Road to 1600 Rapid, trying to improve after every game.

Giasira

Short intro: I started playing chess last November and got hooked on it. After playing a LOT between November - March and getting to 1470 rapid rating,  I got burned out and frustrated because I felt like I was spending too much time on chess without improving much. I also got into "blitz fever" playing too much blitz without really studying to improve. I would sit up late nights, often with beer involved, just playing game after game until I was so strung out I was just hanging pieces left and right.

Now I`m back in the chess saddle and I have decided to go back to the drawing board.  Back to basics. Chess 101. Giuoco Piano. Development, king safety.  I need to have a healthier relationship to chess, and I need to make my chess time productive.

I am going to play rapid 15/10 and 30 min, and I`m going to analyze every game as thoroughly as my understanding and time allows. If I make mistakes I am going to try to learn from them, 

Goals for this summer:

1. Eliminate horrible blunders, such as leaving pieces en prise, falling for obvious skewers, dangerous pins, forks and "mates out of the blue". Win, lose or draw is not the important part here, I just want to practice good chess habits and learn how to play patiently and solidly. If I lose I want it to be because I got thoroughly outplayed, not because I gave up something for free. At least this way I can go through my loss and learn something more productive than "I shouldn`t have left that piece undefended"

2. Don`t play when tired or distracted. Chess time will be "tunnel time", during that time it will be my sole focus.  I am going to set aside time specifically for that purpose. I will warm up with some tactics puzzles, and if I`m so tired or distracted that I can`t solve any of them then I`m probably better off doing something else than chess at that time. 

3. Analyze every game. By forcing myself to analyze every game, I am forcing myself to learn from every game. If it is a particularily instructional game, or the opening catches me off guard or the endgame is completely unfamiliar or something like that, I will do a deeper analysis. I will study the unfamiliar opening or the particular endgame, as to be better prepared in the future.

End goal for 2019: Reach a solid 1600 rapid rating. I`m already 1470. I`m quite confident that I can reach 1600 if I get a good streak. By solid 1600 I mean I should be able to hold my own consistently in games against other similarly rated opponents. If I can stay around 1600 for 100 games or so, then I`ll consider my goal reached. 

Without further ado: Game 1 (with analysis). I am black in this game


Horrible blunders: 0

The most important part is that I avoided blunders. However I`m a bit dissapointed with myself that I didn`t "see" Nxf1 going up the exchange on move 24. In this particular instance it probably didn`t matter much. But I need to be honest with myself in that I didn`t see it. 

Possible improvements: attacking f2 with the queen on move 12 was perhaps a bit premature. Maybe I should have played more positionally with 12. Qg5 or 12. Nd5. Though Nd5 would have been met by Ba4 and later c3 so don`t see how I would gain much. 
 

Giasira

Game 2

Horrible blunders: 2. I could easily have gained the advantage in the middlegame if I had played more decisively. Even if I blew the early advantage, I did get a playable endgame position with a passed pawn, but I didn`t manage to capitalize on it. I just straight up left a piece en prise due to moving my king away from an important square. Unacceptable. On the bright side my early middle game plan actually worked and I gained an early advantage by planning ahead. If I can just bank the win in the future in situations like this, and stop dropping pieces, I`ll get to 1600 in no time.

Note 1: I need to work on the psychological game. I need to try to be more calm in sharp positions. Don`t think about the time too much. It`s better to have 2 minutes vs 10 minutes and have a great position, rather than a lot of time but a mediocre or a bad position. On moves such as move 14 where I have the choice between attacking and trying to neutralize my opponents threats, and where important pieces are coming off the board, I should take 10 minutes out of 15 to calculate the lines, if I can afford it. 
 
Note 2: I have a quite poor understanding of endgame positions. I ended up having my bishops on awkward squares and I couldn`t see any clear way forward except for pushing my passed pawn.. somehow. I should have accepted a draw as an acceptable outcome and just kept everything well defended. 
Giasira

Game 3

Not much to say about game 3, except that I`m happy to bank a miniature after the nerve-wracking previous Sicilian game. 

