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My 9-month progress learning chess as an adult.


  • 15 months ago · Quote · #1

    AdorableMogwai

    I thought I'd post this to encourage the guy who started the other thread.

    I too just started playing this year and am in my 30s. I never played as a kid unlike most of the people on here.

    I don't think starting as an adult is as great a disadvantage as people believe. There are a lot of people who play chess as kids and their parents pay for them to have chess classes and everything, but how many of those people continue playing regularly into adulthood. If someone plays as a kid then goes 10 years without playing, that's almost like they never played at all.

    When I started playing some months ago, I lost constantly and was rated 800. I didn't even know the basic rules like pawn promotion and castling. I wondered back then if I was going to stay at 800 because I had heard if you start learning chess as an adult you can't improve very much. I remember those first weeks playing I felt like a complete idiot because I kept getting caught in Scholar's Mates and other noob mistakes. I've always thought of myself as a smart person, and from losing all those games my self-esteem started to fall drastically, but because of the encouraging words of people on this forum like Chess_gg and Phylar I presevered.  Now it's not even a year later and I'm already rated over 1400. (granted this is on chess.com where the ratings are a bit inflated.)

    I believe that I,  and anyone else who starts playing as an adult, can reach a chess.com elo of 2000 at least. I say this because I've reached my current rating only having done a few hundred hours of tactics training. Imagine if I did a few thousand hours. Also, every single loss I've had on here I haven't been trying. I know that sounds like I'm making an excuse, but it's just the truth. There are some games where I sit down and actually try, i.e. come up with candidate moves and try to anticipate what will happen after each of those moves. Every game I've done that in I've won, and all the games I've lost are the ones where I was getting restless and just going "oh this looks like a good move, I'll do that" without taking the time to create a list of candidate moves or thinking ahead. To make things worse, after losing one of these games I'll instantly want to play again despite not really being in the mood for chess. If I stopped playing when I felt restless that would increase my ELO by 200 points alone.

    That being said, I don't know if it's actually worth it for me to invest the time to reach a 2000 elo. The reason I kept playing for as long as I have is because I wanted to see whether it was true or not that people who start playing as adults can't improve at chess, now that I know anyone can improve as long as they spend hours per day solving tactics problem, somehow it's less motivating. I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first, it just proves you spent a huge chunk of your life solving tactics.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #2

    ipcress12

    AdorableMogwai: Inspiring stuff. Thanks for posting. Hitting tactics hard early is a great tip.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #3

    indian1960

    If you're still having fun, then you're doing good. Chess is meant to be that way, isn't it ?....enjoyable ? I mean, here we are, spinning around on a rock, flying thru space - hot lava below us, it's crazy don't you think ?  let's make the best of it and enjoy every single minute that we can here. So....one day at a time, stay lighthearted, and keep improving if your heart says yes !

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #4

    Estragon

    Chess isn't a puzzle or a course to be navigated.  Every person's "progress" will be different, and nearly everyone will measure their own progress by their own definitions, and that's fine.

    So if you reach xxxx rating or you don't and how long it takes is completely irrelevant - as long as you remember it is in truth a game and as such is supposed to be fun.  If you are having fun, you are doing it right.  The game offers much to players at any level.

    If you spend too much time worrying about arbitrary goals and progress, you risk missing the fun.  And that's the whole point.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #5

    waffllemaster

    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first. . .

    That's right!  Chess skill is chess skill and nothing else.

    AdorableMogwai wrote:
    . . . it just proves you spent a huge chunk of your life solving tactics.

    Well, studying and playing yes... not so much just tactics.  Eventually tactics don't help you improve much anymore and you have to do something else for a while.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #6

    AdorableMogwai

    indian1960 wrote:

    If you're still having fun, then you're doing good. Chess is meant to be that way, isn't it ?....enjoyable ? I mean, here we are, spinning around on a rock, flying thru space - hot lava below us, it's crazy don't you think ?  let's make the best of it and enjoy every single minute that we can here. So....one day at a time, stay lighthearted, and keep improving if your heart says yes !

    The thing is, though I have a strange compulsion to keep playing chess, I'm not really having that much fun. It's nice to win, but I wonder if the frustration of the losses is worth it. For instance  I was just playing a 12 minute per side blitz game over at lichess against someone rated 150 points higher than me (I only try to play people equal or higher than me now) and I had him a piece down. Of course he keeps playing on. I got it simplified down into an endgame where we each had three pawns but I had a bishop. and then I queened my pawn but I had 20 seconds left and the timer turned red and a panicked and stalemated him because I was just thinking what if the time runs out! This is not a good feeling.

    I sort of want to stop playing, but then I think, wouldn't all the effort and time I put in to even get this far be wasted  since after awhile of not playing my ELO would go back down?

    And the rest of you thanks for all you comments. I do read and appreciate them all.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #7

    Remellion

    Welcome to the chess addicts' club.

    Gotta take the wins and losses in stride. Painful losses/draws feel bad, but brilliant swindles/wins and magical draws give a boost like no other.

    I used to enjoy chess because of all the wins, and felt no hard feelings about the losses. Now I enjoy chess for the beauty of the game (some games), the magical moves, and the feeling of being able to give my 100% focus in something I do (which happens unfortunately rarely now.) Basically, barring the occasional really frustrating loss, what do you want from chess?

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #8

    AdorableMogwai

    I don't like the swindle aspect of chess. I hate it when it gets done to me, and when I swindle someone else I don't feel like I really won.

