Philosophy on Chess Improvement

Aizen89

My view for a while now is that there are different "sights" that chess players can unlock.  For instance, the one that has helped me the most to get from beginner to around 1900 on chess.com has been my tactics sight.  I look at the board and can see creative ideas, especially because that sight is trained to pinpoint weaknesses in my opponent's positions.  Here are the sights I have unlocked and in the order I've done it:

Default = just regular seeing the board

Beginner = understanding basic themes, being able to focus on building the center, stuff like that

Tactics = immediately honing in on weaknesses in my opponent's positions and calculating long variations

Structural = understanding the board as a broader work or structure where positions have different meanings (hard to explain). 

Well, in the past month or so (since mid-November), I've unlocked a new sight that I don't really have a name for.  In short, you know how Magnus Carlsen says in interviews that he just kinda knows what moves to make?  That's kinda what is happening with me (though his version is far greater than mine).  It's not so much knowing which moves, it's understanding the entire flow of the game.  In that time, because of my sight increase, my rating has shot up around 150 points since mid-November to a high yesterday of 2085 and I don't think I'm approaching its limit yet.  I think it will carry me to probably 2200, maybe higher, especially as I refine it.  If so, that would probably peg me at 2300+ USCF.  Does anybody else have these kinds of "sights", where you can toggle even between them and combine them in a sense to see multiple ways at once?  I'm curious how many of these there are and, if there aren't more, how to hone these ones further.  I assume practice and study will help considerably.  

SeniorPatzer

Good job, Aizen.  Do you currently have a USCF rating?  If so, what is it?

Aizen89

Thanks!  No, not an active one.  My USCF did peak years ago back at 2001 and at that time I was reliably rated about 1750 on blitz on chess.com.  To figure out comparable ratings, I look at my percentile ranking on here and then figure out what that percentile rating corresponds to for USCF.  So my 2085 rating corresponded approximately with a 2200 USCF rating.  happy.png

sibi_90

Hi Aizen, your new unlocked skill can be termed as "Intuition" - knowing what move to play at the current position(without the backing up of long calculations), one way to increase this skill is by watching the brilliancy games of Grand Masters. 

Aizen89

That makes sense.  I think it is that.  Whatever it is, it's so strong.  I feel like I'm just at the edge of it.  I don't win every game (who does?) because it's far from perfected and I sometimes get lazy, but I believe this can take me, without any studying, quite a bit higher from here.  I think I'll start going through some GM games from time to time and see how that helps me.  happy.png   

Aizen89

The thing I find exciting about it is that it feels like a weak version of "flow" that I have felt only twice in my life.  The first time I'll never forget.  I was rated in the 1500s and playing a guy about 1950.  He crushed me in game after game at the local chess club, but then sitting there I felt time slow to a stop.  In an instant, I saw several moves ahead in a complex, tactics-filled position, and then I looked up at him and said, "you're not going to win anymore" before sacking a Rook.  He laughed but I ended up crushing him that game, with a Queen and Rook more than he had.  I played him a second time and was crushing him but then I snapped out of my trance and was slammed with a massive migraine (it happened during my second experience of flow too).  I ended up falling apart that game, drove home in agony, and slept until evening when the migraine finally went away.  This experience now feels like a lite version of that, but without the slowdown of time.  It literally makes me want to drop all that I'm doing and focus all of my time on chess, but I can't afford to do that, lol.  

SeniorPatzer
Aizen89 wrote:

The thing I find exciting about it is that it feels like a weak version of "flow" that I have felt only twice in my life.  The first time I'll never forget.  I was rated in the 1500s and playing a guy about 1950.  He crushed me in game after game at the local chess club, but then sitting there I felt time slow to a stop.  In an instant, I saw several moves ahead in a complex, tactics-filled position, and then I looked up at him and said, "you're not going to win anymore" before sacking a Rook.  He laughed but I ended up crushing him that game, with a Queen and Rook more than he had.  I played him a second time and was crushing him but then I snapped out of my trance and was slammed with a massive migraine (it happened during my second experience of flow too).  I ended up falling apart that game, drove home in agony, and slept until evening when the migraine finally went away.  This experience now feels like a lite version of that, but without the slowdown of time.  It literally makes me want to drop all that I'm doing and focus all of my time on chess, but I can't afford to do that, lol.  

 

That's a very nice story.  Magical moments!   Da brain was on fire!

IAmTheD4mnChe4ter2

Your intuition "upgraded". You look at empty spaces between the pieces. You are able to pick up cues on the board. Calculating skills aren't as important anymore. Evaluation is. Once you start evaluating correctly and learn what compensation really is, you are ready to knock on the door and say: "open up, it's me, FM Aizen89" If you satasfy yourself with: "I THINK this should be fine" rather than "I KNOW this is good for me", you will never become a master. Don't fool yourself by looking at some master playing and commentating his game where he might say: "This is fine I guess" since he is probably playing fast games and has no time to think it all through. They don't satisfy themselves with that attitude in their OTB games. Good Luck

Sjolden
I took an extremely long break from chess, playing minimal chess, sort of got busy in life with marriage/kids things like that. I got the fire rekindled in me watching the World Championship games, and, despite all the draws, it just did something for me watching them with the excitement around it. And now that I’m older (31) I feel more calm mentally on the board and feel like I can think more clearly than when I was in my early 20s playing heavily. I, nowhere near the OP’s level, but I can understand the sentiment.
torrubirubi

I feel the opposite, I am often able to play the most horrible moves possible in a position, not just a simple blunder, but moves that I feel they are not good and I play them anyway, losing to players who would be rated something like 900 here. And if I am really careful, if I see the board, when I calculate the most obvious answers by my opponent - well, the same weak player will just lose every single game. 

