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  1. Standard member Yuga
    Renaissance
    01 Nov '06 08:20
    I'm interested in the way you study chess. I'm specifically looking for responses to the four questions in bold:

    #1:What exactly do you look for in a position? Do you consult an engine for postmortem analysis? How long do you analyze, during and after, positions/games? How do you analyze your positions/games? (steps, length, thoroughness)?

    #2: Do you annotate your positions, make notes? If yes, what do you include in your notes/annotations? What are your findings - to what aspect of your game did you attribute your mistakes?

    #3: Do you play chess elsewhere, how often, and for what time controls? How does your chess strength vary with the time control? How often do you play? (hrs./day or wk.) Do you find playing chess and/or analyzing chess useful for your chess improvement? To what exactly in your chess preparation do you attribute your chess improvement?

    #4: What other means do you use to improve your chess (other than playing and analyzing your games)? Which chess books did you read - what knowledge did you obtain from from given how long you spent to read them? How did you read them - did you pull out a board and play down the lines given?) How else do you learn - from a chess coach, players at a chess club, playing through master games, etc.)
    What is your preferred method for learning chess? What have you learned (from each teaching resource)? [b] How can we refine our learning approach to chess, so that we learn with a greater understanding and more efficiently (learn what we want to learn and quicker)? [b/]
  2. 01 Nov '06 11:11
    difficult to answer...
  3. 01 Nov '06 14:23 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Yuga
    I'm interested in the way you study chess. I'm specifically looking for responses to the four questions in bold:

    #1:What exactly do you look for in a position? Do you consult an engine for postmortem analysis? How long do you analyze, during and after, positions/games? [b] How do you analyze
    your positions/games? (steps, length, thoroughness)?

    #2: ...[text shortened]... h a greater understanding and more efficiently (learn what we want to learn and quicker)? [b/][/b]
    How do you analyze your positions/games?

    I have recently refined my strategy to my games, which I figure has become quite effective. What I try to do is rather than look at a game and make the first move that comes to my head, I note down the move and other possible moves. I do that for all my games. When coming back to the game I think of the most likely response from my opponent. I go down a certain line to maybe around 10 ply ahead (all depends how "obvious" the replies are). I then work backwards down that line (easier to jump back using the analyse board feature) and see alternative responses. After making a note down several lines and confident there aren't any serious mistakes in my moves, I then see what the final position will be at the end of each line. See what good or bad bishops there are, number of pawn islands, pins, forks or skewers. The move that leads down the line I am most confident with, I then make that move.

    The beginning of the game I am pretty much following standard opening books until it reaches a point where I can go no further. I then consult databases and select the move that has higher percentages in my favour. Once database is left I use the strategy mentioned above.

    If my opponent suddenly leaves the book and database very early in the game. I figure it must not be a particularly good move and try and work out why by analysing deeply at that point.

    I tend to analyse with Fritz afterwards on games where I find it difficult to see where I went wrong.

    to what aspect of your game did you attribute your mistakes?

    I would say it is simply not being disciplined enough to follow the procedures above. The kind of situation where I think I know what to move and move straight away without holding back.

    To what exactly in your chess preparation do you attribute your chess improvement?

    I got to admit that I do not know how to prepare for a chess game. I probably would need help on this.

    I also play occasionally on ICC. I seem to find that improving here has improved my OTB play.

    How can we refine our learning approach to chess, so that we learn with a greater understanding and more efficiently (learn what we want to learn and quicker)?

    I do have a few chess books including "My System", "Ideas behind chess openings" and "The amateur's mind: Turning chess misconceptions into chess mastery".

    I do tend to work through them using a chess board and gradually having a better understanding.

    I should practice on the chess tactics server as well.
  4. 01 Nov '06 14:44 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by lausey
    [b]


    If my opponent suddenly leaves the book and database very early in the game. I figure it must not be a particularly good move and try and work out why by analysing deeply at that point.

    A dangerous assumption!

