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I think a previous poster hit the nail on the head. In order to get better I think it's important to constantly play players that are a bit stronger than you (say 200 points). Stay away from blitz and play longer games. Eventually your brain will start noticing patterns both in the offensive and defensive sides. One thing that I noticed that distinguishes really strong players from just "good" players isn't tactics at all (at least offensively), but rather the ability to understand threats AND more importantly how to successfully defend them. I have played 1300 players that were strong offensive minded player with sharp tactics, but had no idea how to defend or play position.
My suggestion (although I am too lazy to look at your games) would be to stick to 2 or three openings for both white and black, and master them. Play one variation for a month, and then play another variation. Look to openings that you feel play off your strong points. Once you feel confident in those openings, try new ones.
That being said, opening IMO aren't really important at your rating level. Whats more important to concentrate on would be reducing hanging pieces and blunders in general. I know that sounds vague but as one poster put it, after your opponent makes a move, it's important to see all possible real threats before you think about making an offensive move. That's not to say that you should react to all ghost threats, or drop your attack when an opponent attacks you. Sometimes moves appear to be threats but really arent. When you are going to make an offensive move make sure that the square that you are landing on, or attacking isn't defended. I know that sounds like common sense but it really isn't.
But I must stress that if you are just learning the game (under a year playing) that you avoid blitz at all costs. I'm primarily a blitz player but I started over the board which allowed me to soak in patterns, strategies and tactics which THEN allowed me to add a clock and test my speed.
I notice your avatar looks somewhat like Job. Perhaps that is relevant.
Actually he looks an awful like Jack Tar. Perhaps that is more relevant.
One other thing that impinges upon my thinking and attitude to date. My eldest son (he's 21) is a very good chess player, not that he cares about it. Has never read a book, never done anything other than just play, and he's about a 1500 on this site. So, naturally I've always wondered how he manages to play much better than I when I have done some work (I really have) and it hasn't made me even his equal. Now I'll go on to Thoradin, who had some suggestions that I'd like to respond to.
I think a previous poster hit the nail on the head. In order to get better I think it's important to constantly play players that are a bit stronger than you (say 200 points). Stay away from blitz and play longer games.
Actually I do those things. I play longer games (30 mins.) and I always try and play stronger players (which may be one reason I am getting plastered these last few days).
My suggestion (although I am too lazy to look at your games) would be to stick to 2 or three openings for both white and black, and master them.
I have done this.
Play one variation for a month, and then play another variation. Look to openings that you feel play off your strong points. Once you feel confident in those openings, try new ones.
I did this. See? all the things you've mentioned and some of the others, are very much the fundamentals of chess for beginners. I know those as well as the next man.
That being said, opening IMO aren't really important at your rating level. Whats more important to concentrate on would be reducing hanging pieces and blunders in general. I know that sounds vague but as one poster put it, after your opponent makes a move, it's important to see all possible real threats before you think about making an offensive move.
This is what my teacher told me back in 2003 and I never forgot it. Always look at the position and gauge all the threats, checks, hanging pieces, etc. Granted that doesn't mean I don't make mistakes and blunders. I do.
Not me at all. Haven't played Blitz in weeks and when I did that was just an experiment to see what it was like. I am not under a year playing. I mentioned in one of my earliest posts that I really got into the game with lots of enthusiasm and willingness to study back in the early 2000s, about 15 years ago. Back then I got sick and tired of working and getting nowhere so I dropped this game. It has only been in the past few months that I've come back to chess thinking that maybe my mental set and different brain might have made me more effective at the game. It has not.
So this is why I started this posting. It's not as simple as some of you think judging by your kind and helpful suggestions - which I do appreciate. But no there seems to be something else going on. I was not even this bad in late December-early January. I had gotten above 1300 then and seemed to be doing pretty good. Then I took a break for about 3 weeks, came back day before yesterday and have basically lost every game I've played. Well, at least 90%, and that's not an exaggeration. Maybe in those 3 weeks my little gray cells deteriorated!
Sounds like you are actually improving then, even though it may not seem like it. Everyone has rough patches, and it's normal to take some time getting your form back after a break. If you were having months of bad form then you should perhaps be worried. But 2 days of bad play is nothing to fret about...
Thanks FF, that is sort of comforting. I've never had 2 days of bad play like this before!
Of the last 15 games I've played I've lost 12, won 2 and tied 1. I've never had this kind of losses ever. But actually it is getting sort of interesting in a morbid sort of way. I've lost 6 straight now. I've almost forgotten what it is like to actually be ahead in a game.
7 straight losses now. I'm aiming to break 1200 soon! I think it's within reach now. I'm like only 20 points away now. Since I began this recent set of games my rating has dropped from around 1300 to where it is now.
Btw, I set up my parameters so that I don't play anyone less than 20 points above me up to 120 points above me. If it is recommended so strongly to play better players then I am going to give that recommendation a serious trial. I don't want any 1150 sneaking in and breaking my string of 7 unbroken losses!
There may be a plateau, but it's not always clear what it is.
Well, obviously at some point we all reach our top rating. And then we don't go any higher.
Looking at my own stats on here, I see my longest losing streak at Blitz was 7 games, but longest winning streak was 9. So just keep playing, things might balance out.
Thanks for the well wishes. I hope things do balance out!
Sorry, but every time I see your avatar I can't help thinking of my vinyl collection. Here's another one of the ones I've still got:
A-Salty-Dog, I see that you consider a 30 minute game slow, but you really should try playing "online chess", which is quite different and gives you not minutes, but days if necessary, in which to make your next move. That would really allow you all the time you needed to think, think and think again before making moves.
Thanks for sharing that. Most people here don't know what the Salty Dog is all about. I have all of the albums on vinyl plus on CDs except for Broken Barricades (another story). Procol was basic and fundamental to my growing up as a young man. Hence my homage to Gary's band. Good to know there's another Procol Harumite here! Shine On Brightly! Breck