Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-15-2019, 09:49 AM
Sitnam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,238

So I want to get better at Chess


I'm either an advanced beginner or at an introductory intermediate level. I just finished Bobby Fisher Teaches Chess without too much trouble and am enjoying the chess puzzles on Chess.com and can usually handle the 600-800 rating puzzles.

Where should I go from here? Focus on openings? Closings? Continue doing pattern recognition puzzles?

I figured I'd ask here and look into free resources before plunking down cash for more books or online subscriptions.

Thanks for any help.
  #2  
Old 10-15-2019, 12:05 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,015
I know you said you wanted free online sources. But I don't have any.

What I will recommend is The Complete Chess Course by Fred Reinfeld. I found it very helpful when I was working on improving my game.
  #3  
Old 10-15-2019, 12:23 PM
borschevsky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,156
Tactics, tactics, tactics. Some endgame study, and a little bit of opening study (it's very easy to go overboard with studying openings).

https://lichess.org/ is a great free site for playing and studying.
https://www.chessable.com/ is a nice site with an interesting approach to instruction.
There are several good YouTube chess channels; I really like GM Daniel King's PowerPlayChess.

There is a very large amount of free resources available, to the point that it's really not necessary to ever spend any money. Many of the sites (chess.com, chess24.com, etc) have premium subscription models, and the channels tend to have some kind of Patreon or Twitch set up for contributions.
  #4  
Old 10-15-2019, 01:05 PM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
I'm a (retired) professional chess teacher.

What borschevsky said makes a lot of sense.

Study basic endings (starting with the checkmates v lone king) because:

- there's only a few pieces left, so you can better understand what is happening
- you need to know how to win 'won' positions (and not draw by stalemate)

Study tactics on the middlegame (e.g. fork, pin, zwischenzug…) because:

- they are fun
- they can be spotted (using clues like undefended pieces …)
- they sharpen up your game

Only do a bit of opening analysis because:

- there are many reasonable alternatives
- there are a lot of pieces on the board

Stick to the essential basics of the opening:

- develop your pieces
- control the centre (d4,d5,e4,e5)
- castle your king into safety

Practice - nothing beats playing a game against a) an opponent about your strength / b) a chess teacher.

I can offer to play a game with you here on the SDMB.
There would be a game thread (just for the moves) and an accompanying thread for comments and kibitzers.
Afterwards I could give some analysis.

Here's a game thread from the past. (Unfortunately we combined the game and analysis, which I why I suggest two threads.)

And here's another game...

If you want to play, say so here and I'll set it up.
__________________
Arnold Winkelried:
'glee, I take my hat off to you.... at first I thought you were kidding with your cite but I looked it up and it was indeed accurate. (Still in awe at the magnificent answer)'
  #5  
Old 10-15-2019, 01:08 PM
Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 18,390
glee: You are a pearl beyond price.
__________________
Uke

Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 10-15-2019 at 01:09 PM.
  #6  
Old 10-15-2019, 03:14 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,270
[Moderating]

Moving from CS to the Game Room.
  #7  
Old 10-15-2019, 03:46 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 27,728
My father was a very, very good chess player. I was not, not. I could match him for about 10 moves, but then he'd start working combinations and cross-board attacks and leave me defenseless, not to mention offenseless.

Once you've established the center and protected your king, it's time to work on your attack.
  #8  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:10 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,015
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
Stick to the essential basics of the opening:

- develop your pieces
- control the centre (d4,d5,e4,e5)
- castle your king into safety
That was one of the things I learned from the Reinfeld book. He wrote that you should do seven things within your first ten moves:

Advance your center pawns
Bring out your bishops
Bring out your knights
Castle
  #9  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:33 PM
Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 18,390
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
[Moderating]

Moving from CS to the Game Room.
I would challenge this. Playing good chess is ART.
__________________
Uke
  #10  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:43 PM
Atamasama's Avatar
Atamasama is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 5,355
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
I would challenge this. Playing good chess is ART.
Requesting forum change to Great Debates.
  #11  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:45 PM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is online now
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,787
Is playing speed chess helpful or does it lead to the development of bad habits?
  #12  
Old 10-15-2019, 05:52 PM
Jet Jaguar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Monster Island
Posts: 1,614
I was probably about your level when I worked briefly with a teacher some years ago, and what borschevsky and glee say pretty much align with his advice. The main thing was to practice tactics. At my level games aren't lost to subtle positional play, it was usually because someone overlooked some tactic and blundered away material. I don't know what free resources are out there today, but back then I got a lot out of a book called "Chess Tactics for Students", which I cut up and made into flash cards.

