back to chess
I already have written a few articles about online chess. The one of them is called Online Chess vs. Over the Board Chess, which you may want to check out for comparing these two animals. The other one was a little bit more pessimistic (or realistic?): 11 Worst Habits of Chess Bullies.
It talks about different forms of unsportsmanlike behavior in online chess. Today we will try to exploit the subject of online chess even further and come up with strategies that can help you to become a more successful online chess player.
A lot of players ask how to make good decisions at chess. It seems to be an easy question to answer but, actually it isn’t. What is very obvious for one player may be very subtle for the other one.
One chess player asked me recently how do I look at the board and how do I deal with threats? What do I do when I’m under attack? Is there a systematic approach dealing with all these things? These are actually very deep and fundamental questions which may or may not have a single right answer.
I have started posting 2 move tactical studies, solving those is a very effective way to improve tactical vision and the overall chess intuition. Today’s writing I’ve decided to devote to explaining the ways and methods of approaching these chess studies (aka tactics problems). Not only these methods can be applied for solving chess compositions and tactics problems, but the following guidelines can also be applied during the actual game (complimenting how to analyze a chess game I wrote before).
Let’s say you have a chess position in front of you in the form of a diagram, a chess board, a computer screen, a notation (if you’re really advanced) or whatever else. Let’s imaging, your job is to find a forced mate in a specific number of moves. How do you approach this task? Do you take the most powerful piece available and start checking the opponent’s King? Maybe. But let me assure you that that is not the most efficient way of solving a chess problem.
What are the problematic opponents? Problematic opponents are those opponents who are about your strength or weaker, but against which you’re unable to show good results. For example, we know that if a rating difference between you and your opponent is 0 points; you are expected to win about 50% of the games. Of course, there will be some draws, but if you play 10 games, hypothetically you should get 5 points. Now, what if you get only 2 or 3 or even 1 point? That means you are facing a problematic opponent. Even though your chess strength is about the same as his, you’re still unable to get your well deserved wins.
The previous two articles talk about how to play chess in won and in lost positions. The today’s reading is a logical continuation of the series. You must know how to play in a drawn position to be a well rounded chess player. You may ask “what’s so hard about playing in the drawn position isn’t it straightforward”? Well, yes it is straightforward and simple to play in a dead drawn position, but how do you know if you have one on the board? A lot of “drawn” positions just assumed to be drawn but they are really aren’t and have plenty of play in it.
Last week I was writing about playing chess in the lost positions. This week’s topic maybe sounding more straightforward, since most players assume (quiet incorrectly) that once position is winning it will stay so forever. These naive players think if their position is winning they are going to win the game automatically. It’s a real world, not an imaginary perfect-world model of a textbook where Bishop and Knight vs. King is a guaranteed win. Nope. In real life, especially on amateur level, this endgame is pretty far from being won. I can say more, some players in a “very lost position” trade down to this endgame, hoping their opponent won’t know how to mate with two minor pieces. It’s a gamble: sometimes they draw sometimes they lose. The point should be clear: even in the “won” position there are plenty of possibilities to get a draw or even to lose. All chess players know that it’s the most painful to lose a won game.
If you play chess regularly, there is a high possibility that you would have to play a game in the lost position. Does not matter how strong or weak chess player you are, you will have to defend the “weak” end of the board one day. There are plenty of information available (in various chess bibles and online recourses) on how to play chess, but they rarely talk about playing chess in the lost positions. They assume that if position is lost the game is over. It’s not quite true. The point of my little writing is to prove that there are exceptions to this rule. If you apply some basic principles you may be able to join that “exception” group, replacing you “0” with “1/2” or even “1” on the score sheet.
As you can see from the title, today’s topic of our discussion is a bit unusual. First of all, what do I mean by coming back from a chess vacation? It means, you haven’t played chess for some significant amount of time but decided to change your life and come back. Sometimes people have to take a break from playing/improving their chess.
There is an infinite number of reasons why that may happen: exotic vocation, job schedule, school work, travels arrangements, winning a million dollars lottery (some people would play more in this case) may interfere with chess. After we’re done with all these “important” things we may feel that it is a good time to start playing our favorite sport again. How to do it again?
I have written previously about 7 deadly mistakes every novice player makes. Today I have decided to extend this list even further and to add 5 other typical “problematic choices” that amateur chess players make to have their chess life more difficult and stressful.
If you find yourself in some of these how-not-to-play examples you should feel good since by fixing it you can improve your play and win more games. I should feel accomplished, since the time I spend writing it is worthwhile and I helped other players to get better at chess.
I have previously talked about evaluating of chess position. Today’s topic is a little different even though it may seem to be similar: analyzing chess game. The main difference is that we’ll concentrate on a whole game analyzes which occurs immediately after the game, in contrast, to the evaluation of a chess position which happens over the board, during the game.
Before telling you how to analyze a chess game, I’d like to tell you how not to. Do not plug a game into a computer engine to see where it went wrong. In fact, you will learn hardly anything that way. It is like solving the tactics problems by using a Fritz engine.