25 years old & learning chess - my practice blog

Taskinen

Hello guys!

I have two favorite pastimes activities: blogging and learning things. So I decided to combine these two and start a blog about my journey into the world of chess. Let's start with a little background information: I'm 25 years old and I started playing chess more actively only couple months ago. Of course I knew the basic chess rules and had played occasional game against friends every now and then, but needless to say I was (and still am) a complete beginner against anyone who has played the game before. So I played my first proper game on chess.com last November and in the following 50 or so games I got completely crushed left and right. In a matter of few weeks I went from 1200 starting Blitz rating all the way to 667 at lowest. Someone less resilient might've given up at that point, but being a stubborn donkey that I am, I just decided that I'm never going to get destroyed that badly by other newbies again. I still occasionally do, but nowadays it's luckily more of an occasion than the norm.

So fast-forward two months I managed to climb both in rapid and blitz back to above 1000 rating and started to have a feeling that I'm actually slowly improving. I've been doing a lot of tactics lessons, chess.com lessons, watching tons of YouTube channels and reading chess articles. I feel like I've completely fallen in love with this beautiful game and want to learn more and more. So in order to keep me motivated (and to have something to look back to) I decided to start tracking my progress and my training habits. I've heard so much about the fact that chess is best learned at a young age and feel like I want to challenge that paradigm. How far can a 25 year old newbie get if he just puts his mind on it?

In case you are interested in following my progress then feel free to leave a message - anything from training ideas, good articles, openings, chess related literature and videos to simple good luck wishes. All of them are very much welcome, as well as any outside chess related banter. Behind the screen is a multi-instrumentalist musician who loves books, movies, writing, history, philosophy and games of all sorts.

Starting ratings at the beginning of the blog (12.2.2018):

Tactics: 1160 (413/768)
Blitz: 1009 (154/139/11)
Lessons: 1474 (90)
Rapid: 1013 (7/6/1)
Daily: 1239 (2/1/0)

Taskinen

12.2.2018 - Training session:

Today I played two Blitz games (2 W / 0 L) going from 1009 to 1029 Blitz ranking. First game I was playing white trying a d4 opening (I usually play e4 I'm more familiar with) leading to an Indian game with Anti-Nimzo defense sort of variation. Definitely not my strongest game since I already made an inaccuracy on my 4th move solidifying my structure with b3 instead of e3 as theory would suggest. It didn't get any better than that with multiple fairly clumsy moves, worst being going too early for e4 advance and then blundering my knight soon after. I ended up in a totally lost position with analysis board showing -7 advantage for my opponent. Luckily for me I was playing much quicker than my opponent who simply ran out of time to put his advantage into use. Not a great win by any margin, but learning experience nonetheless. Need to remember that when trying new openings you gotta know the theory a bit better. At least more than just 3 moves in, oops.

Second game was a bit better playing as black with opponent starting again on d4 and me defending with d6. Just prior to this game I had checked the openings book to find d6 being statistically the best starting move against d4 so I went with that. It resulted in an early queen exchange which I found to be a nice thing for me. Usually these low level games are all about making fancy queen moves and less about developing your pieces together. That is something I know one should be able to punish, but I tend to hang my pieces way too often and miss some rook/bishop/queen from the edge of the board moves. The game turned quickly into a very positional, slow shuffling type of game. I found it pretty fascinating play considering that most of my games tend to be sack-the-pieces type of fest. Another cool thing I noticed with the analyzing board that neither side made any blunders during the game. After 24 moves the biggest difference was +1 advantage, which is something that doesn't happen in my games. Eventually the game ended in a very tie position when my opponent was starting to run out of time and resigned. I think he could've played for a longer time and try for a win, but who knows what he had to do in his life. Oh well, second win - I'll take that.

Other than playing some blitz games I did 46 tactics challenges, passing 32 of them. As a result my tactics rating increased by 58 points. Rad! Other than that I spent couple hours watching chess games and recorded streams by ChessNetworks (amazing content) and ChessBrah as well as playing around with the analyzing board checking some opening variations.

A good training session, felt like I learned a ton again!

