When I watch Hikaru or Magnus Stream Blitz Thoughts, How and What Should I Learn?

SeniorPatzer

On the occasions that I am watching Hikaru and Magnus or any other top GM, I simply marvel with open mouth at how fast they are able to think, move, and speak.  It's just so incredible to me.  I'm amazed at just trying to keep up with what they are saying.

 

So how do I use this viewing experience to improve my own game?  My initial answers to my own question is this:  

A)  I learn the language.  I learn terms that they use to describe their thinking.  Which I can then use in my own thought process.

B)  I learn that they don't use a systematic thought process.  It's been incorporated subconsciously.

C)  I learn that they calculate 2-4 moves in supersonic speed.  They evaluate end positions of variations really quickly.  Which means that I have to calculate faster.

D)  I learn if they sac, they do it intuitively if it's a deep sac.  It just feels right to them.

E)  They are very good with their pre-moves and time management.

What else should I gain from watching them do their stream of consciousness when playing blitz?  What do you learn, if anything?

SoupTime4

Playing solitaire chess is an excellent way to learn, and improve.

SeniorPatzer
SoupTime4 wrote:

Playing solitaire chess is an excellent way to learn, and improve.

I agree.

But help me understand what you mean in connection to the original post.

SoupTime4
SeniorPatzer wrote:
SoupTime4 wrote:

Playing solitaire chess is an excellent way to learn, and improve.

I agree.

But help me understand what you mean in connection to the original post.

I was coming form the angle of learning to think like a GM.  What better way to do that than to play solitaire chess with GM games.  Not sure that actually answers your question, but that is where i am coming from.

JamesColeman

I don't think you can learn anything (or at least, not very much). Nothing you will see on their streams will help you internalise sophisticated ideas that would then translate to your own play. I can think of countless things I could watch where I could see how they're doing something, without it translating to me being able to replicate it. 

 

The streams are good fun but I wouldn't expect much return - you only have to look at the typical playing strength of their average follower.

SoupTime4

I guess that would be like watching live streams of brain surgery.  Interesting, but youre not going to learn a lot watching it.

SeniorPatzer

#5 and #6.  Geez, I was hoping that somehow trying to follow their thinking out loud would translate to improvement in my own play.

 

Okay, let me ask a question.  What does IM Danny Rensch mean when he says the word "tickle"?  Like he'll say something like "the bishop  goes to blah,  blah to tickle blah, blah."  

llama44

I don't know. For me, when I watch, I'm of course thinking of what I'd play and who is better and all that. Then they often play something different from what I was thinking, and it's sort of a little "ah hah" moment every time. And over the course of an hour or something it does feel like it helps.

Maybe think about what's an interesting topic to you at the moment, you know, maybe in your games you're trying to find new ways to attack. Or you're interested in quiet moves, or how to build a big center or something. Then watch their games for that thing and try to explain to yourself why what they're doing works.

For me I often like to see how they strike when the iron is hot (so to speak) otherwise they're patient and will build their position. So I'm simultaneously learning patience and decisiveness or something haha.

Also, I often find since the game is so fast, I'm tempted to play safety moves. Like, I'll see the pawn break is a big deal, but if it were my game I'd want to defend my loose rook first, or move my queen so my knight isn't pinned... but the GM will realize that's unnecessary and just go for the pawn break. And so as I watch I start questioning my automatic safe moves more and more, and that sort of puts me in an analysis mindset.

I know this is kind of rambling, but I'm not sure there is a best way to do it, or if this is even a useful activity (I'd think reading a book or solving puzzles is better) but FWIW those are some of my experiences and thoughts.

SoupTime4
SeniorPatzer wrote:

#5 and #6.  Geez, I was hoping that somehow trying to follow their thinking out loud would translate to improvement in my own play.

 

Okay, let me ask a question.  What does IM Danny Rensch mean when he says the word "tickle"?  Like he'll say something like "the bishop  goes to blah,  blah to tickle blah, blah."  

