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I'm not here to debate which is better, learning openings, learning tactics, learning the endgame. If you have some simple/safe openings that a 1200 player can have some fun playing let me know.
Reti opening looks interesting. Someone else mentioned the london system which has been working out well for me. I think the Reti is probably closer to what I was originally looking for with my first post.
Not sure if it's been suggested yet, but you could try the King's Gambit as white (I'm a big fan)? It will more than likely throw you into sharp, tactical positions, which should help you to practise and improve your tactics as well. Also, it's full of potential danger for both sides and it's rarely boring.
You could probably learn some of the basic lines against the classical accepted/declined, cunningham and fisher defenses (tend to be the most common responses) fairly quick. Also, you might catch some people 'off guard' if they're not prepared for it, so it might help neutralize the 'opening knowledge' advantage that you perceive your opponents to have.
Otherwise, I agree 100% with studying tactics being the fastest way you can improve.
Blah blah blah...you won't "improve" your game by learning new openings. You'll simply increase the number of ways you will lose and still suck at chess.
1: Stop playing Bullet and Blitz. That is your main problem.
2: Play longer time controls and learn something from your losses, like how bad you suck at tactics and general strategic principles. Start there.
How can you play well quickly of you cannot play well slowly?
Why are you not paying attention to your poor play? Rhetorical Question - Answer: You don't care to understand about why you lose and you are too busy setting up your next bullet game. You are reinforcing sucky habits. Stop doing that. Play slow games.
It's not really that hard to figure out if you stop and think about it for even a minute - the time it takes you to lose another game of bullet.
I do take difficult blitz games and run them with an engine to get alternative ideas. It's funny that you say I don't have a clue about strategy. I think in order to stay ahead on the clock you have to have a strategy so that if your first move isn't playable you can easily find a second move that is consistent with your overall strategy in that game.
Tell me what's so great about playing a 15 minute game against someone who is just going to trade off all the pieces and get to a drawn endgame? The idea that most long time control games are going to be high quality is stupid. About once a week I'll play against an engine to get my defences up.
Using an engine to see where you went wrong won't do much to get you to play better, unless you have a photographic memory which you can use when actually playing.
15 minute games turn into draws? About 5% of the time for me. You can play take...take...take if you like, but sometimes it works better to leave a piece on the board and let your opponent worry about losing it while you pile on pressure somewhere else
You might not get much from an engine, I find engines give simple alternatives that don't require any memorization. Let's look at this last game I tossed in the engines. It is a f7 attack that normally I don't have a problem defending against. For some reason this variation got the better of me. Engines perfer 9 Nxg6 Nf6(attacking the queen). Maybe even earlier 5 d3 Bh4+(taking advantage of the pawn on f4). I see this game as mainly a variation of the fried liver. The bishop on e7 stops knight to g5. This game was the first time I've seen someone come in on e5, I'll have to remember to get a pawn to d6 before harrassing the bishop next time.
Yes this game was a disaster. Most variations where someone sacks on f7 I survive the attack no problem and then they are just the piece down. This game took all of about 1 minute for me to lose and 5 minutes to study. I think that is a much better way to learn then to play 2-3 games per day with 1/2 of those being boring games with nothing to learn from them.
Now just to show you that I don't totally suck here is a game where I was experimenting with c4, black decided to mirror my opening which was annoying. Easy way to punish that is to exchange off queens and stick the black king in the center. The game has a few example of simple tactics. Great example of a bishop sticking the knight on the edge.
So I think playing 50 games a day might produce 5 hard losses that can be learned from. 5 games might have blunders that may or may not be caught by your opponent. The main point being that noticing a blunder 1 second after you have played it in game and hopeing your opponent doesn't notice it has more of an impact then looking at some random position and trying to "find the best move".
Aparently there are some tactics like desperado that I have no exposure to so spending 5 minutes to learn the basic idea might be a good idea.
Anyways.... defending my position is kind of pointless at this point.