Besides tactics, he had me get really good at the basic endgames, and to just play a lot. He didn't want be to put too much study into openings beyond the basic strategies (control the center, protect the king, etc...) because memorizing a bunch of book lines doesn't help if I don't understand the reasoning behind them.
  #13  
Old 10-15-2019, 07:10 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,270
I wish that I'd had you guys around back when I was in middle and high school. Back then, the "accepted wisdom" (at least, among the folks I had contact with) was that memorizing the opening books was necessary, which I didn't have the patience for. And since that's what I thought opening theory consisted of, I never got very good at openings, and so even though I'm decent in midgames and great in endgames, I never got the chance to put those skills to good use, because by the time the midgame came around, I was sunk.

If I'd instead spent time studying the why of the openings, I'd have been a lot better off.
  #14  
Old 10-15-2019, 08:08 PM
RTFirefly is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Maryland
Posts: 40,837
What glee and borschevsky said. Learn the basics of endgames, just enough to keep from pissing away a game you've won. But at your level (even mine, as far up as I got which was low 1700s), games are largely won and lost in the middle game. And besides, combinations (pins, forks, discovered attacks, etc.) are fun, like they said.

As far as openings go, my approach would be:

1) Decide, for when you play white, if you're a 1.d4 or a 1.e4 player. That cuts in half what you have to learn.

2) Learn one defense against each of 1.d4 and 1.e4. I advocate something non-symmetric in each case: White gets the first move, but Black gets to choose the battlefield, is how I see it. 1.d4 d5 and 1. e4 e5 pisses that away for Black. Flip through the openings just enough to pick one that seems to fit your personality. I used the Grunfeld against 1.d4 and the Pirc against 1.e4, because those fit my personality. Fiddle around with the possibilities just enough to see what fits yours.

Again, choosing just one defense each against d4 and e4 cuts way down on how much you have to learn about openings, and gives you a path to the middle game that works for you. That's enough to ask of the opening.

Last edited by RTFirefly; 10-15-2019 at 08:09 PM.
  #15  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:01 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
glee: You are a pearl beyond price.
Most kind.
__________________
Arnold Winkelried:
'glee, I take my hat off to you.... at first I thought you were kidding with your cite but I looked it up and it was indeed accurate. (Still in awe at the magnificent answer)'
  #16  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:06 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Clark View Post
My father was a very, very good chess player. I was not, not. I could match him for about 10 moves, but then he'd start working combinations and cross-board attacks and leave me defenseless, not to mention offenseless.

Once you've established the center and protected your king, it's time to work on your attack.
It can be very difficult to give advice on chess (which is why I stick to a few bits of advice on the opening, with practice as the main teacher.)

One chess book advised "To free your game, take some of your opponent's pieces - if possible, for nothing."
An admirable concept - but the book gave no idea how to do this!
  #17  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:12 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That was one of the things I learned from the Reinfeld book. He wrote that you should do seven things within your first ten moves:

Advance your center pawns
Bring out your bishops
Bring out your knights
Castle
Of course this is sensible guidance.

However there are exceptions: established openings that don't follow these rules (e.g. English opening; Benko Gambit etc.)

Also number one priority is to watch what your opponent is up to e.g. 1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. Qh5 … now Nc6 develops a piece and controls the centre. Sadly it loses to Qxf7 mate!
Position
  #18  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:20 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
I would challenge this. Playing good chess is ART.
Former world champion Anatoly Karpov said "chess is everything— art, science, and sport” .

At the human level (with us chaps making mistakes, getting flustered under time pressure and getting emotional), of course he's right.

However (sadly) computers have shown that playing good chess is pure science.
Armed with chess tablebases, computers can now play many endings perfectly.
  #19  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:24 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Is playing speed chess helpful or does it lead to the development of bad habits?
If you already understand chess quite well, it's a great learning tool.
You can practice a new opening, play loads of tactics and even get a few endings.
I remember how my chess grading shot up when another strong player worked in my building and we played speed chess in our lunchtimes.

But if you're not really sure what you're doing, then the game goes too fast for you to absorb new techniques.
  #20  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:27 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Jaguar View Post
I was probably about your level when I worked briefly with a teacher some years ago, and what borschevsky and glee say pretty much align with his advice. The main thing was to practice tactics. At my level games aren't lost to subtle positional play, it was usually because someone overlooked some tactic and blundered away material.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Jaguar View Post
Besides tactics, he had me get really good at the basic endgames, and to just play a lot. He didn't want be to put too much study into openings beyond the basic strategies (control the center, protect the king, etc...) because memorizing a bunch of book lines doesn't help if I don't understand the reasoning behind them.
Absolutely.

