Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 18

Thread: Chess Study (Chess thread mk. 3)

  1. #1
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880

    Chess Study (Chess thread mk. 3)

    Maybe a separate thread is overkill but it seemed different enough that I didn't want to clutter the other two with this.

    All of this INTPx chess talk recently has sparked an interest in me, but I've discovered that I'm really bad at chess. What is a good way to get better? How much should I study openings? Should I concentrate on tactics instead? Or playing games online?

    I don't want to be brilliant at chess - just competent. (Just like everything else)

  2. #2
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    eNTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    15,333
    One of the biggest mistakes new players make, and one of the biggest hurdles to making it to intermediate level competency, is that they treat their queen like a queen and their pawns like pawns.

    Awareness of this deficiency can work for you though: make queen trades as often as you can. A huge proportion of people I've played guard their queen more assiduously than their king, and thereby cripple both their queen, and themselves. You can get a lot done by taking advantage of their fear of losing her. Better yet, once you've taken their queen, the rest of their game will be shown to be a steaming pile of rubbish because the queen is the only piece they understand--and they don't even understand it!

    Pawns are much more powerful than new players give them credit for, and much more important.

    Study the pieces not just for what they can do, but for what they can't do. What they can't do can be even more important to understand--but it's harder to grasp the other pieces when you keep the queen in your hand.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  3. #3
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    One of the biggest mistakes new players make, and one of the biggest hurdles to making it to intermediate level competency, is that they treat their queen like a queen and their pawns like pawns.

    Awareness of this deficiency can work for you though: make queen trades as often as you can. A huge proportion of people I've played guard their queen more assiduously than their king, and thereby cripple both their queen, and themselves. You can get a lot done by taking advantage of their fear of losing her. Better yet, once you've taken their queen, the rest of their game will be shown to be a steaming pile of rubbish because the queen is the only piece they understand--and they don't even understand it!

    Pawns are much more powerful than new players give them credit for, and much more important.

    Study the pieces not just for what they can do, but for what they can't do. What they can't do can be even more important to understand--but it's harder to grasp the other pieces when you keep the queen in your hand.
    This seems like good advice to me. In the small number of games I've played, if the opportunity arose I did trade queens. It seems to flummox my opponent though because they assumed I loved my queen so hard. I actually find it stressful having her on the board because she is hard to play well IMO.

    What do you think I should be doing specifically, just playing a lot of games?

  4. #4
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    eNTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    15,333
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirac View Post
    This seems like good advice to me. In the small number of games I've played, if the opportunity arose I did trade queens. It seems to flummox my opponent though because they assumed I loved my queen so hard. I actually find it stressful having her on the board because she is hard to play well IMO.

    What do you think I should be doing specifically, just playing a lot of games?
    My game improved when I learned to think in the equivalent of negative space. I try to visualize a heat map on the board, where every piece that can attack a square raises the heat their by one. Squares you attack more strongly are under your control, and vice versae when evaluating your opponent's control. I think most neophytes think in terms of what they can attack and what is vulnerable, but I think the stronger players think in terms of how much territory they control.

    It's not enough to think several moves ahead--and most people don't do that right when they try anyway. They think, I want to do this, then this, then this. Sometimes they think about what they want their opponent to do. I've found such thinking leads to blindness. You get so fixated on your goal, that you stop noticing your opponent is advancing on theirs.

    Instead, you have to think about the statespace as thoroughly as you can. You don't have the time or mental wherewithal to hold the actual statespace in your head--much less do anything with it if it were--so just think about the big plausibles. But the think that I found helped me most in trying to think ahead was forgetting everything after I played.

    I try to treat every turn as a new puzzle with no history. It cuts me out of some of the psychological elements of the game, but it keeps me from getting blinded by my goals.

    It also allows me to do something pretty cool: play against myself fairly. I know I'm doing it fairly, because I surprise myself.

    That's a crucial skill. It allows you to play whenever you are inclined by unshackling you from the need for a partner, and it allows you to have meaningful practice more often. If you play superior or equal players, you will learn. If you play inferior players, you tend to atrophy. Being able to play yourself fairly, means always playing an equal.


    That said, I'm not very good. I'm just better than most, most of the time--which says little because most people are bloody awful.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  5. #5
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    My game improved when I learned to think in the equivalent of negative space. I try to visualize a heat map on the board, where every piece that can attack a square raises the heat their by one. Squares you attack more strongly are under your control, and vice versae when evaluating your opponent's control. I think most neophytes think in terms of what they can attack and what is vulnerable, but I think the stronger players think in terms of how much territory they control.