    How do you carry out your deep analysis?

    and why do you analyse deeply after what you think is an inferior move but seem happy to just play parrot fashion if your opponent plays the expectd move in the opening.
  5. 01 Nov '06 15:09
    Originally posted by Turfmoor
    A dangerous assumption!

    How do you carry out your deep analysis?

    and why do you analyse deeply after what you think is an inferior move but seem happy to just play parrot fashion if your opponent plays the expectd move in the opening.
    I just figure that if GMs aren't playing that move early in the game, then it most likely isn't a good one. Hence try out various lines to see if there is something specific that I must be missing.

    3 ply into the game there are somewhere over 8000 possible positions, where a high percentage of them would be considered very bad moves by standard opening principles. All the good moves are likely exhausted in standard opening databases, so if an opponent leaves this early then it probably is a bad move. Therefore me mentioning putting in the extra effort to look into the position further. Even 5 or 6 ply into a game just about all "good" moves will appear in databases, unless someone early in the game comes up with a move that is revolutionary, but will require a very strong player to do that. Someone way beyond my ability.

    I don't reply to moves parrot fashion. I follow opening books and databases as far as my opponent goes as mentioned in my methods above. I know I am not infallible. My strategy can always do with refining.
  6. 01 Nov '06 15:32
    Originally posted by lausey
    [b

    I don't reply to moves parrot fashion. I follow opening books and databases as far as my opponent goes as mentioned in my methods above. I know I am not infallible. My strategy can always do with refining.[/b]
    Thanks and I didn't mean my post to sound quite so mean, but have you considered playing some games without slavishly following GM database games, it must be hard for you to develop a style if the pattern of the game is always chosen by others.

    But I am impressed that you analysise moves 10ply ahead, is this for every available line or just your first choice?
  7. 01 Nov '06 15:41 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by Turfmoor
    Thanks and I didn't mean my post to sound quite so mean, but have you considered playing some games without slavishly following GM database games, it must be hard for you to develop a style if the pattern of the game is always chosen by others.

    But I am impressed that you analysise moves 10ply ahead, is this for every available line or just your first choice?
    It is only on occasions that I can get 10 ply ahead. I just see what is the most likely replies. I know it isn't possible to go through every combination, otherwise I will be looking for weeks on a particular position. Most of the time I only go about 4 or 5 ply ahead and this will only be in the middle game onwards.

    Here is a particular example which I still have in my notes for Game 2575677.

    I knew I had a good chance on move 15 so I looked deeper into the position.

    This is what I have in my notes for that game:

    20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Bb4+ Nd6 (21. ..Ne7 22. Qh8# ) 22. Bxd6+
    16. Nxh7 Re8 17. Qh5 Nf5 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. Nf6+ gxf6 20. Qxh6
    16. Bxh7 Kh8 17. Qh5 g6 18. Nxf7 Nxf7 (18. ..Kg7 [18. ..Rxf7 19. Bxg6 Rg7 20. Qxh6+] Qxg6# ) 19. Bxg6 Kg7 20. Qh7#

    It is only recently I have been more disciplined with my approach so I am hoping my effort isn't in vain.

    EDIT: Oh yes, about your comment about not following GM games. It is true that I am following what GMs play, but gradually I am trying to understand why they play it. In particular I find this site useful (thanks to Nordlys!).

    http://www.eudesign.com/chessops/
  8. 01 Nov '06 16:12 / 3 edits
    1)How do you analyze?

    Iv already posted my thought process a few times I wont do it again but that pretty much covers it.

    2)To what aspect of your game did you attribute your mistakes?

    I often find my mistakes are more down to my laziness than lack of understand. A lot of the time here and OTB I will just assume I know what should be played in the position and play it without looking too deeply often with fatal consequences. I also have a habit to underestimate my opponents sometime....last year I was against someone who I should beat the socks off, at the start of the game he played 1.e4 I looked at his rating and thought....hmmm I havent played the dragon in years it will be nice to win with it......I ended up getting mated before move 30 Maybe my other failing is I tend to push positions too much if the game is quiet and even if I have an advantage I will probably be looking for a way to turn the game into chaos even at the cost of a pawn or exchange etc.