Giasira

Game 4

I wrote an analysis of game 4 but it somehow got lost so I`ll just write a short summary. Basicly I got out of the middlegame in game 4 with a (I would say) slightly better position. My opponent made a mistake which cost him 2 pawns, but despite having 2 passed pawns and a comfortable endgame I managed to mess it up and got mated in the middle of the board.. I definitely need to hunker down and study endgames if I ever want to improve. It`s in the endgame I usually blow my advantage or the obvious draw.

Giasira

Game 5 was a quick win with a tactic, so not particularly instructive, except to confirm my observation that players at the 1400-1500 rating level often run intro trouble by blindly grabbing pawns without having a good look around. I`m posting game 6 here.

MatthewFreitag

I'm going to go through all of them later, as this thread is really interesting to me, as I would say 3 months ago on a different account I was struggling to break 1500.

What changed was:

Puzzles! Chesstempo.com. Thank me later. This site also has great puzzles (I like them a little better than Chesstempo.com) but you have to pay.

Opening Knowledge: Higher rated players told me to ignore the opening and "play good moves". While there is an element of truth, I would end up in worse positions after move 7. The opening moves are just too analyzed to not study.

Getting a book(s): I've heard reassess your chess by Silman is amazing. I currently have his Complete Book of Chess Strategy.

 

Hope this helps!

(P.S: I am a 1600 rapid player, if you would like to see how I play, I would be open to an unrated challenge.)

Giasira
MatthewFreitag wrote:

I'm going to go through all of them later, as this thread is really interesting to me, as I would say 3 months ago on a different account I was struggling to break 1500.

What changed was:

Puzzles! Chesstempo.com. Thank me later. This site also has great puzzles (I like them a little better than Chesstempo.com) but you have to pay.

Opening Knowledge: Higher rated players told me to ignore the opening and "play good moves". While there is an element of truth, I would end up in worse positions after move 7. The opening moves are just too analyzed to not study.

Getting a book(s): I've heard reassess your chess by Silman is amazing. I currently have his Complete Book of Chess Strategy.

 

Hope this helps!

(P.S: I am a 1600 rapid player, if you would like to see how I play, I would be open to an unrated challenge.)


I feel the same about openings. While you can no doubt win with "any" opening if you`re really good at chess, the reality of the matter is that the first 10 moves have a huge effect on the rest of the game. I suck at endgames (as my two losses show), but I`m still near 1500 rating just by knowing solid opening lines and having a decent eye for tactics. One misstep in the opening and you can easily be done for.. 

Subtleties

Hello,

I consider myself a beginner, although I'm 1850 rapid. I've learnt chess two years ago, and I've been consistently improving since. 

Here are some pieces of advice. I will illustrate with a 30+0 game that I've just played.

1 Tactics. Until 1700-1800, a tactical superiority will decide the game. My training is 3-4 hours of tactics every day. Chess.com, Lichess and Chesstempo provide good puzzles. You should do blitz (less than a minute per puzzle) and standard (between 30 and 60 minutes per puzzle) tactics.

2 Endgames. I would consider to learn the basics of rook endgames and king + pawns endgames. You can easily blunder in endgames. Openings are far less important.

3 Games. Three 30+0 games every day.

You should consider taking only 5-10 % of your time studying opening and strategy / positionnal play.

Here's my game


This exemple shows a few things.

- My opponent blundered a rook in a 30+0 game, though he is 1750.

- This was the first time I played the Italian game with 4 d3, and I have no knowlege on this opening. My opponent had some knowledge on this opening as he played his moves very quickly. It didn't matter.

- I strategically outplayed my opponent. Nevertheless, I never studied any Strategical book. This comes with practice. 

SeniorPatzer

You guys are fast learners!

