Anyone interested/able to help me improve my chess game?

I have started playing chess with a friend of mine pretty regularly on the app chess time.

So far we have played 4 times and I have e been soundly beaten all 4 times. I knew my chess was weak but this is embarrassing. The system has an option ok have me email myself the PGN so I can share my games so far and you can help me figure out how I have been a dummy and maybe get better.

Any interest?

I like to think that I’m a halfway decent player, so I’d take a look and maybe be able to offer some advice. You could also drop your games into an engine somewhere like Lichess Analysis and it will help point out mistakes. Engines don’t give the kind of general advice you’re probably looking for, but they’re great for identifying specific tactics in the games.

If you’re really wanting to put some time in, it can be a good exercise to first go through the games yourself and make notes about what you were thinking at different points, and why you made your moves.

If you truly want to be a better player, you should obtain, read, and learn to apply the lessons from one or more basic chess strategy books. One of the more commonly used in my day growing up in the 70s was “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess”. Another very good book was Chess Fundamentals by José Capablanca. I learned quite a lot from Ludėk Pachman’s “Complete Chess Strategy”, Volumes 1 and 2 (you can also get volume 3, but it’s not as widely accepted as necessary).

Proper chess play derives from understanding how to complete an endgame. Thus, most students learn how to complete endgames first (Queen v king, rook v king, two bishops v king, king and pawn v king, etc.). This not only teaches you how to use the power of each of the pieces, it makes clear to you what you need to do in a middle game if you intend to reach the end game with a winning position. Once you have that mastered, you then can begin to understand how to create winning positions in the middle game, and you can start to understand why certain openings unfold in the way they do, avoiding certain types of moves, and preferring others. This allows you to both pick an opening repertoire to learn, and allows you to survive an unfamiliar opening in good position, when your opponent drags you outside your established repertoire.

These books I’ve mentioned would help you accomplish that. I’m sure there are other, more modern books that accomplish the same goal.

Fischer’s book was how I learned chess, and I’m generally thought of as a pretty mean chess player (no ranking, I never took it that seriously). It’s the easiest for the beginning player to use.

You should PM Glee, he was actually a chess teacher as I recall. I’ve had some success teaching beginners, maybe we could use a webex tool at some point if you like.

Thanks. I felt weird reaching out to glee without him inviting it. I did get a couple of private contacts that looked at my games and confirmed that I am, in fact, a knucklehead who needs practice more than anything at this point.

While I have a flimsy grasp on strategy and almost no sense of tactics my biggest problem is not seeing the board well and for that practice seems to be in order. A decent book is probably not out of the question either to help with the strategy and tactics. But halting obvious blunders seems to be the first step.

If anyone wants to play me on Chess time (it’s a free android app. You play essentially correspondence chess with 3 days per move) I would welcome the practice. I’m also thinking of getting a account to play with one of the guys who reached out privately. That’s a live game. So slightly more complicated for my schedule)

I’ll transcribe the game I’m currently in (and felt like I was winning until this morning) and you guys can maybe give some feedback. On my play to this point.

The previous games were too embarrassing for me to want to post publicly. :frowning:

Thanks for the help.

Tutorials are a great help, but I recommend getting a killer chess program like Fritz 16. At full strength, it is of grandmaster quality and is actually used by grandmasters for study and practice purposes. It is a great learning tool to have. You can adjust the level of difficulty so that, if you want to play against it, you can make it a challenging but beatable opponent.

I’m now a retired chess teacher, so would have the time to comment on your games. :cool:

I should add that you’ll learn most from games where you went wrong (no matter how embarrassing you find them.)

So either post your games here, start a new thread (but tell me where it is) or send me a PM and I’ll give you my e-mail so you can send me your game(s) privately.

I’ll do annotations and answer questions.
If you find that helpful, I’ll then play you a game (in a thread here) with running commentary.

Oy, ok. I’m white.

