What are your challenges as an adult player trying to improve?

GM_Dipankar007

Hello everyone,

Just curious what are the challenges that adult beginners are facing? As an adult player myself, I know that most of us have job and family commitments. Finding enough time to play or improve chess can be a serious challenge. Any other challenges/issues?

About myself, I'm a Chess coach with multiple adult students and I've been able to help them improve their playing strength. I'm not fishing for students here. Just wanting to help.

sasazastavnikovic

As an adult player, I think that we are less of an open mind when learning new ideas and concepts. We want to apply straight away if we learned something new. I personally don`t like playing with the kids as always have the impression they are chess prodigy.

LOB5TER

I know you aren't fishing for students but I'm fishing for a coach haha. If you are willing we can talk about that in PMs. As for the question, I find it most challenging to see the fundamentals I've learned on the board and to push past my own ideas. Like I've been studying Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals but have a hard time taking the PRINCIPLES learned and separating them from the EXACT setups in the examples.

GM_Dipankar007
sasazastavnikovic wrote:

As an adult player, I think that we are less of an open mind when learning new ideas and concepts. We want to apply straight away if we learned something new. I personally don`t like playing with the kids as always have the impression they are chess prodigy.

 

I agree. What can help is seeing many examples of an idea being applied in different circumstances. You could find the examples from books, Youtube videos, a coach or any other free or paid resource. Once you see an idea applied in many different contexts, I think that makes it more likely that now you will "get it" and be able to apply it in your games.

GM_Dipankar007
LOB5TER wrote:

I know you aren't fishing for students but I'm fishing for a coach haha. If you are willing we can talk about that in PMs. As for the question, I find it most challenging to see the fundamentals I've learned on the board and to push past my own ideas. Like I've been studying Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals but have a hard time taking the PRINCIPLES learned and separating them from the EXACT setups in the examples.

I definitely hear you and that is a common problem. I'd say two things here. One is to ensure you are reading/consuming learning material that is appropriate for your level. A coach can really help in this case to suggest the best training and learning plan for your specific strengths and weaknesses. Even a friend who is a stronger player could help you with this. Second thing is there is always a learning curve when applying a new concept and you should expect to make mistakes when first applying it. I know I'm not sharing anything revolutionary here!

And since you expressed interest in my coaching services, you can check out the details on my Chess.com profile and email me if you're interested. Here is the link to my profile https://www.chess.com/member/gm_dipankar007

 

wornaki

I think of one thing that I know affects more people than just me. Lacking visualization skills. Not calculation, not pattern recognition, not tactic spotting. Just visualization. I happen to think got adult improvers, visualization needs to be emphasized (kids seem to naturally pick it up by doing other things) and many coaches and strong players that want to help don't notice it. IMHO visualization of the key to calculation, the key to tactics and even the key to positional motifs. And it's rarely if ever trained. The lack of specific training material compared to calculation or pattern recognition is simply astounding.

GM_Dipankar007
wornaki wrote:

I think of one thing that I know affects more people than just me. Lacking visualization skills. Not calculation, not pattern recognition, not tactic spotting. Just visualization. I happen to think got adult improvers, visualization needs to be emphasized (kids seem to naturally pick it up by doing other things) and many coaches and strong players that want to help don't notice it. IMHO visualization of the key to calculation, the key to tactics and even the key to positional motifs. And it's rarely if ever trained. The lack of specific training material compared to calculation or pattern recognition is simply astounding.

I could not agree more. Visualization is an extremely important skill for Chess improvement and this is one of the biggest things holding back most adult players. This has been even my experience as an adult player (I started taking Chess seriously quite late in life) and also while working with other adult players. Kids, with their malleable brains do have a much easier time learning to visualize if they are pushed in that direction.

A few years back, I was also desperately searching for methods to improve my visualization since training material in that area is so acutely lacking as you aptly pointed out. I did find one great resource which I still use to this day. It is a software called Visualwize available from https://chessfox.com/products/. I use it myself and I have recommended it to some of my adult students with great results.

Also, I am able to provide a 20% discount on any Visualwize courses purchased from that site. If you'd like to avail the discount or have any questions about this, please send me a an email - my email address is listed on my Chess.com profile https://www.chess.com/member/gm_dipankar007

Otherwise, you can just buy it at the full price, and it's totally worth it in my opinion. Now, since I genuinely want to help, if you are not inclined to invest in some paid product, I can recommend some other practices.

