Tips for reaching 1000+

Hansardian
Hi folks, I've been trying to get back into chess lately after years of inactivity, and for want of OTB people to play with, figured online was the best place to start for consistent playing time. When I say "get back into chess," I'm coming from a place where I knew how everything moved and could eke out a win against equally poor players, but had no real understanding - or perhaps interest in - tactics and analysis, which I hope to change, doing puzzles and analysing my own games daily. I'm hovering around an 800 rating on chess.com, and would be really grateful if anyone could look at some of my past games and identify some tips on where I could improve. I have slowed games down and am committing far fewer blunders or leaving hanging pieces than before, but there is something about my style of play that seems a bit scattergun and unfocused, and some fresh eyes would be greatly appreciated. All best, Hansardian
ArtNJ

Hi.  Tactics problems are a great idea.  Playing long games is a great idea too.  However, the quality of your pre-move thought process/checklist seems a little off, since you are blundering very early in games sometimes in very simple situations.  Take the time, and look at all moves and captures, all checks, for both you and your opponent.  Force yourself to do it, it should help.  Second, you are doing the beginner thing where if one of your pieces is threatened, you attack one of his.  In theory thats fine.  Sometimes its best.  But beginners take it way too far, and it leads to many, many mistakes.  In one of the games I looked at there were so many free "hanging" pieces for both sides that it would have been way too much trouble for me to really think about what was happening.  When one of your pieces is threatened, your default should be to deal with it, move the piece to safety, trade it, remove the attacker.  The right answer is most often one of those, not attacking some other piece.  Look at all the possibilities sure, but don't lose site of the fact that the simple solutions are often best.

SunGokuBr

I've been struggling to really reach 1000, I'm a few games from there, and I think the best tip someone on the forum gave me was: above 1000 the game is all about who blunders less. It's still not time to learn many different openings or trying to find quick check mates. Just don't hang pieces and you will be there in a few months.

ArtNJ
SunGokuBr wrote:

I've been struggling to really reach 1000, I'm a few games from there, and I think the best tip someone on the forum gave me was: above 1000 the game is all about who blunders less. It's still not time to learn many different openings or trying to find quick check mates. Just don't hang pieces and you will be there in a few months.

I think thats mostly true.  The beginner principles will help too, like develop fast and castle, don't move pawns in front of your castled king lightly, dont move the same piece twice in the opening absent a good reason, don't take out the queen too early, etc...  Can either get that stuff from a book, internet lesson somewhere or by posting games and asking for comments.  

Hansardian

Thanks to you both! I think I just managed my first blunderless checkmate win, so pretty pleased with that. Those are some good insights. I do find that between the opening moves and the board really taking on its own character, I struggle

Hansardian

Sorry, fat thumbs... I struggle to know what to do - there's a sort of void to fill. I suppose it depends on the openings and just comes with practice and experience

nklristic

Here are some general tips on how to improve your game:

https://www.chess.com/blog/nklristic/the-beginners-tale-first-steps-to-chess-improvement


SunGokuBr
Hansardian wrote:

Sorry, fat thumbs... I struggle to know what to do - there's a sort of void to fill. I suppose it depends on the openings and just comes with practice and experience

 

As to a plan to follow, that is something that comes with experience, like which file to open in the sicilian so you can explore it later in the game, but in general, your plan have to be to search for your opponents blunders.

I know I sound repetitive, but it's the best way to understand how you start building  strategies in the game.

A good thing to spot blunders is to consider "Which piece lost a deffensor after my opponents move?". Almost all moves in chess will end up leaving a piece with one less deffensor. Spot it, use it as a target to open the position and then go to the main plan: finding a check mate.

