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  1. 17 Mar '08 23:01
    After racing up to 1600 USCF pretty quickly (from 1150 to 1600 in about a year) I've been stuck for 6 months. In fact, I've noticed this pattern with a lot of other players. For those of you who got stuck at the 1600's for a while and managed to get out of it, what advice can you give us poor souls in the "1600 doldrums"?
  2. 18 Mar '08 19:03
    Originally posted by chesskid001
    After racing up to 1600 USCF pretty quickly (from 1150 to 1600 in about a year) I've been stuck for 6 months. In fact, I've noticed this pattern with [b] a lot of other players. For those of you who got stuck at the 1600's for a while and managed to get out of it, what advice can you give us poor souls in the "1600 doldrums"?[/b]
    I'm still in the upper 1600s USCF (1681) but I have slowly climbed over 1700 here. It's just hard work and the right mental attitude when you approach a game. (I gotta quit those 1/0 tournaments)
  3. Donation !~TONY~!
    1...c5!
    18 Mar '08 19:06
    Tactics Tactics Tactics. If you're 1600 you're probably still making elementary tactical mistakes. Train your calculation and your thinking process so that you always looking at checks first, analyze those very thoroughly, then move on to the captures, analyze those thoroughly, then move on to threats, analyze those thoroughly. If no forced win exists here, or something that you deem good enough to play right away, start looking at the position and trying to assess the differences, and come up with a plan.
  4. 18 Mar '08 19:16 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by !~TONY~!
    Tactics Tactics Tactics. If you're 1600 you're probably still making elementary tactical mistakes. Train your calculation and your thinking process so that you always looking at checks first, analyze those very thoroughly, then move on to the captures, analyze those thoroughly, then move on to threats, analyze those thoroughly. If no forced win exists here, ...[text shortened]... , start looking at the position and trying to assess the differences, and come up with a plan.
    thinking process, that's exactly where I suck at. Since I started 30' 15'' games on FICS, my rating got down so bad (I lost my last 4 games), from mid 1600's to 1508, and I really thought about quitting chess. This wasn't what I had studied for, for the last year.

    I just can't help it. I studied a lot of tactics during this year, and am pretty decent at solving puzzles, but I completely suck at real OTB (on the internet) games. I don't know what to do here. When I do my best not to blunder, I find myself in serious time pressure, and all those 1600 players almost blitz through the entire game, it seems like we are playing at time handicaps, and I still lose! Getting crushed positionally, getting into a theoretically lost endgame would just be fine but I lose so stupidly, like I was a complete beginner.

    Man, it's really so depressing. I was actually down this whole day.
  5. Donation !~TONY~!
    1...c5!
    18 Mar '08 19:24
    I find that a lot of times after I go on a chess studying binge and I tear through a lot of material, I play worse, and then a couple of weeks after I see the results. That said, everyone has periods where they'll play like absolute crap and get discouraged, similar to poker players running badly. It just happens, and you just have to tough it out and work at it.
  6. 18 Mar '08 19:29 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by !~TONY~!
    I find that a lot of times after I go on a chess studying binge and I tear through a lot of material, I play worse, and then a couple of weeks after I see the results. That said, everyone has periods where they'll play like absolute crap and get discouraged, similar to poker players running badly. It just happens, and you just have to tough it out and work at it.
    thanks, that's encouraging, but work how and at what? I've been doing 1 hour of CTS and 1 hour of CT-Art almost daily for a couple of months, my percentage and puzzle-solving seems fine, but still suck at OTB. I feel I'm obviously doing something wrong. how am I supposed to develop tactics and calculation if I cannot do it this way?
  7. 18 Mar '08 19:43
    I hit "the wall" at a teeny bit below 1600 (1596) now I am struggling to stay at 1500! I think that casual players are between 1200-1500 and after 1500 is when you start to hit those who take it a lot more seriously than a passtime when you have a spare half an hour or so... thats my theory of the sudden toughness level rising, how to get better is easy and has been already said here, unfortunately I am stuck in the zone of "do I care enough about chess to invest serious study time now or am I happy to linger around 1500 forever?"