    It's not enough to think several moves ahead--and most people don't do that right when they try anyway. They think, I want to do this, then this, then this. Sometimes they think about what they want their opponent to do. I've found such thinking leads to blindness. You get so fixated on your goal, that you stop noticing your opponent is advancing on theirs.

    Instead, you have to think about the statespace as thoroughly as you can. You don't have the time or mental wherewithal to hold the actual statespace in your head--much less do anything with it if it were--so just think about the big plausibles. But the think that I found helped me most in trying to think ahead was forgetting everything after I played.

    I try to treat every turn as a new puzzle with no history. It cuts me out of some of the psychological elements of the game, but it keeps me from getting blinded by my goals.

    It also allows me to do something pretty cool: play against myself fairly. I know I'm doing it fairly, because I surprise myself.

    That's a crucial skill. It allows you to play whenever you are inclined by unshackling you from the need for a partner, and it allows you to have meaningful practice more often. If you play superior or equal players, you will learn. If you play inferior players, you tend to atrophy. Being able to play yourself fairly, means always playing an equal.


    That said, I'm not very good. I'm just better than most, most of the time--which says little because most people are bloody awful.
    I noticed that I started playing more like this when I practiced a few tactics puzzles. Everytime I see the board I pretend it's a tactics problem, which is a very similar thing to what you're describing.

    It's also good because it forces me to try find the most efficient move I can every time, and try as many forks/pins etc as I can find.

  6. #6
    Utisz's Avatar
    Type
    INxP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ayer
    Posts
    3,408
    I don't play much (and haven't played much) but I've been trying to get a little better recently. I play a bit of postcard chess with a friend who is generally better than me, which is a good way to learn ... mainly 'cos I have the time to think about moves and to read up a bit. One of my main problems though is translating that into time-constrained chess. I often make stupid blunders or fail to see weaknesses. But strategically I think I'm learning little by little even though I still find the online material really daunting.

    My main problem with chess was not knowing what to do when I didn't have anything else to do, particularly in the opening where it seems like there's endless possibilities and it's difficult to ascertain what's a good move and what's a bad move. I'm starting to realise that in postcard chess, small asymmetries in the start of the game can lead to major differences a little further down the road. Later on in the middle and end game, I find that things somehow become a bit more obvious.

    In terms of the abstract objectives that I try to think about in the opening:

    Opening

    Develop pieces: in the opening you want to get your "powers" (non-pawn pieces) mobile ... you want to move them out from behind the pawns and give them the ability to move as much as possible. A general principle is to not move the same piece (esp. a power) more than once in an opening unless you have to or you have a concrete plan behind it. There are ways to develop certain pieces that lead to greater mobility. For example, fianchettoing a bishop gives them a long diagonal pointing at centre squares and possibly even at the other side's king or queen side, but once a bishop is fianchetto'ed, you have to avoid blocking it in with your pawns, which itself comes with a cost. Knowing how to develop pieces is really important. But yes, in the opening, you want to get your powers out and ready for action as fast as possible. Don't move the queen too early though unless needed. She's vulnerable at the start since the board is open and the opposition can threaten trades with bishops, knights and so on, forcing you to push her around the board and wasting tempos. Generally at the start I'll try stick her somewhere defensive until she's needed.

    Tempo: a tempo is essentially a move. Wasted moves will cost you big time (pun intended). The start of a chess game is a race to get your pieces developed faster than your opponent. So try to avoid developing your pieces to undefended places where they your opponent can attack them while developing their own piece. The other side of this: if you can develop a piece while forcing your opponent to retreat or make neutral moves, do that. Assuming no major mistakes, the start is a fight for tempo (and ergo position), generally not for material advantage.

    Controlling the centre: the centre of the board is a crucial aspect regulating the mobility of the pieces and the ability to launch attacks later in the game. A lot of games can be quite positional in nature, meaning an arm-wrestle over the central four squares. Typically one side will control light-squares and the other dark squares. Sometimes players will give up control of the centre, but if you do so, you need to have something else to exploit in return (like a strong flank). Another option is to trade pawns and break up the centre and open the game up a bit. But be wary of just letting your opponent have the centre for free.

