Chess: Knowing vs Seeing

cccdad

I started playing chess on chess.com about seven weeks ago. I had known the basics of the game--moves, development, center control, some tactics, etc. It’s been fun trying to get better, and the resources here have been tremendously helpful. My lowest rating was 649, yesterday I hit 1012, only to hit a slump today and lose over 100 rating points. What’s happened?


It seems chess is essentially two things: Knowing and Seeing. Knowing is something you gain from the past. Seeing is something you do in the present, and employ to look into the future. I feel I understand tactics pretty well, at least in theory. I’ve finished many of the chess.com courses and none of the ideas seem to be by nature that complex.


It’s seems where I struggle is with SEEING. I’m amazed upon reviewing my games how many moves that, which after-the-fact seem obvious, I miss in real time. I’m further amazed, and sheepishly grateful, how many times I blunder and leave a piece hanging in the wind, and my opponent misses it, to my benefit and relief. So it also seems I am not the only one with a problem recognizing opportunities and dangers in the heat of a game.


Some of this is a function of time pressure. But even when I take my time I sometimes miss what in hindsight should have been obvious.

When you boil it down, a player loses a game because eventually, relative to his opponent, he blunders, that is, fails to know or see.  But it seems that both can be improved.  Lots of information here about knowing, not as much about seeing. 


Any insights into techniques and exercises one can use to simply SEE the board better? Thanks.


AlisonHart

Lame answer, I know, but board vision is just something that develops over time. As you get better, you will "see" legal moves highlight themselves on the board, but that's just something that comes with staring at a chess board for a lot of hours. Turn off any kind of "move guide" that shows you all legal moves by clicking on a piece. That's one way to rip off the training wheels and speed up your growth. But it took me about a year of playing pretty constantly before I stopped just hanging my pieces.

 

Also, you sometimes roll out of bed playing worse than you did the day before. It happens to everyone at every level, but it's worse for some players than others. Wesley So - for example - has a lot of tournaments where he wins big and a lot of others where he loses horribly.....he's not a middle-of-the-field kind of finisher. On the other hand, you have a player like Anish Giri whose results are so stable it's become a meme in the chess world.

 

Personally, I'm very streaky. I get several good wins followed by another batch of shocking losses. On a losing day, I try to get myself to study instead of playing....no reason to give away rating points by going on tilt. If you hang your queen looking at a Steinitz game, you're the only one that will know about it.

cccdad

Thank Alison.  That's more or less what I figured.  At your suggestion I turned off the legal move dots.  I was wondering if there were some exercises or practices that could be done to improve board vision: e.g. squinting, opening eyes wide, leaning way back from the board, counting to five, deep breathing. not drinking so much wine. You know, that kind of thing.  wink.png

blueemu

Another point worth considering:

I used to teach the game at chess clubs, and one phenomena I noticed again and again was that when a player starts to learn and understand new chess concepts, it is very common for their actual results to go DOWN temporarily, rather than up.

The reason seems to be that the player has not yet had time to integrate the new ideas and techniques into their playing style... they are just "knocking around loose" inside the player's head, and interfere with the older, tried-and-true methods that the player is accustomed to.

The good news is that once the new ideas have been properly assimilated (by being used in actual play), the player's strength will start climbing up to a new and higher level.

Coffee_Player

@blueemu - very interesting idea, thank you! It explains my downs between peaks perfectly wink.png

blueemu

The best part of this theory is that when you lose a string of games, instead of whining "Aw, man... I really suck!" you can tell yourself "Hey! I just lost five games in a row! That means I'm improving!".

Coffee_Player

@blueemu - thanks! You're better than pills evil.png

AlisonHart
blueemu wrote:

The best part of this theory is that when you lose a string of games, instead of whining "Aw, man... I really suck!" you can tell yourself "Hey! I just lost five games in a row! That means I'm improving!".

 

This mild logical fallacy is the only way I keep myself playing.....chess teaches you by the tried and true Kung Fu master method: (1) Show student what to do (2) Beat student mercilessly until [s]he does so

lofina_eidel_ismail

I like that = post #4 @blueemu