Sorry to dash your hopes.  But watching videos are not going to make you a better chess player.  Since i haven't seen any of his videos, i have no idea what he means by "tickle".  But in the context that you provided with your example.  I would say he means he has placed a piece somewhere, so that it is making some type of impact.

llama44
SeniorPatzer wrote:

#5 and #6.  Geez, I was hoping that somehow trying to follow their thinking out loud would translate to improvement in my own play.

 

Okay, let me ask a question.  What does IM Danny Rensch mean when he says the word "tickle"?  Like he'll say something like "the bishop  goes to blah,  blah to tickle blah, blah."  

Usually it's just coming into contact with a semi-weak point. I call it semi-weak because it can be defended pretty easily (or it's already defended), but by being in contact (or tickeling a la Rensch) you're tying a defender to it (or forcing them to make a counter threat).

Since it's not a serious threat yet, and since the opponent has options, calling it a tickle is an appropriately flippant way to describe the threat (or non threat... maybe I should say, coming into contact).

That's how I interpret it anyway.

llama44
JamesColeman wrote:

I can think of countless things I could watch where I could see how they're doing something, without it translating to me being able to replicate it.

I think they're nice seed ideas though. Something you can think about or work on later. Similar to quickly looking at GM games.

SeniorPatzer
llama44 wrote:
JamesColeman wrote:

I can think of countless things I could watch where I could see how they're doing something, without it translating to me being able to replicate it.

I think they're nice seed ideas though. Something you can think about or work on later. Similar to quickly looking at GM games.

 

I'm actually seeing if I can have my cake and eat it too, ha, ha.  While I'm being entertained, so to speak, can I simultaneously extract good learning as well?  If so, how can I maximize my learning while watching and hearing a GM verbally give us his thought process under time pressure?

llama44

I don't know. I think like most things you "get out of it what you put into it"

Can you learn while being entertained? Sure. But to maximize it you'd have to put in a lot of effort. Get out a board, take notes, analyze variations, that sort of thing.

SoupTime4
SeniorPatzer wrote:
llama44 wrote:
JamesColeman wrote:

I can think of countless things I could watch where I could see how they're doing something, without it translating to me being able to replicate it.

I think they're nice seed ideas though. Something you can think about or work on later. Similar to quickly looking at GM games.

 

I'm actually seeing if I can have my cake and eat it too, ha, ha.  While I'm being entertained, so to speak, can I simultaneously extract good learning as well?  If so, how can I maximize my learning while watching and hearing a GM verbally give us his thought process under time pressure?

Watching a video is passive learning.  So turn that into active learning.  Set up a board, and pieces.  Get a pencil, and paper.  While watching the video, pause it, and play over the game/position on your set.  Write down your thoughts, ideas, game plans, etc. 

JamesColeman
llama44 wrote:
 

I think they're nice seed ideas though. Something you can think about or work on later. Similar to quickly looking at GM games.

I do agree with that in principle. Normally though, whenever I have ever looked at a GM game, it was because I was interested in the player, or the opening, or there was some purpose to it that motivated me. As such I was more alert/focussed, willing to search for other sources on the same topic or whatever. So yes, probably if someone watches a stream and 'sets themself homework' based on it; I could see it being more useful. 

 

For example, the last 'serious' chess I watched quite avidly was Carlsen-Caruana in 2018. I remember various things that happened, without the specifics - so yes, enjoyable (even if every game was drawn!) but for me at least, not 'useful' long-term.

DLB777
JamesColeman wrote:

I don't think you can learn anything (or at least, not very much). Nothing you will see on their streams will help you internalise sophisticated ideas that would then translate to your own play. I can think of countless things I could watch where I could see how they're doing something, without it translating to me being able to replicate it. 

 

The streams are good fun but I wouldn't expect much return - you only have to look at the typical playing strength of their average follower.

