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  1. 21 Dec '12 23:20
    I was listening to a Magnus interview in which he stated that there are many people who know a lot about chess but cannot seem to improve, why is that the case?
  2. Standard member Thabtos
    I am become Death
    21 Dec '12 23:27
    I think the obvious answer is that the key to improvement is not knowing a lot about chess, but being driven to know more about your own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes people don't have the fire in their belly to continue to improve and they don't want to get better.

    You can spend 3 hours a day studying master games, and you'll know a lot about chess over time.

    But if you don't spend a great amount of time studying your own games, your own ability isn't going to improve as much, even though you've memorized a ton of master games.
  3. 22 Dec '12 00:25
    Originally posted by Thabtos
    I think the obvious answer is that the key to improvement is not knowing a lot about chess, but being driven to know more about your own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes people don't have the fire in their belly to continue to improve and they don't want to get better.

    You can spend 3 hours a day studying master games, and you'll know a lot about chess ...[text shortened]... bility isn't going to improve as much, even though you've memorized a ton of master games.
    Hi Thabtos, I think you are correct but it struck me as i was doing some puzzles that it essentially comes down to the decision making process and how on earth one even goes about improving that process. For example, its relatively easy to go through ones own games and find mistakes, tactical ones especially, because they stick out. So what is the solution? to practice more tactics, to try to avoid sharp positions in the first place or to try to understand why one got into a tactically suspect position at all? I have played literally thousands of tactical puzzles yet my rating at doing tactics stay roughly the same about 1600- 1700 and I have concluded that I suck at tactics and simply have no hope of improving, my solution is therefore to try to avoid sharp positions and I will never get better at tactics no matter how many I do, therefore I need to try to compensate for it in some other ways and it comes down to accentuating strengths rather than concentrating on weaknesses. I really think that if anyone wants to improve a mentor is a must, its simply not possible to be completely objective, at least not for me.
  4. 22 Dec '12 00:34
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Hi Thabtos, I think you are correct but it struck me as i was doing some puzzles that it essentially comes down to the decision making process and how on earth one even goes about improving that process. For example, its relatively easy to go through ones own games and find mistakes, tactical ones especially, because they stick out. So what is the ...[text shortened]... ove a mentor is a must, its simply not possible to be completely objective, at least not for me.
    You have to study tactics like you would any other facet of the game, not just do puzzle after puzzle. Did you do even close to the amount of positional puzzles as you did tactics puzzles? No? Then what did you do to get better at understanding the positional aspect?

    Bring that same approacch to tactis.
  5. 22 Dec '12 01:38 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    You have to study tactics like you would any other facet of the game, not just do puzzle after puzzle. Did you do even close to the amount of positional puzzles as you did tactics puzzles? No? Then what did you do to get better at understanding the positional aspect?

    Bring that same approacch to tactis.
    the only thing that i found that helped me solve tactical puzzles was to try to identify
    what type of puzzle it was, solve for mate, win material, pawn promotion, exploitation
    of a pin, clearance sacrifice, removal of the defender etc, once I had identified the
    tactic it somehow became easier to solve, but i still cannot progress beyond 1800s
    tactically no matter how many i do. How do you study tactics, surely you just do
    them?
  6. 22 Dec '12 01:54 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    the only thing that i found that helped me solve tactical puzzles was to try to identify
    what type of puzzle it was, solve for mate, win material, pawn promotion, exploitation
    of a pin, clearance sacrifice, removal of the defender etc, once I had identified the
    tactic it somehow became easier to solve, but i still cannot progress beyond 1800s
    tactically no matter how many i do. How do you study tactics, surely you just do
    them?
    No I do a few things. For example, I have a pretty slim opening rep and when I go over my games looking for missed tactics I save the game and the position where I missed the tactic. When I do tactics on, say, chesstempo I look to see if the first move was actually the critical move and then I go over the whole game. If I missed it I put in a database based on certain patterns and whichever database fills up the quickest is the one I put the most effort into studying. If you want quicker results just organize tactics by opening and only do this for the opening/s you use.

    Basically you have to study like you play... Pattern recognition is the name of the game but how you store patterns can be different than the next guy. Some people will advance quickly by just solving problems because they store the positions. Me, my brain stores move sequences and ideas ... I can remember my games in chunks by remembering that my opponent fianchettoed and I then tried to swap bishops etc etc. I think this is actually conducive to a higher ceiling, not to flatter myself, but is not conducive to easier studying. I'm actually pretty lazy and my databases aren't very full.

    Edit: you could also build up a repertoir of things to identify; what openening did this game come out of; what's en prise; what pieces are lined up; where are my pieces pointing etc sometimes when it is pretty obvious its a king hunt I look at what pieces I have in checking distance and then run through possible mating patterns that I remember.

