Typical Noob Moves in Chess


     I played a lot of tournaments in the past few months. I got some delicious victories and also rather painful executions. Nontheless, they were experiences from which I learned a great deal. 

     From these games, I wanted to search for patterns of my mistakes. These mistakes, I think, are made very frequently at the amateur (noob) level. Since I consider myself a perfect example of a fish in the sea (at least for now), I decided to share some of the typical categories my mistakes (as well as probably yours) fall under. 

Mistakes in chess are divided into two main categories, psycholgical, and actual legit chess mistakes. Lets talk about the first one first. 

Part 1: Psychological Blunders

Category 1: Going to pieces against a high rated opponent. 

Example 1

For this example, I am going to pick out my simul game vs Grandmaster Eric Hansen. 

I was not really myself in this game. Frequently, I would spend a lot of time on one move, and then quickly decide it was no good, and choosing a terrible move I spent like 5 seconds on. 

You see, basically in this game, I just lost confidence. Because of that, I ended up playing a bunch of moves I see at the last second, instead of playing the moves I felt was correct. 

How to avoid this problem: Always trust yourself and play the move you feel is correct. Because if you don't trust yourself in chess, who will? Never get intimidated by a so called "stronger opponent". Remember, chess is all about your pieces and how well you play. You are playing a person, not a rating. Everybody starts off equal at move 1. So play your best! Dont be afraid of making errors. If you did make one, so what! Thats why we analyze games in the first place! 

Example 2: Canadian Open Chess Championship vs Gordon Giaconin 1950

In this game, i was paired against an opponent about 200 points my senior. I outplayed him and we reached this position. 

I accepted a draw because I feared he would outplay me later on. IN such a good position too! 

Moral: Dont be afraid to lose! Play your best. If you lose, who cares! Thats why we analyze games. If you take each game to the fullest, you will learn the most. Also, a person who has no respect for his opponent is always feared. 

Category 2: Messing up at the draw offer. 

Example 1: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Adam Adriaanse 1930

I had just lost my previous game so was feeling pretty depressed. Feeling as if I outplayed him, I quickly made the pawn recapture and offered him a draw without thinking. Turns out that pawn recapture was losing!

After that dumb move, it was basically over, although I probably could have put up stiffer resistance. 

Moral: Before offering a draw, make sure your move is strong! As strong as it could be! Better yet, dont offer draws!

Example 2: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Daniel Muntaner 1320

I had just lost 3 games in a row. They pair me against this noob. I was expecting a quick win and did not take him very seriously. But he managed to win an exchange. I somehow manage to outplay him into a winning endgame. He offers a draw and I immediatly accept, withut thinking!

Moral: If your opponent offers you a draw, think why he's worse. Usually, he's either worse or lost. Think before you even think about shaking his filthy hand! Most of the times, dont even accept. Who cares if you lose as long as you learned something. No early draws!

Category 3: Making Suicidal Decisons in minor time trouble. 

Often, we take long thinks in chess. Sometimes, we spend a lot of time on one move. Suddenly, we glance at our clock. Realising we risk falling behind, we disregard everything for a move we spent about 1-2 minutes on. Such was what I did in my game against Robert Li. 

Game 1: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Robert Li 1793

I had just outplayed him and reached a clearly better position. After spending some time on the positional moves, I began to look for sacrifices. Nxg2 catches my attention. Then I glance at the block. Dammit. 20 minutes behind. So in my mind I think "What the heck. Yolo. Just go for it". 

Yes, time trouble seems to mess people up sometimes. So heres the advice. 

Moral: Never, ever, make a move without calculating the consequences. Good moves are the most important thing. Dont get freaked out if you are down to 20 minutes with a 30 second increment! Take the time to find the best move. Always play the move you feel is correct. Dont disregard the moves you spent a long time calculating unless it is for good reason!

Category 4: Getting a bad position and then going to pieces. 

A lot of times, we find ourselves in difficult positions. Even grandmasters like Carlsen get these. Its a part of chess. The main differences between us and Carlsen is that while Carlsen will defend these bad positions tenaciously, noobs like me will crack. 

Example 1: Canadian Open Chess Championship vs Miladin 2284

After my oversight, there were still ways to make the position playable. I missed all of those golden chances the position gave me and quickly fell into a lost position. 

Example 2: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Adam Adrianaase

O.k, I overlooked black's moves and get myself in a bad (probably losing if I was playing Houdini) endgame. Fortunetely though, my opponent is not houdini and can still make bad moves. 

Part 2: The legit chess mistakes. 

Category 1: Bombing the opening. 

To get better in chess, its important that you improve your opening. Be confident to get equal positions and make sure you know the general plans of every position you could possibly get. Be very mindful of the possible traps that could go with each position. 

In my tournaments, I frequently got lost positions before move 15. If that is you, thats an indication that you must start working on the opening phase of the game. The best way to do this is just to look at how grandmasters play the openings you would want to play. 

Example 1: Canadian Open Chess Championship vs Miladin 2284

Yes, I just missed black's reply. Quickly I got outplayed and lost that game. 

Example 2: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Mike Sun 2081

Play a bad archangel. But I manage to survive on a whim due to the generous decisions from my opponent. 

Game 3: Canadian Open Chess Championship vs Zachary Barrows 2030

Game 4: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs James Fu 2257

Terrible opening on my part. Ugh. 

Category 2: Bad calculation

As amateurs, we are bad calculators. Just look at the horrible oversight I made in this game. 

Example 1: Canadian Open Chess Championship vs Ismail Ibrahim 2050

I outplay this guy and reach a good position. Heres where I go wrong. 

Category 3: Developing just for developments sake. No plan. 

Often as amateurs, we make development moves just for the sake of developing. Often, those developing moves have no real plan. Here's an example. 

Example 1: Canadian Youth Chess Championship vs Alexander Deatrick 2121