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Prophylaxis Help

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theknightsL
Hey all, I’m a 1300 who needs some help with my prophylaxis skills. My main problem isn’t seeing ahead down several lines (I actually do that decently well), but instead my issue is identifying what my opponent wants. My opponent makes a move and I’ll have trouble with my prophylaxis abilities because I can’t even figure out what I’m trying to prevent. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
NMRhino
Just flip the board and try and think of a move for your opponent to make. It’s no different then thinking about the moves you want to make. This may not be the answer your looking for but with time you’ll be able to quickly identify some of your opponents options the same way you look for your own.
theknightsL
Just tried it and it’s a super helpful tip. It wouldn’t work in OTB of course but it’ll definitely help me start spotting those kinds of ideas for my opponent more. Thanks!
PawnTsunami

This comes with pattern recognition.  You cannot stop something you cannot see, so you must first build up the tactical patterns you recognize by drilling tactics.  Then you will be able to identify moments when you can take the time to prevent an idea from your opponent (or if you even need to).

llama36
theknightsL wrote:
Hey all, I’m a 1300 who needs some help with my prophylaxis skills. My main problem isn’t seeing ahead down several lines (I actually do that decently well), but instead my issue is identifying what my opponent wants. My opponent makes a move and I’ll have trouble with my prophylaxis abilities because I can’t even figure out what I’m trying to prevent. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

If you can't figure out what your opponent wants then it's impossible to "see ahead several lines."

llama36
theknightsL wrote:
Just tried it and it’s a super helpful tip. It wouldn’t work in OTB of course but it’ll definitely help me start spotting those kinds of ideas for my opponent more. Thanks!

It works in OTB. Sometimes kids are coached to get up and walk behind their opponent to look at it from their opponent's perspective.

TheNumberTwenty

There are some "prophylactic" moves that are sort of just always around in most positions. The best example of this would be playing h3 or h6 after castling, to avoid any pieces lading on g5/g4 and giving your king some room in case of future back rank problems. Other common ones include kb1/kb8 when you castle queen side kh1/kh8 when you want to push the f pawn, Moving the f knight or c knight backwards to avoid getting hit with a pawn push with tempo ect... You will come to realize that just like every other part of chess, it's all just patterns and you will get a sense of when you need to play these kind of moves.

llama36
TheNumberTwenty wrote:

There are some "prophylactic" moves that are sort of just always around in most positions. The best example of this would be playing h3 or h6 after castling, to avoid any pieces lading on g5/g4

Yeah, this is a good example.

What you do is you calculate something like Ng5 and, first of all, you check whether you can just ignore it. For example maybe you can just castle, and if they take twice on f7 it's usually a good trade.

But if you can't ignore it, then you find your best defense. Sometimes your best defensive move makes their Ng5 a waste of time. So in that case too you would ignore Ng5.

But after that if you notice you have no comfortable defense to Ng5, THATS when you play a move like h6.

It's important to check like this since otherwise you're wasting time... but all of this is a little advanced since you're probably still blundering simple tactics. In other words even after your opponent plays Ng5 you'll probably miss it can capture on f7, so how the heck are you going to prevent it before it happens, much less know whether the prevention is necessary or a waste of time tongue.png

TheNumberTwenty

Best thing to imagine is "piece restriction" where you can play certain prophylactic moves (usually pawn moves) to restrict the forward movement of an enemy piece. Especially useful against knights. Once you get a strong enough chess imagination to instantly know where an enemy piece can maneuver, these kinds of moves will come natural

ninjaswat
theknightsL wrote:
Just tried it and it’s a super helpful tip. It wouldn’t work in OTB of course but it’ll definitely help me start spotting those kinds of ideas for my opponent more. Thanks!

Otb you can walk to the other side of the board and look there on your opponents turn (and maybe even your own!) to do the same.

tygxc

It is good practice to not only ask: "What can I do?" but also "What can my opponnent do?".

marqumax
I do that otb a lot. People think I’m weird, but I don’t care. I walk behind my opponent to see exactly what he wants
epicdraw

It helps to know what your opponent is thinking. If you have time during the game, maybe you can just ask him and then you will know what to play next