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My personal observations as an improving chess player

My personal observations as an improving chess player

Jul 12, 2016, 3:56 PM 2

These are just some personal observations I have begun to make about chess as I have improved a little...

  •  Rule #1 through (at least) 63: Most problems can be avoided by not giving away your material for nothing.
    • It is almost as easy to lose a chess game by accidentally losing material for nothing as it is to do this intentionally for nothing. Almost.
    • Don't do this intentionally either.
  • Chess difficultly to me has a lot (but obviously not everything) to do with the fact that it is usually time-controlled.
    • Given sufficient time to think about a position, often days as in daily chess, the ability to think through a position is much easier (assuming decent understanding).
    • Being mediocre and slow still wins a surprisingly high number of chess games.
    • Improving at faster time controls does obviously require thinking more quickly, while minimizing inaccuracy, which is not simple.
  • Knowing better is not the same as playing better. That is, there is a big difference between understanding and execution. Knowing helps but playing helps more.
    • Knowing what kinds of things you should be looking at to evaluate a position is different than correctly evaluating it.
    • Knowing tactical motifs, practicing them. even looking for these ideas actively in a game, is different than correctly calculating them.
    • Knowing about many openings and their ideas, even studying them regularly, is not the same as playing them well, especially in a time-controlled game.
    • Knowing what compensation means does not mean you have it after you hang a piece.
  • The only thing to fear is fear itself...
    • And inactive pieces
    • And no space
    • And your opponent's bishop "pair" in an open position with your king stuck in the center
    • And stalemate up huge material
    • And realizing a terrible mistake 0.000001 second after playing it
    • And ghosts, which you will often find if you look too long and hard for them
  • A game of chess game is often like a tube of toothpaste.
    • Ok, sure. You can try to get the very last little bit out of it no matter how much suffering that causes. OR, you can just start a new one. 
    • That is, never resign... except when you should resign.
  • Chess is not like baseball
    • Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you draw.
    • Sometimes it rains, which only matters if you are playing outside, in which case you should go inside and finish the game.
  • The threat really can be stronger than the execution, but not when your opponent sees that it isn't.
    • Hope is alright, but it is easier to be optimistic if you find good moves.
    • This does not mean don't threaten things.
    • A threat can be silly looking and still good as long as it also does something useful such as a) whatever you were threatening or b) relocating a piece to a better square or c) allowing you to make a better threat on your next move
  • Give your opponents credit for making observations like these too, or even better ones, just not too much credit. 


And now to undercut almost every observation I just made, or at least to illustrate many of them, the following is a game in which I lost...




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