10 Things to Learn from a Beginner.

Nov 5, 2007, 12:00 AM |
14 | Strategy

  What can I say after playing my first 50 games?  Like many people I learn chess from a Parent and mostly played my siblings and the odd game here and there with friends and on computer software. I could always handle myself well. I was introduced to on line chess by a friend and it awakened my love for the game again after many many years of not playing any games. I basically started as a beginner although not a complete novice and re discovered chess again.  In this short article I share with you my “The GO!master’s 10 truths or sometimes falsehoods of chess. ” after playing my first 50 games on chess.com.  

 1                    Don’t re invent the (chess) wheel. There is no opening that in future will bear your name.  It pays to study the well known openings and defenses, you start with a huge disadvantage against a weak player that at least have some opening moves learnt. After my first 15 games 8 won and 7 lost I realised that if I want to up my game it is time to google some basic chess openings and do some research.  

2                    Basic chess theory are true, sometimes. Those “ten basic chess strategies for beginners” you know those like don’t move a piece twice in an opening, don’t bring out your Queen early or Castle early in the game etc. In the beginning I applied these rules rigidly without properly understanding the principles underlying these tips fully. I sometimes castle when I shouldn’t and doing so lost the tempo advantage that I had or kept my Queen out of the game untill I had no more use for her anyway. What I realised about chess theory is that it is a theory and not science. Chess is much too complicated yet simple If chess theory could be developed to the level that we all known everything about chess, would all games end in draws? The same for the 10 rules in this article, they are sometimes not true. 

3                    You will blunder, beware. Grand masters also blunders. I used to get so unsettled with my blunders that I lost interest in the game and eventually lost. After a series of losses and early resignations I realised that this way I will never win a game nor even see any endgame play. Learn to handle blunders. 

4                    Don’t be afraid of chess. As my interest into the game developed I started reading a bit on chess and reviewed some famous Grandmaster games. I was surprised at the grandmaster moves. In essence it was the same moves we all make the same openings available to anyone. I realised that chess is basically simple yet complex. Chess is not a mystery for prodigies only. My ability is not a fixed state, but I can learn , developed and become a better player. This realisation is what inspired me to take my chess playing to the next level and make it a life long interest. Here on line I will have opponents and it can become a bigger interest in my life. 

5                    Play with body and mind.  If you want to win then play when you are alert and able to apply your mind to the game. I made my biggest blunders playing in the early morning hours when I couldn’t keep an eye open or I logged on after a night out with friends and the inevitable couple of beers. 

 6                    Have plan B ready. Don’t invest everything into one strategy, if the strategy don’t pull off then be ready to switch to another . In some of the games I played I saw that I am throwing all my pieces at a plan. Sometimes the plan failed but then I have no options left. I sacrificed most of my pawns that I need now for plan B for promotion. Other times I have driven myself into a corner at the far end of the board and am unable to lauch an attack to where my opponent has escaped to.  

7                    Consider the endgame at the start of the game. I perhaps sometimes went through the motions of the opening and thoughlessly played the middle game. Only to realised that my game is deprived of style and command. I have been commanding my pieces around the board in a series of battles but I was not leading them to victory. I sometimes now tell myself before the game ‘s first move how I want to play the game, aggressive and open or defensive and close, waiting or developing.  

8                    There are no cheaters only fools. Cheaters only exist in the virtual world, don’t worry about them treat them as virtual. Early on I bacame concerned about the possibility of playing against cheaters and some player’s profiles and behaviuor made me very suspicious. I realised that the easiest way of handling it is not to worry about it. If I was busy making moves against Fritz 10 then only me was benefitted even from losing the game. Eventually you will play face to face with somebody and if you then claim to have a rating of 2600 I hope you’ll be able to beat that 1200 beginner. Getting stuck for a good move and then using a chess engine is just a lazy option and you will not learn and it is still cheating. Understand the rating system and use your rating as a measurement of your progress. Don’t let it be your goal it means officially nothing outside chess.com.

9                    You have an opponent. This might sound obvious but especially with on line chess one can become a bit self absorbed. Your opponent is also playing don’t forget about him or her. Sometimes you get so involved with your strategy and percieve your opponent’s moves to be only in reponse to your’s that you fail to see his grand plan unfolding. Many games that I really sat down with and analysed to 4, 5 6 moves deep made me so sure of my plan that I fail to even see the simplest threats only one or two moves away from me being checkmate. Once I was still waiting for my opponent to come online to make my first move in a four move checkmate plan only to see I was checkmated and the game allready in archives.

10                To develop your game you have to try new things.If you lose, it is only a game. After my 45 th game I realised that if I am going to continue playing the Ruy lopez and and be prudent playing only safe moves that I am comfortably with I will not develop further. My next game I made bold moves and exchange my queen very early. Thereby I gained the tempo and consequent advantage of the game possibly totally unsettling the opponent with the unconventional play. I won. Now I understood that a style of play , aggressive, bold sometimes defensive sometimes reflective of your mood has a major bearing on the outcome of a game.

11                You are good when you win 50% of your games. When you win more than 50% games then you won a lot of games you’re not necessarily a better player. Grandmasters don’t win all their games they draw and lose some in tournaments.  To enjoy the game (Which I suppose should be the object of playing it in the first place) I would rather play opponents at my level strength and have an enjoyable experience. Where I lose some games but I know I can play good enough to win a re match. If I win 100% all my games, I must be either a Grandmaster or all my opponents were weaker than me. Neither do I want to lose all my games. If I start to win more than 50-60% of my games then I will up my level of opponents. If I consistently beat on average 1400 players then I will move to 1450 , 1500 etc. After 54 games my rating is 1400 and my average opponents are +- 1400 My percentage wins are 50%. I am having fun.

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