Who is the slowest Calculator that you know who is also currently 2200 strength? Any IM/GM who are

First of all, why am I asking this question.  It's because I'm slow, that's why!  And yet I would also like to improve my OTB skills (and rating!)

Second, I have kibbitzed a little with players of varying skill levels up to NM, and I have also watched IM Danny Rensch (among others) on videos, and these players are rattling off variations and tactics far faster than my eye/brain can process.   I'd like to see if I can address this sad fact, and at least marginally improve my calculation speed.

Now, I don't even know how to measure Calculation Speed.  It's easy to measure Calculation Accuracy (turn on the Engine.)  But with OTB Time Controls, Calculation Speed is vastly important.  So is it measured by both how many variations you calculate, and how deep the number of plies you calculate for your variations in a set time, like 5 minutes?

I mean, what if I get a bunch of players from 1000, 1200, 1400, up to 2400, and I say, "I'm going to show you a position, and I'm going to give you 5 minutes (or 10 minutes) to write down all your concrete calculations for White (or Black as the case may be).  At the bell, you have to put your pencils down and put your hands up.  This is both a Speed and Accuracy Drill.  Do your best!  Simulated Tournament Conditions and Earn your Participant Fee!"

The obvious hypothesis is that the higher rated players will produce more variations and longer concrete calculations than the lower rated players.    But I'd like to know, how much faster and more accurate.

Well, with this experimental interlude aside, I'd like to know if anyone knows someone who's currently 2200 strength or above who is somewhat of a "slow" calculator, anecdotal-wise.  A 2200 player who leans heavily towards positional/strategic considerations and when you listen to them during kibbitzing or post-mortem analysis, they're just not seeing things as fast as the other players.   They're noticeably slower when it comes to rattling off variations. Do you know anybody like that?  Describe them.  I'd like to know, lol.

Because that means, that while I am certainly going to improve my calculation speed, I can also still hit a high chess level without having to be a REALLY fast calculator while playing OTB tournament time controls.

There is a local NM, that i have known for a million years.  I have never seen him NOT im time trouble.  But at the same time, i have never seen anyone play so well on an increment/delay, or in time pressure.

There are these players who when you show them a position will spot the right move right away.  Kinda like the Daily Puzzle.  Or this new Puzzle Rush which I haven't played yet.  Then there are these other players who could spend 30-45 minutes or longer on a position that this other player only took seconds or just a few minutes for to solve.

Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

IMBacon wrote:

There is a local NM, that i have known for a million years.  I have never seen him NOT im time trouble.  But at the same time, i have never seen anyone play so well on an increment/delay, or in time pressure.

Would you consider him a "slow calculator"?  Why or why not?

SeniorPatzer wrote:

There are these players who when you show them a position will spot the right move right away.  Kinda like the Daily Puzzle.  Or this new Puzzle Rush which I haven't played yet.  Then there are these other players who could spend 30-45 minutes or longer on a position that this other player only took seconds or just a few minutes for.

Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

One night after chess club.  A bunch of us headed over to the local Dennys.  We went over a game that was played that night, and we were all interested in a certain position, and the continuation.  The 6 of us, must have spent 6 hours going over variations, continuations, "does this work?", "does that work" etc.  Someone says: "Why don't you just use an engines?"  The uniform response was: "Because we want to figure it out on our own."  When we finally settled on what we thought was the correct line.  It was run through an engine, and Bingo!  It was the best choice.  Yea it was 6 hours, but we learned so much from it, than we would have ever gotten from an engine.  Just an example of How important the "why" is.

SeniorPatzer wrote:
IMBacon wrote:

There is a local NM, that i have known for a million years.  I have never seen him NOT im time trouble.  But at the same time, i have never seen anyone play so well on an increment/delay, or in time pressure.

Would you consider him a "slow calculator"?  Why or why not?

I would say either slow, or very thorough.

SeniorPatzer wrote:

There are these players who when you show them a position will spot the right move right away.  Kinda like the Daily Puzzle.  Or this new Puzzle Rush which I haven't played yet.  Then there are these other players who could spend 30-45 minutes or longer on a position that this other player only took seconds or just a few minutes for to solve.

Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

That i think is more pattern recognition.  And just another reason why i don't care to play in tournaments unless the time control is at least G60, and preferably G90 or higher.  I simply take to long to find good moves.

But then again the NM i mentioned.  I beat in a N+P's vs N+P's endgame.  But he beat me in a B+P ending when i had 30 minutes, and he had the 15 second increment.  He simply knew how to play the ending, and i didnt.

IMBacon wrote:
SeniorPatzer wrote:

There are these players who when you show them a position will spot the right move right away.  Kinda like the Daily Puzzle.  Or this new Puzzle Rush which I haven't played yet.  Then there are these other players who could spend 30-45 minutes or longer on a position that this other player only took seconds or just a few minutes for.

Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

One night after chess club.  A bunch of us headed over to the local Dennys.  We went over a game that was played that night, and we were all interested in a certain position, and the continuation.  The 6 of us, must have spent 6 hours going over variations, continuations, "does this work?", "does that work" etc.  Someone says: "Why don't you just use an engines?"  The uniform response was: "Because we want to figure it out on our own."  When we finally settled on what we thought was the correct line.  It was run through an engine, and Bingo!  It was the best choice.  Yea it was 6 hours, but we learned so much from it, than we would have ever gotten from an engine.  Just an example of How important the "why" is.

Thanks for the story.  I feel at home with a bunch of slow poke patzers!

But I'm looking to see whether a bunch of slow poke patzers were kibbitzing with a current 2200 strength player and the 2200 strength player was about the same calculation speed as the patzers or just maybe a little faster.

Or has it been your experience that every time you got together with a current 2200 strength player they always had speedy tactical vision and fast calculation skills?

IMBacon wrote:
SeniorPatzer wrote:

There are these players who when you show them a position will spot the right move right away.  Kinda like the Daily Puzzle.  Or this new Puzzle Rush which I haven't played yet.  Then there are these other players who could spend 30-45 minutes or longer on a position that this other player only took seconds or just a few minutes for.

Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

One night after chess club.  A bunch of us headed over to the local Dennys.  We went over a game that was played that night, and we were all interested in a certain position, and the continuation.  The 6 of us, must have spent 6 hours going over variations, continuations, "does this work?", "does that work" etc.  Someone says: "Why don't you just use an engines?"  The uniform response was: "Because we want to figure it out on our own."  When we finally settled on what we thought was the correct line.  It was run through an engine, and Bingo!  It was the best choice.  Yea it was 6 hours, but we learned so much from it, than we would have ever gotten from an engine.  Just an example of How important the "why" is.

#1.  I can imagine the pieces were set up on the board, and pieces were flying everywhere with much banter, laughing, and discussion.  Very fun, and good times.

But in a real OTB game, you can't touch the pieces!  And you don't have 6 hours.  And you don't have help from a group of fellow players!  All that calculation and maneuvering, and comparing of lines, and the rejection of lines all has to be done silently, (accurately), and with the pressure of dwindling time on your clock in an OTB rated game!

Thanks for informing me that you know of a 2200 who's kinda slow in his calculations.   Not sure if he's currently playing at 2200 strength; after all, his floor could be 2200.

#2.  I hope you tipped the waiter or waitress at Denny's a good sum.  6 hours is a lot of time to spend at one table!

When a strong player (2200+) takes a long time, I wonder how much of the time is spent calculating and how much analyzing and evaluating the position. The two thought processes are inextricably linked.

In response to your question, @SeniorPatzer, I'm not familiar with any strong players who are slow at calculating. Besides the NM mentioned by @IMBacon, some GMs have been known for frequently getting into time trouble. Reshevsky and Bronstein come to mind. But both of them were also extremely good in time trouble, so they must have been capable of calculating quickly. Final conclusion: it's a mystery to me, like almost everything else about chess.