    So its simply do the work if you want it bad enough.
  8. 18 Mar '08 19:45
    Originally posted by diskamyl
    thanks, that's encouraging, but work how and at what? I've been doing 1 hour of CTS and 1 hour of CT-Art almost daily for a couple of months, my percentage and puzzle-solving seems fine, but still suck at OTB. I feel I'm obviously doing something wrong. how am I supposed to develop tactics and calculation if I cannot do it this way?
    2 hours chess a day?! You need to relax and enter a few tournaments. Notate where you get wrong, work on that and expand your opening repertoire. Be a master of the Grob or retrograde analysis is not necessary for OTB chess- helpful sometimes, but not necessary.

    Pick whether openings are your weakness, learn some new ones.
    Pick whether middlegames are your weakness, play some set piece games and look for piece or pawn wins.
    Pick whether endgames are your weakness. Learn mates like K+2B vs. K, play Fritz and it will really help.

    I hope this was helpful, thanks for reading.
  9. Donation !~TONY~!
    1...c5!
    18 Mar '08 19:54 / 1 edit
    Take a break from all the tactics and such if you feel like it's not helping or you're getting burned out. How much do you study other parts of the game? If you're taking very long thinks, maybe it's because you haven't studied enough openings and the typical positions that arise from them. For instance, I play the Sicilian Dragon nearly exclusively against 1. e4 if allowed. I've studied it so much and played through so many games by strong players that very often I can look at a position and narrow the candidate moves down to 2 or 3 just because I have seen similar positions and know what's normally played. Also, by learning a little bit about openings you may gain some time on the clock and a better position.

    Also, I'm just curious, since I also own CT-ART and have worked with it quite a bit, how do you study them? Do you go through them and try to find the solution completely before checking the answer, or do you just kind of guess at the move and play the tactic move by move as you play the move prior? Do you do them grouped by tactic or by difficulty level? What level are you on? How many puzzles do you get through in an hour? I know that when I do them, I do them by difficulty level so that I don't know what tactical theme I'm looking for, and by now, I can do levels 1-3, and a decent amount of 4, nearly instantly, since I've seen them enough.
  10. 18 Mar '08 20:26 / 7 edits
    Originally posted by !~TONY~!
    Take a break from all the tactics and such if you feel like it's not helping or you're getting burned out. How much do you study other parts of the game? If you're taking very long thinks, maybe it's because you haven't studied enough openings and the typical positions that arise from them. For instance, I play the Sicilian Dragon nearly exclusively against levels 1-3, and a decent amount of 4, nearly instantly, since I've seen them enough.
    for a while I'm playing the english as white and the french as black exclusively, to narrow down and learn them, I'll take your advice and spend some more time on studying those.

    but my problem seems with my thinking "schedule". I really would like to know how a strong player thinks. But I mean, in detail. what I try to do is, when it's my move, 1)look at the "range" of all opponent's pieces, even if they are blocked by something (this almost means looking at every possible move, very briefly), and try to find if there are any threats. 2) look at all possible checks and captures. 3) look at my opponent's weaknesses, hanging pawns, weak pawns, unprotected piece etc. 4) look at the range of my all pieces (and pawns). 5) select candidate moves, and try to analyze them.

    I fail somewhat at step 2 and miserably at 5, since I make a lot of blunders. and I know this seems not convincing, but I believe my visualization skills are quite good, I can "see" long variations etc, but I just miss a 1-mover. I just push my h pawn to h3 and the g2 pawn hangs, etc. and most of the time cannot follow this regime anyway, that "subtle" check gets missed somehow. I'm not even bothering to mention how I react with time trouble.

    anyway, about CT-Art, it's almost torture. I study them by difficulty level, and am currently somewhere around problem 750, that means difficulty 40.

    what I began when I came to 30 difficulty problems is, I open CT-Art, get the problem to a pgn, then open the pgn in a 3D board in Chessmaster, and try to calculate all the way (including side variations). then, get back to CT-Art and make the move. if it's correct, fine, I go on. if not, I try to find the correct solution in 2D. if I still fail to do it, then I just make moves until CT-Art shows me the correct one. Then, if I still fail to understand why my move was wrong, I plug the pgn into Fritz.