  1. Take a game score, meaning all the moves of a game listed down, and set up a physical or online chessboard and try to visualize the position after a certain sequence of moves. Then actually play out the moves and see if your mental picture was accurate.
  2. Solve tactics puzzles blindfolded. Look at a tactics puzzle position and then close your eyes and try to move the pieces in your head to solve it. Then open your eyes and check the solution. See if you missed any details.

Hope this helps. There is no shortcut to improving visualization. You just have to put some regular dedicated effort into it.

ExploringWA
GM_Dipankar007 wrote:
wornaki wrote:

I think of one thing that I know affects more people than just me. Lacking visualization skills. Not calculation, not pattern recognition, not tactic spotting. Just visualization. I happen to think got adult improvers, visualization needs to be emphasized (kids seem to naturally pick it up by doing other things) and many coaches and strong players that want to help don't notice it. IMHO visualization of the key to calculation, the key to tactics and even the key to positional motifs. And it's rarely if ever trained. The lack of specific training material compared to calculation or pattern recognition is simply astounding.

I could not agree more. Visualization is an extremely important skill for Chess improvement and this is one of the biggest things holding back most adult players. This has been even my experience as an adult player (I started taking Chess seriously quite late in life) and also while working with other adult players. Kids, with their malleable brains do have a much easier time learning to visualize if they are pushed in that direction.

A few years back, I was also desperately searching for methods to improve my visualization since training material in that area is so acutely lacking as you aptly pointed out. I did find one great resource which I still use to this day. It is a software called Visualwize available from https://chessfox.com/products/. I use it myself and I have recommended it to some of my adult students with great results.

Also, I am able to provide a 20% discount on any Visualwize courses purchased from that site. If you'd like to avail the discount or have any questions about this, please send me a an email - my email address is listed on my Chess.com profile https://www.chess.com/member/gm_dipankar007

Otherwise, you can just buy it at the full price, and it's totally worth it in my opinion. Now, since I genuinely want to help, if you are not inclined to invest in some paid product, I can recommend some other practices.

  1. Take a game score, meaning all the moves of a game listed down, and set up a physical or online chessboard and try to visualize the position after a certain sequence of moves. Then actually play out the moves and see if your mental picture was accurate.
  2. Solve tactics puzzles blindfolded. Look at a tactics puzzle position and then close your eyes and try to move the pieces in your head to solve it. Then open your eyes and check the solution. See if you missed any details.

Hope this helps. There is no shortcut to improving visualization. You just have to put some regular dedicated effort into it.

I have a condition called aphantasia, and I cannot visualize images, sounds, or smells. Visualization is not an option, and frankly I do not agree that visualization is necessary to excel at Chess. As a child I was very competitive in Chess, and while relearning as an adult is no easy task, I do believe my learning curve is pretty normal. What are your thoughts on aphantasics learning Chess?

Kraig

For me personally, its the obvious one. Time. Due to having so many commitments, a relationship, a full time job, etc - it can be hard to find sufficient time to dedicate to chess.

I have just turned 30, and learnt chess last year - 2019. I still remember my first game, opening with 1.H4, then trying to bring the rook out to the third rank on move 2!

I started watching some youtube videos, sharpened up my "opening principles" and after a couple of weeks, was around 600 rated in blitz and 700 in Rapid on chess.com.
Fast forward 18 months, I am now around 1700 blitz and around 1900 in Rapid (10+0).

My biggest rating gains came when I had ample time to invest into learning - particularly over these Covid times where most people have had more time on their hands. Paradoxically, when I dont see rating improvement, and plateau, I tend to lose motivation and don't feel as inclined to spend more time on it!

My personal weaknesses are probably a consequence of my preference for shorter time controls and unrelated to being an adult learner per sé, but I'd say I have not developed adequate calculation and visualization skills needed to play longer time controls. So much so that at 10+0, I can compete with 1900s in Rapid, but with 15+10, I tend to lose focus, play intuitively, and can throw games to 1600s in the same rating category - just with that slower format. However, I prefer shorter time controls anyway, so that weakness doesnt hurt me as much in my preferred time formats.

