Study Routine Advice

meowbrah

A bit about myself...

Chess has been a lifelong hobby and I tend to go through phases where it dominates my life. It's safe to say, I have never been more interested in the game then I am right now, which is why I really want to crack down on getting good. Throughout the years I've bought chess books and printed out information, tactics, puzzles to study.. and it always gets shelved. Right now I am looking for a routine and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ideally, I'd like to practice a little bit of everything, every day. But what exactly should I be practicing?

I know tactics are really important, but most sites (including this one) provide random tactics and I never know what to look for. Is it 2 move checkmate? Is it attacking a castled king? Is it a something else? How many moves is it? I tried working with the custom unrated tactics but even still, I think a lot of the stuff is too advanced for my poor brain to figure out.

What tactics should I be focusing on?

I know the opening principles, but how can I study a few common openings effectively?

Middle game is my biggest problem. Seeing the whole board just doesn't happen.

End game is bad as well, but not as bad as the middle game. If I somehow manage to get ahead, it takes me 30+ moves to finally checkmate because I can't see mates quickly.

I've played a few games on here if anyone would be willing to analyze to maybe see where I mess up.

Any tips/advice is tremendously appreciated. I'm just another novice looking to improve his play, but with the insane amount of information online, I don't want to start a study the wrong way and waste time reading the wrong books. I really want to hone in on a real good plan and effectively practice to see improvement.

Cheers! happy.png

samiotaibi
I hope you good luck in your quest for chess improvement. Try the following:
1) solve tactical puzzles until you can solve them with ease, this requires deliberate practice until you reach the level of unconscious competence, give yourself twenty minutes daily.
2) go through master games . There are applications that contain a large database of master games, analyze them from the opening phase of the game until the endgame, try to understand the purpose of “every move” especially the player who won the game, if it is difficult for you to understand the reason for each move . ask the computer to play a different move , only then will you understand why a certain move was played. Try experimenting with different lines in same game. In these games you will notice patterns . Try after the end of the game to recall them to make sure you understood them.
3) study lessons and videos on chess. com . There is a lot to learn from these lessons . You might think you it all, but chess knowledge is very broad
4) play with humans and computers and try to understand why you won or lost the game, you can play the computer on chess.com where it identifies your blunders , mistakes and inaccuracies
5) check out the chessedge channel on YouTube it is very beautiful.
6) the most important thing to remember is that in order to master something you need 10000 hours of deliberate practice in your domain , that is approximately three hours daily for ten years . But don’t don’t focus on becoming a master, enjoy the journey and hopefully you’ll reach your goal.
7) try to be familiar with chess openings , develop a chess opening repertoire and understand the purpose behind each move in the opening. you will notice the moves that have been time tested give you good defense for your pieces, good pawn structure , good advantages like space , restrictions against opponents pieces,etc . other moves that get out of the main line or variations out you in trouble.
8) study endgame theory
9) finally , what I mentioned above is known to a lot of chess players but what makes a master is to continue and “never give up”
Good Luck
kindaspongey

https://www.chess.com/article/view/study-plan-directory
"... In order to maximize the benefits of [theory and practice], these two should be approached in a balanced manner. ... Play as many slow games (60 5 or preferably slower) as possible, ... The other side of improvement is theory. ... This can be reading books, taking lessons, watching videos, doing problems on software, etc. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627084053/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman19.pdf
"... If it’s instruction, you look for an author that addresses players at your level (buying something that’s too advanced won’t help you at all). This means that a classic book that is revered by many people might not be useful for you. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (2015)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-best-chess-books-ever
Here are some reading possibilities that I often mention:
Simple Attacking Plans by Fred Wilson (2012)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708090402/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review874.pdf
http://dev.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/Simple-Attacking-Plans-77p3731.htm
Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (1957)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708104437/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/logichess.pdf
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (1965)
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/most-instructive-games-of-chess-ever-played/
Winning Chess by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld (1948)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708093415/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review919.pdf
Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman (2007)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708233537/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review585.pdf
https://www.chess.com/article/view/book-review-back-to-basics-tactics
Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627114655/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen91.pdf
Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
http://kenilworthian.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-of-pete-tamburros-openings-for.html
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/openings-for-amateurs/
https://www.mongoosepress.com/catalog/excerpts/openings_amateurs.pdf
Chess Endgames for Kids by Karsten Müller (2015)
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/chess-endgames-for-kids/
http://www.gambitbooks.com/pdfs/Chess_Endgames_for_Kids.pdf
A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman (2010)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708105628/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review781.pdf
Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis (2009)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708090448/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review750.pdf
Seirawan stuff:
http://seagaard.dk/review/eng/bo_beginner/ev_winning_chess.asp?KATID=BO&ID=BO-Beginner
http://www.nystar.com/tamarkin/review1.htm
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627132508/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen173.pdf
https://www.chess.com/article/view/book-review-winning-chess-endings
https://web.archive.org/web/20140708092617/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/review560.pdf