    3) Do you play chess elsewhere, how often, and for what time controls? How does your chess strength vary with the time control? How often do you play? (hrs./day or wk.) Do you find playing chess and/or analyzing chess useful for your chess improvement? To what exactly in your chess preparation do you attribute your chess improvement?

    I play chess OTB and on Playchess. Time control...the longer the better mostly I feel more at home with the game. My bullet play (1 min) isnt bad I dont really play or practice this but can take half the games against people rating around 2000 on playchess. Blitz is a different matter, someone once remarked that im not a bad blitz player I just tend to play it like it was bullet....this is probably true if I had 50 mins on the clock I could do 30 moves in say 5 min and those moves would be stronger than 30 moves id play in a 5 min blitz game....its a case of in the 50 min game I can think till im happy that this is a fairly good move in blitz I tend not to think at all just play off instinct. I mainly play slow on playchess my rating tends to bob around 1900.


    #4: What other means do you use to improve your chess (other than playing and analyzing your games)? Which chess books did you read - what knowledge did you obtain from from given how long you spent to read them? How did you read them - did you pull out a board and play down the lines given?) How else do you learn - from a chess coach, players at a chess club, playing through master games, etc.)
    What is your preferred method for learning chess? What have you learned (from each teaching resource)? How can we refine our learning approach to chess, so that we learn with a greater understanding and more efficiently (learn what we want to learn and quicker)?


    Iv gone through three main phases, I started off by learning by just playing and with nothing else, then I found books....I love to read so just went through chess book after chess book....not always understanding at the time but iv been back to the books and understood later. After book I started to analyze my own and master games in depth, its not uncommon that iv spent 12 hours on a position (often getting it totally wrong). For me the most improvement comes from playing often and lots, you can read and 'learn' all you want but if you arent trying to put it into practice then you dont realise the difficulties that can arrise. Iv got a chess tutor now, im hoping that should help, I suspect im weak in areas of my game that I have no idea about (like say 1200s have little idea that they might be weak on the dark squares?) which a 2450 player can spot and point out to me/recommend how to go about improving these areas. Sometimes I wonder if some of my openings slow down my improvement......I used to play things like blackmar, danish, budapest etc Iv pretty much dropped all these now but still play the Grand Prix Attack I suspect that this might not be the best way to improve my chess.........
  9. 01 Nov '06 16:18
    Originally posted by lausey
    [b]

    Here is a particular example which I still have in my notes for Game 2575677.

    I knew I had a good chance on move 15 so I looked deeper into the position.

    This is what I have in my notes for that game:

    20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Bb4+ Nd6 (21. ..Ne7 22. Qh8# ) 22. Bxd6+
    16. Nxh7 Re8 17. Qh5 Nf5 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. Nf6+ gxf6 20. Qxh6
    16. Bxh7 Kh8 17. Qh5 g6 18. Nxf7 Nxf7 (18. ..Kg7 [18. ..Rxf7 19. Bxg6 Rg7 20. Qxh6+] Qxg6# ) 19. Bxg6 Kg7 20. Qh7#
    You smashed his position and must have left the database early, so it shows you have the natural talent to play exciting and winning chess

    congrats

    x
  10. 01 Nov '06 22:39
    #1How do you analyze your positions/games? (steps, length, thoroughness)?
    My first OTB rating (years ago) was about 1675 and I was stuck there for several years. After reading DeGroot’s Thought & Choice in Chess I noticed the lower the rating, the more moves looked at and the longer the analysis tended to be. So much analysis often left lower rated players confused. Strange, but often weaker players, early in their analysis, noticed a move the GM’s at least looked at, but more often than not, the weaker players rejected it. I started looking at only the first 3 or 4 moves that came to mind, then playing the one that looked most threatening or at least most "constructive" and tried not to go too many moves ahead. After that my OTB rating at one point reached 2095 (sic). Quit chess completely 15 years ago, but returned to postal a couple years ago.

