1550 to 1800 attempt

Purslow89

Hi guys,

I've taken up chess after a long timeout. I began playing 10 years ago when I was at university.

I improved quickly, but university was also over quickly and I hadn't played much since. 

Anyway, the Chess Bug has bit me hard and I want to improve. My goal is to reach 1800 as quickly as I can. I'm going to post some of my games, mainly my losses and share my thoughts. Any pointers on my games, or pointing out any stupid thoughts I'm having are very welcome!

I've just analysed my most recent game, forgive my first post being a win.

Purslow89
For my ability, I played okay. I made a few mistakes and one blunder at move 23 but nothing too disastrous. It's a game I expected to win from the opening although I was slow to exploit.

 

ArtNJ

Holy smokes, you recognize that your opponent wasted two moves and say "I needed to develop and attack the center due to his slow play" and then you play painfully slowly yourself.  No, no, no.  When your opponent screws around, you blast open the center.  Yes, 3. . . . nf6 was better, d6 is a total sin after white wastes a move with a3.  But worse is your plan of be7, bf8 and re8, which was just agonizingly slow to watch.  You have no advantage at all by move 9, stockfish rates the position a tiny bit in white's favor.  Play something like 6. . . . d5, rip open the center and black has a small advantage.  

11. ... a6 looks visually wrong to me, even if it doesn't offend stockfish that much.  It just doesn't do anything much, and you should know at a glance that it is wrong.  Moves like a3/a6/h3/h6 need a specific reason or they are just time wasters.  There are several better ideas, including nd4 (white can't really take it given the knights lack of a square) followed by c5 gaining space is the one stockfish prefers, but there are other good plans including the plan of g5, bg7 and nh5.  

12.  ... be7...a fine move, but I don't remotely understand your comment
13. . . . na7.  time waster, undeveloping a piece, don't do that without a compelling reason.  You had an advantage with nd4 or d5, ripping things open with white poorly developed.  White isn't even castled and his knight is on a silly square, so undeveloping your own piece is bad.  When you have a development lead, your default should be to blast open the center.  

I have to stop now, but from a quick look it seems there may be some deeper positional knowledge needed to advance.  If you are serious about reaching 1850, you'll either need to post games here regularly for help, or find some other source of study.  Going to a chess club, getting curb stomped and going over the game afterwards is oen great way.  

Vicariously-I

As Art says you just played too slowly and wasted a lot of moves. If you are ahead in development you want to seek pawn exchanges. I recommend watching this video below. It will show you how to take advantage of an opponent that plays passively.

The Element of Time in Chess - Beginner to Chess Master #11

 

AF3S

Add me as friend. Same goals I guess. And I hate losing so losing to a friend will actually diminish my suffering lol.

verylate

wasting time/tempo/moves in the opening is as sinful as wasting pawns. It's not a matter so much of engineering pawn exchanges as of making as many of your pieces as possible as active as possible. "Cry Havoc, and let slip the hounds of war!" or something to that effect. and yes if a pawn or 2 ( a speed bump or 2) is thrown into the fire, then so be it.

Purslow89

Thanks @ArtNJ , those comments are really helpful. It all felt slow and I knew I was making mistakes during the game. I'm still struggling to see the correct moves quickly.

11... a6 was because I couldn't see how he could move his forces forward other than Knight to b5 so I wanted to prevent that. But this was probably a stupid thought, thanks for pointing out.

on 12...e7, the idea was to free up my knight to defend e5, or if opponent takes then  attack a useful looking diagonal. It felt necessary before pushing into the centre.

Thanks anyway, I will do as you say, join a club and keep posting.

One unanticipated benefit of analysing and commenting on my games is that I can remember the games move for move.

Nwap111

Like all the cmments.  Right on target. Helpful.

Purslow89

So this is one of the worst games I've played since my last post.

Ignore the result, the analysis stops after move 20. I should have resigned but I played on in disgust and got lucky.

I'm open to any thoughts, one thing I am curious about is was there a better idea than to try and attack d6? I was too slow to implement the idea and was punished, I lost a lot of time pushing pawns, I'll have to learn from that. It was a weird game for me as I've only played a handful of games where we castle on opposite sides.

Most of my mistakes were tactics which is something I am constantly working on, but any thoughts on this game or what I should work on are welcome.

ArtNJ

4. d3 is a head scratcher, blocking in your light square bishop for no reason.  You are white, and black played the center-counter.  Play aggressively, develop fast and naturally.  D4 and Nf3 give a significant advantage . . . after d3, your basically dead equal.

12. rad1 . . . you don't comment on this at all, but it evinces no plan.  The dfile is not opening up, the rook was probably better on a1.  Rfe1 or nf3 were logical.

With opposite side castling, your goal is to open files to attack the enemy king.  Its going to take a while here, but its logical to think about a3, b4.  The problem is it is a little too slow after f5, nc3 and bd6, forcing white to weaken his kingside pawn structure, making it easier for black to open files than white.  Accordingly, Stockfish prefers playing in the center.  

19. g3 was a blunder that made black's attack much easier.  Stopping here.  