@SenoirPatzer I think James Coleman is exactly correct. If I can use a music analogy-- I started playing guitar 44 years ago (I can no longer play due to spine injury, but I still write). I've been good friends with guitarist and symphonic composer Steve Vai for years. I played his music on guitar when I was physically able,  and I certainly was inspired when he started releasing live footage, so I could see his technique, e.t.c. 

Watching him was more than just entertaining, but it didn't help me play better. What helped me play better was studying the new concepts he was playing,  chord choices I'd never imagined choosing (I actually asked him how he came up with all those brilliant and beautiful chord voicings. He said Ted Greene's CHORD CHEMISTRY book was always next to him in his studio.  He recommended I buy that and study it. It opened up 1,000 new doorways in the fretboard. I saw the fretboard in a new way I never imagined during the 29 years I played (I played professionally in NYC).

I studied music history in depth. I discovered who his musical influences most likely were, based on what I heard in his music (Stravinsky, for example) and studied him in depth.

I could go on,  but my point is, if the only thing you get out of watching Magnus & Hikaru play is inspiration ,  that's not nothing. You could use your passion for watching their games as an impetus to learn what their favorite openings and defenses are (at present!) and study those lines. Study players they admire (although, to be sure, Magnus, like Steve,  are naturals,  yet I'm sure Magnus would agree that this didn't mean he didn't have to study. Vai played 10-16 hours a day when he was a teenager, in order to hone his natural pitch perfect abilities) . 

Actually,  there is something I learned from watching Steve:  he never tapped (a guitar technique where you use both hands on the fretboard) like anyone else he'd seen do it before him. Lenny Breau did this in jazz, and then Eddie Van Halen made it popular in rock music. Eddie tapped horizontally; Steve vertically. This explained visually how he could make such interesting chords with his tapping. My point: you could certainly pick up something from watching Magnus and Hikaru's games; but, really,  a person doesn't become great at something by watching other people (I had to take jazz drumming lessons to be able to understand Stravinsky's polyphonic rhythms).

 

The same zeal I put into studying and teaching guitar and music theory, respectively, I'm now putting into studying chess (which I've just started studying in depth again 2 nights months ago).

Study everything you can about Magnus & Hikaru's playing (the cover article in In Chess magazine was brilliant and so insightful! Of course, like my guitar mags from the 1970s - 2007, I kept them to study them; the more I learned about theory from the beginning of written music, the more I understood modes, quartal harmony e.t.c.,  the more I understood what was written in the guitar magazines).

 

This is getting long,  but I hope I've made my point clearly. By all means, continue watching these two players, but you've got to take the time to analyze their games, study everything you can get your hands on. And don't forget history:  study their favorite players. 

I hope something I said helps. 

Warm Regards. 

SeniorPatzer

That was a great comment, DLB77!  Thank you for the parallel.

DrChesspain

I think you can certainly learn specific ideas  and concepts (or reinforce concepts you should already know) that you can apply in your own games.

However, tactical prowess, calculation speed, recognizing and remembering patterns from older games, etc. are all a function of experience, study and good brain hardware. 

DLB777
SeniorPatzer wrote:

That was a great comment, DLB77!  Thank you for the parallel.

Thank you,  @SeniorPatzer! I'm not too great at chess (yet!), so I was hoping the music analogy would be of some help. 

Thank you for the Friendship! 😊

DLB777

@SeniorPatzer I forgot to stress the point that even though I studied Steve's playing in depth for years...I never mimicked him. I had my own style that was actually quite different from him. (I used to get upset if I came up with a really cool idea and incorporated that into a piece, and then I'd see archival concert of Steve's and see that he had already done that when he was 20 playing in Zappa's band!)

With regard to chess, right now I'm studying my own games, and I enjoy studying Tal's games with analysis. I don't know why his games resonate.  I tried watched Magnus play a few games from chess.com's video archives,  but I honestly do not follow what his thinking is! Ha!  I suppose it would take betting much higher than a 600 rated player to understand his thinking!