Giasira
Game 8 (I`m playing as black)
 
 
 
Horrible blunders: 1 (2 if you count the mouseslip)

This loss was very instructive for me. I played quite a slow, positional game this time around and managed to grind out an advantage step by step. Then I blew my advantage again, because I wasn`t slow and careful enough. Even though it was a 30 min game I started having 6 minutes versus 20 minutes, which also affected my play.

Note 1: Better time management.

Note 2: DEFINITELY start studying endgames and positional chess. I`m thinking to look at some games by Kramnik and Karpov and see how they grind out positional advantages. Then I`ll do some drills and lessons involving passed pawns and endgames with rooks and pawns. 

Overall: Even though it`s frustrating to blow advantages over and over again, at least it`s encouraging to know that I built those advantages in the first place. Back when I was in the 800-1000 range I looked at 1400 rated players as Gods, because if I ever played one I just lost and couldn`t explain why. Now I consistently manage to put 1400+ players on the backfoot, and even win, so I would say that is an achievement (for me).

Giasira
Game 9: White
Result: Loss
Horrible blunders: 3
 

I played the previous opponent again. And AGAIN I blew a advantage. This time the advantage was on the order of magnitude of 18 pawns according to the computer.. so good job me. I feel quite tilted ATM, I`m just not able to convert winning advantages. I played too defensively in the end and once my opponent managed to double rooks in front of my king I just lost track of my own plan... Enough chess for today.

ArtNJ

I looked at game 4.  I don't think it was a complicated endgame technique thing, you just kind of forgot for a moment that the way you win an endgame like this is push your past pawns.  20. . . . a5.  No reason to move that rook now, its in a good spot.  If white moves his rook, you just play a4.  

ghost_of_pushwood

Don't try so hard to improve after every game.  You're putting undue pressure on yourself...and you're likely to find moments when you seem to go nowhere at all (even somewhat backwards).  That happens to everyone.

Giasira
ArtNJ wrote:

I looked at game 4.  I don't think it was a complicated endgame technique thing, you just kind of forgot for a moment that the way you win an endgame like this is push your past pawns.  20. . . . a5.  No reason to move that rook now, its in a good spot.  If white moves his rook, you just play a4.  

 

You`re right, I should have kept it simple. I guess I was hope-chessing a bit and got intrigued by the bank-rank weakness of my opponent. I never even thought of the interesting tactic of "double attacking my pawn and knight while at the same time resolving the back-rank issue" It cost me the game (in an interesting way)

Giasira
ghost_of_pushwood wrote:

Don't try so hard to improve after every game.  You're putting undue pressure on yourself...and you're likely to find moments when you seem to go nowhere at all (even somewhat backwards).  That happens to everyone.

It`s not a matter of HAVING to improve after every game. I`m just forcing myself to analyze every game.  Maybe the title was phrased badly. I fully expect it to take a long time and hundreds of rapid games before I earn a 1600 rating. By analyzing every game a ong the way I `m hoping to get there faster and more effectively. 

Giasira
Subtleties wrote:

Hello,

I consider myself a beginner, although I'm 1850 rapid. I've learnt chess two years ago, and I've been consistently improving since. 

Here are some pieces of advice. I will illustrate with a 30+0 game that I've just played.

1 Tactics. Until 1700-1800, a tactical superiority will decide the game. My training is 3-4 hours of tactics every day. Chess.com, Lichess and Chesstempo provide good puzzles. You should do blitz (less than a minute per puzzle) and standard (between 30 and 60 minutes per puzzle) tactics.

2 Endgames. I would consider to learn the basics of rook endgames and king + pawns endgames. You can easily blunder in endgames. Openings are far less important.

3 Games. Three 30+0 games every day.

You should consider taking only 5-10 % of your time studying opening and strategy / positionnal play.

Here's my game

 


This exemple shows a few things.

- My opponent blundered a rook in a 30+0 game, though he is 1750.

- This was the first time I played the Italian game with 4 d3, and I have no knowlege on this opening. My opponent had some knowledge on this opening as he played his moves very quickly. It didn't matter.

