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kofman2155 78 ( +1 | -1 )
Improving Chess past Tactics I've finally joined the chess club. While I've only been defeated by one kid so far our of everyone I played I'm still at 11. Out of all the members. This kid has beaten me everytime and it's chess a bit beyond tactics. We had one close game where I managed to take his queen and I was sure I was going to win, I let down defenses and he mated me, when I didn't even see it coming. He's moved up to 5 in the club now. I want to beat him obviously and I need suggestions on how? When I play him I manage to execute a few devestating attacks, my defenses are not too bad through majority of the game, but when I see an attack most of the time I send almost all my pieces to that one area to deliver it. I want to be the top player in our club and I want the difference in our game to be a big enough rift that when he graduates, I can trully say I was better. What's the next step towards beating him?
More: Chess
coyotefan 68 ( +1 | -1 )
General stratigies When I play younger opponents, I get the games out of the books quickly. Youngins have great memories and memorize great volumes of moves. When you throw them a curve and get them out of the book, panic sets in. I also like to play openings like Ruy Lopez exchange or the Grob (1.g4). Openings that you like make the whole game much easier.

Intensity is also important. As you learned leading a game does not translate into winning a game. You must take every move as vital. Cannot be up a queen and start dropping pawns. Every move you make is the most important of the game. Do not let him squirm away.
caldazar 293 ( +1 | -1 )
If beating this particular opponent is that important to you, the easiest way to do this is to collect up all your games against this opponent, find a good chess teacher, pay him some money, and ask him to explain all the mistakes in the games to you.

If you don't want to shell out to cash, then you have a lot of work to do yourself. You need to go through all your games and identify your personal shortcomings and those of your opponent. You need to do this is a very clear and detailed manner because after you've targeted areas for study, you need be able to look up specific topics in books, grandmaster games, or other references and study them to improve your game. And I do mean actively study, not just passively read over; you ultimately learn by doing, not by simply observing (although observing is better than nothing at all, of course).

First, if you managed to allow a forced mate, you need to study tactics, specifically mating patterns. But beyond that take your games and ask yourself honestly which moves were the mistakes. One way to identify mistakes is to take note of which points in the games you felt you were doing okay, and which parts you felt you were fighting an uphill struggle. If things changed from good-to-bad or vice versa, there was a mistake in there. This will of course not catch mistakes you made but your opponent failed to exploit, but it’s a start. Figure out what the mistakes were and try to describe them in words.

Did you get lazy? Work on building up mental discipline (for instance, by telling yourself that you will devote time to solving a certain number of chess problems each week, no matter what). Don't understand how you can lose when you're up materially? Study grandmaster games highlighting piece coordination, piece activity, and the initiative. Are you playing 'hope chess' (i.e. planning out ideas without considering how your opponent is going to undertake action against you in return)? He isn't just going to sit around and defend all day, after all. Play both sides of the board all the time until you do it out of habit (e.g., pretend that you suddenly switches places with your opponent; what move would you make?) If you have trouble clearly outlining what your weaknesses are in a very specific way, get a second opinion from a stronger player.

After you’ve identified and corrected you weaknesses, then it's time to move on and consider how you can exploit your opponent's weaknesses. Does he rely too heavily on memorized openings? Does he not see knight moves well? Is he easily rattled by scary-looking attacks (and hence, liable to panic and do things like drop his queen)? Does he dislike slow, positional play? You can then use this knowledge to try to steer the game down a course that will increase the likelihood of your opponent making a mistake.
peppe_l 19 ( +1 | -1 )
Chess beyond tactics "We had one close game where I managed to take his queen and I was sure I was going to win, I let down defenses and he mated me, when I didn't even see it coming."

This sounds like tactics to me :-)
kofman2155 102 ( +1 | -1 )
caldazar thank you so much, you were a great help. I have a problem tho I didn't note games. And I haven't actually paid attention to his playing style. It feels a pretty even and he always has a calm face on, no matter how bad the situation. I won his queen through force where I threatened mate, in fact I was sure I won but he staired on kept thinking, and then sacrificed his queen and avoided mate. So that was the one game that really made me his rival. Most of our games are close and very tight with meterial and one mistake leads to the fall of the entire game. Well one of my mistakes. I'm going to see if he wants to play a few yahoo games where i can print the game moves and I'll really try and break down the game to see where my downfall is. I suppose I rush too fast without a solid defense, but I've never looked at his downfalls. He's not the top player in the club so he must have some sort of weakness. Thank you. Besides going over the game, what is the next step beyond tactics.
sy_or_bust 184 ( +1 | -1 )
kofman, you're coming off as not very educated in chess. I'm not sure that's entirely correct, so I'll just assume you're a little bit confused at the moment.

1) Everyone has strengths/weaknesses. Maybe it'd be better for you to think of them as "tendencies" or, the traditional term, "styles". In that sense everyone has something you can key in on, if you choose to do that. If I were you, I wouldn't worry so much about this right now.

2) Please never use the phrase "beyond tactics" again. It means nothing at all, and if you're trying to say that your chess games are somehow "beyond tactics", then you're certainly not playing chess! No one can do anything to teach you tactics, it's just a skill...some players have a natural knack for it and improve quickly, others have to work a little harder to develop it. You'll never master it, and at sub-1400 you're certainly knee-deep in it.