Personally, I think pawn moves are the top blunders among above 1000. When they move, the pawn structure will create a weakness. It's a a piece that we usually underestimate the importance but holds up the position. One move can blunder 2 or even 3 pawns, which is not much in points in computer analysis, but will certainly compromise your position.

catmaster0
Hansardian wrote:
Hi folks, I've been trying to get back into chess lately after years of inactivity, and for want of OTB people to play with, figured online was the best place to start for consistent playing time. When I say "get back into chess," I'm coming from a place where I knew how everything moved and could eke out a win against equally poor players, but had no real understanding - or perhaps interest in - tactics and analysis, which I hope to change, doing puzzles and analysing my own games daily. I'm hovering around an 800 rating on chess.com, and would be really grateful if anyone could look at some of my past games and identify some tips on where I could improve. I have slowed games down and am committing far fewer blunders or leaving hanging pieces than before, but there is something about my style of play that seems a bit scattergun and unfocused, and some fresh eyes would be greatly appreciated. All best, Hansardian
 
To summarize your problems. You play too fast and you start throwing entire pieces away or missing key moves to grab/hold important material. Focus on not making moves that you can explain are bad to yourself in under 10 seconds with explanations like "they can just take my queen", etc. 
 
The things that determine your games are often simple errors. Things like "well duh, giving away my rook for free is bad, I shouldn't do that." You need to spend more time on your moves to make sure you don't do things like that. You can make all the little nuanced errors you want, (your opponent will make several too anyways), if your opponent hangs a full piece and you don't, you're almost always winning that game. Every time I've checked games from players below 1000, this is a major issue. Some example losses below. 
 
 
https://www.chess.com/live/game/6247292998 A case of turbo chess gone south. Both of you played too fast and as a result major errors occurred. Your queen blunder ended it.

https://www.chess.com/live/game/6276309617 For some reason I can't default flip board right now, so you'll have to use the flip option to see it flipped on your end. Basically your opponent made two large errors that gave you a won game, you made two large errors that didn't matter given your lead then an even larger error at the end that determined everything. Again you were possibly playing too fast, you made the game-losing move in less than 12 seconds. 

 
https://www.chess.com/live/game/6287441362 You have more time. Use it. There were small positional errors made, but they meant next to nothing when entire pieces were getting thrown away. Again the generic flip board option under theme isn't working for me right now, so you'll have to flip the board from your perspective on the black games. 

As you could see, the game was being determined by game-changing errors that took won games and made them lost games. Both you and your opponent made such mistakes, even more than once. You need to spend enough time to avoid doing this on every move. You never know on which move such a game-changing blunder could take place, so use your time each move to double check things like "how can we put each other in check, what pieces could be captured? (even already defended ones, at some point they may be undefended or you have more attackers and you need to notice this.) Try to spot any good attacks you can, (things like double attacks can be clear candidates for this) but that's a much broader category, so don't be as worried if you miss some. But things like checks and captures are clearly defined options you can see, if just takes practice and discipline to get your mind on the habit of doing it. No one does it perfectly, it's a process, but it's those kinds of things you should be trying to keep track of.

Hansardian
nklristic wrote:

Thanks! I gave that read yesterday evening - a really great write-up, which is now bookmarked.

Hansardian
catmaster0 wrote:
 
To summarize your problems. You play too fast and you start throwing entire pieces away or missing key moves to grab/hold important material. Focus on not making moves that you can explain are bad to yourself in under 10 seconds with explanations like "they can just take my queen", etc. 
 
The things that determine your games are often simple errors. Things like "well duh, giving away my rook for free is bad, I shouldn't do that." You need to spend more time on your moves to make sure you don't do things like that. You can make all the little nuanced errors you want, (your opponent will make several too anyways), if your opponent hangs a full piece and you don't, you're almost always winning that game. Every time I've checked games from players below 1000, this is a major issue. Some example losses below. 

Catmaster, I am really grateful for the time and effort spent responding so thoroughly. Some of the misses you've highlighted are so obvious either immediately after you've made the wrong move, or once you have moved on from that game and come back to it with fresh eyes - like the missed Nc3x. From your analysis it seems that good positions are simply not capitalised on and then lost carelessly, so I will try to slow down every move and not get stuck in a one-track focus. Thanks again.

Moonwarrior_1

Puzzles