This is one of the most embarrassing games because of move 20, which was simply dumb and which I regretted almost instantly. I’m honestly not sure what I was thinking there. Otherwise I thought I was doing OK, but it was basically over at that point. Black missed two check mate opportunities after but I suspect he missed at least one of them on purpose because he felt bad for me.

I have started being more deliberate with my moves since and haven’t made quite such an obvious blunder since.

But still.

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nc3 Bb4
  3. Nd5 d6
  4. Bc4 Bc5
  5. Nf3 Nf6
  6. d3 Bg4
  7. Bg5 Bxf3
  8. gxf3 Nb8d7
  9. Qd2 c6
  10. Nxf6+ gxf6
  11. Bh4 Nb6
  12. Qc3 d5
  13. exd5 cxd5
  14. Bb5+ Nd7
  15. O-O-O d4
  16. Qd2 Be7
  17. Rh1g1 Qc7
  18. f4 O-O-O
  19. Rg7 exf4
  20. Qxf4 Qxf4+
  21. Kb1 Qxh4
  22. Rxf7 Rd8e8
  23. Re1 Qxf2
  24. c4 Qxe1+
  25. Kc2 Bb4
  26. Kb3 a5
  27. Ka4 b6
  28. Bxd7+ Kd8
  29. Bf5 Qd1+
  30. Kb5 Re7
  31. Rxf6 Kc7
  32. Be4 Qh5+
  33. Ka6 Kb8
  34. Rxb6+ Kc7
  35. Rb5 Qh6+
  36. Ka7 Kd6+
  37. Ka6 Qxh2
  38. Rb6+ Ke5
  39. Bf3 Kf5
  40. a3 Bc5
  41. Kxa5 Bxb6+
  42. Kxb6 Qe5
  43. b4 Re6+
  44. Kb7 Rh8e8
  45. b5 Re8e7+
  46. Ka8 Qh8# 0-1

Thanks for posting that. Chess is jolly difficult, so don’t feel embarrassed.
Playing for the English Champions in the European Club Championship, I once lost a game in 6 moves. :eek::smack:

As for your game, I’ll throw in a mixture of general advice and specific analysis. I’ll use italics for comments.

*1. The opening (roughly the first 6-10 moves.)

Try to:

  • develop your pieces (move them so they attack more squares)
  • control the centre (e4, e5, d4, d5 - usually best with pawns)
  • get castled*
  1. e4 e5
  2. Nc3 Bb4

2. Nc3 is fine, although 2. Nf3 is more active (attacks the e5 pawn)

  1. Nd5 d6

Are you sure the game is accurate? 4. Nxb4 wins a piece!

  1. Bc4 Bc5
  2. Nf3 Nf6
  3. d3 Bg4
  4. Bg5

These are good developing moves by both sides. :slight_smile:

  1. … Bxf3
  2. gxf3

*Black didn’t need to play Bxf3 - he should have waited for you to play h3. (better would have been 7. … c6, dislodging your centralised knight.)

The knights on f3 and f6 are ‘pinned’, meaning they can’t move without losing material (here Queen for bishop.) Pins are useful and a good thing to do is to attack the pinned piece.
I would have recaptured with 8. Qxf3, developing another piece and attacking the Knight on f6 again.*

  1. … Nb8d7
  2. Qd2 c6
  3. Nxf6+ gxf6
  4. Bh4 Nb6

OK, the opening is over. Both sides have developed pieces and controlled the centre. Neither has castled (but since the centre is closed at the moment, that’s OK.)
White still has a useful pin, this time on the pawn on f6. I would have exploited this with 12. Qh6!, which threatens 13. Bxf6 ‘forking’ (attacking two or more enemy pieces at once) the Black Queen and Rook.

2. The middle game (the most complicated part, since there are a lot of active pieces.
It’s good to have a plan (e.g. advance in the centre) and co-ordinate your pieces.
Players need to watch for tactics (pins, forks, discovered attacks etc.)