I've never played OTB or played a rated game and many people suggest playing longer games as well as OTB games are a great way to improve. Something I'd probably like to do but don't feel I have the time to do so either. Everyone has different priorities, and I think that's what tends to impact adult improvement the most.

nexim

The constant nagging thought of "is it worth it to spend all this time practicing chess" combined with "how far can I realistically go as an adult beginner" are the biggest issues. Not so much learning itself but the doubt in your mind whether or not there is some sort of a hard-ceiling that someone who learned the game as an adult will have practically impossible time to get through. It would be easy to stay motivated if you knew that all the hard work will lead to improvement (in terms of steady rating gains) in the long run, but spending say 15 hours (2 hours every day) a week studying for 2 years for a marginal 100 points gain isn't probably something most would be willing to do.

I guess that is the biggest hurdle most adults trying to improve will have - how to stay motivated and dedicated on the grind for long enough (multiple years to a decade) to reach expertise or mastery (whichever your goal might be). One to two hours a day for kids ain't much (heck, I used to play computer games for way more back in the day), but when you have work, family and responsibilities it is a rather crazy commitment. It's hard to find people who actually went through the grind for a long enough period, because the commitment requires a lot for something that gives back extremely slow rewards.

I suppose it's not as bad if you're less ambitious about your goals.

GM_Dipankar007
ExploringWA wrote:
GM_Dipankar007 wrote:
wornaki wrote:

I think of one thing that I know affects more people than just me. Lacking visualization skills. Not calculation, not pattern recognition, not tactic spotting. Just visualization. I happen to think got adult improvers, visualization needs to be emphasized (kids seem to naturally pick it up by doing other things) and many coaches and strong players that want to help don't notice it. IMHO visualization of the key to calculation, the key to tactics and even the key to positional motifs. And it's rarely if ever trained. The lack of specific training material compared to calculation or pattern recognition is simply astounding.

I could not agree more. Visualization is an extremely important skill for Chess improvement and this is one of the biggest things holding back most adult players. This has been even my experience as an adult player (I started taking Chess seriously quite late in life) and also while working with other adult players. Kids, with their malleable brains do have a much easier time learning to visualize if they are pushed in that direction.

A few years back, I was also desperately searching for methods to improve my visualization since training material in that area is so acutely lacking as you aptly pointed out. I did find one great resource which I still use to this day. It is a software called Visualwize available from https://chessfox.com/products/. I use it myself and I have recommended it to some of my adult students with great results.

Also, I am able to provide a 20% discount on any Visualwize courses purchased from that site. If you'd like to avail the discount or have any questions about this, please send me a an email - my email address is listed on my Chess.com profile https://www.chess.com/member/gm_dipankar007

Otherwise, you can just buy it at the full price, and it's totally worth it in my opinion. Now, since I genuinely want to help, if you are not inclined to invest in some paid product, I can recommend some other practices.

  1. Take a game score, meaning all the moves of a game listed down, and set up a physical or online chessboard and try to visualize the position after a certain sequence of moves. Then actually play out the moves and see if your mental picture was accurate.
  2. Solve tactics puzzles blindfolded. Look at a tactics puzzle position and then close your eyes and try to move the pieces in your head to solve it. Then open your eyes and check the solution. See if you missed any details.

Hope this helps. There is no shortcut to improving visualization. You just have to put some regular dedicated effort into it.

I have a condition called aphantasia, and I cannot visualize images, sounds, or smells. Visualization is not an option, and frankly I do not agree that visualization is necessary to excel at Chess. As a child I was very competitive in Chess, and while relearning as an adult is no easy task, I do believe my learning curve is pretty normal. What are your thoughts on aphantasics learning Chess?

I do not really know about aphantasia so I would not able to speak intelligently on that subject.

GM_Dipankar007
Kraig wrote:

For me personally, its the obvious one. Time. Due to having so many commitments, a relationship, a full time job, etc - it can be hard to find sufficient time to dedicate to chess.

I have just turned 30, and learnt chess last year - 2019. I still remember my first game, opening with 1.H4, then trying to bring the rook out to the third rank on move 2!

I started watching some youtube videos, sharpened up my "opening principles" and after a couple of weeks, was around 600 rated in blitz and 700 in Rapid on chess.com.
Fast forward 18 months, I am now around 1700 blitz and around 1900 in Rapid (10+0).

My biggest rating gains came when I had ample time to invest into learning - particularly over these Covid times where most people have had more time on their hands. Paradoxically, when I dont see rating improvement, and plateau, I tend to lose motivation and don't feel as inclined to spend more time on it!