    Maintaining defence: castling earlier to one side or the other makes your king less vulnerable, especially since you will likely have pushed centre pawns in the opening, leaving diagonals for enemy queens and bishops to pin pieces or put you check, and also to forks by knights. Castling will help avoid your king being exploited by your opponent in the early game. Aside from that, you should pay careful attention to the mobility of your enemy pieces and reduce it on your side of the board as much as possible. An important part of that is ...

    Pawn structure: try to avoid unnecessary trades that double pawns (two pawns on one file) or isolate pawns (pawn with no buddy on an adjacent file to help out). On the other hand, take trades that mess up your opponents pawn structure. Likewise you will often find that your own pawns will get in the way of your powers. Try not to block your own pieces in with pawns.

    Openings: I found that knowing these principles was already a good start and stopped me from making guess/arbitrary moves (at least from the base position of not really seeing any difference to which piece I moved first), but even thinking about the objectives carefully, sometimes I found myself in problematic positions after four or five moves without really knowing why. There was still some element of luck at my skill level of ending up in a weak, playable or strong position. Having knowledge of at least the starts of some opening book moves does generally help to avoid that unknown element of luck, to avoid bad early positions and to exploit bad early moves by your opponent. But this is easier said than done since the opening possibilities are endlessly branching and the theory is intimidating ... often it's written talking about consequences that are quite far into the game ... likewise responses are sometimes said to be weak although I have no reason why. I really don't know much about openings myself but I've been trying to learn a little about slightly unorthodox but solid openings ... for example, a typical player might know a bit about 1. e4 e5 openings, so try to start with something a bit different, learn about the next two or three moves and the general strengths and weaknesses of the position you end up with. Likewise learn how to deal with some common responses, or even play variations that aren't optimal but aren't bad either (for those who aren't grandmasters).

    In terms of openings, it's important to find explanatory material at your level. Different explanations are aimed at different levels of players. I personally quite like this guy's videos:



    Anyways, keeping an eye on these overall strategies, you'll often find moves in the opening that combine one, two or maybe even three objectives ... even if you're not following book moves, it structures your game a lot more and avoids the feeling of making moves for the sake of it.


    Middle

    In terms of the rest of the game, with a good opening it ... well I find it just seems to become a bit more obvious what to do later on. The opening strategies do still apply ... things like increasing the mobility of your pieces, trying to keep the mobility of your opponents pieces down, controlling the centre, and so on. But there's a few other things to keep in mind:

    Know a good trade: First off know the standard values of pieces. But also know that those standard values of pieces aren't always fixed. First off, if you're up on material, trades are generally good for you. If you trade down to just your material advantage and your kings, you're likely to win. Use that to your advantage. Even simply threatening trades can put your opponent on the back foot. Second, different pieces have different values depending on different positions. Having two bishops (called the bishop pair) is often better than having a bishop and a knight. But if the position is quite cramped, knights can be better than bishops. Knights are much stronger in the centre than a corner since they have more squares to play with. Judge the mobility and defensive value of your pieces. If they're not doing much and are unlikely to be of much use in the near future, think about trying to trade for an equal opposing piece that's in a position to do more work.

    Power positions: Outposts are pretty sweet, especially for knights. The idea is to stick a power in front of a pawn deep(-ish) in the opponents ranks in such a way that the opponent can't take the pawn or threaten the power without an uneven trade. These outposts will often require a lot of effort to break up and offers a stable base to apply pressure. Look for outposts. Other good positions might be a fianchettoed bishop with a clear view, or a rook lift.

    Attacking moves: Know about indirect attacking options like discovered attacks, pins and forks. In general, opponents will often foresee a direct attack with a piece but setting up something like a revealed attack is easier to miss.

    Don't rely on your opponent fucking up: This one is less obvious but I used to do this a lot: I used to play moves that were a bit dubious in the hope that my opponent would make a wrong move and I could fuck them up. Playing on the hopes that your opponent will make an obviously weak move might pay off sometimes, but in the long term it's a bad strategy to have. Of course putting your pieces in good positions ready to take advantage of a poor move is great, but don't overextend yourself on an attack that might work out against weak defensive play.

    Have a plan: In the opening it's sort of okay to focus on your own development and so on, but at some point you're going to have to develop a bit more of a plan. The plan doesn't need to lead to checkmate, but might be for things like taking control of the centre, getting your opponents king out in the open, forcing a favourable trade, opening up files for your rooks, getting an outpost. But it's important not to fall into the trap of reacting to your opponents moves. You need to find a plan.