    You strike me as a guy who likes things organized but doesn't like to organize them... Am I close? Lol maybe this is your chess hump? In order to get better at chess you need to get more organized.
  7. Standard member RJHinds
    The Near Genius
    22 Dec '12 04:08
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    I was listening to a Magnus interview in which he stated that there are many people who know a lot about chess but cannot seem to improve, why is that the case?
    Psychology.
  8. 22 Dec '12 11:00 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    No I do a few things. For example, I have a pretty slim opening rep and when I go over my games looking for missed tactics I save the game and the position where I missed the tactic. When I do tactics on, say, chesstempo I look to see if the first move was actually the critical move and then I go over the whole game. If I missed it I put in a database base ybe this is your chess hump? In order to get better at chess you need to get more organized.
    the best thing would be to give it up, its simply futility endeavouring to make progress
    when there is no real way of doing so. Perhaps futility is the best we can hope for, but
    its sweeping up a pile of leaves only to see it blown away by the wind, one should at
    least be able to see some good from ones hard work.
  9. 22 Dec '12 11:03
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    Psychology.
    No i don't think psychology is helping, good moves help and trying to ascertain the
    reasons behind why those moves are good, psychology is an inexact science if its even
    a science at all, chess is an art form, neither a science nor based purely on intuition or
    experimentation.
  10. 22 Dec '12 11:05
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    the best thing would be to give it up, its simply futility endeavouring to make progress
    when there is no real way of doing so.
    I make progress if my chesstempo rating steadily going up is considered progress. Truth is, I don't put in much effort these days and when I did put in the most effort I hadn't really thought about the most efficient way to learn. Successful people in life tend to be successful in chess... It is our own fault we don't improve. If we did the neccesary tasks to improve we would.
  11. 22 Dec '12 11:23 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    I make progress if my chesstempo rating steadily going up is considered progress. Truth is, I don't put in much effort these days and when I did put in the most effort I hadn't really thought about the most efficient way to learn. Successful people in life tend to be successful in chess... It is our own fault we don't improve. If we did the neccesary tasks to improve we would.
    well that's fine and good but I don't think its as easy as a formula as put in more effort
    and you will improve, everyone reaches a kind of zenith of their ability, this is my point
    Tomo, where improvement is simply not possible no matter how much effort we put
    into it, is it not the case? I suspect humility is the ability to recognise our limitations
    and a failure to do so leads to frustration, but still, did you yourself not come to the
    conclusion once that you had simply reached a point where you could not improve on
    your own? i recall a thread or a post from some time ago declaring this. I agree,
    there is no help like self help but still, even the greatest have teachers and coaches, do
    they not?
  12. 22 Dec '12 11:38 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    well that's fine and good but I don't think its as easy as a formula as put in more effort
    and you will improve, everyone reaches a kind of zenith of their ability, this is my point
    Tomo, where improvement is simply not possible no matter how much effort we put
    into it, is it not the case? I suspect humility is the ability to recognise our lim ...[text shortened]... no help like self help but still, even the greatest have teachers and coaches, do
    they not?
    Yes, and the teachers and coaches give them a structured, efficient method of learning. My point wasn't max effort = max skill, my point was that the way we learn is important. Putting no thought on the proper way to study... It doesn't matter how much effort you put in if you are not willing to follow a well thought out study plan.

    My personal plan is max organization, be as specific as possible and study the same way the game is played. Save everything.... To go over and as a progress report.

    Pick a sound and principled opening, learn some variations. Then learn the plans and typical tactical patterns, put more effort into these patterns than any other. Study the particular pawn structure, study only the typical endings from these openings (many types of endings are typical to a wide range of openenings and these should already be familiar) try to organize pawn endings by structure etc etc. For example, if you play an opening where all the bishops end up swapped off 90% of the time you shouldn't put much effort into endings with bishops in them. Basically the idea is to only learn what you will see the most often instead of putting useless information in your head.

    It is simple... You could know a lot about chess in general and know how to play a decent game but the guy who knows the specific positions on the board ten times better will probably win most times. In other words, knowing that two bishops are generally better than bishop and knight isn't going to help you if your opponent knows that in the position on the board your knight is a key piece.

    When you have mastered this opening and the positions that arise, move on to the next. I'd imagine that if this method actually gets you performing at a higher level when you are in your pet positions it should get easier and easier to assimilate new positions.

    I think this should work because it is they way we play the game, and by keeping our study very specific we will be able to see results quicker. In theory it should be the difference between filling the ocean a drop at a time and filling a bucket with a hose.

    I stress having very specific study. Just like anything else... If you have to bring mashed potatoes to the pot luck does knowing how to fry them do you any good?
  13. 22 Dec '12 11:50 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    Yes, and the teachers and coaches give them a structure efficient method of learning. My point wasn't max effort = max skill, my point was that the way we learn is important. Putting no thought in the proper way to study... It doesn't matter how much effort you put in if you are willing to follow a well thought out study plan.
    Ok i see, following some kind of study plan. Yes I admit the concept is alien to me, I
    like chess books to be honest, filing things away on my hard drive never to see the
    light of day again is about as far as my organisation gets, i hardly ever look at anything
    a second or third time, if you look at my games you will realise that once is quite
    enough for any man to bear! Did you ever seek the advice of a chess coach or
    mentor. My next door neighbour was a chess coach when I was young, Mr Cameron,
    awesome old dude, he tried to get me interested in chess but I resisted, its one of my
    many regrets in life that i never took him up on the offer when I was a teenager.
  14. 22 Dec '12 12:40
    Originally posted by tomtom232
    Yes, and the teachers and coaches give them a structured, efficient method of learning. My point wasn't max effort = max skill, my point was that the way we learn is important. Putting no thought on the proper way to study... It doesn't matter how much effort you put in if you are not willing to follow a well thought out study plan.

    My personal plan is ...[text shortened]... have to bring mashed potatoes to the pot luck does knowing how to fry them do you any good?
    can you suggest a study plan Tomo, like a simple one, 30 mins tactics, 30 mins on
    opening, 30 mins on middle game, 1 hrs on endgame, 1 hr annotating games, 1 hr
    playing etc etc
  15. 22 Dec '12 12:47 / 1 edit
    Its just a more specific suggestion, but basically the same thing Thabtos posted. Getting rid of your specific weaknesses, but more to the point, getting rid of the weaknesses that are most likely to hamper you're ability in the positions you get on the board should definitely pay more noticeable dividends.