Learning chess: Week 1

Oct 3, 2014, 2:48 AM |

About a week ago I joined chess.com because I got interested in chess. As a total beginner I only knew how to move the pieces but knew little or nothing about tactics, openings, mid- and endgame.

There is a long road ahead for me and I intend to write down my findings and experiences on a weekly base. 


Study material

If you want to learn chess, you have to study chess so I bought a couple of books: 

My first book was The Right way to play Chess. It seems like a decent book for beginners with some good strategies and tactics. However I got lost very early in the book and wanted another book.

I then bought World's most Instructive Amateur Game book. I really enjoy that book because it reviews complete games and gives a lot of information on different moves and variatiens and the thought process behind the moves. That's exactly the information I can use as a beginner. 
I need to get into the mindset of a chess player and that takes time and experience. That book provides a really good window into the mind of a player.

A last book I bought is The Mammoth Book of chess. This book was recommended on this forum as one of the best beginner/intermediate books. 
It's a great chance of pace compared to the Amateur game book. This book is more devoted to explaining strategy and tactics.


Putting theory in practice

Now that's a challenge...
One of the reasons I joined chess.com is because of the learning features like tactical trainer and mentor and so on. I almost immediatly got a diamond subscription so I could have infinite tactical excercises.
I try to do around 100 puzzles per day but i am still struggling a lot. My trainer rating is around 850.

Playing games is obviously the only good way to practice all the theory and there I struggle a lot.



As with any beginner, I blunder a lot and this is something I need to put high on my priority list. I already lost plenty of games where I lost my queen due to a stupid move, often I notice the stupidity of my move as soon as I release my mouse button... 

I also want to be fast and when I have a plan in mind I seem to be blinded for anything else on the board. I'm so focussed on delivering the plan that I make mistakes and lose games. 



I often am behind just after or during the first 10 moves. I read many discussions where people say it's not important for a beginner to study many openings but it's more important to understand the concepts of opening: control middle, develop minor pieces. That's also something I need to work on as soon as possible. 
I understand what an opening should do but I don't understand how my moves reflect these concepts or how I can take advantage of my opponent during an opening.


Position of the opponent 

I notice that i don't pay enough attention on the opponent his position. I only seem to think about my moves but forget to think how my move will improve the opponent his position. This often happens during the end game where I am focussed on mating his king eventually leading in losing important pieces and falling behind. 


Planning for this week

Based upon what I learned so far, I need to focus on following topics for this week:

  • Concepts of opening: understanding how every move will contribute the development of my pieces or controlling the centre. 
  • Board vision: paying closer attention to the opponent his position and double/triple check my move before i execute on it. 
  • Playing much more games. Last week I only played 23 games. This week I aim to play at least 40 games
  • Continue with the tactical trainer. I want to do around 50 tactical puzzles per day. 

Statistics for this week

Games played: 23 (6W/17L/0D)
Rating: 731

Tactical rating: 850
# Attempts: 704
Passed: 55.4%
Time spend on tactical trainer: 7.6h