement? Or at least the name of that GM?
  15. 09 Oct '13 14:48 / 2 edits
    Thinking and doing. Right now, you're doing too much doing, ie playing chess, and probably not enough thinking, ie study. The risk in doing that is that although you are absorbing chess, your improvement has hit a brick wall as without the requisite study to compliment all the games, you are not getting all you can out of the games, as you're probably not recognising where you can improve, imo.

    I think you just need to rebalance your chess, and examine what you feel are the weak points in your game that are costing you. For all of us, there are usually more than one, so it helps to prioritise. Study in these areas, and be conscious of them when you are playing.

    Keep on playing, by the way, just dial it back to a point at which you feel you are improving again. Studying your games is an invaluable tool, and seeing where you went wrong, and learning from where you did.

    Likewise, use the different forms of chess you play, in different ways to improve your chess. Use blitz to focus on honing your instincts and tactics perhaps, as well as a sounding board for openings or lines you want to understand more, as there will be no quicker way than a good few games of blitz to throw up all the issues in the lines you are looking at.

    Correspondence can be a place to study things more deeply, where you have the time and the freedom to think a lot before you make your moves. The games should be of higher quality too, as more time means less likelihood of basic mistakes, so you are likely to have deeper battles to learn from.

    Between correspondence and blitz, your over the board play should improve, I think, and before long you should have broken out of the stagnation you feel.

    Mainly though, seek to identify the weaknesses in your game. These will always be your guide on where you need to focus your efforts to improve.