OldPatzerMike wrote:

When a strong player (2200+) takes a long time, I wonder how much of the time is spent calculating and how much analyzing and evaluating the position. The two thought processes are inextricably linked.

In response to your question, @SeniorPatzer, I'm not familiar with any strong players who are slow at calculating. Besides the NM mentioned by @IMBacon, some GMs have been known for frequently getting into time trouble. Reshevsky and Bronstein come to mind. But both of them were also extremely good in time trouble, so they must have been capable of calculating quickly. Final conclusion: it's a mystery to me, like almost everything else about chess.

1.  Do you consider yourself a "fast" calculator, OldPatzer Mike?  Or do you think you're on the slow side or the so-so side?  Are you trying to make yourself a faster calculator?

2.   "When a strong player (2200+) takes a long time, I wonder how much of the time is spent calculating and how much analyzing and evaluating the position. The two thought processes are inextricably linked."

Well, the faster you calculate, the more time you have left over to analyze and evaluate the future potential positions.

3.  "some GMs have been known for frequently getting into time trouble. Reshevsky and Bronstein come to mind. But both of them were also extremely good in time trouble, so they must have been capable of calculating quickly."

Alexander Grischuk is another GM who comes to mind.

In the order of your numbered points, @SeniorPatzer:

1. My calculation speed is mediocre to slow. But that's not the main problem I'm working on. It's accuracy. My tendency is to stop calculating a move too soon, which is usually another way of saying that I misjudge the final position.

2. I see evaluation and calculation as completely intertwined. Yes, faster calculation leaves more time for evaluating the positions at the end of the tree branches, but faster evaluation of the initial position gives more time for calculation. And completeness and accuracy of the initial evaluation makes calculation more efficient.

3. For the Carlsen--Caruana match, I watched the Giri/Svidler/Grischuk team. There was some mention along the line of Grischuk's tendency toward time trouble. The amazing thing about the old timers is that they didn't have delay or increment in those days. Time trouble was really trouble. According to Kotov, Bronstein managed to record all the moves in long form algebraic notation even in severe time trouble.

I like watching someone like Ivanchuk play blitz. He often looks like he's moving in slow motion, and yet he has a great blitz record.

Grischuk is actually one of the fastest calculators out there. He LIVES for time trouble! He's a former world champion in blitz and one of the few players in the world who can give Carlsen a run for his money in a blitz/bullet match.

If you want to see who calculates slowly, go to their puzzle rush page and see what their high scores are.

SmyslovFan wrote:

I like watching someone like Ivanchuk play blitz. He often looks like he's moving in slow motion, and yet he has a great blitz record.

Grischuk is actually one of the fastest calculators out there. He LIVES for time trouble! He's a former world champion in blitz and one of the few players in the world who can give Carlsen a run for his money in a blitz/bullet match.

If you want to see who calculates slowly, go to their puzzle rush page and see what their high scores are.

I want to see who the slowest National Masters are.  And whether they're currently playing OTB chess.  Or are they at their floor.

Plus I have to assume  that they are really trying at Puzzle Rush.

SeniorPatzer wrote:

...Now obviously, it's not all calculation.  A large part of it is pattern recognition, intuition, and experience.  But there has to some fast calculation going on, yes?

My chessfriend, I know from experience that you are a formidable opponent given enough time to study a position. I'm also slow at calculation and what you say is a "large part" is what I think is the "secret" to faster calculation: pattern recognition.

There are also "thinking methods" during calculation and writers like Dan Heisman has several books that deal heavily with avoiding having to double-check something you already considered, etc.

I've been studying memorizing more and more patterns and I'll look at a position, have no clue what plan I should make, look again and see the possibilities of an Dovetail Mate or an Opera Mate or the classic Bishop Sacrifice at h7, etc. and around that pattern my calculations become faster.  The threat of the combination is often enough to force an opponent into a bad position.