Taskinen

13.2.2018 - Training session:

 I decided to start the day with a warm up doing some tactic challenges. 33 challenges with 21 passed increased my tactics rating with 37 points. Looking at the total ratings I seem to have problems finding good moves when it requires sacrificing pieces or going for a stalemate or a draw. I try to always think there is some winning move even when there is not. So I definitely need to improve in recognizing positions where draw is the best outcome and trying to think outside the box with sacrificing pieces. All in all the challenges seem to get tougher which is nice. Almost always I recognize my mistake as soon as I make the wrong move, so perhaps spending a bit more time before making decision wouldn't hurt. Need to remember that in the future.

After doing some tactics I decided to play some rapid games with 15|10 timer. I generally enjoy playing blitz more, but according to some better players than me it's the slower time control games that actually improve your thinking more. Well it definitely makes sense cause you have more time to calculate moves a bit further instead of making the ones that seem to make most sense intuitively. And being a beginner my intuition is not very strong. Slower time control, more thinking and less mistakes should improve that intuition in quicker time control games.

I finished my 5 game rapid session with 3 wins, 1 loss and a 1 draw. I felt like I was playing pretty solid chess throughout and was the winning side on all of my games. The only lost game was due to me playing overly risky position with my queen and eventually blundering it for nothing. That was totally my own fault and looking back I was playing hope chess instead of trying to improve my position logically. I was just hoping that my opponent makes a mistake I can jump on. My opponent defended pretty well and the mistakes they made I was unable to capitalize on. Regardless it was again a learning experience to stop putting your queen in unnecessary danger and develop all of your pieces in the long term. During this session I increased my rapid rating with 31 points. I'm seeing a definite improvement in my opponents moving from 700 to 1000+ opponents. The games start to look like chess and most of the openings follow the basic principles. Queens aren't coming out early every other game which results in slower and more positional games.

On the meantime I started reading Nikolai Zuravljovs Chess Book, which covers all the basic principles and includes some practices. The problem with the book is that all practices are made with chess notation which I still have a bit hard time following. I have been thinking about getting a live chess board to move the pieces with the practices to improve my understanding on the chess notation. Oh well, luckily the book also has a lot of written examples and general theory which has definitely been helpful.

For the rest of the day I'm going to chill, do some other things and maybe watch a game or two on Twitch or YouTube!

3141516
Nice! I’ll try to help you if I can, but I am not that advanced yet
santiagomagno15

 I am giving a free lesson if you want, just message me

Firstcomment

 

Taskinen

Great song that one. I haven't been writing recently since I didn't think anyone is reading any of these. Oh well, I've been playing a lot of bullet recently. I really enjoy the fast tempo, but I'm ridiculously bad at playing it. I think I need to have some sort of opening repertoire with couple variations I can go with depending on the situation. Especially when playing black I just keep trying to respond to what my opponent is doing and therefore I'm always one step behind. Hard to win that way.

Are there any good opening routines for beginners that you would recommend? Something let's say 4 to 10 moves in that I could try to aim at (so I have some sort of structure in mind what it should be looking like, what are the weaknesses, strenghts etc. of the opening). Right now it feels like I'm just moving my pieces around randomly, hoping for some chances or blunders. Usually I'm the one doing the blundering. I'm not quite that bad when playing rapid and blitz, since I have a bit more time to double check. In bullet it's all about trying to make the most natural moves quickly. And being a beginner my "most natural" move usually sucks. :-D

I know, I know. I should play more rapid and less bullet. But let's be honest, playing rapid takes a certain mood. You need to be able to concentrate well and have enough patience to keep checking for potential moves. Bullet is more up tempo kind of game, which I really like. If only I weren't so bad at it!

Daybreak57

You should include studying annotated master games in that training program of yours.  Studying at least two games a day will put you at over 700 games looked at in a year.  If all I do is add that to my own training program I think I myself will improve as well.  

 

Nice blog, however, might I suggest you post the games here so we can see them?  You can talk about the games at a glance before you post them, then annotate them so we can see the game with your thinking behind the moves.  That's what I do on my blogs.