World Champion Capablanca said "In order to improve your game you must study the endgame before everything else; for, whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middlegame and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame."
  #21  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:30 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I wish that I'd had you guys around back when I was in middle and high school. Back then, the "accepted wisdom" (at least, among the folks I had contact with) was that memorizing the opening books was necessary, which I didn't have the patience for. And since that's what I thought opening theory consisted of, I never got very good at openings, and so even though I'm decent in midgames and great in endgames, I never got the chance to put those skills to good use, because by the time the midgame came around, I was sunk.

If I'd instead spent time studying the why of the openings, I'd have been a lot better off.
I'm sorry you got stuck with that dreadful advice.

Understanding openings is jolly useful - 'memorisation' time can be put to far better use.
  #22  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:37 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTFirefly View Post
What glee and borschevsky said. Learn the basics of endgames, just enough to keep from pissing away a game you've won. But at your level (even mine, as far up as I got which was low 1700s), games are largely won and lost in the middle game. And besides, combinations (pins, forks, discovered attacks, etc.) are fun, like they said.

As far as openings go, my approach would be:

1) Decide, for when you play white, if you're a 1.d4 or a 1.e4 player. That cuts in half what you have to learn.

2) Learn one defense against each of 1.d4 and 1.e4. I advocate something non-symmetric in each case: White gets the first move, but Black gets to choose the battlefield, is how I see it. 1.d4 d5 and 1. e4 e5 pisses that away for Black. Flip through the openings just enough to pick one that seems to fit your personality. I used the Grunfeld against 1.d4 and the Pirc against 1.e4, because those fit my personality. Fiddle around with the possibilities just enough to see what fits yours.

Again, choosing just one defense each against d4 and e4 cuts way down on how much you have to learn about openings, and gives you a path to the middle game that works for you. That's enough to ask of the opening.
It's important to find how good you are before deciding what opening(s) to play.
For beginners, just keep it simple. Don't try to learn specific openings.

Even at international level, it can be a boon to avoid your opponent's preparation.
Against 1. e4, I've tried the French and Caro-Kann openings (going into great depth for both.)
One of my team-mates remarked that I would have done better to simply play:
1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5.
No complicated variations!
  #23  
Old 10-16-2019, 05:06 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
Also number one priority is to watch what your opponent is up to e.g. 1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. Qh5 … now Nc6 develops a piece and controls the centre. Sadly it loses to Qxf7 mate!
Position
As a relative novice myself, can I just check - I assume 3...Qe7, while forced, is fine for black, as in due course they can play ...Nf6 and/or ...g6 to kick the white queen away, and potentially take the lead in development? In other words, 3. Qh5 (as one would expect from general principles) is not a sound choice for white here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
One of my team-mates remarked that I would have done better to simply play:
1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5.
No complicated variations!
I know you jest, but again just to check my understanding - whatever black plays after 3. Nc3, they are giving white a potentially dangerous lead in development, so will have to play very accurately to equalise the position (and may never do so at master level), correct?
  #24  
Old 10-16-2019, 05:38 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
As a relative novice myself, can I just check - I assume 3...Qe7, while forced, is fine for black, as in due course they can play ...Nf6 and/or ...g6 to kick the white queen away, and potentially take the lead in development? In other words, 3. Qh5 (as one would expect from general principles) is not a sound choice for white here?
Yes, 3...Qe7 is fine and (as you say) 4...Nf6 is coming.

Although 3. Qh5 is not the best, it's certainly not 'unsound' (and not a blunder!)
In any case White can afford to make an inaccurate move or two - all that happens is that the game becomes level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
I know you jest, but again just to check my understanding - whatever black plays after 3. Nc3, they are giving white a potentially dangerous lead in development, so will have to play very accurately to equalise the position (and may never do so at master level), correct?
I'm not joking!
Firstly I spent hundreds of hours learning the two openings I mentioned above; keeping up with new developments; analysing each game I played with them; studying all my opponent's choices against my openings.
Not much fun - but very useful.
Bearing in mind I was an amateur player, it would have been helpful to use the time in other ways.

Now after 3. Nc3 White gains time. But only one move. (I reckon a 3 move advantage is worth about a pawn...)
Also I have simplified the central position and there are no forcing variations to watch out for.
If I could go back in time, I would seriously play 1...d5.
  #25  
Old 10-16-2019, 06:10 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Fair enough, and thanks for the extra insight. What do you play after 3. Nc3? Qd8 gives white a 2-move advantage in development, Qc6 takes the best square for the queen's knight, Qe6+ blocks the king's pawn. So 3...Qd6 seems best to me, giving the best chance of proceeding with normal development from there. Though after 4. Nb5, I may need to play 4...Qc6 anyway. Would you agree? Don't worry, I won't continue further with this digression, otherwise we'll end up playing a whole game before we know it!

