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Some Random Thoughts About Chess Improvement

Some Random Thoughts About Chess Development

Hi.  I'm not a super duper chess authority (I'm about 2150 USCF), but in my unprofessional opinion the one thing that helps people learn chess most effectively is patience and perspective.  In many ways, playing chess is like absorbing a complex and abstract unwritten language that we're constantly extending the vocabulary of, and it's going to take a long while for almost anyone to become fluent enough to debate in it with any sort of skill.  Therefore, we chess "toddlers" might as well enjoy our ride on Caissa's linguistic learning curve instead of complaining about its length.

On Chess Books

While there's no question chess books are helpful, it's also true that in this age of instant information almost every book available to you is also available to potential opponents, so in a certain sense all those books can do is bring one up to the middle of the pack of "literate" chess players.  I haven't played OTB much for years, but my guess is that most tournament players are in that pack these days, since books are cheap and access to databases and current games even cheaper.

So, how does one beat people with the exact same books and learning tools as you have?  I dunno, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with forging your own ideas, testing them, and learning from the crucible of first-hand experience as much as possible, especially versus strong players, and even more especially in person if at all possible. 

OTB (Over the Board) vs Internet Chess

Why in person?  Well, because the most effective way to learn a language is in person.  You see, we primates remember best when as many different senses as possible are involved, and the internet is pretty much only visual.  In informal OTB/"real life" chess, such as in coffeehouses or parks (especially before the internet), there is often incessant dialogue, facial reactions, body posture and other physical cues, the ability to naturally move pieces around when analyzing, the tactile sense of handling the pieces, and so forth.  This makes the learning experience "stick" in the mind in a much more three dimensional way than the rather impersonal internet experience.  Furthermore, one's local cafe tends to be a more stimulating environment than most computer rooms and, hey, who knows, sometimes you'll find interesting non chess players there as well. :)

What do you the rest of you think?  Assuming anyone out there actually reads these rants of mine.

Cheers,

- GargleBlaster

Comments


  • 3 months ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    I think my present take on this is more or less the same but with less adverbs.

    Er, or is that "fewer adverbs"...

  • 3 months ago

    DandyDanD

    It would be interesting to hear you opine on this subject again, if only to see how your perspective may have changed over 4 years!

    In my opinion, players should benefit from all the resources available to them: OTB games, lectures, books, etc.  I think the key to success is being able to draw diverse conclusions and being flexible against opponents who use all of these same resources and make predictable moves!  When a book spells out the game in black and white, question the author and search for grey areas!

    But even online you can learn to put up resistance in "lost" positions and anticipate your opponent trying to do the same.  You can learn time management - when to spend your time (even down to the last few seconds) and when to just make a practical move between two equally good options.  Your OTB play may suffer, but there's still much you can learn.

  • 4 years ago

    Reyth

    LMBO!!

  • 4 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    Hey, great to have some feedback from you guys - thanks!  It's really hard to get a blog rolling here - this entry currently has as many reads as the guy who was posting random single letters.  On the other hand, I suppose it's possible he was making some sort of artistic statement about nonlinear literary techniques in the post-postmodern cybernetic era.

    Anyhow, I'm now addicted to Fallout 3 for this week, but will nontheless try and read other people's blogs once in awhile and comment randomly in them for no clear reason.

    Cheers,

    - GargleBlaster

  • 4 years ago

    willflungpoo

    I like it. however I've realized that I am indeed a toddler.

  • 4 years ago

    Reyth

    I agree.  I think playing against a strong computer program can be the best way to get us out of that "I just wanna move with what looks good on the surface" mode.  I went on a binge of like 20 games against the comp like that and got owned so badly over and over that I eventually just quit doing it (hopefully?).

  • 4 years ago

    peterwaffles

    Awesome. As far as the sensory asimilation realities of primates, i have a regulation canvas plastic board next to my desk. Whenever i play the fake tournaments on my chess program i lay it out on the board. Its a bigger psycological commitment to pick up a piece and put it in a place then just clickity click. I have not played a live human in over a year now. And thats how long ive been playing here and getting "less worse".

  • 4 years ago

    Reyth

    LOL.

  • 4 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    Chess computers aren't very good cafe customers, as they never buy any food.

    As far as using them to improve, yeah, I suppose everybody does so, but really, it's pretty straightforward, isn't it?  Get a database, look at games by strong players in the openings you play, analyze them a little, rinse, repeat, wonder about the existential meaninglessness of it all, play 1 0 instead for an hour, lose some rating points, spend four hours recovering them, notice it's 3 AM, sleep fitfully, wake too late to eat breakfast, run to job at nuclear power plant, forget to set the safety value, plant explodes, all life on earth is destroyed, and so on.  Hardly worth writing a blog about, really.

  • 4 years ago

    Reyth

    I think chess computers should come into the story of chess development at some point; game review, repertoire creation, gameplay feedback and such. Laughing

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