Taskinen

Hello all! Haven't been writing in a while, but I have been playing a lot and watching a lot of games as well. I set myself a goal to reach at least 1000 rating in all game modes (rapid, blitz, bullet and daily) and I've just completed my goal! It looks much better on the profile page than having under 1000 ratings, haha!

 

Bullet was definitely the hardest challenge as I dipped down to 800 ratings very quickly and had a hard time improving my game. My thinking is not quick enough to justify playing bullet, but it's a fun game mode nonetheless. Now that I have 1000+ rating in bullet I'm going to focus on playing slower time control games, mostly rapid, since that seems to be the best mode for learning purposes. It gives enough time to evaluate positions, look for threats and try to calculate some simple tactics. Without time control being too slow for making it feel like a chore to play. That being said, I'm doing pretty good in rapid games, with rating of 1184 (28/14/2). So I'm 171 rating points up in rapid since start of the blog. Good start!

I've been watching a video series by Hutch, where he plays with GM Tal Baron and IM Daniel Rensch. I've gotten a good, simple insight on basic principles of chess. For those who prefer reading than watching, I can simplify my 5 main rules I try to follow.

1. Try to move every piece only once in the opening. There are some cases where capturing or fleeing from a square (closed Ruy Lopez being a good example) is a good idea in general development strategy. But try not to waste too many tempi moving same piece often in the beginning.

2. Ask yourself what opponent threats before making every move. If they have a threat, look for a way to address it. If you have a way of addressing the threat while developing or even counter-attacking (developing with a tempo), that's usually a good idea.

3. When developing pieces, look what piece is worst positioned and think if you can position it better. Try to bring all of your pieces in the game when possible.

4. Rooks love open files. Try to place rooks in a position where the file is open, half-open or about to be open soon. Try to keep your options open before castling too soon, sometimes it might be better to go queenside after seeing how the game flows.

5. Try to think for a long term strategy. Where do your pieces belong? Where can they contribute to the game most? How can you get your pieces there while making reasonable threats and addressing opponents threats in the process? Justify your reasoning and trust your judgement. If you go wrong, analyze the game afterwards and see what you could've done better.

And here are my current ratings in all time controls I play:
Bullet: 1004 (244/239/9)
Blitz: 1006 (190/177/13)
Rapid: 1184 (28/14/2)

And then the practices:
Tactics: 1319 (722/1280)
Lessons: 1732 (245 completed)

That's all for now, I'll be writing more later! Have fun you all!

JangYeongSil

 

                                                                   My StOrY

Hey brother happy.png What's upp! I really like your blog , I think ! ( Still I didn't read all of it but I will do it) My training program includes 100 Correct problems made everyday and 20/50 wrong  training tactics problems .  In last  12 days I achieved 10 hours of training  and from 900-1000 points of training I made 1100-1200 . Before I started doing daily  1/1.5/2 hours of training  I was a a big neeewbie meaning that I never got a checkmate in my life . After one week of training I made like 3 checkmates. ( I don't have time to actually play chess because training is taking all my free time )  I plan to do trainings like 12-14 hours everyday in this summer.    I don't actually like the social networks ( and when I do trainings I listen music that makes me very , very happy at the moment )  and I don't depend on anything else than chess.....    I think that if you WORK hard and you love what you do and you don't get bored you will get some results in the end.                                             

                               There are three  (or more IDK ) tipes of people :

             -People that play chess just for fun (not everyday )

             - People that play chess for winning

             -People that play chess for fun , for winning and because they liked it =)

                                         I will come back to your blog in the future to say what things I do to get better, maybe someone more neewbie than me don't know what to do and if they read my "story" they could learn something ....  100 problems X 365 = 36.500 problems made in a year

                

Taskinen

Good luck JangYeongSil, it looks like you are really motivated to learn. From someone who has practiced many different types of skills alone, I would just suggest that you don't push yourself too much! I think 1-2 hours of practice in a day is perfectly enough. Doing more than that will quickly make your brain tired and incapable of taking new information in efficiently. Rest is a big part of learning! For this simple reason pushing yourself to do 12 hours of training in a day will not make you learn as fast as the amount of training would assume. On top of this you might very well get tired of chess and quit altogether.

