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It's hard to say what seperates strong amateur players from master and above (except they simply play better and perhaps with more consistency) since most of us don't know what it's like to be at master level.
very interesting topic :-) I will try to add some thoughts, hoping it will remain brief enough to be of some use.
This is just me describing myself ...
900 - Still learning the basics, didn't really understand the rating system or any of the main concepts of chess. I was quite proud that I knew en passant when none of my friends did and I used it whenever possible. No understanding of positional play and minimal tactical understanding. But hey, I could beat my dad so I HAD to be good :).
1300 - I quickly realize that there are a lot of other kids that can beat their dad too. Meeting up with these much stronger opponents, I begin to notice tactics ... en passant is no longer a novelty :).
1500 - I realize how terrible I actually am. Much effort finally begins to go into deeper tactics, and I very rarely missed a tactic (for or against...) however, I knew very little of openings and often found myself 'losing for no reason' against class A players simply because I didn't understand how midgames take you to the endgame.
1600 - "Oh, that's why I lost" ... My tactical eye, now very well trained has left me making very few mistakes... I begin to develop favourite openings ... my positional understanding grows very quickly.
took me less than 2 months to go from 1500's to ...
1900 - "Oh well that can't be right" ... my intuition (which I still believe I've always had) is now being used for good ... instead of speculative sacrifices I begin to look at my position more critically (and my opponents position more agressively)... becoming accustomed to winning most of my games, I begin to hate losing and start studying more heavily.
Looking back to when I was a 1300 player ... I actually was pretty good... but I always did something that just made no sense ... why... I have no clue.
I will say that the difference between a 1600 and a 1700 player is HUGE from my perspective ... 1600's are still trying weak 'traps' and missing the occasional tactic ... 1700's don't always find the right 'idea' but they always have one and they are very proficient at making it work ...
Basically... the better you get, the more you start to notice the subtle things and with that, your understanding of the game deepens.
From what I've been told, the difference between a 2000 player and a 2200 (NM), is largely openings... a 2000 knows the openings.. a 2200 knows WHY that opening is played... he see's the ideas behind it.
But again... I was only a 2000 player briefly and I"m no 2200 :).
I feel there is a lot of truth to what ih8sens writes for the range up to 1900 or 2000 rating (OTB). And to Gonnosuke's observation that up to about that strength it is a lot about tactics.
On all levels, some things can vary individually, of course. But maybe an interesting try to describe the steps that can follow could be:
(all that follows refers to OTB FIDE ratings)
2000-2200: when playing games with players of that strength and you calculate some difficult tactics, you will notice very frequently that your opponents has been able to calculate all of these critical lines, too. So "being good at tactics in general" does no longer make the difference. Then what starts to make the difference at that level?
You start to use the opening and the endgame for fighting. Before, you might have played the opening moves you read in books, and you might have played many endgames thinking of the elementary endgames that you might have known from the books to be winning or drawn.
But now, you notice that you start to wish to choose your openings so that they match your personal strengths more than those of your opponent, and you start preparing the choice of your openings against your oppenents before the games.
And you may notice that the players you meet at that level are fighting in the endgames just as they do in the middlegames. They do not just try to follow what they might have read in endgame books, but they fight and think and try to create problems and difficulties for their opponents, and they try to find plans and ideas and new tactical motives even in these seemingly "endgameish" positions.
2200 - 2400 or so:
I have experienced that players who reach that level start a new level of fighting in the middle game. They train to obtain a deep understanding of the plans and ideas in the typical middlegame positions that they reach with their openings and with their way of approaching chess. They start to have many types of positions that they are very good at, that they have understood very deeply, in which they may start to feel quite easily where the pieces belong, which ideas may be most effective, which nuances may be decisive, which candidate moves come to their mind most easily. They can calculate ahead more easily because they need to consider much fewer candidate moves because of this deep understanding of "their" types of positions.
2400-2600 : I think players at that level not only have an even deeper understanding of "their" types of positions, but their level could also be characterized by a considerable broadening of this deep understanding. If you only played one opening line and exactly one type of positions, your opponents would often have an easy time to find positions you do not like or to outprepare you by finding and learning concrete ways of how to play against your particular setup.
And players of that level have to find opening novelties, improvements over what has been played in all games so far, in order to confront their opponents with new problems.
2600 and above : In addition to the things mentioned for all the levels below (among them finding ways to work and play that match your personal strengths and abilities, and that turn out to be effective weapons against other players of that level), one aspect of expertise of these players is energy and quick learning. Energy to fight on the board and to do all the preparatory work that is necessary to keep your opening weapons sharp and your arsenal of opening weapons replenished. And quick learning in order to be able to absorb much of all the new concepts and ideas that are developed by all the other top players in their race to be a step ahead in the knowledge of opening weapons and in the deep understanding of positions that arise from them. A novelty played in a tournament game on one day may have lost most of its value of being fresh and surprising on the very next day in another tournament, because the opponent may already have seen and analyzed it in the meantime.
Wow, great post ilmago.
Yeah, good post, thanks for the insight.
This is a good thread. Is there a way to categorize Tactics Trainer problemsinto types, not just by rating but by similarities?
It doesn't appear so. The problems are tagged using a 7-digit numerical ID. When viewing the list of problems, you can sort the list by:
Even if the tags had some significance (e.g. 00001xx -> en passant), you cannot sort the problems by tag.
I think it better, to go by what a game is rated. This thread shows what people's perspective is on ratings, so here's mine
900-1100- You hang a piece twice; you miss mate twice; Your strongest tactics are obvious to the next group.1200-1300- You hang a piece once in the game; you miss mate once; you only know tactics, no strategy. Your tactics are of a 1-3 move, forced kind at best, or an error.1400-1600- You rarely hang pieces to those in your rating range. The three areas of chess: opening, middle, and end game become apparent; You favor at least one of those areas without knowing.1750-1850- You have become more diciplined; you are creating tension in the position; Habit has evinced intuition; Strategy comports itself. 1900-2050- You begin to think instead of see, and you are always asking yourself, which to trust; Positional understanding appears for the first time; You become more aware of how certain positional, or tactical ideas 'create' the opportunity for your opponent to err.Since I've never gotten beyond that rating, I have to stop. It just wouldn't be genuine. This is how I view ratings based on what I thought of chess as I was given these various numbers at various chess sites.
The USCF Title System: http://www.glicko.net/ratings/titles-0509.pdf
The USCF is going to have to put some work into those title labels. 2nd category, 3rd category, etc. are not as catchy as the ones they used to have (post #50) - nor as those suggested in post #71.
@artfizz (Responding to post #50) The CM title, while in spirit closer to the Expert title, in strength is closer to the NM title. From what I know: USCF 2200+ is NM. FIDE 2200+ is CM. My perception is that it is more difficult to get 2200+ FIDE than 2200+ USCF, which would make the CM title more difficult than the NM. I suppose the problem is that "master" in FIDE indicates FM (FIDE 2300+), but "master" in USCF indicates NM (USCF 2200+).
"We use words like title, master, expert. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."
Another way of characterizing rating levels is to consider what one would be prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve it ...
Be prepared to sell your own grandmother
Be prepared to sell your children into slavery
Be prepared to sell out
Be prepared to sell your soul to the Devil
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