    I probably spend 20 mins for the 40-level problems. this should be around for 15 mins for 30-level.

    I'm starting to get pretty frustrated as the 40 difficulty seems a little over my head, I fail to find (let's say) 30-40 % of the correct move(s) that's another phase of chess I'm stuck at.

    solving 30 difficulty questions instantly seems impossible for me. how much does it take for you to solve an average 40, if you haven't seen it before?

    By the way, I appreciate this, not many strong players bother to share their experience, thanks.

    edit: wow this post has become long, sorry I just had to let it out
  11. 18 Mar '08 20:29
    Originally posted by diskamyl
    for a while I'm playing the english as white and the french as black exclusively, to narrow down and learn them, I'll take your advice and spend some more time on studying those.

    but my problem seems with my thinking "schedule". I really would like to know how a strong player thinks. But I mean, in detail. what I try to do is, when it's my move, 1)look ...[text shortened]... ks.

    edit: wow this post has become long, sorry I just had to let it out
    Check Kotov's book "Think like a grandmaster". The only problem might be that it's very complicated but the main idea of disciplinary analysis is quite useful.
  12. 18 Mar '08 20:32
    Originally posted by kbaumen
    Check Kotov's book "Think like a grandmaster". The only problem might be that it's very complicated but the main idea of disciplinary analysis is quite useful.
    thanks, I've read the book (half of it) and found it very useful.
  13. 18 Mar '08 20:40 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by chesskid001
    After racing up to 1600 USCF pretty quickly (from 1150 to 1600 in about a year) I've been stuck for 6 months. In fact, I've noticed this pattern with [b] a lot of other players. For those of you who got stuck at the 1600's for a while and managed to get out of it, what advice can you give us poor souls in the "1600 doldrums"?[/b]
    Play against stronger players and then analyze the game afterwards...I played GM Amir Bagheri the other day and I missed a win in the endgame to give up the draw to him(he played the opening purely defensive as black to make the game more even...just so I don't get accused of lying) I have the game to prove it too.

    [Event "RHP Blitz rated"]
    [Site "www.playtheimmortalgame.com"]
    [Date "2008.3.17"]
    [Round "?"]
    [White "tomtom232"]
    [Black "Bagheri"]
    [Result "1/2-1/2"]

    1. d2-d4 Ng8-f6 2. Ng1-f3 g7-g6 3. c2-c4 Bf8-g7 4. Nb1-c3 O-O 5. e2-e4 d7-d6 6. Bf1-e2 Nb8-c6 7. O-O Nf6-d7 8. Bc1-g5 h7-h6 9. Bg5-e3 e7-e6 10. Qd1-d2 Kg8-h7 11. Ra1-d1 Nc6-e7 12. c4-c5 d6-d5 13. e4xd5 e6xd5 14. Be3-f4 a7-a6 15. Rf1-e1 Nd7-f6 16. Nf3-e5 Bc8-e6 17. f2-f3 Nf6-h5 18. Bf4-e3 Nh5-f6 19. Be2-d3 Rf8-e8 20. Nc3-e2 Re8-f8 21. Ne2-g3 Rf8-e8 22. Be3-f4 a6-a5 23. b2-b3 c7-c6 24. Re1-e2 b7-b6 25. Rd1-e1 b6xc5 26. d4xc5 d5-d4 27. Ne5xg6 Ne7xg6 28. Bd3xg6 f7xg6 29. Re2xe6 Re8xe6 30. Re1xe6 Qd8-d5 31. Re6-d6 Qd5xc5 32. Qd2-d3 Ra8-e8 33. Ng3-e2 Qc5-f5 34. Qd3xf5 g6xf5 35. Ne2-g3 Nf6-d5 36. Bf4-d2 d4-d3 37. Kg1-f1 f5-f4 38. Ng3-e4 Re8-e7 39. Rd6xc6 Nd5-e3 40. Kf1-e1 Ne3xg2 41. Ke1-f2 Ng2-h4 42. Rc6-d6 Nh4-f5 43. Rd6xd3 Bg7-d4 44. Kf2-e2 Re7-g7 45. Bd2xf4 Rg7-g2 46. Ke2-d1 Rg2xa2 47. Ne4-g3 Nf5xg3 48. h2xg3 Bd4-g7 49. Kd1-e1 Bg7-f8 50. Bf4-d2 Kh7-g6 51. Rd3-d8 Bf8-b4 52. Bd2xb4 a5xb4 53. Rd8-d4 Ra2-g2 54. g3-g4 h6-h5 55. g4xh5 Kg6xh5 56. Rd4xb4 Rg2-a2 57. Rb4-a4 Ra2-b2 58. Ra4-b4 Rb2-a2 59. Rb4-b5 Kh5-h4 60. b3-b4 Ra2-b2 61. Rb5-b8 Kh4-g3 62. b4-b5 Kg3xf3 63. b5-b6 Rb2-e2 64. Ke1-d1 Re2-e7 65. b6-b7 Kf3-e4 66. Kd1-e2 Ke4-d5 67. Ke2-d3 Re7-d7 1/2-1/2

    there is the game..I made a mental slip on move 66 playing Ke2 where instead Kc2 wins because I can march my king up to protect my pawn so that I can move my rook off the promotion square, if his king tries to pop out and help I can move my rook with check thereby promoting to a queen..I played the move too quickly and thought that both were equal..it just sucks that Ke2 was the easier of the two to make


    EDIT: the point I am making is to play stronger opponents like I did here... you may not have the luxury to be able to play a GM but there must be people you know that are stronger than you at chess.
  14. Donation !~TONY~!
    1...c5!
    18 Mar '08 20:42
    It sounds like your tactical training is okay, but you might be wasting a bit of time copying things over to a pgn when you can just solve them in CT-ART, but that's neither here nor there. Try this thinking approach from now on:

    1. Look at all the checks first. This makes sense because they force the action the most. A lot of times they're just stupid and you can reject them very quickly, but sometimes you might find something that looks interesting.

    2. Next the captures. Check these thoroughly as well.

    3. Then threats, the same was as above. If none of these lines work, you should check to see if your opponent is posing any type of threat or problem. If he is, the most important thing to ask is, "Can I ignore it?" You'd much rather not have to do anything, and do something of your own. Only react to an opponent's threat if it's completely necessary. If your opponent isn't threatening anything you need to be worried about, it's time to plan.

    4. When planning, figure out the so called "imbalances". What side of the board does the pawn structure dictate you should play on? What are your and your opponents minor pieces like? Do you have a bad bishop that you can fix, could you improve the position of a knight? Do you have the two bishops, and if so, is there any way you can open up the game for them? Where are your rooks, where do you think they should go? Does your opponent have any weaknesses that you could concentrate on? Who has the safer king? A lot of times if I can't find any wins, and am having trouble finding any type of a deep plan, I'll just try to simply improve the position of my worst placed piece.

    Of course, it would be stupid to think about all of this during a quick game, but in general, it's a good habit to get in to to check all the possible forcing variations before you even think about anything else. Also, I noticed that you were checking your opponents pieces before anything else for threats and so forth, but if you could react with a move that ignores it and threatens something yourself, that's better, so that's why you always start with forcing moves.
  15. 18 Mar '08 21:00
    Originally posted by !~TONY~!
    It sounds like your tactical training is okay, but you might be wasting a bit of time copying things over to a pgn when you can just solve them in CT-ART, but that's neither here nor there. Try this thinking approach from now on:

    1. Look at all the checks first. This makes sense because they force the action the most. A lot of times they're just stupid ...[text shortened]... hing yourself, that's better, so that's why you always start with forcing moves.
    ok, the problem seems I'm just too slow and disorganized in doing all this. I'll try to stick to this approach from now on. I appreciate the help, thanks.