I've also been reading what I think is the best tactics book I've ever read because it doesn't just give you examples of tactics, it spends a lot of time explaining how to set them up and what to look for. It's Martin Weteschnik's very excellent Chess Tactics from Scratch, 2nd Ed. (c.2012)

I apply the following to games and even more so to solving Tactics Trainer problems (pp. 16-23):  "Solving tactical puzzles without fully understanding the underlying mechanisms is not the most efficient way to learn. Instead you must first understand the elements of combinations....[the patterns] might look...trivial...but might turn up in complicated situations. Only if you know these simple patterns by heart will you be able to recognize them in very difficult situations. Have you ever lost due to an unforeseen [tactic]? [From such] games,...put the positions on a board and try to figure out why these [tactics] came as surprises.  Don't be satisfied with just being able to pinpoint the exact mistakes. Always try to understand the underlying causes of your defeats. In some sense all defeats are caused by lack of understanding. So the question one must ask oneself after a loss is: What more do I need to understand to improve my chess?”

I think most of my slow calculation is due the fact I don't "see" in terms of the patterns that are there but of which I'm ignorant. I think that the more patterns I recognize, the faster my calculations will be.

I'm not officially 2200, but I recently did an assessment that places me close (around 2150 strength).  I calculate fast when I have to and can see several moves ahead in a second or two, but I prefer longer games where I can calculate more slowly than that.  The end result is much better performance since I can look at the game through multiple lenses.  In tournaments where I've played 40 in 2 hours, 1 hour sudden death, or a similar time setting, I've only ever lost 3 games and have something like an 80% win rate or close to it.

SeniorPatzer wrote:

First of all, why am I asking this question.  It's because I'm slow, that's why!  And yet I would also like to improve my OTB skills (and rating!)

Second, I have kibbitzed a little with players of varying skill levels up to NM, and I have also watched IM Danny Rensch (among others) on videos, and these players are rattling off variations and tactics far faster than my eye/brain can process.   I'd like to see if I can address this sad fact, and at least marginally improve my calculation speed.

Now, I don't even know how to measure Calculation Speed.  It's easy to measure Calculation Accuracy (turn on the Engine.)  But with OTB Time Controls, Calculation Speed is vastly important.  So is it measured by both how many variations you calculate, and how deep the number of plies you calculate for your variations in a set time, like 5 minutes?

I mean, what if I get a bunch of players from 1000, 1200, 1400, up to 2400, and I say, "I'm going to show you a position, and I'm going to give you 5 minutes (or 10 minutes) to write down all your concrete calculations for White (or Black as the case may be).  At the bell, you have to put your pencils down and put your hands up.  This is both a Speed and Accuracy Drill.  Do your best!  Simulated Tournament Conditions and Earn your Participant Fee!"

The obvious hypothesis is that the higher rated players will produce more variations and longer concrete calculations than the lower rated players.    But I'd like to know, how much faster and more accurate.

Well, with this experimental interlude aside, I'd like to know if anyone knows someone who's currently 2200 strength or above who is somewhat of a "slow" calculator, anecdotal-wise.  A 2200 player who leans heavily towards positional/strategic considerations and when you listen to them during kibbitzing or post-mortem analysis, they're just not seeing things as fast as the other players.   They're noticeably slower when it comes to rattling off variations. Do you know anybody like that?  Describe them.  I'd like to know, lol.

Because that means, that while I am certainly going to improve my calculation speed, I can also still hit a high chess level without having to be a REALLY fast calculator while playing OTB tournament time controls.

i am between 2150-almost 2200 in chesstempo standard rating for the last 3 months or so, although i definitely feel much stronger. A lot of it though is partially because im not the most disciplined guy when it comes to my near daily regimen. im sometimes, listening to music, or after a work out, or a bit distracted with life etc, so that can make me have one of those "i dropped 20 point days"

the one area where i really improved though is how quick i have gotten. i used to be REALLY slow in solving some of these problems.  Some problems i would easily take 30 or 40 minutes to do, only to see that the average solve time was 15 minutes lol. Now, im usually only a few minutes slower than the average. I am also much quicker in considering unusual resources (which are like a good 30-40% of puzzles at the 2100-2300 level in chesstempo) i would otherwise take forever to consider, so that is partially why my time has decreased so much.