3) It'd be nice to always be thinking deeply so as to not make so many mistakes, but I understand it's difficult....so try to make it a priority in your game, when you're obviously better (i.e. up that queen for rook or something), to be extra careful. Your opponent knows he can't play normally to beat you, so he'll try to "swindle" you like it appears he did in that one game.

4) Do yourself a favor and read some quality annotated chess games, preferably some catered towards novice/beginner players. Stuff by Jeremy Silman is pretty good; with all of your obvious gaps in understanding, reading up a little bit should improve your ranking *VERY* quickly. I get the feeling you know nothing in terms of ideas about the game (as most of us do for various periods before studying)....so if you take the time to read, say, "Reassess Your Chess", you should at least make 1600 without much effort.

If you don't know what you're practicing, you won't really improve....and you really won't improve playing sub-par competition...so keep cracking!
caldazar 292 ( +1 | -1 )
It's not really a good idea to make generalizations about what a particular class of player should study next. Just because a particular person has a certain rating, has a certain class standing, or whatever doesn't mean he necessarily has a particular makeup of skills. Some of my peers are great positionally but can't calculate a 3-move mate. Others are better endgame players. Still others can recall huge amounts of opening theory. The way you defeat opponents is by making fewer and less severe mistakes that others do, so any general advice I could give would be pretty much useless since I have no clue what your specific weaknesses are. I could tell you to study endgames, since we amateurs are typically poor endgame players, but if you're a better endgame player than your opponent already, that wouldn't necessarily be the best use of your time (assuming your goal here is to beat this specific player, not necessarily improving your playing skill in general). Or I could tell you to study more tactics, since in general we're tactically weak, but I don't know for sure who is the better tactician. But in any case, if you want to beat this guy, you have to understand why specifically you lose to him and then make sure you don't make those mistakes in the future, and the only reliable way to determine why you lose is to collect up your games and study them throroughly.

You haven't provided enough specific information to get a good feel of what the problem is, but from what little you have provided, you clearly have a tactical weakness and need to study that aspect of the game more. You simply cannot allow your opponent a forced mate. Also, it sounds like you don't make enough of an effort to try to understand what your opponent is thinking. When you decide upon a move or plan, always assume that your opponent knows (or will figure out) exactly what you're thinking. Then, figure out what your oppoent is going to do in response before you actually play your move. Every time your opponent plays a move, you want your reaction to be either "Yeah, I figured that's what he would do" or "Hmm, I didn't think he would play that because it looks like a bad move." If your reaction is consistently "Oh, I didn't see that", you're in for a lot of trouble because the next surprising move may be the one that costs you the game. By thinking carefully about what your opponent will play, you also avoid rushing into unsound attacks because you will always assume that your opponent will play the strongest defense available to stop your attack and so will not launch an attack unless you can see that your attack will be difficult to meet.
kofman2155 58 ( +1 | -1 )
I've sent a challange to both caldazar and sy_or_bust, since it's a bit difficult to explain my level of play I figured I'd play you guys and have you see for yourself. I feel comfortable in seeing basic tactics in the game, forks, skewers, uncovered threats ect. There fore when I asked what's beyond tactics I ment is there a next step towards imporving chess. Positional play for example or should I try closed games, or something else? or should I start learning openings which I tried before and was told to stop at this forum.
dervish 44 ( +1 | -1 )
good idea about finding helpful unrated games.

monthly membership: $5.95
yearly membership: $ 29.50
caldazar advice: priceless

I lost to much $ on the world series but hope to be able to join soon... forum posters such as caldazar have a great way of teaching that can't be found anywhere...
wizard_of_odd 148 ( +1 | -1 )
Kofman... I'm in a similar situation, sort of. We've got a local tourney going (pretty casual, but we're playing for a prize). Tonight, twelve finalists will play off for a nice chess set at the local mall. I managed to squeak in there somehow, so send some chessically accurate thoughts my way if you guys get the chance! :)

We all have a pretty good idea who's going to win. I played him in the first qualifying round a couple of weeks ago, and I was getting a fairly good game agaisnt him... until I got down to the last ten minutes of the game. I had that fellow's king cornered, but mating him was going to take some work. I panicked, and dropped a knight that was one of my major attacking pieces, and I was hosed. Oh well...

If I stay focused, I think I might actually have a slim chance against him. Assuming I get that far tonight.

I, too, need to improve. Right now, I'm having trouble picking up on which squares are crucial to controlling the middle game. I *know* the center squares are important, but figuring out which one's the one I need to be nabbing is a different story. This was highlighted when my Nemesis and I played a casual game last week. After a valiant effort by both sides, I grabbed the wrong pawn. He grabbed another pawn and a few moves later, won the game. Then he pointed to the (I think) d5 square (where he swiped my pawn a few moves earlier) and said, "It all came down to that pawn right there."

How do you see these sorts of things early enough for it to matter?

kofman2155 11 ( +1 | -1 )
I've never paid enough attention to such details as controlling certain parts of the board. How do you tell?