  1. Qc3 d5
  2. exd5 cxd5
  3. Bb5+ Nd7

*Now the knight on d7 is ‘pinned’. Since this is against the Black King, the knight is NOT allowed to move or capture.
Therefore White could win a piece with 15. Qxc5.
If you prefer, you could also win with 15. Bxd7+ Qxd7 16. Qxc5.
15. O-O-O d4

White could still win a piece with 15. Qxc5.

  1. Qd2 Be7
  2. Rh1g1 Qc7
  3. f4 O-O-O

I like these moves. 18. f4 is a pawn sacrifice, but 18. … exf4 weakens Black’s pawn structure and the reply 19. Rde1 puts Black in a second pin, making it hard to castle.

  1. Rg7 exf4
  2. Qxf4 Qxf4+

*OK, an unfortunate blunder has ended the game.
My advice is literally just before you make each move, check it’s not a simple mistake.

NAF, I hope this has been helpful - do post your comments.*

Yeah, dumb blunders. So Im told. I don’t really know how ok stop that, practice I suppose.

I really do feel totally lost when I get to the middle game though. Take the game I’m in now. I feel like I was comfortably dominating the opening but around move 10 I started failing to capitalize on it and letting him dictate the play. I also failed to spot a trap for my queen, which, in retrospect, wasn’t much of a trap.

Here is the game so far. Don’t give me advice on what to do, I’ll play it out myself, but maybe a similar critique of what I did so far.

This one wasn’t transcribed by a computer so of my notation isn’t clear let me know.

I’ll annotate a bit too with my thoughts. I’m black.

  1. e4 c5
  2. b3 Nf6

b3 confused the heck out of me. He was obviously setting up to move his bishop to b2 but it seemed like a mistake to make that move. But, and this is important, I had no idea what to do with it. So, I ignored it.

  1. Nc3 d6
  2. Bb2 Nc6
  3. Qe2 Bg4

Feels like a trap, but I decided to bite anyway.

  1. Nf3 a6

  2. h3 e6

  3. xg4 Nxg4
    I assumed the knight was protecting my bishop and he wouldn’t take. Again, feels like a mistake on his part. Or, maybe I took a wrong approach.

  4. Ng5 Qxg5

No idea. But this whole game feels wrong at this point.

  1. 0-0 Be7
    (white castled king side. I’m not sure if that’s written correctly, I’m new at this)

11.Na4 O-O

Na4 feels like a trap. I don’t know what to do with it. Almost moved b5 but didn’t.
This was probably a mistake. But at the time I felt like centralizing my rooks to the white king side was important. But this is where I feel I lost my momentum.

  1. g3 Re8
    Waste of a move by me and I missed the set up to trap my queen. I almost played h6 but didn’t because I was still wanting to start a push in the center and wanted to set up my rooks.

  2. f4 h5


14 xg5 b5

Trying to save the queen will make things worse. Focus on an attack on the other end.

16 Nd7 Rb7
17 Nxc5 xc5
18 Rxh5 Ne5

And… I don’t feel like I’m in good shape anymore.

As I recommended, do a final check just before making a move.

*Yes the middle game is the most complicated.
You need to continually improve your position, preferably with an overall plan.
You also need to watch for tactics (both yours and your opponents.)
Tactics can be spotted by looking for clues. These are:

  • undefended pieces and pawns (especially vulnerable to forks)
  • exposed King i.e. open to attack (vulnerable to forks and pins)
  • one player having lead in development (more likely to have a tactic)
  • pieces ‘lined up for action’ i.e. one piece moves away, opening a line of attack for the other (known as a discovered attack)*

I’ll annotate too (in italics)

  1. e4 c5
  2. b3 Nf6

b3 confused the heck out of me. He was obviously setting up to move his bishop to b2 but it seemed like a mistake to make that move. But, and this is important, I had no idea what to do with it. So, I ignored it.

b3 is unusual but not a mistake. 2. Nf3 is by far the most popular.
Never ignore your opponent’s moves!