  

Nwap111

After 12 moves, the game is roughly equal.  Theory says that in this position you have two options.  You can attack with pawns on the queenside or play in the center.  Sometimes you combine both ideas.  But let's discuss ideas you need to be aware of.  15. QXE3 is better because it grabs that diagonal toward the queenside.  By the way, c4 simply weakens d3  Try not to create weak squares in your position.   18...NG4 sets up a tactical pattern that happens over and over.  So memorize this pattern.  The main thing is to realize that h2 must be defended.  In this case NF3 is the best choice because it does not create weak squares. NF2 undefends H2.  The queen defends H2 before NF2. 

Beware of moves that undefend your pieces and pawns.

 

Manatini

Moves like 4.d3 and 9.Nd2 are very solid, but it's the mindset behind them that's likely a problem. Don't be timid for its own sake, and don't trade pieces because you're not sure what else to do. You need to trust your calculation, play the moves you think are best, and then when mistakes inevitably happen (as they do for all of us) you can learn from them.

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For example maybe you thought about d4 and you calculate:

 

And you get scared of Bxf3 and you also dislike playing dxe.

Well fine, but you should play d4 and Nf3 anyway because putting pawns in the center and developing pieces is just following opening principals. Unless you calculate a forced loss of material don't worry about it. That's what I mean by trusting your calculation.

So lets say in your next game you play a move like d4 and a disaster happens and you lose, but when you analyze you'll notice Bxf3 isn't so scary because if you recapture with the queen you'll be threatening Qxb7 (which would win the rook if black ignores it). You'll notice you have options like Be3 to support the pawn and casting queenside putting a rook on the same file as the opponent's queen. etc.

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As for move 9, because of both player's structures, you can certainly do that (solid with few open lines means you can play slowly), but it's not so principled to move backwards so early in the game. 9.h3 is better.

So in short, challenge yourself to play principled moves, and then when you blunder learn from the mistakes. Playing to simply avoid a disaster may let you survive into a dull or slightly worse middlegame, but it wont teach you as much.

Manatini

You got other good advice, and you make some good observations yourself, but I thought I'd chime in and mention it's useful to have a more ambitious mindset.

Purslow89

Thank you all. Really good advice and useful comments for me to take on board.

d3 does seem like a daft move when you describe it so simply @ArtNJ.

@Nwap111 you are right about c4, I think once my f file was opened up and 2 pawns in the centre, I should have concentrated and put pressure on the centre. Maybe then (and minus the blunders) it would have been a better game.

@Manatini "don't be timid for its own sake" is great advice. I, generally, try not to trade pieces as it just seems like a waste of a move unless their position is stronger, but I'm certainly a culprit of being timid as d3 demonstrates.

 

Purslow89

Hi all,

I thought I would share my milestone games on route.

This was breaking 1600 for the first time. (...or at least the first time since my stats were skewed from when I first joined!)

I'm still making plenty of mistakes, but think I am improving. I applied some of the lessons learned previously in this game.

Two of many weaknesses are my endgame and complacency when I am ahead in material, this game encapsulates both quite well. The first I am working on quite hard by reading through Silman's Endgame Course, the second is coming along with experience. (I lost to a 1760 rating in my most recent game from sheer complacency and it really hurt! I was black and Stockfish had me as -6 ahead before a lazy blunder.)

As always any pointers or criticism are welcome.

GM_Cooper

Just go over master games, do a lot of tactics and play a lot, I have played for 3 years and am around 2300 on chess.com.

Purslow89

I never really got going in this game. I hope it gives a good example to other people of similar ability of how powerful a knight is in a closed position. It was so difficult to see any good moves towards the end of this game.

I played poorly, but learnt that you need to stick to your plans and not waste moves. When your king is centralised then there is no time to mess about and you need to act quickly and address the main threats.

Any thoughts/advice is welcome.

Purslow89

Hi all,

 

Haven't posted for a while. It hasn't seemed worthwhile as most of my losses have been blunders, and I don't need stockfish to tell me that leaving a minor piece hanging isn't a good idea. 

The rating has been up and down. I've beaten a couple of 1700s players and an 1800 player, so I'm hopeful my aim isn't complete fantasy.

This is my most recent game. 

I'm not working on openings at all but often find I am getting in good positions at the early stages of the middlegame, and then it can go either way. I'm watching a lot of the videos on chess.com, watching analysis of GM games, and trying to learn from my mistakes.

As always, any pointers are welcome.

Giasira

The only pointer I would have about the last game as a French defence player is that usually giving up your LSB to take the knight on f5 like 8. Bxf5 is a super annoying move.  It wasn`t strictly a French defence, but you entered a typical structure of such games so it was kind of a transposition. Yes bishop pair is good and all that, but I think you get more than enough compensation for giving up your LSB. You remove blacks most active piece, you destroy his central pawn structure, give him doubled pawns and you weaken d5 significantly. In the French defence I detest Bxf5 so much that i try to avoid giving white that opportunity. 

Purslow89

Thanks @Giasira, that's useful to know. I did consider that move, it was 2nd choice after castling. I figured if I took and he castled kingside then it's going to be difficult to attack the king. My bishop is placed well attacking h7. His isolated d5 pawn would have been a weakness but I would find difficult to attack d5 with the loss of my LSB, and just generally my LSB seemed in much better shape than my other bishop so didn't really want to trade off. I agree with what you say though, I'll try it out if I get in a similar position.