meowbrah

Thanks so much for the replies and sorry for the late response. The problem is that I'm a bit over my head and unfortunately, focusing is hard for me. All my time is focused on chess, but it's all over the place with lots of distractions.

Currently I am working out of susan polgars checkmate book, playing 5-10 games of chess against a level 2 computer daily, working in the "learn" section of lichess, working in the "learn" section on here, analyzing master games, working on an opening repertoire AND watching videos.

When I study tactics, if the puzzle isn't stupidly easy, I can sit there for 20+ minutes and still make the wrong move. Generally I'm always wrong. I have trouble seeing anything.

But I feel like i'm not utilizing my time efficiently. I also know asking other people for advice and help is not really the way to go, as figuring things out on your own helps you learn.. but I don't want to waste any more time. Can a player with maybe a rating of 1500+ chime in here with some personal advice on how THEY improved and what worked the best of them?

 

Thanks!

kindaspongey
swagswaggy wrote:

... unfortunately, focusing is hard for me. All my time is focused on chess, but it's all over the place with lots of distractions.

Currently I am working out of susan polgars checkmate book, playing 5-10 games of chess against a level 2 computer daily, ...

... I don't want to waste any more time. Can a player with maybe a rating of 1500+ chime in here with some personal advice on how THEY improved and what worked the best of them? ...

"..., you have to make a decision: have tons of fun playing blitz (without learning much), or be serious and play with longer time controls so you can actually think.
One isn't better than another. Having fun playing bullet is great stuff, while 3-0 and 5-0 are also ways to get your pulse pounding and blood pressure leaping off the charts. But will you become a good player? Most likely not.
Of course, you can do both (long and fast games), ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (June 9, 2016)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/longer-time-controls-are-more-instructive

brother7

Your chess.com rating is 754. I think the advice given thusfar is not specifically targeted to your playing level which quite frankly is near beginner level.

Like you, I'm focused on improvement also. (I'm currently 1600.) I'm going to give you advice on 5 specific areas, the same areas that I'm targeting except my advice will take your playing level into consideration.

  1. Openings - At your playing level, don't try to learn any specific openings. Instead, try to get a good grasp on opening principles. How to Play Good Opening Moves by Edmar Mednis would be a good book for you but I hear it has lots of typos.
    For specific openings, take a look The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine and this free PDF from chessKIDS Academy.
  2. Middlegame Strategy - At your playing level, chess strategy will probably be the hardest part to grasp but if successful, you'll have a 1500+ level of understanding of the game. I suggest two books: The Complete Book of Chess Strategy by Jeremy Silman (specifically, Part Two on the middlegame) and Chess Strategy for the Tournament Player by Alburt and Palatnik. Start with Silman's book, then graduate to Alburt's book. In the same vein, The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman is an excellent book, about the same level as the Alburt book.
  3. Tactics - You will get the most bang for the buck by studying tactics. Tactics study alone will propel you to 1200-1400 level, maybe even 1600 level. Combined with Middlegame Strategy study, you can easily make it 1600-1800 level.
    For your current level of play, you want a structured approach to all of the elementary tactical motifs. Chess Tactics for Students by John Bain is perfect for where you are. I've also read good reviews of Chess Tactics for Kids by Murray Chandler. After going through those two books, step up to the next level with Chess Tactics for Champions by Susan Polgar. Currently, I'm going through the Polgar book.
    For your daily dose of simple mating patterns, I recommend Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by the father of the Polgar sisters. It may seems silly to do such simple 1-move and 2-move mates but the idea is subliminal improvement through repetition. One should immediately be able to recognize simple mating patterns and this book will help achieve that. There are 6 diagrams/page. At a rate of 30 problems/day (5 pages), you can complete the book in 6 months.
  4. Endgame - I have one book recommendation here and it's a book that can take you up to 1800-2000 level of understanding. The book is Silman's Complete Endgame Course by Jeremy Silman. The great thing about this book is that he introduces endgames based on your level of play. The first 2-3 chapters are geared to your level. As you progress through the book, you will eventually have an 1800-2000 level of understanding of the endgame.
  5. Play - To round out your chess education, the chess theory you learned in 1-4 above should be balanced with practical play. I have one bit of advice that I hope you'll take to heart... avoid bullet/blitz and stick with slow time controls. To really understand a chess position, you need spend time analyzing. You simply can't do this with speed chess. For me, the end goal behind all of this studying is to improve my over-the-board rating in USCF tournaments. Therefore, I restrict myself to 25+10, 45+45 and 90+30 games. Chess improvement is a serious endeavor and I treat it as such by playing slow time control games.