  1. Nc3 d6
  2. Bb2 Nc6
  3. Qe2 Bg4

Feels like a trap, but I decided to bite anyway.

It’s not a trap. 5. Qe2 is just clumsy (blocks in the bishop on f1.)
5. … Bg4 is reasonable - if White plays 6. f3 to drive the bishop away, then the Knight can’t come out to f3.

  1. Nf3 a6

6. … a6 is too slow (if White plays Qb5, Qd7 guards everything.
6. … e6 is better (controls the centre and lets the bishop on f8 move.)
6. … Nd4 is best of all, exploiting the pin on the f3 knight and attacking e2, c2 and f3.

  1. h3 e6
  1. … e6? is a mistake. Here’s the value of the pieces (in pawns):
    Queen 9 pawns
    Rook 5 pawns
    Bishop / Knight 3 pawns

So Black loses 2 pawns!*

  1. hxg4 Nxg4
    I assumed the knight was protecting my bishop and he wouldn’t take. Again, feels like a mistake on his part. Or, maybe I took a wrong approach.

  2. Ng5 Qxg5

No idea. But this whole game feels wrong at this point.
Yes, both sides have blundered.
9. Ng5?? loses 3 pawns.*

  1. 0-0
    (white castled king side. I’m not sure if that’s written correctly, I’m new at this)

Yes, O-O is castles king-side and O-O-O is castles queen-side.*

However the White bishop is on f1, so White can’t castle king-side.
Perhaps you meant O-O-O i.e. castles queen-side?


Yes. Hasty notes. Haste is an endemic problem in my life, not just in chess.

So what is a good choice there in that case? I still don’t know to do with that. I know what he’s trying to do but have no clue how to proceed.

That’s helpful, thanks.

The bishop was, I assumed, protected by the knight. I see in retrospect that a pawn for a bishop is a good trade. That’s probably not a mistake I will make twice.

Get a room, guys. :smiley:

Here is the rest of the game.

I’m pretty sure I lost this when I let my queen get trapped didn’t I?

  1. Bxe5 Nxe5
  2. Bg2 Rd7
  3. Rd1h1 f6
  4. Rh8+ Kf7
  5. Qh5+ Ng6
  6. Rxe8 Kxe8
  7. Qxg6+ Kd8
  8. Rh8+ Kc7
  9. Qxg7 Bd6
  10. Qxf6 Bxg3
  11. Qxe6 Rd4
  12. Rc8+ Kb7
  13. Qc6+ Ka7
  14. Ra8# 1-0

I’m white.

This was super exciting for me.

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 f6
  3. Bc4 d6
  4. h3 h5
  5. O-O b6
  6. c3 Nc6
  7. Qb3 Ng8e7
  8. Qb5 a6
  9. Qa4 a5
  10. d4 Bd7
  11. Bb5 g5
  12. dxe5 f6xe5
  13. Bxg5 d5
  14. exd5 Nxd5
  15. Bxd8 Rxd8
  16. Nb1d2 Nb8
  17. Rf1e1 Bg7
  18. Nxe5 Bxe5
  19. Rxe5+ Ne7
  20. Qa3 Bxb5
  21. Qxe7# 1-0

Before Windows 10 decided I didn’t need to play chess, I had and played Chess Titans frequently. I would use the “go back” or “Undo” pretty often when the computer would take me to the woodshed. I found I was learning from my mistakes and felt like I was slowly getting better.

I got to the point where I could beat it at the lowest levels without cheating. :wink:

Nice! Keep concentrating on developing your pieces in the opening, and doing your best to make sure each of your moves keeps them safe.

If you get this opening again

have a look at 3.Nxe5. If he takes your knight then Qh5+ is winning!

Maybe try it without mittens.