You don't need an engine to see that 5...Na5 was bad. This is just a rare case where it even had a tactical problem. Some really old saying that goes "a knight on the rim is dim" would've prevented all of that. 9...Nf6 prevents mate at least. Most importantly the opening had no bearing on that game but tactics did.
In the second game 14.Rab1 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Rxd2 wins material and is another missed tactic. Again the opening didn't affect the outcome.
Based on these games it is quite clear that openings aren't an issue but tactics. You can't go wrong doing puzzles or watching Morphy games as already mentioned.
Also your idea to 'punish' Black by exchanging Queens and leaving his King in the center isn't really a punishment at all, in fact you usually want your King in the center after exchanging Queens and a few pieces anyway so he's already there!
I did a few tactics puzzles and I'm no so sure that information is all that useful. Overall it didn't take long to get to 1300 and the breakdown of skills are about what I would expect.
It's safe to say my tactics are not seriously suffering for my skill level. If anything the small number of puzzles I did do seems to suggest spotting simple mates is a weakness of mine. According to the data I should be learning mating nets which might be a good skill to have. I don't even know what desperado is so I'm not surprised I got 0% on that. Double check I'm also not surprised I got 0% on that. I'm not a big fan of forceing moves just to force a move. Some people are a fan of it, I'm not. Everyone has their own style.
Another thing of interest to note which is not surprising is the time it takes me to solve the problems compaired to the average time spent by others on the puzzles. I play a lot of blitz so I should be faster at spotting things.
I mean really, for everyone who is saying tactics are the way to go, how much time do you spend in that tactical trainer?
You don't get it, do you? Tactics are what determine whether you see a winning sequence that forcibly wins material, or miss it and continue to unnecessarily allow your opponent to fight on. They're also what allow you to see danger and not lose any of your own precious material, at least not without good reason. I mean seriously...isn't it much easier to play a game of chess when you're playing with an extra knight/bishop/rook/etc. against your opponent?Aside from this, it's impossible to have a good sense of chess strategy without having a good foundation in tactics. A large chunk of openings (speaking of this) establish very well known pawn structures after the first 10-15 moves. Many of these structures have pawn breaks that are desireable for one side or the other to achieve. And often times, the only way to make these well-known desireable pawn breaks is through tactics. You only have 3 pieces controlling the d5 square to your opponent's 3 pieces and a pawn, for example, but because you noticed that in pushing ...d5, you also discover an attack against your opponent's queen (or something), you both exploit a tactic and achieve a desireable strategic aim.Now it takes time to learn the common tactical motifs. Instructor and NM Dan Heisman suggests there are roughly 2000 that one needs to know in order to achieve master level status. But go through a few tactical puzzles a day (consistently) and believe me...you'll be amazed at the patterns that you first notice and then proceed to become ingrained with. Eventually, you'll become so good at spotting certain tactics that you can just tell by mere instinct that they're there. You won't even have to consciously try to detect them anymore. And this is precisely the level to which you want to get with tactics.And personally, I've gone through at least 4 tactics books at this point. I have others I'm still working on. And I've spent countless hours on the tactics trainer (check my profile statistics if you don't believe me).Also, another point to be clear on: chess is a war game. Which means it's about trying to force your will on your opponent. The point being that forcing moves, while not always good moves, are what you should be most focused on examining first in any chess position. Start with checks (since those are most forcing), then captures, then threats. Examine all of those moves (even the seemingly ridiculous-looking ones) before examining anything else. Which means yes, play more slow chess and less speed games, because you won't have time to examine every check/capture/threat in a speed game. Speed chess is primarily about instinct and memory. If you already have bad chess-playing habits (which it sounds like you do), then speed games won't help you unlearn them very efficiently.
Here is an article featuring games by beginners reviewed by Dan Heisman.
Tell me what's so great about playing a 15 minute game against someone who is just going to trade off all the pieces and get to a drawn endgame? The idea that most long time control games are going to be high quality is stupid.