    #2: Do you annotate your positions, make notes?
    Rarely. Once played they go into a database and are forgotten. I threw away all my score sheets (played before computers) and no longer have the games.

    What are your findings –
    Tactical errors, of course!

    #3: Do you play chess elsewhere, how often, and for what time controls?
    Playchess (They call it "slow" at 10min + 10 sec, I call it speed chess) , CCLA (postal organization using post cards & played at a snail's pace of about a game a year), and sub at Chessworld (usually 5-10 days per move.)

    How does your chess strength vary with the time control?
    Only play 10 min + 10 sec at Playchess. Rating varies from 1800-2000. Not too quick on my mental feet and so much postal play means I really need to shift a lot of plastic to analyze. Chessworld 2350. CCLA 2025 or so. No longer playing OTB.

    How often do you play? (hrs./day or wk.)
    30 min 4 or 5 days a week depending on game load and if I feel like it, maybe less

    To what exactly in your chess preparation do you attribute your chess improvement?
    Playing over over hundreds of unannotated master games while trying to guess the next move. Books gave me a background but never really resulted in improvement.

    #4: What other means do you use to improve your chess
    Don’t study. Gave away most of my books to aspiring players. Occasionally play over a few games. Just content to play these days and let the rating points fall where they may.
  11. 02 Nov '06 06:23 / 1 edit
    How do you analyze I have a hard time sitting down and playing a position, I usualy develop my pieces to suit a plan I choose to follow. But, when forced to (such on RHP) I first of all, I glance over a position. In this glance I look for obvious plans, such as pawn chains, already created passed pawns, simple 1 move takes, or 3 move deep checkmates. Anything that catches my eye I write down. I look at any plans that I could formulate with these ideas. For pawn chains I look to see if putting rooks behind the pawns and leting them fly will do. Alot of my thought process is hard to verbalize because Im not always sure what I do.
    to what aspect of your game did you attribute your mistakes? well i KNOW this one. I have the hardest time calculating tactics. I am much better (and enjoy much more) at positional games. Often I will not sit it out in the long haul think about specific moves, but more of plans. Often I will develope the most beautiful positional plan, but I will sadly over look a hanging pawn or worse.

    To what exactly in your chess preparation do you attribute your chess improvement? I have alot of different imputs. For instance, I use RHP to help my planning. I find that by starting up RHP and analyzing my position (after beeing gone for 8 or so hours) I practice developing plans. This has helped in tournaments where I had no plan, so I went on a short jog/lunch/bathroom break. I came back, feeling refreshed and looked at the position. As I ate my peanutbutter and jelly sandwhich I imagined the RHP board, how I always had to create a new plan. I ended up winning.
    I also use Yahoo! Chess to help with general opening practice. On this site (because I care the least about my rating) I try new and crazy ideas, often ending in thrilling victories. I also go on this site when I am out of practice and need to get some games out. I also play against my brother. We are about equal, in rating that is. In the first 8 or so moves, the game is terrifying. He often launches all out recklas attacks on my King, often forcing me to repetative check him just to get out of it. So I guess he teaches me about King Safety. Lastly I play on ICC to put it all together.

    How can we refine our learning approach to chess, so that we learn with a greater understanding and more efficiently (learn what we want to learn and quicker)? For OTB, analyzing a loss the hour it occurs is ideal. Make sure you have an outside source (I prefer my oponent, if he is willing, and my coach) after going over these two sources the most important idea is to let it go. I have a younger (experience wise) player on my scholastic high school team. Last year, at state, was his first tournament ever. He ended up winning 2.5/5 which surprised us all. To this day he still goes over the notation of where he went wrong. I think this is obsesive. Look it over, talk with some higher rated people, discuss it at most for a month (such as on RHP) where OTHER people (not just your own rant) give advice, then just let it be.
  12. Standard member Yuga
    Renaissance
    02 Nov '06 10:52 / 1 edit
    I appreciate the effort that you all have put into these posts. Thanks. I’m most interested in discussing what is the most effective learning approach. (I’m less interested in your rating/strength of play; more in the thought process.) Psychology claims effort and training are by far the most significant factors to chess success (which is obvious and true.) The critical questions are then: how should we train and obtain the knowledge necessary to improve? How do we learn – and come to understand what the best moves are? Therefore, I included some advice, which may help one learn. I borrowed a bit from my posts in the private clan forum. (I will respond to the other posts at a later time, but not as thoroughly.) My answers are to an extent only common sense.