- I strategically outplayed my opponent. Nevertheless, I never studied any Strategical book. This comes with practice. 

 

I took a look at the game. You didn`t add comments so I do not know what the purpose of your moves were. At a glance it seems like your opponents main weakness was passive play and being too grubby about exchanging his bishops for strong knights. The bishop pair is a long-term advantage but I would exchange my bishop for the powerful knight easily 

Subtleties
Giasira a écrit :
Subtleties wrote:

Hello,

I consider myself a beginner, although I'm 1850 rapid. I've learnt chess two years ago, and I've been consistently improving since. 

Here are some pieces of advice. I will illustrate with a 30+0 game that I've just played.

1 Tactics. Until 1700-1800, a tactical superiority will decide the game. My training is 3-4 hours of tactics every day. Chess.com, Lichess and Chesstempo provide good puzzles. You should do blitz (less than a minute per puzzle) and standard (between 30 and 60 minutes per puzzle) tactics.

2 Endgames. I would consider to learn the basics of rook endgames and king + pawns endgames. You can easily blunder in endgames. Openings are far less important.

3 Games. Three 30+0 games every day.

You should consider taking only 5-10 % of your time studying opening and strategy / positionnal play.

Here's my game

 


This exemple shows a few things.

- My opponent blundered a rook in a 30+0 game, though he is 1750.

- This was the first time I played the Italian game with 4 d3, and I have no knowlege on this opening. My opponent had some knowledge on this opening as he played his moves very quickly. It didn't matter.

- I strategically outplayed my opponent. Nevertheless, I never studied any Strategical book. This comes with practice. 

 

I took a look at the game. You didn`t add comments so I do not know what the purpose of your moves were. At a glance it seems like your opponents main weakness was passive play and being too grubby about exchanging his bishops for strong knights. The bishop pair is a long-term advantage but I would exchange my bishop for the powerful knight easily 

Now with comments. 

HowFaresTheKing

"Eliminate horrible blunders, such as leaving pieces en prise, falling for obvious skewers, dangerous pins, forks and "mates out of the blue"."

This!!!^

It seems to me that between about 1000 and a 1600+ rating, players are in the process of gradually learning to commit fewer basic errors (blunders and mistakes). It is harder to eliminate them than it appears because they often seem to occur, not because you can't see it, but because you became focused-on/distracted-by a complex situation, sometimes with time pressure, and didn't take the time to back off and look for obvious checks, captures and threats first. At my current 1300 rating, I feel like I don't need to be able to consistently find incredible moves to get to 1600, I primarily just need to eliminate obvious blunders.

I also notice that many players at my level (myself included), need to slow down on what at first glance seems like an automatic recapture. That causes us to respond to an opponents blunder with a blunder of our own, and a game ending opportunity is missed. 

I am taking a very similar approach to you. I have a basic opening plan, I am learning some endgame basics, I spend the most practice time on tactics, and I play games, and I analyze a lot of those games to learn from my mistakes. I also like the "retry" feature for learning to improve. Although my opening plan is not extensive, but I do have it written down, and as I make mistakes I modify it to improve. That improves my consistency. 


ghost_of_pushwood
HowFaresTheKing wrote:

"Eliminate horrible blunders, such as leaving pieces en prise, falling for obvious skewers, dangerous pins, forks and "mates out of the blue"."



Over and over again players post games here, generally accompanied by a lot of airy philosophizing about positional subtleties and so forth.

Then, when I actually go through the game, I find it almost always boils down to this:  everything was going along okay...until somebody hung something big. wink.png

Giasira
Game 10 (Black)
Result: loss
Horrible blunders: 2 
 
 

 

This time I just got outplayed, I had no clue what I was doing in this game, and just played bad. Overall I didn`t find any coherent plan, played overly cautiously, and just reacted to my opponents moves. I played 2 more games after this one, I`ll post them tomorrow.

Note to self: don`t touch the mouse until you know what move to play.