Of course, now I've typed all that, I realise I could just look it up. Some chess sites are blocked for me at work, but Wikipedia has what looks like a solid treatment of this opening: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavian_Defense

Although I missed Qa5 as a possibility, I'm still happy with my choice. I just don't like the idea of leaving the Queen relatively exposed on the fifth rank so early in the game.
  #26  
Old 10-16-2019, 06:58 AM
Xema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 12,448
At one point in college I had a roommate who was quite good at chess (ranked about 200th in the US, IIRC). My chess improved by listening to his commentary on games (to be fair, there was plenty of room for improvement). Nowadays you could do that via YouTube - I like agadmator's channel.

One piece of my roommate's advice that stuck with me: "All players pay attention to their own possibilities; weaker players do not pay enough attention to their opponent's. You need to have a good sense of what your opponent is trying to achieve in the next several moves."
  #27  
Old 10-16-2019, 07:25 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Fair enough, and thanks for the extra insight. What do you play after 3. Nc3? Qd8 gives white a 2-move advantage in development, Qc6 takes the best square for the queen's knight, Qe6+ blocks the king's pawn. So 3...Qd6 seems best to me, giving the best chance of proceeding with normal development from there. Though after 4. Nb5, I may need to play 4...Qc6 anyway. Would you agree? Don't worry, I won't continue further with this digression, otherwise we'll end up playing a whole game before we know it!
After 1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3; Qd8, Qd6 and Qa5 are all fine.

Not 3...Qc6??? 4. Bb5 1-0 (This shows how important to study tactics like the pin!)

3...Qe6+ (a poor move) leaves the Queen in an exposed position (and blocks both the Bc8 and pe7.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Although I missed Qa5 as a possibility, I'm still happy with my choice. I just don't like the idea of leaving the Queen relatively exposed on the fifth rank so early in the game.
In chess there are things to worry about a lot - but the Q on a5 is not one of them.
The Q is hard to get at (White could play d4 and Bd2, threatening a discovered attack tactic, but you can see it coming.)
With experience, you learn what is safe and what is not...
  #28  
Old 10-16-2019, 07:26 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
One piece of my roommate's advice that stuck with me: "All players pay attention to their own possibilities; weaker players do not pay enough attention to their opponent's. You need to have a good sense of what your opponent is trying to achieve in the next several moves."
See post 17!
  #29  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:04 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
After 1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3; Qd8, Qd6 and Qa5 are all fine.

Not 3...Qc6??? 4. Bb5 1-0 (This shows how important to study tactics like the pin!)
Thanks. In my defence, I wrote most of this without looking at the board (and it shows how poor my blindfold chess is, unsurprisingly for a player of my standard). I do like to think I would have spotted this at the board, though!

Quote:
In chess there are things to worry about a lot - but the Q on a5 is not one of them.
The Q is hard to get at (White could play d4 and Bd2, threatening a discovered attack tactic, but you can see it coming.)
With experience, you learn what is safe and what is not...
Quite so, and of course it wouldn't be the most common line at master level were this not true. Thanks again for the insight.
  #30  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:35 AM
Sitnam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xema View Post
Nowadays you could do that via YouTube - I like agadmator's channel."
The guy that sparked my renewed interest!

Ok, tactics, what are the best resources available to focus on them? Are puzzles worthwhile for teaching them or are they considered novelties?
  #31  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:39 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
I haven't heard back from Sitnam about my offer of a training game, so if anyone else would like to put their name forward...

I could wait a day or two for the OP, otherwise then start a game against another challenger.

As I mentioned, there would be a game thread (thanks to www.apronus.com, with a diagram after each move) - just for the moves.
A second thread would be for questions, analysis and kibitzer chat.
  #32  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:44 AM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is online now
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,787
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitnam View Post
The guy [agadmator] that sparked my renewed interest!
Me too.

(And, thanks, glee).
  #33  
Old 10-16-2019, 09:46 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,270
Quote:
Quoth glee:

Former world champion Anatoly Karpov said "chess is everything— art, science, and sport” .

At the human level (with us chaps making mistakes, getting flustered under time pressure and getting emotional), of course he's right.

However (sadly) computers have shown that playing good chess is pure science.
Armed with chess tablebases, computers can now play many endings perfectly.
That's not the conclusion I would draw. Sure, a tablebase will result in perfect play, but they only exist for board configurations with a total of six or fewer pieces on them (it might be as much as seven by now, but it won't reach 10 in my lifetime). And while there are a few surprises in the tablebases, it's only a few: For positions that simple, the vast majority of the time, a competent endgame player will reach the same conclusion as the tablebase (it might take more moves, but you'll still end the game with the same player winning). And that's only even if you reach a board position that simple at all: Most games end before that point.