OK, that's my 2 cents. I hope you find something in what I've said that will help you improve your chess. Good luck and happy wood pushing!

meowbrah
brother7 wrote:

Your chess.com rating is 754. I think the advice given thusfar is not specifically targeted to your playing level which quite frankly is near beginner level.

Like you, I'm focused on improvement also. (I'm currently 1600.) I'm going to give you advice on 5 specific areas, the same areas that I'm targeting except my advice will take your playing level into consideration.

  1. Openings - At your playing level, don't try to learn any specific openings. Instead, try to get a good grasp on opening principles. How to Play Good Opening Moves by Edmar Mednis would be a good book for you but I hear it has lots of typos.
    For specific openings, take a look The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine and this free PDF from chessKIDS Academy.
  2. Middlegame Strategy - At your playing level, chess strategy will probably be the hardest part to grasp but if successful, you'll have a 1500+ level of understanding of the game. I suggest two books: The Complete Book of Chess Strategy by Jeremy Silman (specifically, Part Two on the middlegame) and Chess Strategy for the Tournament Player by Alburt and Palatnik. Start with Silman's book, then graduate to Alburt's book. In the same vein, The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman is an excellent book, about the same level as the Alburt book.
  3. Tactics - You will get the most bang for the buck by studying tactics. Tactics study alone will propel you to 1200-1400 level, maybe even 1600 level. Combined with Middlegame Strategy study, you can easily make it 1600-1800 level.
    For your current level of play, you want a structured approach to all of the elementary tactical motifs. Chess Tactics for Students by John Bain is perfect for where you are. I've also read good reviews of Chess Tactics for Kids by Murray Chandler. After going through those two books, step up to the next level with Chess Tactics for Champions by Susan Polgar. Currently, I'm going through the Polgar book.
    For your daily dose of simple mating patterns, I recommend Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by the father of the Polgar sisters. It may seems silly to do such simple 1-move and 2-move mates but the idea is subliminal improvement through repetition. One should immediately be able to recognize simple mating patterns and this book will help achieve that. There are 6 diagrams/page. At a rate of 30 problems/day (5 pages), you can complete the book in 6 months.
  4. Endgame - I have one book recommendation here and it's a book that can take you up to 1800-2000 level of understanding. The book is Silman's Complete Endgame Course by Jeremy Silman. The great thing about this book is that he introduces endgames based on your level of play. The first 2-3 chapters are geared to your level. As you progress through the book, you will eventually have an 1800-2000 level of understanding of the endgame.
  5. Play - To round out your chess education, the chess theory you learned in 1-4 above should be balanced with practical play. I have one bit of advice that I hope you'll take to heart... avoid bullet/blitz and stick with slow time controls. To really understand a chess position, you need spend time analyzing. You simply can't do this with speed chess. For me, the end goal behind all of this studying is to improve my over-the-board rating in USCF tournaments. Therefore, I restrict myself to 25+10, 45+45 and 90+30 games. Chess improvement is a serious endeavor and I treat it as such by playing slow time control games.

OK, that's my 2 cents. I hope you find something in what I've said that will help you improve your chess. Good luck and happy wood pushing!

 

I certainly appreciate your 2 cents and will check out those books. Do you have any more sound advice in regards to the opening? I feel like that's where I make the most blunders.

IpswichMatt

 

I've just had a look at your games. In the game I've posted above, what was your thinking when you played 8...e5? 

Understanding your thought process here might help to highlight your biggest weakness and therefore lead to big improvement relatively quickly.

meowbrah
IpswichMatt wrote:

 

I've just had a look at your games. In the game I've posted above, what was your thinking when you played 8...e5? 

Understanding your thought process here might help to highlight your biggest weakness and therefore lead to big improvement relatively quickly.

 

1. e3 d5
haven’t ever played against an e3 opening so I wasn’t entirely sure how to respond. I played d5 because i don't think its a bad move to play.

2. Nc3 Nf6
3. Bb5+ Nc6
4. Bxc6+ bxc6
just went with the flow here but unfortunately blundered my knight. I was thinking "develop develop develop. get your knights out before your bishops. control the center", and just didn't realize the bishop on b5 was threatening at that specific second. then immediately realized it.

5. Nf3 e6
6. Ng5 Bb4
7. Na4 O-O

Was trying to build a pawn diagonal on the king side

8. c3 e5
It was a blunder. I didn’t see anything and quickly realized i left my bishop hanging after i did it.

meowbrah

here is a game vs the level 2 chess.com computer. a very good example of my playing. I'm playing as white.

IpswichMatt
swagswaggy wrote:


just went with the flow here but unfortunately blundered my knight. I was thinking "develop develop develop. get your knights out before your bishops. control the center", and just didn't realize the bishop on b5 was threatening at that specific second. then immediately realized it.

.

.

.

 

8. c3 e5
It was a blunder. I didn’t see anything and quickly realized i left my bishop hanging after i did it.

Piece safety (both yours and your opponents) is by far the most important thing. Think about your opponents threats before you think about anything else (unless you have a force mating sequence).

The fact that your opponent had pushed his pawn, with a very unsubtle threat to take your Bishop on the next move - and you didn't respond to it, suggests that you're not looking at your opponent's threats. At least, not always, not on every move. Always look at your opponent's last move and ask "what does that move threaten?".

This all sounds like I'm stating the bleeding obvious - but I'm not convinced that you remember to do this on every move. Many players don't, especially at the lower levels. If you can apply more discipline to your thought process and force yourself to do this you will improve rapidly IMO

If you can get your thinking process right, it will give you a solid foundation for future improvement. Here's a video by Dan Heisman about this, watch this before you buy any of the books mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmS0-FR1UR0

 

meowbrah
IpswichMatt wrote:
swagswaggy wrote:


just went with the flow here but unfortunately blundered my knight. I was thinking "develop develop develop. get your knights out before your bishops. control the center", and just didn't realize the bishop on b5 was threatening at that specific second. then immediately realized it.

.

.

.

 

8. c3 e5
It was a blunder. I didn’t see anything and quickly realized i left my bishop hanging after i did it.

Piece safety (both yours and your opponents) is by far the most important thing. Think about your opponents threats before you think about anything else (unless you have a force mating sequence).

The fact that your opponent had pushed his pawn, with a very unsubtle threat to take your Bishop on the next move - and you didn't respond to it, suggests that you're not looking at your opponent's threats. At least, not always, not on every move. Always look at your opponent's last move and ask "what does that move threaten?".

This all sounds like I'm stating the bleeding obvious - but I'm not convinced that you remember to do this on every move. Many players don't, especially at the lower levels. If you can apply more discipline to your thought process and force yourself to do this you will improve rapidly IMO

If you can get your thinking process right, it will give you a solid foundation for future improvement. Here's a video by Dan Heisman about this, watch this before you buy any of the books mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmS0-FR1UR0

 

 

I understand thinking accurately is important, but problem is not seeing threats..or only seeing them after thinking for way too long.. even simple stuff. Do you have any opening advice? That's where i blunder the most.. the first 10 moves. I like the ruy lopez as white and sicilian as black.. but if my opponent plays moves other then a select few, I just don't know what to do haha.

kindaspongey
swagswaggy  wrote:

… Do you have any opening advice? That's where i blunder the most.. the first 10 moves. ...

"... For beginning players, [Discovering Chess Openings] will offer an opportunity to start out on the right foot and really get a feel for what is happening on the board. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2006)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627114655/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen91.pdf

Detailed suggestions are provided by Moret in his My-First-Chess-Opening-Repertoire books.

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9033.pdf

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9050.pdf

https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/vincent-moret/

Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014) combines explanation of principles with starting opening suggestions. Of necessity, his opening descriptions are less detailed (than those of Moret) because he tried to offer choices to the reader and give some indication of how a player might choose what to try.
http://kenilworthian.blogspot.com/2014/05/review-of-pete-tamburros-openings-for.html
https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/tag/openings-for-amateurs/
https://www.mongoosepress.com/catalog/excerpts/openings_amateurs.pdf
Some players may not like the idea of relying on the limited selection of an author. It is a pretty daunting project to try to learn a little bit about a lot of openings, but, if one wants more freedom to make choices, it would make sense to look at a book like Yasser Seirawan's Winning Chess Openings.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627132508/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen173.pdf

While reading such a book, don't forget that the primary purpose is to get help with making choices. Once one has chosen openings, I again think that there is wide agreement that the way to start is by playing over sample games. Some of us think that it can be useful to use books like First Steps: 1 e4 e5 and First Steps: Queen's Gambit

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7790.pdf

https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7652.pdf

as sources of games with explanations intended for those just starting to learn about an opening. Be sure to try to use the openings in games in between sessions of learning. Most of the time, one faces a position with no knowledge of a specific move indicated in a book. One has to accept that as part of chess, and think of opening knowledge as a sometimes helpful aid. After a game, it makes sense to try to look up the moves in a book and see if it has some indication of how one might have played better in the opening. Many opening books are part explanation and part reference material. The reference material is included in the text with the idea that one mostly skips it on a first reading, and looks at an individual item when it applies to a game that one has just played. Resist the temptation to try to turn a book into a mass memorization project. There are many important subjects that one should not neglect because of too much time on opening study.
https://www.chess.com/article/view/learning-an-opening-to-memorize-or-understand
https://www.chess.com/article/view/3-ways-to-learn-new-openings

https://www.chess.com/article/view/how-to-understand-openings

"... Overall, I would advise most players to stick to a fairly limited range of openings, and not to worry about learning too much by heart. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)
"... I feel that the main reasons to buy an opening book are to give a good overview of the opening, and to explain general plans and ideas. ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)
"... If the book contains illustrative games, it is worth playing these over first ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)
"... the average player only needs to know a limited amount about the openings he plays. Providing he understands the main aims of the opening, a few typical plans and a handful of basic variations, that is enough. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)
"... Everyman Chess has started a new series aimed at those who want to understand the basics of an opening, i.e., the not-yet-so-strong players. ... I imagine [there] will be a long series based on the premise of bringing the basic ideas of an opening to the reader through plenty of introductory text, game annotations, hints, plans and much more. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2002)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627055734/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen38.pdf
"The way I suggest you study this book is to play through the main games once, relatively quickly, and then start playing the variation in actual games. Playing an opening in real games is of vital importance - without this kind of live practice it is impossible to get a 'feel' for the kind of game it leads to. There is time enough later for involvement with the details, after playing your games it is good to look up the line." - GM Nigel Davies (2005)

"... Review each of your games, identifying opening (and other) mistakes with the goal of not repeatedly making the same mistake. ... It is especially critical not to continually fall into opening traps – or even lines that result in difficult positions ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2007)

https://web.archive.org/web/20140627062646/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman81.pd

Various items of possible interest:

"There is no such thing as a 'best opening.' Each player should choose an opening that attracts him. Some players are looking for a gambit as White, others for Black gambits. Many players that are starting out (or have bad memories) want to avoid mainstream systems, others want dynamic openings, and others want calm positional pathways. It’s all about personal taste and personal need.
For example, if you feel you’re poor at tactics you can choose a quiet positional opening (trying to hide from your weakness and just play chess), or seek more dynamic openings that engender lots of tactics and sacrifices (this might lead to more losses but, over time, will improve your tactical skills and make you stronger)." - IM Jeremy Silman (January 28, 2016)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/opening-questions-and-a-dream-mate
https://www.chess.com/article/view/picking-the-correct-opening-repertoire
http://chess-teacher.com/best-chess-openings/
https://www.chess.com/blog/TigerLilov/build-your-opening-repertoire
https://www.chess.com/blog/CraiggoryC/how-to-build-an-opening-repertoire
"... A typical way of choosing an opening repertoire is to copy the openings used by a player one admires. ... However, what is good at world-championship level is not always the best choice at lower levels of play, and it is often a good idea to choose a 'model' who is nearer your own playing strength. ..." - FM Steve Giddins (2008)
https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-perfect-opening-for-the-lazy-student
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9035.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627110453/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen169.pdf
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9029.pdf
https://www.chess.com/article/view/has-the-king-s-indian-attack-been-forgotten
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7277.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627104938/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen159.pdf
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627022042/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen153.pdf
"... Once you identify an opening you really like and wish to learn in more depth, then should you pick up a book on a particular opening or variation. Start with ones that explain the opening variations and are not just meant for advanced players. ..." - Dan Heisman (2001)
https://web.archive.org/web/20140626180930/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/heisman06.pdf
"... To begin with, only study the main lines ... you can easily fill in the unusual lines later. ..." - GM John Nunn (2006)
"... For inexperienced players, I think the model that bases opening discussions on more or less complete games that are fully annotated, though with a main focus on the opening and early middlegame, is the ideal. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2010)

"... I think people tend to be afraid of the main lines. They think: ... sure, I'm going to take up (say) 5 Bg5 against the Semi-Slav, once I've got time and learned it properly. ... My advice is - don't bother. The more you learn anyway, the more you'll recognize how little you know. ... 5 Bg5 is a good move - get it on the board, get ready to fight, and see what happens.

Sure, there will come a time, whether on move two or move twenty, when your knowledge of theory runs out and you have to decide what to do on your own. ... sometimes you will leave theory first, sometimes your opponent. Nothing will stop this happening. It happens in every well-contested GM game at some point, usually a very significant point. This is a part of the game: an important part, something you have to get better at. ... to improve you have to challenge yourself; ..." - IM John Cox (2006)

"... 'Journey to the Chess Kingdom' ... is primarily intended for children ... Chapter five deals with opening principles, while chapter six provides an overview of the most popular chess openings. Importantly, the emphasis is on giving insights and explaining ideas and principles as opposed to advocating mindless memorization of long lines. ..." - WGM Natalia Pogonina (2014)

https://www.chess.com/blog/Natalia_Pogonina/book-review-quotjourney-to-the-chess-kingdomquot

kindaspongey
swagswaggy  wrote:

… I like the ruy lopez as white ...

There are certainly those who recommend the Ruy Lopez, but, from time to time, one encounters cautionary comments such as:

"Alekhine advised beginners not to play the Spanish game. We also recommend you get some experience first by playing relatively simple openings - the Scotch and Italian games - and only then move on to the Spanish one." - Journey to the Chess Kingdom by Yuri Averbakh and Mikhail Beilin

kindaspongey
swagswaggy  wrote:

... I like the ... sicilian as black.. ...

 

Around 2010, IM John Watson wrote, "... For players with very limited experience, ... the Sicilian Defence ... normally leaves you with little room to manoeuvre and is best left until your positional skills develop. ... I'm still not excited about my students playing the Sicilian Defence at [the stage where they have a moderate level of experience and some opening competence], because it almost always means playing with less space and development, and in some cases with exotic and not particularly instructive pawn-structures. ... if you're taking the Sicilian up at [say, 1700 Elo and above], you should put in a lot of serious study time, as well as commit to playing it for a few years. …"

There are some who are sympathetic to trying the Sicilian at an early stage. If you want to keep at it, it might be helpful to look at Starting Out: The Sicilian by GM John Emms (2009).
https://web.archive.org/web/20140627122350/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen123.pdf
For the purpose of switching, one could look at First Steps 1 e4 e5.
https://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/7790.pdf

Farm_Hand

I distinctly remember when I was new, that in the opening my opponent played a move and I wasn't sure if my pawn would be safe.

It was like this (below) is it safe for white play d4 now?

 

I calculate a few times, but I kept losing track. I had to calculate maybe 4 or 5 times to figure out if I could play d4 without losing a pawn.

 

This is how to improve in the beginning.

You play games with a long time control where you try your best not to lose material to simple things like that.

It's not easy.

But play a few 100 games.

That's how you begin in chess. You have to play.