My personal weaknesses are probably a consequence of my preference for shorter time controls and unrelated to being an adult learner per sé, but I'd say I have not developed adequate calculation and visualization skills needed to play longer time controls. So much so that at 10+0, I can compete with 1900s in Rapid, but with 15+10, I tend to lose focus, play intuitively, and can throw games to 1600s in the same rating category - just with that slower format. However, I prefer shorter time controls anyway, so that weakness doesnt hurt me as much in my preferred time formats.

I've never played OTB or played a rated game and many people suggest playing longer games as well as OTB games are a great way to improve. Something I'd probably like to do but don't feel I have the time to do so either. Everyone has different priorities, and I think that's what tends to impact adult improvement the most.

Great progress gaining over 1000 points in 18 months! And yes, time and competing priorities are definitely big challenges for adult players.

Copernicus9

Time limitations are an issue for me, too.  One specific issue I have is how to allocate time.  One part of that is how to allocate my time between playing and studying.   And then on the studying side of things, how to allocate time between the various options, such as:  practicing tactics, board vision exercises, studying endgames, studying openings, going over my own games, studying master/annotated games, etc. 

Antonin1957
DefeatedHit wrote:

Like many of you, I just don't have time. So much is going on in my life right now, especially with the pandemic. I am always doing something. I find it hard to get time to play.

Same here. Lack of time. Lack of energy. Lack of will. Intense depression. Another obstacle is the severe shortage of friendly, mature adults here on chess.com who are serious about chess.  The forum is a zoo, which means I don't come here nearly as much as I used to.

ThrillerFan

There are some things that even EXPERIENCED adults see as a challenge.

 

Many parents are HORRIBLE these days, do not teach their kids manners or obedience, and you face one of these twirps, and here the stupid parents are handing them kettle cooked chips to eat at the board, they squirm around in their chairs making all kinds of weird noises, offer draws in dead lost positions not by simply saying "I offer you a draw" after making their move and then hitting the clock.  They do one of two other things.  They either A) Say "Draw?" And put their hand out over the board.  I demand that they put their hand down and move as the offer is good until I make MY move.  Or else, even worse, B) They put their hand over the board and say "DRAW?" Pretty loud while it is MY TURN.

 

This is a challenge ALL adult players, not just newbies, have to deal with.

 

If your kids don't know manners or how to sit still, send them to SCHOLASTIC tournaments!

MSteen

Though I have plenty of time as a retiree, my top challenge is my age--69. Though I am still sharp and in very good health, I know that my best years for serious improvement are long past. However, I am finding great enjoyment in playing daily games, going over master games, increasing my tactics score, and taking the lessons here on chess.com. Also, the hundreds of videos on YouTube provide endless entertainment. 

How much can I really expect to improve now? Realistically, not much. But with age comes wisdom, and wisdom tells me that getting hours of enjoyment out of a hobby that I love is far more important than adding a few ratings points.

magictwanger

Well Michael......your age also gave you a great ability to hit the nail on the head,with your response.....Right on!

Abemo
GM_Dipankar007 wrote:

Hello everyone,

Just curious what are the challenges that adult beginners are facing? As an adult player myself, I know that most of us have job and family commitments. Finding enough time to play or improve chess can be a serious challenge. Any other challenges/issues?

About myself, I'm a Chess coach with multiple adult students and I've been able to help them improve their playing strength. I'm not fishing for students here. Just wanting to help.

I made the mistake of studying openings at the expense of other aspects of the game. result: Hilarious tournament incidents! 

https://www.chess.com/blog/Abemo/the-pathetic-patzer

SeniorPatzer

Feeling guilty for studying chess when there are things undone on my wife's list.

Antonin1957
MSteen wrote:

Though I have plenty of time as a retiree, my top challenge is my age--69. Though I am still sharp and in very good health, I know that my best years for serious improvement are long past. However, I am finding great enjoyment in playing daily games, going over master games, increasing my tactics score, and taking the lessons here on chess.com. Also, the hundreds of videos on YouTube provide endless entertainment. 

How much can I really expect to improve now? Realistically, not much. But with age comes wisdom, and wisdom tells me that getting hours of enjoyment out of a hobby that I love is far more important than adding a few ratings points.

I agree 1000% percent. I'm 63 and hope that in 580+ days I will still be alive to join the ranks of the retired.