The truly significant advances in computer chess have, if anything, turned the game more into art. A great human player can generally explain his moves, and why he made them. For the chess computers of even a few years ago, the programmers can explain in extensive detail exactly why the computer made the moves it did. But the current best chess computers are even more human than the humans: nobody, not even the programmers, can explain why they made the moves they did, because the computers were never programmed how to play chess, they were programmed to learn how to play chess, which they did, from scratch by playing against copies of themselves.
  #34  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:02 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
I haven't heard back from Sitnam about my offer of a training game, so if anyone else would like to put their name forward...

I could wait a day or two for the OP, otherwise then start a game against another challenger.

As I mentioned, there would be a game thread (thanks to www.apronus.com, with a diagram after each move) - just for the moves.
A second thread would be for questions, analysis and kibitzer chat.
I have a bit of free time over the next few days, so if Sitnam is happy to sit this one out, I'd like to take you up on that if I may please? Ideally starting tomorrow, if possible.
  #35  
Old 10-16-2019, 10:18 AM
Jasmine's Avatar
Jasmine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 2,613
I think you should get what I feel is the best chess program there is: Fritz 16

Yes, at full strength, Fritz beats grandmasters with regularity. However, they have made a special effort to make Fritz much more user friendly to the host of lesser players out there looking to improve their games.

Quote:
Fritz has been considered unbeatable. Who would want to play against him? In the case of Fritz 16, however, playing against an engine is now once again the very definition of fun! A host of features, including "Assisted Analysis", which gives you discreet visual hints as you move, and emoticons, which show Fritz’s mood, are there to help you. Even with little knowledge of chess, you can enjoy many an exciting game, and more importantly, victory, against Fritz. If things don’t work out, Fritz 16 shows you the combinations you might have missed directly after the game with the handy “Tactical Analysis” function, or you can dive right into "Easy Play" calculation training to hone your skills. Fritz doesn’t come up short when it comes to playing strength either: the new multiprocessor engine was developed by star programmer Vas Rajlich ("Rybka") and is up there with the global elite.
Also, you have to decide what kind of player you are. Do you thrive on open, aggressive positions? Then E-4 is for you, but keep in mind that you will run into the Sicilian Defense quite often, so you will have to verse yourself a good 15 moves deep in numerous different variations of it if you plan on standing a chance. On the other hand, if you like quiet positional games that develop more slowly, D-4 or even C-4 might be better for you.

When playing Black against E-4, you might try the French Defense. It is much less used then the Sicilian and, consequently, most opponents are far less booked up on it. Against D-4, my personal favorite has always been the Nimzo-Indian Defense. It's old and not much used anymore, but it is an aggressive reply to that quieter opening.
__________________
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."
--Daniel J Boorstin
  #36  
Old 10-16-2019, 01:23 PM
Sitnam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,238
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
I haven't heard back from Sitnam about my offer of a training game, so if anyone else would like to put their name forward....
I appreciate the offer, but I'd like to study a bit more first.
  #37  
Old 10-16-2019, 04:48 PM
Mike Mabes is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 694
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitnam View Post
I'm either an advanced beginner or at an introductory intermediate level. I just finished Bobby Fisher Teaches Chess without too much trouble and am enjoying the chess puzzles on Chess.com and can usually handle the 600-800 rating puzzles.

Where should I go from here? Focus on openings? Closings? Continue doing pattern recognition puzzles?

I figured I'd ask here and look into free resources before plunking down cash for more books or online subscriptions.

Thanks for any help.
I was going to suggest Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess! Got that when I was about 12. Is it still in print?

Anyone, great advice above. Carry on
  #38  
Old 10-17-2019, 12:40 PM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
I have a bit of free time over the next few days, so if Sitnam is happy to sit this one out, I'd like to take you up on that if I may please? Ideally starting tomorrow, if possible.
I'd be happy to play you, but these games usually take about a month.
On the other hand there's no rush to make moves - so you decide if the game is on!
  #39  
Old 10-17-2019, 12:57 PM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897

Good and bad advice...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
I think you should get what I feel is the best chess program there is: Fritz 16

Yes, at full strength, Fritz beats grandmasters with regularity. However, they have made a special effort to make Fritz much more user friendly to the host of lesser players out there looking to improve their games.
A computer program is useful for practice as it is always available.
If Fritz is user-friendly to beginers / improvers, that's a bonus.
N.B. There are several free programs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Also, you have to decide what kind of player you are. Do you thrive on open, aggressive positions? Then E-4 is for you, but keep in mind that you will run into the Sicilian Defense quite often, so you will have to verse yourself a good 15 moves deep in numerous different variations of it if you plan on standing a chance.
I'm sorry, but this is completely wrong.