Basically, my point is that, There is such a thing as being slower than your rating peers in seeing things, but this is also sometime that with rigorous training could considerably improve. You are likely not going to be one of those Blitz kings if you are naturally slow though.

I was never good at Calculus....or Pre-Calculus......

"Basically, my point is that, There is such a thing as being slower than your rating peers in seeing things"

Thanks for saying that DarkUnorthodox88.   Since you are a NM, you have obviously played other masters in OTB rated games.   Have you done postmortem analysis with them and they were noticeably slower than you, or you slower than them, in calculating variations?

A derivative question.  Have you played a lower rated player, did a post mortem with them, they were faster than you in seeing things, but they still lost the game?

I don't really see why a fast calculator should lose to a slow calculator, in general, unless their ability to evaluate resulting positions is considerably faulty.

I mean, if I was a fast calculator, I would just steer the game towards complicated tactical affairs with a wild sprawling thicket of variations, and win by out-calculating my opponent, and by seeing him in severe time trouble, and ultimately blundering.

And then during post mortem, he says, "I didn't see all that."

Have you ever won or lost that way?

SeniorPatzer wrote:

"Basically, my point is that, There is such a thing as being slower than your rating peers in seeing things"

Thanks for saying that DarkUnorthodox88.   Since you are a NM, you have obviously played other masters in OTB rated games.   Have you done postmortem analysis with them and they were noticeably slower than you, or you slower than them, in calculating variations?

A derivative question.  Have you played a lower rated player, did a post mortem with them, they were faster than you in seeing things, but they still lost the game?

I don't really see why a fast calculator should lose to a slow calculator, in general, unless their ability to evaluate resulting positions is considerably faulty.

I mean, if I was a fast calculator, I would just steer the game towards complicated tactical affairs with a wild sprawling thicket of variations, and win by out-calculating my opponent, and by seeing him in severe time trouble, and ultimately blundering.

And then during post mortem, he says, "I didn't see all that."

Have you ever won or lost that way?

positionally, i can hold my own very well agaisnt much stronger masters, but if we ever get in a position where concrete calculations of many lines is required, thats where i usually falter. Instead i do best in crazy positions where neither side even knows what direction the engine eval would be in! there my intuition is usually very strong.

as for weaker players? sometimes. I know a couple of 1900's who know almost no chess aside from being great blitzers and tacticians and they see as much as me, but MUCH faster, its kind of intimidating. They are what call "elite chess rednecks". no finesee but tactically, will chop you to pieces like they were swinging a machete. especially in blitz. These guys have GM scalps in blitz, bc of  how difficult it to refute some of their attacks in short time.

one of the ways being "slower" manifests in practice, is that i would sometimes lose my train of concentration, and would need to look at the same line 3 or 4 lines to finally have a clear idea of what's going on, whereas my faster compatriots are much more efficient in the process of elimination. Like i said earlier, what keeps me afloat is often a very strong intuition/sixth sense.

as for post-mortems i never felt too inadequate in the calculation process unless my opponents where much stronger. even as a 2200, whenever i discuss chess with some 2500 trying to show me something, i sometimes need to ask them to slow down a bit for my benefit.

Another thing about postmortems is that when we discuss games we played, we kind of already have in our heads, the lines we thought about and ready to discuss them, so its more comparing notes than actually calculating anything novel in front of us most of the time.

as for complications, well its difficult to say because the dichotomy between tactical vs positional chess is  often too one-dimensional. I am not a tactician by any means for example, but i love unclear messy positions. my chess is very "Laskerian" that way. Why i prefer positional disbalances over pure tactical slugfests,  i dont shy one bit going into the rabbit hole even vs GM's. I have even outplayed a Few GM's in very complicated games with my pet 1.b4 in serious games before.

But yes, people obviously try to steer games into their comfort zone. If you are not great at calculating, chances are you play safer more positional chess to compensate for your weakness. Likewise, if you are a tactical monster, you probably shoudnt be playing the karpov caro-kahn.