    Ugg, I've played so much online chess today I feel sick and my neck and eyes hurt. I think I need to take a break from internet chess and just get a big tactics book and sit outside under a tree doing the problems away from the computer.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #9

    indian1960

    I really love your idea of sitting under a tree studying chess. I learned chess under a tree w/ my brother. For 1000 years we played without a computer, and much outside. When you do go outside, close your eyes, take 3 deep breathes and think of something very relaxing. Then study just a bit of chess. If you begin to feel frustrated then you've studied too long. I want you to think of chess as a romantic thing - filled with happy and excitement and good mood. It really is an extension of life, would you think ?

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #10

    Shivsky

    Estragon wrote:

    If you spend too much time worrying about arbitrary goals and progress, you risk missing the fun.  And that's the whole point.

    +Infinity.

    I've recently stopped treating it like some board-game version of Highlander; no more constantly yearning for the next big scalp (on non-holy ground, of course!)

    Call me crazy but it is quite refreshing to just play for the fun of it! 

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #11

    TheGreatOogieBoogie

    waffllemaster wrote:
    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first. . .

    That's right!  Chess skill is chess skill and nothing else.

    AdorableMogwai wrote:
    . . . it just proves you spent a huge chunk of your life solving tactics.

    Well, studying and playing yes... not so much just tactics.  Eventually tactics don't help you improve much anymore and you have to do something else for a while.

    Yes!  Thank you!  I's refreshing finding out that people exists in this world who understand that you'll eventually hit diminishing returns on improvement as far as tactical exercises go!  They're great to review, but if someone's rated 1200 then they don't need to know 1500-2200 rated tactics as those positions won't likely occure in their games and that time would be better spent on basic endgames (especially rook endings and simply pawn endings, like learning the technique behind the below position):


    As important as tactics are there's other critical material too. 

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #12

    dreamwitch

    When you start to feel driven or frustrated, it's time to take a break. Like you, I returned to chess as an adult. Progressing slowly but surely through things I would have learned as a child if I had had the opportunity. " I remember those first weeks playing I felt like a complete idiot because I kept getting caught in Scholar's Mates and other noob mistakes". Your words, but the same thing happened to me. And I am old enough to be your mother. So, age isn't the thing. Chess is a learned skill. Yes, I am addicted.

    But I play because I love the game. I love the challenge of solving the beautiful puzzle that is chess. Never boring. But don't let chasing the numbers kill the joy of it. Indian 1960 and Estragon have it right. Best of luck.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #13

    petrip

    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I don't think starting as an adult is as great a disadvantage as people believe. There are a lot of people who play chess as kids and their parents pay for them to have chess classes and everything, but how many of those people continue playing regularly into adulthood. If .

    Sure anyone can learn but limits may be harher than you think. Getiin 100 stonger is not equal effort regardless of your skill. Probably effort to go from 1900 to 2000 is about as much as going from 800 to 1900. In chess like in anything else it is route of diminishing return. I mean learning to properly handle Q vs R endgam probablly add less 10 pts to your strenght ehile mating with rook could easily be around 100 pts.

    And age matters two ways:

    - as an adult people tend to have more responsibilities hence less tie to invest

    - neuro-biology tells us that learning skill slows down with age. Something to do with myelin

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #14

    goldendog

    waffllemaster wrote:
    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first. . .

    That's right!  Chess skill is chess skill and nothing else.

    The cabbies in the local club were higher rated than the professionals, including a heart surgeon, fwiw.

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #15

    Martin_Stahl

    ScorpionPackAttack wrote:
    waffllemaster wrote:
    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first. . .

    That's right!  Chess skill is chess skill and nothing else.

    AdorableMogwai wrote:
    . . . it just proves you spent a huge chunk of your life solving tactics.

    Well, studying and playing yes... not so much just tactics.  Eventually tactics don't help you improve much anymore and you have to do something else for a while.

    Yes!  Thank you!  I's refreshing finding out that people exists in this world who understand that you'll eventually hit diminishing returns on improvement as far as tactical exercises go!  They're great to review, but if someone's rated 1200 then they don't need to know 1500-2200 rated tactics as those positions won't likely occure in their games and that time would be better spent on basic endgames (especially rook endings and simply pawn endings, like learning the technique behind the below position):

     


    As important as tactics are there's other critical material too. 

    I think it often comes down to why a player is losing their games. If they are losing most games to tactical shots, then studying tactics isn't really a waste of time.

    If they are losing in the endgame then, then studying endames more is probably a good idea. If they are coming out of the opening much worse, then some study of the openings they play is warranted (though sometimes even that comes down to tactics).

    I miss tactics and mis-calculate often enough on what I think are good tactical shots that I still heavily study tactics. I know that until I get to the point where I very rarely miss a tactical shot, either walking into them or playing them, then tactical study should be a large part of my study. Not to say that there aren't ever diminishing returns, just that one can/should focus on their weak points.

    Though, I am much weaker on positional aspects, so I know I have to work on too Laughing (as well as playing better at faster time controls Yell).

  • 15 months ago · Quote · #16

    expand

    goldendog wrote:
    waffllemaster wrote:
    AdorableMogwai wrote:

    I guess because a high ELO doesn't prove that you're smart like I thought at first. . .

    That's right!  Chess skill is chess skill and nothing else.

    The cabbies in the local club were higher rated than the professionals, including a heart surgeon, fwiw.

    So true. I really like the movie DIRTY PRETTY THINGS. Two characters in the movie play chess often. A doctor and a cab driver. Guess who the better player is?

    There is a quote from the movie that I love, "good at chess usually means bad at life."

    Full quote is - "Guo Yi: You know, Okwe, good at chess usually means bad at life. You do realize that she's in love with you, don't you? I've been with her 20 minutes, and I know it. But then, I'm bad at chess.."

    I recommend the movie if you haven't seen it before - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0301199/?ref_=ttqt_qt_tt


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