Start with endings, learn some tactics and play simple moves in the openings.

Do not 'verse yourself a good 15 moves deep in numerous different variations'.

1. There are at least 11 variations of the Sicilian (Najdorf, Classical, Dragon, Accelerated Dragon, Scheveningen, Kalashnikov, Taimanov, Kan, 4 Knights and Pin.)
The number of moves you would have to learn by heart to play each of these through to move 15 makes my mind boggle.

2. What do you do if on (say) move 8 of one of these variations your opponent plays a new move. You've learnt by heart and don't understand the ideas behind the opening.

3. The amount of time you've invested on this rote learning will be largely wasted (e.g. when nobody ever plays a particular variation), when instead you could be learning stuff that will help you throughout your time in chess.
__________________
Arnold Winkelried:
'glee, I take my hat off to you.... at first I thought you were kidding with your cite but I looked it up and it was indeed accurate. (Still in awe at the magnificent answer)'
  #40  
Old 10-18-2019, 03:11 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post
I'd be happy to play you, but these games usually take about a month.
On the other hand there's no rush to make moves - so you decide if the game is on!
Thanks. Actually, now I think about it, I've just started a game of Diplomacy, so to avoid over-committing myself I'd better finish that first. I'll come back to you in due course if that's OK?
  #41  
Old 10-18-2019, 06:30 AM
Maserschmidt's Avatar
Maserschmidt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New England
Posts: 5,955
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post

1. There are at least 11 variations of the Sicilian (Najdorf, Classical, Dragon, Accelerated Dragon, Scheveningen, Kalashnikov, Taimanov, Kan, 4 Knights and Pin.)
The number of moves you would have to learn by heart to play each of these through to move 15 makes my mind boggle.
That’s why I ended up learning the Closed Sicilian as white. It at least gave me a slight sense of control over the game's direction.
  #42  
Old 10-18-2019, 07:52 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Cat View Post
Thanks. Actually, now I think about it, I've just started a game of Diplomacy, so to avoid over-committing myself I'd better finish that first. I'll come back to you in due course if that's OK?
No problem!
  #43  
Old 10-18-2019, 07:55 AM
glee is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,897
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maserschmidt View Post
That’s why I ended up learning the Closed Sicilian as white. It at least gave me a slight sense of control over the game's direction.
I used 1. e4 c5 2. c3 myself.

But I want to reiterate that beginners and improvers should aim to understand an opening, not memorise it.

I reached an 1800 rating before acquiring loads of opening analysis (and I understood my openings by then.)
  #44  
Old 10-19-2019, 02:17 PM
Sitnam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Mabes View Post
I was going to suggest Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess! Got that when I was about 12. Is it still in print?

Anyone, great advice above. Carry on
It is, and a new copy is cheap. Also, still a good read.

Incidentally, Bobby states the value of a Bishop is 3.25. I thought it was 3. What’s the modern consensus on that?
  #45  
Old 10-20-2019, 02:55 PM
Jas09 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 5,769
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitnam View Post
It is, and a new copy is cheap. Also, still a good read.

Incidentally, Bobby states the value of a Bishop is 3.25. I thought it was 3. What’s the modern consensus on that?
Well, I am far from an expert, but I believe the consensus is "it depends".

At the start of the game the bishop pair is generally seen as more valuable than the knight pair - so yeah, 3.25 is probably right. In the middle game what I've been taught (or picked up, more accurately) is that it depends on who controls what squares. That is, your light-squared bishop could be very weak if I control all of the light squares or if it is trapped by your own pieces. I think that generally in the middle and end game stages closed positions prefer knights (because they can jump over the locked pawns) and open positions prefer bishops (range of action).

Similarly, not all pawns are equally valuable. Clearly at the start of the game I will happily exchange a flank pawn for you center pawn (which is one of the main points of the Sicilian).

Other experts can chime in here.

glee, do you really recommend the Scandinavian to beginners? I'm very much a beginner, but I'm always happy when my opponent plays it. Maybe the fact that it reduces my choices as white is why I like it. A quick look at lichess shows I'm at 58/6/36 against it (always as white, I never play it as black).
  #46  
Old 10-20-2019, 09:25 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,270
One big advantage knights have in the late game is that they can switch colors. If a bishop on white squares is one of your major assets, then your opponent can keep safe from it just by keeping most of his pieces on black squares.