I have just phases sometimes.  I hope to avoid playing like this next year...

 

ghost_of_pushwood

Uh-oh.  Philosophy.

stiggling

It's exciting when you feel like you're seeing things differently / considering things you haven't before. I can't really relate to your whole "vision" concept, that's probably an individual thing, but I know the feeling of "I'm implementing something new, and I'll probably be able to improve a lot after I've worked on it."

torrubirubi

What I can tell you is the different kind of game I am playing since I am doing tactics regularly. You see more threads, you can set positional sound traps, and you befin to place the pieces according to mate patterns that you know.

MickinMD

Until I began working on recognizing patterns and memorizing dozens of chess tactics, I was a much weaker player. In OTB tournaments I'd go 3-0 or 2-1 with White but the reverse with Black until I realized you can't play strict defense and expect to wn: you have to make threatening moves,

I learned from a master's lesson years ago that you do much better if you do NOT look at the opening as something that wins the game for you: you look at it as something that gets you to a playable middlegame.  The earlier you can see where you're middlegame attack might be, the better chance of winning.

torrubirubi
MickinMD wrote:

Until I began working on recognizing patterns and memorizing dozens of chess tactics, I was a much weaker player. In OTB tournaments I'd go 3-0 or 2-1 with White but the reverse with Black until I realized you can't play strict defense and expect to wn: you have to make threatening moves,

I learned from a master's lesson years ago that you do much better if you do NOT look at the opening as something that wins the game for you: you look at it as something that gets you to a playable middlegame.  The earlier you can see where you're middlegame attack might be, the better chance of winning.

Funny, I play 1.d4 and do not have any idea when I will start to attack somerhing

 This usually changes when my opponent makes a mistake. 

So, I am a mistake waiting player. And therefore a weak player.

I think what do you say is relevant, and I will have a look at more middlegames in my repertoire.

Aizen89

Hey guys!  Sorry for the delay!  Busy day working and I still have more to go before bed.  Thank you all for the kind words!  What a lot of you said makes a lot of sense, especially about seeing different threads and the like.  I'm super tired tonight but even with that I managed to get up to a new all-time high of 2090!  Only 10 more to go before I hit my new goal for this year of 2100.  Top 98.8%, so that puts me at about 2210 USCF I think.  I have another busy day of work tomorrow, so I doubt I'll get to play much, but I'm hoping to hit my goal tomorrow if possible.  happy.png

stiggling

Wow that's great happy.png

I just want to say, be careful about trying to guess your USCF though. You might be about 2200 (or even higher!) but unless you're playing in OTB tournaments it can be really hard to know. Blitz (especially no increment blitz) has fundamentally different evaluations for the positions. If that's all you do then your way of thinking will be inferior to a 2200 player who plays OTB all the time.

Aizen89

Good points, stiggling.  The blitz I'm playing now is all G-10, no increment.  I figure it's not as good as longer games, but it gives me the ability to sit and think for a bit.  However, you're absolutely correct.  I could be wrong regarding my rating, but here's how I rationalize it (let me know your thoughts on my methodology).

1) All through my time on chess.com, as well as the time of at least two other high-strength players around my level, I and they have consistently been weaker on chess.com's blitz ratings by between 100 and 200 points versus our USCF ratings at a given time.

2) I take the percentile ranking (in this case 98.8%) here on chess.com and then find a player in my state roster of players whose OTB percentile ranking is the same.  In this case, it comes out to about 2210 (I round to the nearest 10 that doesn't put me over the percentile ranking or under it).  

 

That said, you are correct.  I'll only know once I play.  I figure I plan to focus on improving for another year or two.  After that, if I'm doing really well, I'll play in some OTBs and see the results.  

stiggling

Looking at 10 random NMs, and ignoring the highest and lowest, I calculate the average is 2216 for blitz.

5 of them play 3|0
2 play 3|2
1 plays 5|0

Not a great estimate, but that's one way to go about it.

https://www.chess.com/members/titled-players?&page=1

 

As for your friends (and the players I looked at), I think it depends on whether or not a person is what I call a blitz specialist. I've seen NMs are high as 2500 blitz.

Just some thoughts.

Aizen89

I can't speak for others, but I'm definitely not a blitz specialist.  Faster time controls have always been my weakness.  In OTB tournaments under a 40 in 2, 1 hour sudden death structure, my win rate was something close to 80%.  I've always been a lot stronger at slow games than quick ones.  So it's possible I could still be a bit off.  Oh well, I'll just need to add another hundred points to play it safe.  Then again, the 2216 blitz average you calculated is interesting because for USCF masters are generally between 2200 and 2400 USCF, so I'd have thought an average would be closer to 2300.  Either way, it doesn't make a huge difference because I hope to hit 2300 on here next year.  That must be comfortably at the master level on a USCF basis I'd wager.  =P