    I don’t truly have the answers (but I’ll try) to the questions I asked – that’s why I asked them (what you feel the correct solution(s) should be, may be but a matter of opinion – although reasonable ones of course).

    (lausey: his statements marked by dashed line.)
    -Instead of making first move seen; I note it, but make note of other possible moves. (Good. )

    -Play down 10 ply [approx.] down a certain line; then work backwards down that line.

    (This works really well CC, but likely not as well OTB.)

    Capablanca: "I see one move ahead, but it is always the best one." His play amongst the most logical, and somewhat surprisingly, most closely correlates with Crafty of all the classical chess champions (as written in a recent chessbase article). His games are possibly the best to study for technique (not because of the engine correlation, but the logic and accuracy); Kramnik rates up with Capablanca regarding technique. There is less to learn in studying flashy games, with deep combinations – this is the part of one’s game that may be easiest to learn on your own – although it takes much experience to recognize some tactics in a position.

    -See what final position looks like.

    (Probably best to set goals for what position, ideally, you are striving for before you start your analysis. “Kotov's advice to identify "candidate moves" and methodically examine them to build up an "analysis tree"” (wikipedia.com) may be useful to you – I’ve read that his books are good; Think Like a Grandmaster, Play Like a Grandmaster and Plan Like a Grandmaster. I’ve never read them so opinions are welcomed here. )

    -See what good or bad bishops there are, number of pawn islands, pins, forks or skewers (i.e. imbalances).

    (Perhaps it would be more useful to do this initially in your analysis of the position – before selecting candidate moves?)

    I’m a fan of the Silman Planning Method (which I know you’ve seen)
    Step #1: Note Imbalances
    Step #2: Note Immediate Killer Threats
    Step #3: Form Plan (Based On What Was Noted)

    (Of course, whether to place step 2 before step 1 is debatable. Generally, one forms a strategy based on the imbalances. The process by which you go about this strategy really doesn't matter as long as you come to the correct solution in solving a position. It's certainly a good idea to look for your opponent's imminent threats first! But also try to create threats of your own! Sometimes the best defense can be a good offense.)

    -I make the move that leads down the line I feel more confident with.

    (Do you make the make the move intuitively, based on calculation, and/or based on the way you feel (i.e. because it looks good ) ?)

    Responding to The Rest of lausey’s post:
    Following opening books without understanding the ideas behind the moves (and the following positions that may result) will not help one improve (which you acknowledged). Merely because a strong player played a certain line, or if an opening scored a certain percentage, does not make an opening good or bad. Play lines that you feel comfortable with, plan to use OTB, and lines that you understand. Know what to do once the position leaves your opening theory.

    When you analyze with Fritz, you are able to see where you may have gone wrong (according to the silicon beast, of course). Do you come to understand why Fritz chooses the moves it does in its analysis of your games? (The point of analysis is to come to understand – to take observations and formulate – hopefully accurate, conclusions.)

    What, precisely, about RHP has helped you as a chessplayer?

    I’ve read the Amateur’s Mind, which is very well written. My System, which I haven’t read – but hopefully I will read it someday, has been recommended to me most behind Reassess Your Chess (which I have read).

    Everybody’s strategy could do with some refining; hence, we’re back to the point of the thread.