On the other hand, in the very late game, two bishops are adequate mating power, or even a bishop and a knight, but two knights are not. Though that only becomes relevant once every last pawn is off the field.
  #47  
Old 10-22-2019, 06:36 PM
Pasta is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 2,169
Sitnam: I picked up the game just two years ago, and it's been a ton of fun. I'd be happy to play some games on chess.com and review them afterwards (perhaps in a thread at SDMB) if you're interested. Or feel free to PM me your chess.com username, and I can look at some of your past games and give some feedback.

If your chess.com tactics rating is around 700, then far and away the most important thing to do is work on your tactics. Understanding the basic plans of a very small set of openings will also help you get into sensible middle games with some sort of plan. But I have to imagine that most of your games are being decided by whoever hangs the most pieces.

Chess.com also has lessons on tactical motifs. Having some instruction on key motifs to look for may help tactical improvement. Undefended pieces, pins, skewers, forks, back-rank weaknesses, overloaded pieces -- if you don't know what some of these terms mean, you may not know to look for those patterns in the first place. Also at this tactics level, a lot of the posed problems will be forced mating sequences that follow some basic patterns. Chess.com has lessons on basic mating patterns as well, and you should try to get to where those are pretty automatic.
  #48  
Old 11-10-2019, 10:07 AM
enipla is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Colorado Rockies.
Posts: 15,101
Hey Glee and Pasta,

I do have a chess.com account. My most resent game at chess.com was 10 months ago.

But, my Wife has become interested, and we play about 4 games a week.

I will have some downtime in two weeks because of a hip replacement. The surgery is 11-21-19.

Soooo... if anyone is interested, in a few weeks, I should be able to play. I'll need to re-familiarize myself with chess.com site though.
__________________
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
  #49  
Old 11-10-2019, 02:37 PM
enipla is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Colorado Rockies.
Posts: 15,101
Quote:
Originally Posted by glee View Post

Stick to the essential basics of the opening:

- develop your pieces
- control the centre (d4,d5,e4,e5)
- castle your king into safety
Yep. All your advice is great.

I have taught my Wife to play and often have to remind her to stop playing defense all the time. If you do, you are sure to lose. Get that power out there.

She's gotten quite good actually. I have to watch my ass. She's an Ironman, so competition is in her blood (I, as her husband, am the Sherpa). I'm sort of stunned how much she loves the game. She may win 1 in 15. It took ~ 100 games before she beat me. Knowing each other as well as we do from 23 years of marriage I suspect has a part in that. I know what she's going to do. And I taught her, so it may not be a level playing field. We both recognize that and have talked about it.

For myself, a big reason to castle is to help develop the Kings Rook. It's not always about safety. IMHO.

Pressuring your opponent to move the king to prevent castle can be good to. If you can force a move, you basically get an extra one to pursue a plan.

And my advice to my Wife has always been "You have to play both sides of the board". Flexibility is key, which is why it's good to have your power out there.
__________________
I don't live in the middle of nowhere, but I can see it from here.
  #50  
Old 11-15-2019, 07:25 AM
Dead Cat is offline
I was curious...
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 4,541
Hope no-one minds if I bump this thread rather than start a new one - in the absence of playing an actual game over the SDMB (for the time being, anyway - my Diplomacy game will probably conclude in the next week or two, then I should be up for a game), I thought it might be fun to post a couple of recent games I played against a colleague at work. We're on a fairly similar level - our games so far have typically been decided by fairly basic tactical blunders. I've also included some analysis/commentary - but if people are able and willing, I'd like to see their thoughts on things.