It's true that in order to become a master in a craft, you need to put tons of hours into practicing. But don't try to learn years worth of practice in matter of months. You'll push yourself to the limit and for most people the game will not be fun anymore. So may I suggest that you'll be a bit more forgiving to yourself and try to practice 1-2 hours a day efficiently! Meaning that you really focus on the things you are doing and question yourself. Don't just do lessons but stop to think: Why do things work like this? I'm sure you will get much better progress than simply calculating the amount of problems you have completed. Good luck!

Today I played one of my best games I think. It was against a 1134 rated opponent on 15|10 rapid game. The game itself wasn't all that spectacular (Phildor defense, exchange variation), but I'm very happy with how I played it. You can see the game here:

As you can see first few moves were pretty much normal, until my opponent made a mistake playing d5 while his knight was pinned. I was able to exploit this mistake by pushing my own pawn forward. After couple trades I was a piece up and one pawn down. Pretty comfortable setting when I also had the lead in development. The biggest think was whether or not to castle kingside when his queen was facing directly to g2 and I knew that his bishop was eyeing h3 square. I figured that since my queen was pretty well placed in the center I could protect g2 with my knight on h4. I castled because blacks queen was forking two pawns (g2 and c2) and I figured defending g2 was more valuable. Being a piece up I managed to use this advantage to my favour and have a pretty comfortable win, when my opponent resigned after blundering his knight at the end (I admit he was already lost with my two rooks giving mating threat / pretty much forcing a rook exchange to my favour).

I felt like I was playing very comfortably throughout the whole game, and as the analyzer show I grabbed the lead on my 7th move and never lost it until the end of the game. I had some questionable moves like offering queen trade and placing my rooks in a bit funny way somewhere in the middle game. However analyzer shows 27 great moves, 2 okay moves, 0 mistakes and 0 blunders. That is very rare in my games, so I'm very happy with that. Usually I blunder atleast one piece by mistake!

medutis88

I started playing at similar age as you. I can't say that I reached much in a couple of years, but 1000 blitz rating is definitely too low for anyone who plays regularly. All you have to do to win against your opponents is to calmly play normal, solid moves and wait for your opponent to give away their pieces. When they do that, you just take them and win. So do that, and don't stay in misery for too long, you can definitely improve more happy.png. The game gets more interesting when you climb a bit higher.

JangYeongSil

                                             Hey guys! I'm back with my "evolution"

Thanks for advices Taskinen!

           So this is from first week of trainings 

                              null      And this is from this  week :      null

          And   statistics at trainings:    

Statistics are:      

Blitz: 1250.6
Standard: 1002.4
Mixed: 1066.5
Theory:   1305.2

 

 

     And my best game from this week  (I won with -14 points )  and funny  (bullet game, I won by time) : 

                   

              

 

Taskinen

Played couple pretty good rapid games (in my standard) today, so decided to post them here.




jambyvedar

I love reading stuff like this. Looking forward to read some of your post again. I know you love bullet,and it is really addicting. But I will suggest to skip playing bullet chess for now. Bullet teaches bad habits. I played over 1 thousand bullet chess before and I learned nothing from it. I noticed my chess deteriorated with bullet chess, so i stop playing it.  What I told is just a suggestion. If you really loved bullet chess, then go for it.

queen_aditi

First of all, congratulations on falling in love with this game. I really appreciate your passion and the sense of accountability as you progress. Just a thought : Have you tried Silman's book? (I think the title is "how to reassess your chess" or something like that) It offers an interesting philosophy of creating imbalances and making it work for you. I'll look forward to your progress in detail. Keep enjoying the game.

Taskinen
jambyvedar kirjoitti:

I love reading stuff like this. Looking forward to read some of your post again. I know you love bullet,and it is really addicting. But I will suggest to skip playing bullet chess for now. Bullet teaches bad habits. I played over 1 thousand bullet chess before and I learned nothing from it. I noticed my chess deteriorated with bullet chess, so i stop playing it.  What I told is just a suggestion. If you really loved bullet chess, then go for it.