    End

    In terms of the end, things are usually even more obvious. It might be useful to learn a little about how to checkmate with minor pieces. For example, a knight and a king alone cannot checkmate an opponent king ... knowing this can save some time and effort and can avoid draw situations. Even with two knights, checkmates require favourable starting positions or bad moves on your opponents part. Even with a bishop, a rook and a king, things are not certain. To be honest, in most games I've played, it ended with promoted pawns ... but I guess knowing some of the checkmate positions with minor pieces is important. On the other hand, if things are going south for you, targeting pawn trades in the hopes of a draw is a pretty sound idea.



    Time-controlled games

    This is something I've been trying to work a little on. Under time pressure with an opponent waiting for me to move, my game gets really shit. I tend to miss obvious things and make blunders left, right and centre, especially with new opponents where I feel self-concious. Working to improve that, I've tried to structure my thinking a bit more ... first of all is analysis of the opponents move. Was it expected? Why there? What new squares can that piece target? What will those new squares achieve? Any discovered threats? How can that piece combine with other pieces on the board? Once I think I have an idea of why the opponent moved there, I actually quickly survey all of the first move options. You can quickly rule out most of them. Then I figure out which of the rest can deal with an immediate threat, or follow a plan I'm working on, or if nothing else, otherwise follow one of the opening strategies. I think there is a meta-struggle for me here. I feel that I really need to build an algorithm for checking positions that I can execute since if I trust myself not to miss obvious things, I will. If I go on gut, I will fuck up somewhere down the line. This is still something where I feel I am still very, very weak, I guess mainly because I have little experience of timed games.



    The above are things that quickly helped me improve my game a lot and I hope it can help others but ... in general though, chess is a humbling game that can seemingly take an arbitrary amount of your time to master. Experience and knowledge are still really really important in the game. This is sort of a turn-off for me. I'm starting to realise just how much effort it would require to get to a position where I feel like I can engage other parts of myself rather than just the rote analytical/mechanical thinking side of things. I don't feel that my chess playing is a particularly creative process and to get to the level where it might be would seem to be so far away ... I dunno.

    I guess I now know enough to know how little I know and in true INTP style I'm sort of turned off from exploring deeper knowing from the ego side of things that I'm not going to be a Bobby Fischer overnight. But at the same time, I still enjoy the odd game here and there and I'd still like to get to the level of play without embarrassing myself in time-sensitive games.

  7. #7
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880
    My game is improving I think. GJ guys these tips are working.

  8. #8
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880
    Seems like my main problem is attention to detail. I can never bring myself to check over my moves carefully and I end up doing really stupid stuff. I tend to do really well to begin with, and put them under a lot of pressure, then I forget their bishop or something and end up losing the queen or rook.
    Last edited by Dirac; 11-28-2014 at 02:24 PM.

  9. #9
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    eNTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    15,333
    @Utisz: nice write-up. I would add one detail--noting we are both avoiding getting too detailed, but this one detail has proven important time and time again.

    When you castle, within a few moves (ideally the very next) kick a pawn of the castle forward one step. The choice is easiest castling king-side--the best pawn to move is the far one. The reason is, no castle should be without an escape route, or you're going to find yourself trapped in it. A single pawn move keeps the king from being bottled up without increasing risk.

    The other obvious advantage of castling (aside from being a powerful three for one movement with position swapping that gets your king out of the fuckin' melee--which is reason enough), is that it gets your rook out from behind your pawns. They are the most difficult pieces to get involved early, and control better than any piece but the queen--without the pressure of being the queen.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  10. #10
    Aporia Dysphoria Dirac's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    880
    I like specifics. Specifics are good.

Similar Threads

  1. If you could study or go to school for anything
    By jigglypuff in forum Academics & Careers
    Replies: 81
    Last Post: 08-11-2019, 05:46 PM
  2. Chess
    By Blorg in forum Arts & Entertainment
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 05-09-2017, 02:24 PM
  3. Chess
    By MoneyJungle in forum The Pub
    Replies: 33
    Last Post: 12-21-2015, 05:50 AM
  4. Forum Chess
    By Utisz in forum The Playground
    Replies: 819
    Last Post: 03-02-2015, 05:51 AM
  5. Play Chess!
    By Perdix in forum The Playground
    Replies: 40
    Last Post: 12-09-2014, 08:37 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •