I just don't understand why I still stink at chess


So, I've been playing, studying, learning, etc very intensively for the last couple of months, and I still totally stink at this game - I'm just at around 1400 even though I pay full attention to the game's and learn, and practice all the tactics I can get my hands on - it just doesn't make any sense!

I'd say my biggest problem is getting caught up in the abstract and playing delusional, but even though I make it a constant effort it still fails..




Just glancing over your last game in livechess, I see signs of trying to have too good of an idea. (vs. immaculatespunky)

In moves 6 and 7, you moved an already developed knight twice. I'm guessing you were trying for more central control or to get him to a good square, but "develop all your pieces" trumps all of that. Luckily, your opponent lets you off the hook and stops developing long enough to let you catch up. But then you continue to fool around with pawn moves and moves of already developed pieces, while your light bishop sits idle and your king is still uncastled, and your rook is out of the game. Basically, playing 3 pieces vs. 5 for awhile. You finally do use the light bishop, but you remain uncastled and it eventually costs you a tactical mistake.

Play the *basics* first. Develop all your pieces. Get your king to safety. It seems obvious, but it's easy to forget the obvious stuff as we try to implement more advanced ideas.


Though, to my defense - I played that game late at night and did horrible in it, and it was on a short timer.

I understand what you're saying, but a lot of the principles contradict themselves. For example: J.W says that you should be trying to limit your enemies moves by doing things like locking up the pawn structures with knights and pinning down pieces early to suppress the counterplay, and I see grandmasters such as J.W doing this all the time, and J.W also says it's a good idea to hold off on the castle to confuse your oppenets ideas, and always making him to have to calculate the possibility of doing either side castle. Or is the principles of chess similar to poker where if you over play advanced strategies on a noobie then you're the noobie?

And, I think that's another problem of mine - I'm not very dynamic. I love to play with the pawns and structures of them to my advantage - I find them to be very strategic, and that's what I like most of chess.

Thanks for your contructive feedback!


birth defect. (JK)


I'm starting to think that...

I mean, I should at least be a chess master by now... wtf!


The only way to learn which principles overrule the others in which situations is to play a lot and analyze your own games. Playing slow games is much better for this than blitz.


"So, I've been playing, studying, learning, etc very intensively for the last couple of months"


Regardless of what some people may tell you, chess is a tough game to play well and a couple of months just won't cut it. Persistence and time are both required, keep trying and you'll get there, eventually.


p.s. In the five weeks you've been here you appear to have only racked up forty-odd live games and no turn-based games. Not what I would call "playing intensively". Were you expecting something easier? (no intention to anger you, just interested by your expectation).


I play on other chess sites such as the ICC, and against the machines. And, I'm someone with a considerate iq.

Besides all this - I just beat a 1600+ player


There could be a lot of reasons that you haven't improved.  

Three months isn't a long time.   It takes a while before things start to gel.

Chess might not be your game.  I know/knew people who played the game for 40+ years and never got above 1500 USCF.  Some of them studied the game as much as the next person.  Some were very intelligent and had high-paying and/or important jobs.  The flat truth is that some people just aren't any good at chess and won't be no matter how hard they try.

 Most likely, you're going about things the wrong way.   A common mistake is to try to get too clever.  Another is to try to make it too simple.  Chess doesn't work either way.  There are times that you have to get clever, and times that you want to keep it simple.  There are times for tactics and times for positional play.  There are times to go on the offense and times to play defensively.  The trick is knowing which situation exists at a given move.

Generally, you want to ask yourself four questions before each move and while analyzing moves ahead, and you want to do this even when it appears that you have a forced move (for example, if your opponent just took your Queen with his/her Queen and it appears that you have to recapture it on that move to maintain material equality):

1) Do I have a tactical shot? (i.e. a quick mate, a fast combination that wins material, etc.)?

2) Does my opponent have a tactical shot that I need to prevent?  

If the answer to either is "yes", then you should look at the continuations along those lines.  If the answer to both is "no", then you move on:

3) What am I trying to do (What's my plan), and how can I go about achieving it?

4) What's my opponent's plan (if any), and what can I do (if anything) to stop it?

Then you look at various moves (and their continuations) and see which appears to give you the best result. While analyzing ahead for 3 and 4, you need to keep checking to see if 1 or 2 exist.  

Of course, you need to HAVE a plan in the first place.  A lot of players drift through games without any plan.


Chess is a tuff game to learn, you wont become master in a few months. Just keep on playing and studying the game, and you will become better, just enjoy the game. We have all been there.


An old forum post I started. 

Really good contributions ... but the star post is by IM David Pruess (go to page 2) who hits very close to home the delusion that every "why can't I get better" asking player needs to come to terms with.