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Help going from intermediate to advanced

Discussion in 'Chess' started by IglooDude, Jan 17, 2021.

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  1. IglooDude

    IglooDude Enforcing Rule 34 Retired Moderator Supporter

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    I learned chess as a kid, and have played sporadically through the years, mostly against computers. I am familiar with the principles of it, such as holding/attacking the center and the strengths and relative value of the pieces, and tend to look a move or two ahead. However, I've never played "officially" or competitively, and I've never had a rating nor learned openings. Recently seeing Queen's Gambit (I'm halfway through, no spoilers please) and seeing a couple mentions of chess.com from friends elsewhere, I fired up an account there (MightierQ, please feel free to friend me) and have played some games against the computer opponents winning up to the 1500 rating opponents where I'm now 1-1.

    So what I'm looking to do is take the next step, to get "good but not great". I'm not going to start living and breathing chess, and I'm not really eager to play lots of human opponents, but spend maybe 30-60min every day or two to leverage my familiarity with the game into being better at it, and oh by the way establish my rating. I'm guessing that this means learning the fundamentals of the openings and actually analyzing the games I do play, aside from just playing more regularly. Does anyone have any recommendations or advice for me in going forward?
     
  2. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

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    I really have no idea how the Chess-com UI even works these days. They used to have a nice tool to analyse your previous games with that I have no idea where to locate.
     
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  3. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    I observed in my chess club days that the main difference between the top two players and the third was resistance to distractions. I think focus, inhuman focus enabled them to be their best players, and otherwise weren't as much stronger as the considerable rating difference. No idea how to work on that, though.
     
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  4. JohannaK

    JohannaK Heroically Clueless

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    For me it helps to play physically. I have never been a good player, but I was usually the strongest amongst friends and family. Having a physical board and pieces helps immensely. Conversely, playing through phone app (which I did yesterday) is atrocious. It's a completely different medium to adapt to. My limitation irl would be hyperfocus. At some point I would stop seeing the table and see only my own plan, which is always what does me in. My limitation on the computer is that it's hard for me tongive myself the time to focus in the first place.
     
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  5. IglooDude

    IglooDude Enforcing Rule 34 Retired Moderator Supporter

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    That's a really interesting point. I was playing a game over the weekend and I noticed that early on I was getting surprised by opponent countermoves, but as the game went on I was letting things sit, actually mulling out alternatives instead of playing what immediately looked like the best move, and for the most part I think my play improved.
     
  6. IglooDude

    IglooDude Enforcing Rule 34 Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Through a phone? Oh my goodness. Yeah, that'd be a problem for me too, I was going full-screen on a laptop or desktop. I've heard of a couple people playing online matches that have a real chessboard and they truly play on that, transferring the moves to and from it, for normal-speed matches anyway.
     
  7. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    I'm a fish -rating under 1,000 when I was last active- I'm not good. BUT, a friend who was 1,700ish told me I had talent and wouldn't be terrible at all if I really worked at it. Dunno; I have that distractible problem pretty bad and my chess is like my math; I didn't have any trouble understanding algebra, but arithmetic errors would generally do me in. -HowEVER, when I was playing and reading about chess a lot, I was capable of getting in the zone, playing out sequences in my head, often with actual little movies, whether 3D ones over the board I was at or overhead diagram view.

    You'd think that'd burn a lot of brain bandwidth needed for calculation, but I reckon maybe it was more parts of my brain pitching in, 'cause that's when I played closest to my potential, not so much noticing other people in the room talking.

    I don't think there's any shortcut around Living and Breathing Chess, if you want to live up to your potential - but I knew people who'd done most of their Living and Breathing long years previous, and kept a lot of the skill gained playing casually often enough to retain their edge subsequently. I did most all my studying and working at it in my late teens and college -v. computer chess, reading chess books- and did retain much in my early 40s playing socially in chess club w/o working at it or much chess in between.
     
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  8. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    I'll also note that cheating against the computer a lot -taking back a bad move- can build a lot of counterproductive mental habits -playing impulsively against people, if you're not careful- but THAT IS how I went from mere Knew the Moves to actual Playing Chess, along with studying how-to books to get some solid theory in. I started, circa 1981, with a primitive program that would only let me take back one move, blessedly, 'cause more is too much temptation. But trying for one better move, that's educational if you're doing it right.

    I'll also note what I assume anyone who's done much read-book/article studying has also found out - that game visualization thing I mentioned about is essential to being able to look at a diagram and a written sequence of moves and follow well and learn in any useful timeframe - or learn at all without a board set up at your side, which is way slower anyway. Dunno how much of that's a talent and how much anyone can learn to, but I can do it when I'm in the mood and concentrating well, and I suck. [shrugs]
     
  9. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    And WAY more of that visualization for me while reading; somewhat rare for it to happen in great depth over the board v. a person, with people in the room talking and an opponent to look at and all that.

    -And that latter's mostly what I originally meant about focus; I finally found the chess clock, after they started playing, and when I jiggled it at the actual schizophrenic -1900+/2000- and 12 year-old Boy Wonder -1800+ and rising fast- a couple feet from their faces, I couldn't get an eye-flicker from either. Number three in the room that night was a very successful retired labor lawyer, 1600+, who would have stopped to talk to me when I said I found the clock. I think most of the difference in rating was not skill.
     

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