Ideally you play every day, and also look at a few grandmaster games.

http://www.chessgames.com/ is a webiste where you can look at games for free. Pick a player like Paul Morphy or Capablanca, or Tal, and look at just 1 game a day. You don't have to understand every move, it's just to get an idea of what a professional game looks like.

Look at 1 game a day, and play a few games per day. That's it. That's how you begin.

Then you can study things like opening principals and tactics.

https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-principles-of-the-opening

https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-tactics--definitions-and-examples

zeitnotakrobat

I think most of the advice above is too high level. You should start with the attackers and defenders exercises at http://www.chessgym.net/gen_howto.php

It asks you to find all attacked or defended pieces. That will help you not to overlook pieces that are simply hanging. It should also help you to get a better vision of the whole board.

jambyvedar

you first need to improve your tactical pattern knowledge by theme. the problem with these online tactics puzzles, they are random. and you can't repeat solving them again. solving random puzzle is also important. but for a beginner, start solving puzzles by theme.

 

get the book chess tactics for champion by polgar. it is a tactics puzzle book arrange by themes. spend at least 30 minutes on that book per day. if you can't find the answer after trying hard, look at the solution. solve again the puzzles that you failed to solve some other day.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Chess-Tactics-Champions-step-step/dp/081293671X

IpswichMatt
zeitnotakrobat wrote:

I think most of the advice above is too high level. You should start with the attackers and defenders exercises at http://www.chessgym.net/gen_howto.php

It asks you to find all attacked or defended pieces. That will help you not to overlook pieces that are simply hanging. It should also help you to get a better vision of the whole board.

+1

I wouldn't worry overmuch about openings - carry on with the Ruy and the Sicilian if that's what you're used to. The important thing to remember in the opening is to get your pieces out. But even that is not as important as piece safety. 

DeirdreSkye

      First ignore kindaspongey's post , he tries to sell books without even caring if they are good for you. Most of them are actually harmful(especially the opening repertoire ones).

      Good advice by in post #17. Learning how to protect your pieces is important.

I will add a few things that you might find helpful:

     It is important to play lobng time control games and analyse them. When you blunder something it's not the blunder that is important , it's the reason of the blunder. If don't identify the reason you won't fix it and the same mistake will be repeated over and over again.    

Here is an example:

     Your opponent played 5...f6. This move clearly threatens Bg5. Yet you do nothing to protect Bg5 and you play Bb5 instead.  

     The blunder is not the problem. There is a very serious problem behind this blunder.You pay no attention to your opponent's moves! The same mitsake is repeated again and again.

   Always examine carefully your opponent's moves and learn to defend against direct threats.

A little later another serious mistake:

With 7.Nxg5 you capture a pawn that is protected by the queen. 

Again the blunder is not important but the problem behind the blunder is very important. Examine carefully your moves and be sure they are safe.Esoecially when you are going to capture something be sure that it is not adequately protected.

 

     If you don't learn to defend your pieces , playing good chess is impossible and neither oepnings tactics or endgames can help you.

    I will give you some heneral studying guidelines so that you have something to keep you busy. Playing long time control games must be your main training but studying will speed the process.

 

    Reading some annotated games will help you understand how to think. I  suggest Logical Chess Move by Move as your first book and then you can try Soltis  "Pawn Structure Chess".

    Endgames are very important. They are the best way to quickly develop skills and the best investment for the future. Howell's "Essential Chess Endings" is a good book to start. It has only the absolutely necessary.

     Don't bother too much with openings, they are useless at that level. The annotated games in Chernev's book will tell you everything you need to know about openings. But analyse your games and find out what you did wrong and play only long time control games(at least 30 minutes for now and 60 minutes later or dailies). Many good people here (and some bad ones like me) will help you with that(just post the game with your thoughts). Fix one tiny little thing after each game and you will be an expert in no time!

    Tactics are also important but only if you have developed a thinking process. Focus in 2-3 of them analyse them deeply and try to understand the "mechanism".Try to understand which pieces are the critical pieces in the tactic. If one seems too complicated put it on a file and go to the next one. Return to the complicated 1 month later and see if you can understand it.A book that explains the various tactical themes will be very useful(Neishtadt's Test your tactical ability is a good book to start). 

   I can send you for free all these books in pdf. You can take a look and decide if you want to buy any of them(you can find them all in Amazon).

     Good luck!