Learning chess: Week 2

Oct 10, 2014, 2:15 AM |

This is my second week that I'm learning chess and I already can see some improvements. It's still a long way to go to even get a rating of 1200 on chess.com but I'm having fun and that's all that matters for me. 
I'm not trying to get a title or even become a local champion, I'm just looking to get some fun but that does not mean I don't want to become good.

This week I mainly did some studying and tactical training on chess.com. I haven't played as much as I wanted to. 


Analysing games

Every good chess player knows how important it is to analyse games and understand where you went wrong or what are your good moves. 

I still struggle with analysing my own game. I always use Fritz 14 to do a full analyses of my games and often there are a few ?? moves which I definitly understand. 

Sometimes Fritz makes a variation on one of my moves. It also provides a set of follow-up moves for that but the thing I don't understand is how Fritz calculate the opponent his move. 

For example sometimes Fritz moves one of my major pieces in a way that it can be taken by the opponent however the next move from the opponent is not to capture my piece but do something else.
Most of the times i thought about that move in the game but I ignored the move because it only seems logically for the opponent to capture my piece.
This is not an isolated case, it happens quite often.

Sometimes Fritz proposes a variation that I don't even understand why it's better, no matter how long I look at the board...

Studying games

Besides analysing your own games, it's a good practice to analyse games played by masters. I bought "Logical chess" which is an awesome book. 
When Im studying a game from the book, I try to follow the thought process and thing about the next move so I can compare my move with the move from the book. The author does a really good job in explaining why certain moves are better than others.
I feel that this part of the studying aspect is really usefull and helps me a lot. I will definitly continue with that approach for a long time.



One of the topics I wanted to learn this week was the concepts of chess opening. I didn't want to memorize lines or learn actual openings. Instead I wanted to understand what the intention of an opening was so I could think about my next move and see if my opponent makes a mistake during the opening so I can take advantage of it. 

There's a lot written about openings but resources that helped me understand these concepts were 2 videos on youtube:
Chess opening principles for beginners
Everything you need to know about chess: the opening

Both videos helped me understand the concepts and ideas of the opening in chess:

  • Develop minor pieces
  • Control the centre
  • Castle to protect the king
  • Develop major pieces
  • Connect rooks
I also learned a few concept that will help you optimize the opening performance:
  • Never move a piece twice during opening
  • Only move pawns to help improve activity on your pieces
  • Don't move pawns but pieces
  • Chess is all about activity. Place your pieces on the square that provides the most activity. 

King side attack/defense

In "Logical Chess", the first few games are games where a player wins because he attacks a castled king on the king side and the winner can take advantage of a losend defense. 

I learned a lot about the purpose of the pawns in front of a castled king. Before I read those games, I made a lot of mistakes and didn't think about moving these pawns. I could easily move a defening pawn one square to attack a knight or bishop but by doing so you basically open the door for a king side attack which can easily be done by the opponent by sacrificing a piece in order breach the defense. 

I helped me understand how important these king side pawns are and how important it is to defend with a knight on the f3/f6 square. 

During the studying of these games it also came to my attention that in order for a successful king side attack, the best place for your opponent his pieces are the queen side. If they exerct the most pressure on the queen side, you have a semi open board on the king side and it's easier for your pieces to bundle forces. 


Rating is not important

I know it isn't but it's stronge than myself. I'm competitive and I do care about my rating. I know I shouldn't, especially because I am learning and making mistakes is good because than I can learn from them. 
The problem however is that every game I play is a game I want to win. When I notice I am ahead and I have a chance of winning, I always get nervous and my heart is beating faster.
It's a mental thing... It's stronger than myself.

I believe that because of this I'm not playing enough games. In the last week I played 7 games and won 6 of them which is great. My rating has gone up and now I'm a bit scarred for playing games because I don't want my rating to drop again.

I know it sounds stupid and I know it is stupid but I can't help it. This is definitly something I need to work on and just play because that's the only way to process my study work and gain experience. Experience is more important than rating, right?

Before I play a game I always do some tactical training on chess.com and if I notice that I make stupid mistakes like not seeing certain pieces than I don't even play a game because I'm afraid I will make similar stupid mistakes in a game.
That's one of the reasons why I haven't played as many games as I wanted to.


Planning for next week

  • Study a couple of more games from Logical chess
  • Playing more games and care less about my rating
  • Learn the concepts of the middlegame
  • Continue with the tactical trainer. 
  • Keep analysing my own game and try to understand where I could make better moves, not just solve blunders.  

Statistics for this week
Games played: 7 (6W/1L/0D)
Rating: 817 (+86 since last week)