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In most of my chess games, I don't know what move to make or where to go with my pieces and I frequently end up just making moves to make moves. I've read about what's known as a cheapo, a cheap tactical trick that doesn't work except by the incompetence of the opponent. I go for a lot of these because I don't know what else to do. I don't know what my problem is, but I don't feel I understand positions. Moreover, I often just go for tactical lines just because I don't know what else to do and end up losing because of it. I want to know how to eradicate these issues. Recommending a book might help, but only if the book has helped you specifically in this exact issue. I would prefer specific advice from those who have experienced similar problems. I thank you all for your help.
That was well written
There's nothing wrong with playing on tactics. When people talk about "playing for cheapos" they mean that you're trying to do a tactic that normally never works, and that in your attempt at this tactic you actually weaken your position.
Usually what I try to do is develop my pieces then find nice squares for them. I think if you went over a lot of Capablanca's games you'll have a better idea of how to form a plan.
I'd also like to add that I don't believe you situation is unique. All beginners have problems forming plans, and I think a lot default to playing for simple tactics or even worse, sitting and waiting for your opponent to do something.
There is only one recipe : playing, and playing again. Each time you win, congratulations, but you don't rceive any lesson or information about your game. Each time you lose, try to understand why, and you'll understand how to become better and better.
If you know a stronger player, show him some of your games : he'll explain you why some moves were good, or bad.
If there were an option in chess to skip a move, I'd probably do it all the time. I genuinely don't understand how I can use my moves to improve my position. As it stands now, I see each move almost as a burden and I end up moving a piece just because I had to move something, or just pushing a pawn because I can't think of anything else to do. I lose games like this all the time. Is there anything that can be done to help my game?
Try giving us a position where you think skipping a move is better than making one and we'll see what we can do o.o
It's not that this happens sometimes. This happens every time I have a position in which there are no immediate tactics.
For example ? Show us a case, or two.
Start learning real tactics instead of cheapos. Learn Chess Tactics by John Nunn would be a good book.
I think you have identified the essential feature of chess :"What do I do in a particular position ?" It is what everyone can recognise. Queen and rook against lone king is easy, but what about rook and three against rook and four pawns ? There are many intermediate situations in between and an advanced player will share the same discomfort as a beginner when feeling planless.....
We need greater material superiority in the opponents king's vicinity...By and large we realise that gaining more material would be a good start....our opponent won't drop a piece so we resort to tactics, but he sees through them and so we look to see if we can queen a pawn.
Finer and finer energy is needed to brought to bear and all of a sudden we are in the world of chess , trying to discover the point of leverage we need.
Finding a plan in chess is easy compared to everyday concerns and that's why being metaphorically tied up, teased and tortured by our chess mistress gives relief and distraction from the uncertainities of real life :-)
I've read about what's known as a cheapo, a cheap tactical trick that doesn't work except by the incompetence of the opponent. I go for a lot of these because I don't know what else to do.
That is just bad chess. Sometimes cheapos work (and it is good that you know how to look for possible cheapo moves) but you still have to calculate it to know, and it sounds like you're not even checking to see if it works...you're just sort of hoping it does.
If the position really is quiet (if there is a cheapo move, it probably is not quiet), why make a move that might give up material and lose the game?
I think we've all struggled with this exact issue at some point -- what to do when you don't know what to do. There is no one answer, you just have to keep learning and practicing what you learn. One way is to do that is to take note of specific positions where you're not sure what to do, and share it with stronger players who can help analyze the key elements and show you what you're missing. It could be some material balance thing, pawn structure, or some other positional feature. Once you know what you're not seeing, you can study it and try to implement it.
But playing cheapo moves without calculating it is just bad chess, and you'll improve immediately by not doing that anymore. Instead if you're stuck, just make a quiet move to improve your worst piece. It may not be the best move on the board, but at least it is an active move with a purpose that won't lose material (of course you still have to calculate it to be sure!).
Everyone struggles with finding good ideas and plans in chess games because that is part of becoming a better chess player. The ability to disect each position given to you, evalute the strengths and weaknesses of each side, isolate possible pieces or squares to exploit is something you will constantly be improving on. You need to begin to try and understand how to evalute positions, by looking at pawn structures (where do your pawns point toward on the board, where do your opponents? That can tell you which side needs to play on the board and move your pieces/make plans accordingly), what piece imbalance you may have to your opponent (do you have two knights to the opponents two bishops? Then avoid exchanging pawns and keep the position closed where your knights will be superior to your opponent's bishops!), and possibly weak squares (a square with no opponent pawns to control that square may be a good square for a knight of yours!). One caution I would use it never move pawns without a specific reason. Pawns can't move back, pieces can. Instead if you are unable to determine a good move to make, then look for the worst piece in your position and try to find a better square for it.
Hope that helped you some and good luck on your chess!
Chess Tactics (1984), by Paul Littlewood.
Essential Chess Endings Explained Move by Move (1988), by Jeremy Silman.
Read them both, closely, and please STOP whining, @Dpnorman.
It's your choice, entirely.
I was stuck at this same stage for a while as well. I started reading chess books and my play has slowly improved over the past few months. Silman's books "Amateurs Mind" and "Reassess Your Chess" are the two best I have found so far. I have read both of them twice all the way through and certain chapters three or four.
As you read chess books, you start to develop your vision....for me I needed to get better at imagining where the pieces would be on the board after I made a move and would that be good or bad for me. I really struggled with discoveries after multiple exchanges....all of a sudden a pawn or a piece was hanging and my opponent took the initiative. Not aware of say the rook's influence along a file until after the exchanges already occured lost me many games. This improves greatly as you play and read books.
Another exercise I do is annotate my own games after I play them (especially my losses). I see some real positives and negatives in my games. In just about every game, I see at least two places where there was a move that could have put me back in the game or even given me an advantage. Good luck.
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