You can play the game over by following this link. Here are the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. f4 Not the best choice of opening for me, because I don't understand it well enough. For example, I know that Black can get into difficulties if he tries too hard to hold on to the gambit pawn, but I don't really know how to exploit this. This becomes evident later.
2...exf4
3. Nf3 d6 I'm happy to see this move as it means if he wants to play d5 at some point in the future, it loses a tempo. Hence:
4. Bc4 Bg4 Possibly I should have played h3 to prevent this, but I was wary of creating a hole on g3.
5. O-O Nc6
6. d3 g5 I wonder if I should have played h4 here, swapping my h-pawn for the gambit pawn. It seems to me now that activating my black-squared bishop immediately might have been worth the extra weakness on my kingside, given Black is not exactly in a position to exploit the latter at the moment.
7. Nc3 Nf6
8. Qe1 Bxf3 I probably should have recaptured with the rook instead, I can't remember why I didn't.
9. gxf3 Qe7
10. Qf2 a6
11. h4 h6 Obviously I was hoping for gxh4, but I should have given my opponent credit for being better than that. Poor move on my part, really.
12. Qh2 Bg7 Again, a poor choice by me - 'forcing' him into a good move.
13. Qh3 Nh5
14. Nd5 Again, in retrospect this looks a poor choice - instead hxg5 followed by Qg4 would have been interesting.
14...Bd4+
15. Kh2 Qd7
16. Qxd7+ Kxd7
17. c3 Bb6
18. Nxb6+ cxb6
19. Bxf7 At this point I'm feeling OK about things - the opening hasn't worked that well for me, but I've finally regained the gambit pawn, forced him into doubled pawns on the queenside, the exchange of queens makes my weak king less of a worry, and I have 2 bishops vs 2 knights. Now, if only I can get my bishop into the game, I feel I have good chances. However:
19...Ng3 This makes it all look rather different - suddenly I have a pawn and a rook en pris, one bishop is in no-man's land, and the other is out of the game. What's more, my rooks aren't connected yet. Now, I wasn't exactly in time trouble here (since we weren't using clocks), but it was getting to the end of our lunch hour, which is my excuse for the following disaster:
20. hxg5 hxg5+
21. Kg2 Ne5 I asked my opponent afterwards why he didn't simply take the rook, and basically it seems that he liked the knight on g3 so much, he didn't really consider it. I was expecting it to be grabbed straightaway. Since I now face losing a whole piece if I move the rook, I save the bishop instead - I considered Bb3, but considered it too passive - he can't take both the rook and pawn at once, after all! So:
22. Bd5 Rab8 Now this is too passive from Black, in my view. Just take the rook!
23. Rd1 b5 Another strange move - restricts my bishop a bit, but hands me the initiative.
24. d4 Nc4
25. b3 Nb6
26. Re1 Nxd5
27. exd5 Rbe8
28. Ba3 Re2+
29. Rxe2 Nxe2
30. Bb4 b6
31. Re1 Ng3
32. Re6 Nf5
33. Rf6 a5 I'm now feeling pretty pleased with the way things have turned out - not only have I recovered from potentially losing the exchange, I now look to be winning a pawn. But I was greedy, and thought I could win a second pawn before taking the knight.
34. Bxa5 Ne3+ Whoops. I forgot about that check. And now I'm lost again.
35. Kg1 bxa5
36. Rg6 Rh3
37. Rxg5 Rg3+
38. Rxg3 fxg3 I had never seen this setup before, where the king is completely trapped by just a knight and pawn. My last-ditch attempt is to try and fashion some sort of breakthrough on the queenside - but that isn't really viable, since it will give black a winning passed pawn as well.
39. a3 Ke8
40. Kh1 Ke7
41. Kg1 Kd7
42. Kh1 Kc7
43. Kg1 Kb6
44. Kh1 b4
45. cxb4 axb4
46. a4 I'm quite happy that I've managed to stop the Black king from coming through on the queenside, but I now realised that he can win extremely easily by marching his king round the board while I oscillate between g1 and h1, picking up my f-pawn on the way, and eventually getting the winning promotion with me powerless to do anything about it. Even if I run my f-pawn he doesn't need to move his knight as his king will still reach its queening square in time. However:
46...Nf1 My last hope (if he had made a king move towards the kingside I would have resigned).
47. Kg2 Nd2
48. Kxg3 Nxb3 I now have to move my king to stop his b-pawn.
49. Kf2 Nxd4
50. Ke3 Nxf3 And I can't take the knight for the same reason.
51. Kd3 Ka5
52. Kc2 Kxa4
53. Kb2 Nd4
54. Ka2 b3+
55. Ka1 Ka3
56. Kb1 Nb5 Black avoids ...b2 (stalemate) and that really is it now.
57. Ka1 Nc7
58. Kb1 Nxd5
59. Ka1 Ne3
60. Kb1 d5

White resigned

In the next game, my opponent was rather distracted, so I scored a quick win by taking a leaf out of glee's book .

1. e4 d5
2. e5 Nc6 I've never played this opening before; having looked it up since the game, I see e5 isn't necessarily the best, but neither is my response, though I think it's fairly reasonable.
3. d4 Bf5
4. Nc3 Qd7
5. g3 I thought about playing Nb4 here, but since White can block with Bd3, didn't think it was as good as just continuing with my development.
5...O-O-O
6. Bg2 Nb4 Now Bd3 isn't available, so White is losing a pawn.
7. Qe2 Nxc2+ White admitted afterwards Qe2 was "pointless". He could have limited losses to a pawn with Rb1. Now he's losing at least the exchange.
8. Kd1 Nxa1
9. Bxd5 e6 White tries to fight back, but runs into more trouble.
10. Be4 Qxd4+
11. Qd3 Bxe4

And White resigned. Qd3 was in a way the worst mistake, but White was lost by then anyway.

So, if I do get to play any of you, this gives you a fair idea of what you're dealing with! Comments welcome, however offensive .
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:38 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017