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  1. 10 Jan '08 18:24
    Could really use some advice on how to get past the 1700 wall I feel that I'm stuck at and start making some progress. First a little bit on what I think are some of my strengths and weakness:

    1. I have a fairly solid opening repetoire. Its not perfect and has some holes in it, but I usually come out of the opening ok. My only real blind spot is probably the English, since I don't have a systematic answer to it. But I rarely ever see it anyway so I don't feel its worth spending time on right now.

    2. Blunders. I do a systematic blunder check that I've done for so long now that its second nature and in a CC game I'll almost never commit a 1 move blunder that simply loses. Also not an issue.

    3. Tactics. I could definitely be better here but I'm not convinced its worth dedicating much, if any time to right now. I'm satisfied with my tactical ability currently and don't think its holding me back presently.

    4. Judgement/Planning/Position play. At my level I think this may be one of my biggest weakness. I know positional concepts but my problem is in the implementation. And I'm sometimes stuck for what to do when there's no positional weakness to exploit or tactical idea in the air.

    5. Endings. I know many of the basics and can usually handle simple endings ok. But I wouldn't call this one of my strengths either, I basically know just enough to get by and am pretty content in most endings (ie: I don't avoid them unless I know they're bad for me).

    So with that self-assessment out of the way, how to proceed? I have a modest library of about 25 chess books but deciding on what books to read and in what order is very daunting. I'll list some with the hopes that, with what I wrote above & my 1700 rating in mind someone can suggest some to start with (no new book suggestions please, I have enough unread books now) and any other improvement ideas they have. Book list to be continued in next post...........
  2. Standard member bannedplayer306509
    Best Loser
    10 Jan '08 18:27
    Be patient, if you have the skills you say you have you'll be in the 2000+ level in time.

    Umm one thing about tactics though.. I'd say in most if not all positions there is SOME tactical shot on the horizon.. keep looking and you'll get a better plan, that will then help you out positionally.
  3. 10 Jan '08 18:44
    These are mostly Middle Game & Endgame books as I buy very few opening books. Some of them I've read before, but none of them in years.

    The Art of the Checkmate
    The Art of Combinations
    The Art of the Middle Game
    The Art of Attack
    Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player
    Winning Chess Tactics
    How to Become a Deadly Chess Tactician
    Zurich 1953
    Capablanca's Best Chess Endings
    The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Playedby Chernev
    Judgement & Planning in Chess
    My System
    Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur
    Simple Chess by Stean
    Best Lessons of A Chess Coach
    Essential Endings by Howell
    Essential Endings Move by Move by Silman
    Pandolfini's Endgame Course

    I've left some off that are either Opening Books or too basic to be useful.
  4. 10 Jan '08 20:57
    Hi Scandium,

    If I could offer some advice for you ... your self-assessment is great, but is it base on just you feelings about yourself, or is it based of careful analysis of your games.

    Hearing over and over again the importance of analyzing your games, I have started to add it to my chess schedule. Upon completing a game here, use a tool I built to print it our on a sheet with lines for note taking. I then go over and take notes on the game, trying to determine why I lost, why I got cramped, why my opening didn't go well, if I missed any opportunities, etc. Then I Fritz the game, print out its analysis with the same tool, and take notes again. If there was an opportunity that I missed in both the game and my own analysis, that means I need to work on that.

    Maybe you are already to game analysis, but since you didn't mention it, I thought I would. Best of luck and don't get to cold up there...
  5. 10 Jan '08 21:39
    Originally posted by AProdigy
    Hi Scandium,

    If I could offer some advice for you ... your self-assessment is great, but is it base on just you feelings about yourself, or is it based of careful analysis of your games.

    Hearing over and over again the importance of analyzing your games, I have started to add it to my chess schedule. Upon completing a game here, use a tool I built ...[text shortened]... nce you didn't mention it, I thought I would. Best of luck and don't get to cold up there...
    I haven't done any game analysis in a long time. My self-assessment is I suppose how I've improved over the years since I was a 1400 (not on RHP) level player. At that time I played some very dry chess, didn't blunder often, but had no real knowledge of tactics, endgames, openings or strategy. To add the 300 points to get where I'm to now I undertook a study in all of those areas, although nothing in the last few years.

    I probably focused the most on tactics, which injected some aggression into my games. Strategic ideas have been the hardest to really assimilate. I know the concepts, can speak the language, but struggle sometimes to turn theory into practice.

    I've thought of analyzing my own games, I don't do it now, but I think I really need an outside stimulus, which is why I mentioned turning to books again. The problem is.... where to begin?
  6. Standard member bannedplayer306509
    Best Loser
    10 Jan '08 21:41
    Well I'd suggest PMing someone on this site who takes on 'pupils' and send over an unrated game or two in the hopes of learning the game in a fairly down to earth way.

    psssst .. look at my profile

    Matt.
  7. 10 Jan '08 21:43
    Originally posted by ih8sens
    Well I'd suggest PMing someone on this site who takes on 'pupils' and send over an unrated game or two in the hopes of learning the game in a fairly down to earth way.

    psssst .. look at my profile

    Matt.
    Did you notice that he's already 1700+. If you're up for teaching him, I'd be impressed.
  8. Standard member bannedplayer306509
    Best Loser
    10 Jan '08 21:46
    Originally posted by zebano
    Did you notice that he's already 1700+. If you're up for teaching him, I'd be impressed.
    oh heck didn't notice his rating..

    oh hell why not.. I don't really 'teach' anyways.. I take on playing partners and then do the dirty work of manually analyzing with fritz after.
  9. 10 Jan '08 21:49
    I PM'd him anyway. Our ratings are close enough that "teaching" may not be quite it but some kind improvement partner to help analyze games with, throw out suggestions, play unrated with, etc, would work too. Actually I had a long time mentor when I was a 1400 who offered a lot of good insight during my rise to 1700 (he was a 1900 rated player then, 2000+ now).
  10. 10 Jan '08 22:21 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by scandium
    Could really use some advice on how to get past the 1700 wall I feel that I'm stuck at and start making some progress. First a little bit on what I think are some of my strengths and weakness:

    1. I have a fairly solid opening repetoire. Its not perfect and has some holes in it, but I usually come out of the opening ok. My only real blind spot is probably her improvement ideas they have. Book list to be continued in next post...........
    I'm not familiar with most of the books on your list, except by reputation (and in some cases not even that). However, you seem interested in improving planning (...stuck for what to do when...) and for that middlegame books would seem to breach the gap, since your opening theory is basically satisfactory to you and your knowledge of endings is OK but not especially strong.

    Another aspect which you failed to mention in your enumeration of chess skills (but suggested in your list of titles) is mating attacks.

    Personally, I feel that both of these areas are among my own greatest weaknesses.

    Sometimes the board calls for an attack, and knowing how to coordinate your pieces and pawns to build up an attack will in these cases give you a solid middlegame plan; and during the coordination of a mating net, the act of defense may create new targets. In other cases, where quiet positional play is called for, a different kind of middlegame planning is required; and having the books available for your examination, you may be better qualified than anyone else to decide which books offer the best coverage of such material, for a player of your strength.
  11. 10 Jan '08 22:35
    On the subject of tactics, let me say -- and I may be mistaken -- that my best games seem to occur when I make an attempt to identify/create imbalances early on, then coordinate my moves henceforward to make those work for me. Instead, I often fall into the habit of evaluating each move merely for short-term tactical gains, and if these aren't forthcoming (which they frequently aren't if one's opponent is decent) I then find that after some more moves, having neglected positional considerations my opponent ends up with the upper hand.

    It's an easy habit to fall into, especially when strong players post things like "chess is 99 percent tactics" but I find that tactics emerge most fruitfully when one has managed to obtain a strong position -- control of key squares, ranks/files/diagonals, the center, gained space for one's pieces, etc.). If one doesn't have a good position, then the search for tactics depends on cheap shots, with which a strong opponent may not be willing to cooperate, and which in the meantime leave one's own army of pawns and pieces ill-coordinated and subject to the opponent's tactical shots. So my strong suspicion is that those who play chess very well yet denigrate positional considerations are actually using positional principles to organize tactics without realizing it: and by failing to make the distinction they end up attributing everything to "tactics". I firmly believe that unless one can successfully meld positional and tactical considerations, in evaluating every position, that one cannot become a good chess player (something I am still merely aspiring to be).
  12. Standard member bannedplayer306509
    Best Loser
    10 Jan '08 22:37
    well mark you have a point but I have to say that chess IS 99.341% tactics.

    If you can see far enough, those positional imbalances that you look at positionally CAN be looked at tactically.. all it takes is a little bit of experience, powerful intuition, and a bit of depth vision (2 weeks practice.. tops jk)
  13. 10 Jan '08 22:39
    I think Judgment and Planning is probably my single biggest weakness right now. Deciding what to do and where to do it when there's no obvious weakness to grind or tactics in the air. Therefore I've decided on the aptly named Judgment and Planning in Chess by Euwe. Its 9 chapters are broken into the following, all of which I could use some work on:

    1. First Steps in Judging and Planning
    2. Pawn Majority Queen Side
    3. The Queen's Side Attack
    4. Knight Against 'bad bishop'
    5. Weakening the King's side
    6. The Attack on the King's field
    7. Weak Pawns
    8. Strong Squares
    9. Open Files

    It'll be interesting if anyone else has this as well and wants to work through it too, but in either case I'll update as I work through it.
  14. 10 Jan '08 22:44
    Originally posted by ih8sens
    well mark you have a point but I have to say that chess IS 99.341% tactics.

    If you can see far enough, those positional imbalances that you look at positionally CAN be looked at tactically.. all it takes is a little bit of experience, powerful intuition, and a bit of depth vision (2 weeks practice.. tops jk)
    I respectfully disagree. I think that if positional considerations become second nature, but tactics are something that must be looked for, one may make the mistake of assuming that positional considerations are not shaping and determining tactics and the opportunity for tactics.
  15. Standard member bannedplayer306509
    Best Loser
    10 Jan '08 22:48
    Game 4429715

    Move 15. e5

    Would you call that positional in that it opened up a file or tactical in that, despite being a totally unsound waste of a pawn, black is forced to make several hard decisions?

    That's what I'm getting at... all positional plays (okay, most) have a tactical element to them and vice versa.