This portion looks commentable. Firstly, long time control games may not all be high quality (look at my last few standard games, I missed pieces and missed mates) but they are better than blitz games. More time to think, fewer mistakes on average.
Secondly, what makes you think people will just trade off pieces to reach a drawn endgame? There are multiple issues with that first quoted sentence:
Well, not to launch a personal attack here. These are issues that many beginners (not just yourself) have. If you just want to have fun and improve at your own pace, what you're doing is fine. I play 5|0 for days I can't really be bothered to think and just want a quick fix too. But if you want to get serious and improve as fast as you can, then taking most of the sensible advice from the forum would be good.
Also, to add on to deafzed's points, tactics are the foundation of chess. Strategy and planning means nothing if you miss your opponent's dropped pieces/tactics or worse, give your opponent free pieces/tactics. And talk of a chess "style" is not applicable until you're past 2700 FIDE. (Only half-sarcastic here, the point is that until you can thoroughly understand [?] any position on the board, there is not much style to talk about. Picking between entering dynamically balanced complications or an equal technical game is style. Missing a winning tactic just because you don't like forcing moves or the resulting complications is not style.)
Check this out.
Tactics is a disaster.... I put a few days into the tactical trainer and big deal..... I got up to 1400 according to the tactical trainer. Now my live games are horrible. Straight losses and I'm down to 1100 and falling.
My defence is gone. I'm not paying attention to what my opponent is doing. I might as well be playing blind folded. I'm not reading the position and thinking of a plan. I'm not trying to get my pieces to work together towards that plan. I'm just stairing off into space waiting to find the tactic so I can get a cookie.
Aaaaaaaand that's why you don't just play blitz. You just learned some new stuff and you simply won't be able to use it at speed yet. Everyone goes through this.
always happens to me too when i go through a mother load of tactics on chesstempo'com, it's great but then i get my butt kicked in my next games, but it's ok because sooner or later you get the hang of it, the main thing is to stick with it, in Israel i have at least half the day for chess, i am in religious school, know wadda wadda i mean?
You don't wait for tactics, you work to get positions where the tactics favor your plan. Tactics flow naturally from superior positions.
If you're serious about improving then I strongly suggest you take a look at NM Dan Heisman's Novice Nook column:
He focuses a lot on developing your thought process, which is very important and something that just bashing away at the TT won't really teach you. For example: one of the first things you should be doing on your turn is looking at your opponent's move and figuring out why they made it - what threats are they making now that they weren't before? Also, one of the main uses of tactics is actually defensive - to avoid giving tactical opportunities to your opponent, thus keeping your pieces safe.
From what you say above, it sounds like your thought process needs some work. Also, playing longer time controls would help you to improve it.
my rating (national as i dont have fide) is 854, i usually play against people at 1300-1400 etc, and i win most of those games,
Ratings are math. The math does not work that way.
well thats how it is, my rate:854 (now its actually 945 though) and i beat players at 1300-1400 rating is not everything!
This article seems to match with my experience. It references some openings I've tried and has a lot of ideas for openings I havn't tried yet.
What this implies is that you have (for now) poor chess intuition. Though fear not, for this aspect of your chess-playing can be improved.Second point to note: "Tactics flow from a superior position" (as I believe Fischer is quoted as having said). In other words, your position already has to be better in order for any sort of tactic to ultimately work in your favor.How do you know whether or not your position is better? The short answer is (again) chess intuition. The stronger chess player has better intuition (among other things) than the weaker player. Meaning he can do things like sense danger, insecurity in his oponent's king position, imminent zugzwang, when it's correct to sacrifice material in return for some kind of compensation, etc. better.Oh, and he can typically sense when his position is superior enough such that favorable tactics should be available to him.How does one improve his chess intuition? The best way is to go through annotated master games. The annotations (if they're good at least) will explain the underlying ideas/themes behind certain moves. In other words, they help instill a better sense of strategy.Are you starting to have a better understanding of how tactics and strategy go together and how you can't really separate one facet from the other?
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