Thank you jambyvedar! I agree with you that practicing bullet before you have the fundamentals down might only not improve, but also actually deteriorate your chess playing. For that reason I haven't been playing much bullet and changed from 5+2 blitz to 10 minutes blitz. For the moment I'm playing mostly 15|10 and 10 minute rapid/blitz games. I feel like those time controls are best for learning, since you can play games at fairly decent pace (seeing new kind of positions etc.) while you still have some time to actually think for few options before making any moves. And sometimes even take a minute or two to think if there is a lot going on.

Taskinen
queen_aditi kirjoitti:

First of all, congratulations on falling in love with this game. I really appreciate your passion and the sense of accountability as you progress. Just a thought : Have you tried Silman's book? (I think the title is "how to reassess your chess" or something like that) It offers an interesting philosophy of creating imbalances and making it work for you. I'll look forward to your progress in detail. Keep enjoying the game.

Thank you for your kind words queen_aditi! I have not read many chess books, since nowadays there is so much material online to work with - videos, guides, chess problems, tactic trainers and so on. It is easier to visualize the ideas when you can actually see them on board. However, I've been on the lookout for finding chess book that would focus more on the strategy, philosophies and tactics in verbal way. Meaning a book that is not almost entirely about small chess puzzles with the moves accounted. Do you have any ideas?

Taskinen

Ever since watching the first video of Nigel Shorts masterclass I've focused a lot more on the tactics and lessons instead of actual gameplay. Like Nigel Short says that chess is pretty much all about tactics, and the fastest way to improve is doing a lot of tactics to get the patterns in the back of your head - so you can realise they are there when they come about in actual games. I also consider chess.com tactics trainings to be a nice pastime when having few minutes or a hour to spare. They're also much less committing than starting a 15|10 game which might take over 30 minutes to finish.

So that being said, I've improved in my tactics and lessons rating as following:
Tactics: 1691 (1129/1938) +372 points - in total 35,5 hours spent
Lessons: 1843 (471 completed) +111 points 

On top of these I have had a slight increase in my bullet (+41 points), blitz (+128 points) and rapid (+37 points) ratings.

My current plan of development is tactics trainings, lessons, watching videos from YouTube and an occasional blitz/rapid game. Like jambyvednar above suggested, bullet is pretty much on hold for the moment (unless I get a sudden urge).

Stay tuned, folks! :-)

Taskinen

I felt like sharing this 15|10 game, since it was quite interesting one:

 

It was my first time ever starting with the london system playing d4, Lf4 beginning. I had watched someone play it before (I think it was Aman Hambleton) and I liked the way the pieces seem to settle in logical squares. I'm not sure what the "correct" move order is after those moves, so I just went away, fianchettoed my bishop, challenged his strong light square bishop and did some simple maneuvering. I feel like I kept e4 in my pocket for way too long, which basically lead to my big mistake on move 13. playing f4 with the idea of getting an extra pawn in centre when opponent trades his knight for my bishop. Of course I didn't think it through, since my opponent had to just play simple f6 and my sad bishop was then trapped for venturing too far on his holy crusade. I got a pawn for it, but lost a piece, so my opponent got to play rest of the game piece up.

Long story short I ended up winning the game due to my opponent running out of time. I feel like we both played fairly accurate chess (apart my f4 blunder) and I had to make some proactive moves with my queen and king to keep my defensive structure solid. I feel like I succeeded in my defense, trying to make best with what was left of that game. This time it was rewarded with a win, so I'm satisfied. I'm not satisfied to the game in whole (mainly due to that f4), but I felt like I managed to keep my opponent at bay from being able to cash in his lead in material. I'm pretty satisfied that I played a solid game with a completely new opening against opponent same rating as me.

I'm definitely going to add the london system to my repertoire of openings to play as white. I'm mostly playing e4 openings leading to the spanish or the italian game. Both which I really enjoy playing, but I feel like playing just two openings as often as possible kinda hinders my development as a player. So figured I should add a d4 opening or two on my selection of go-to openings.