    I’m gathering that we learn mostly from our games (experience and analysis), but also books and then databases although mostly for the openings it seems (chessgames.com has a nice database of games- an excellent website to study master games).
  13. 02 Nov '06 13:03
    I found your comments and questions quite interesting. I did a quick and by no means accurate “survey” of a few of my games analyzed by Fritz. I looked at about 15 games played 30-40 years ago compared to the same number played more recently. The older games often showed one or two “?” and an occasional ”??”. Recent games showed “?” to be rare and there weren’t any “??”. As for my opponents, those rated 1900+ didn’t get any “?” except in 1 or 2 games. Some thoughts: I think this indicates that if you can eliminate only one or two serious errors from your play it can result in a significant improvement. Like most lower rated players, I was plagued with dropping pieces. The one thing that eliminated this problem from my play almost immediately was doing a board scan of ranks, files and diagonals after the opponent moved and before I moved. It forced me to quit fixating one on sector of the board and helped me notice the square I was moving to was covered by an opponent’s piece. It seems to me trying to analyze too far ahead at the lower levels is a waste of time because powers of analysis and visualization are not that good and opponents usually don’t cooperate because they cannot see the best lines any better. Who knows what they are going to play? I think one is better advised, at least at lower levels, to only try to make sure that you aren’t blundering into a 2 or 3 mover. Of course, this is less of a problem the closer you get to master, and GM's often look at the same lines; the difference is often in their evaluation of the end position which they usually see quite clearly, unlike the rest of us. If you have ever watched a GM analyze you’ll know what I mean. One of the strongest I ever watched was Tony Miles; he was light years beyond even the IM he had just beaten! You might enjoy reading DeGroot’s book if you can find a used copy. I am not aware of any significant follow-ups on his work though there may be some.
  14. 02 Nov '06 13:14 / 1 edit
    I've just read a mind blowing piece in one of the Dvoretsky books written by Krasenkow (GM) about how to analyse a position and the pitfalls (even GM's) fall into.This is the best thing I've read in recent times on chess instruction-it was just like he was talking to me and referring to exactly the chess mistakes I make.Well worth seeking out.

    He knoocks the Kotov analysis tree on the head (thank god-how impractical was that?) and makes some very common sense points before proceeding with the analysis

    1.Look at the clock!-how much time do you have-what a simple point but how effective-if you have 2 minutes left-the first non losing candidate move is the one you play.if you have an hour left and you sense an advantage then

    2.choose all your candisate moves DO NOT ANALYSE ANYTHING yet!-choose the candidate moves and then put them in ORDER of priority,intuition plays a part here.Decide before you start analysing what do you want from the move-a better position,win of material,or a win of the game (if such a move is present),or a move that defends your position if you're under attack.

    He gives a great example from one of his own games,where he spent an hour looking for a move to win the game,he found it but next move the opponent blundered anyway,which seemed a bit of a shame.

    There's a lot more to it but that's some of the gist of it..
  15. 02 Nov '06 23:39 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by yelob
    I've just read a mind blowing piece in one of the Dvoretsky books written by Krasenkow (GM) about how to analyse a position and the pitfalls (even GM's) fall into.This is the best thing I've read in recent times on chess instruction-it was just like he was talking to me and referring to exactly the chess mistakes I make.Well worth seeking out.

    He knoocks th h seemed a bit of a shame.

    There's a lot more to it but that's some of the gist of it..
    The way iv adopted tends to look at the position in general terms and finding a general idea before finding the moves to suit that idea. Example if im given a position where a knight is being attacked by a pawn and has to move, I wont look at the first knight move but first look for the best square for the knight on the board and plot the path back from that to my knight to see where the knight move move.....It tends to help.

    Yuga, one of the things im trying to work into my chess right now is a "prove everything wrong" attitude instead of a "prove everything right". It would be intresting to see who thinks how, im told higher rated players tend to try and prove everything wrong while lower rated players try to prove everything right I think the thought process and mental attitude towards chess can count for a hell of a lot of elo points.