Otherwise known as Adult Chess Improvement Seekers.

My take on this now is to learn tactics primarily, learn endgames, otherwise forget everything you thought you’ve learned and calculate it out at the board. Openings are useful to know because it saves on time, energy, and the chance of blundering at the board.

Trying to rely too much on knowledge is a mistake because you may sense that something doesn’t seem right, like …Be6 by my opponent in my last game in the Center-counter. But calculation proved at odds with my original suspicion. In fact, this is becoming the norm as my calculation and game has improved. I can use my intution to blitz out an endgame or come up with an attack, but I used to rely on the “look” more, as in “Oh, that doesn’t look right”. It has to be calculated, you don’t know, and may be simply wishing. Play with intuition, but rely on calculation. The reason I say this is because when I get home I realize, via Crafty, that the calculation part of me was correct, and the other parts of my game are based much more on emotion and thus not as reliable.

I am going through Zurich ’53 book a little here and there. I notice that Bronstein will often throw out an idea, but not always back it with a variation. Sometimes this is helpful to know regardless, and sometimes it makes one waste time for a variation that doesn’t seem to be present. When in doubt, I will trust the players who played at perhaps a combined 6hr time control over an author that isn’t providing a variation. That seems the safe bet by far.

The other thing to keep in mind is to play a whole game. Don’t do like my post below where the game was marred by my time-pressure on both sides of the board. Play the opening to make sure you at least get to the middlegame, to make sure you at least get to the ending, to make sure you at least don’t lose on time. You never know what move your opponent will make (not the same thing as the best move), and the supposition of an accurate rating is largely based on the graciousness of you allowing your opponent to make his/her mistakes.


11 thoughts on “ACIS

  1. Hey Linux Guy!

    Your quote from the above post: “Play with intuition, but rely on calculation.”

    This might be the best chess quote of all time! I am NOT joking. I think you have summed up what Heisman and all the others have been trying to tell us!!

    That is why I think practicing tactics, and endgames are crucial…they facilitate both intuition and calculation. It is also why I think playing through many master games is important! (as well as analysis of said games) Playing through those games helps one gain intuition and allows one to see tactics in action!

    You should copyright that quote. I ain’t joking!

  2. Endgames and tactics are not just like two different parts of the brain, but two different people. Studying tactics seems to dim my endgame brain quite a bit.

    I was looking at a game from Wohlreit I believe and his 1100 opponent offered a queen trade, and even though he was up two pawns he had to refuse it because the other bishop would then pick off his pawns. I didn’t even notice that flipping through it. Endgames are weird next to tactics.

    โ€œPlay with intuition, but rely on calculation.โ€

    Tommy, the reason why that is important is because sometimes we rely on intuition, then get into weird positions, and then it all comes down to calculation because there is no way we’ve seen such a position before, it’s all tactical. Plus, your intuition has taken both players for such a ride that it’s hard to sense what the truth is anymore, only calculation can give you that, if you want to base your move on truth (I admit, sometimes it’s probably better to keep up the weird intuitive moves if you are getting blitzed in a fast time-control because losing on time is like losing to yourself).

    We need to make sure that we know what the tactics are in a position. That is where it helps to stick to an opening variation. One of my regular opponents doesn’t stick to any opening, but that is okay because then we are both playing it equally badly.

    Chess is like 3 games in one. Opening, middlegame, and endgame. If you sense that someone is tactical in the middlegame, the thing to do is play boring normal. It seems almost guaranteed that they will self-destruct throwing the game into disarray looking for tactical chances. It’s because, like I say the middlegame and endgame are different. Middlegame attacks are based on creativity and calculation, the freakazoid. But if you make it past that to the endgame, the straight-laced part of the game, all their crappy moves to gain an attack will finally come to light, like a house of cards. This generally happens. The huge problem with that, the 90% of the story in the disclaimer, is that you will have to beat them back with a tactical counter-attack of your own, or theirs will crash through anyway, and endgame, what is that if you don’t survive the middlegame(!?)

    Studying a tournament like Zurich ’53 will help your opening and your technique. Opening is good for having a plan before anyone has really messed up, game is in the initial phases. Technique is great for once your opponent has blundered and you need to finish the game off. There is a huge problem with using this to improve.

    Problem is one can survive the opening, and finish off a win, but that is like the first 10% and last 40% of a game. The 50% in between usually accounts for the difference between two players’ ratings. When I finally made the jump from 1300’s to 1500, it was because I was able to beat 1700 and 1800 along the way. The books helped me a lot, studying past GM games, but only if I survived well into the game. Night games are good for surviving because after a hard day of work, people can get sloppy at the chessboard, but I tried to get there fresh. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. If tactics is your weakness then i say go study tactics until it comes out of your ears but if not its not the correct way to improve. By this i mean that one has to tackle the things we are weak in and leave the rest as a sidenote (doing a little about it so to not forget it but it should not be the main thing you do).

    For me its working on concentration, tactics and believing in myself.

  4. Some great advice, well put. “Play a whole game” indeed, that’s the master touch really, many of us have our great moments but sustained goodness is the key in chess.

    Was that my game you were looking at?

  5. Wahrheit, yes, that was your game! ๐Ÿ™‚ Bravo on avoiding the queen trade. You pulled that ending off expertly.

    I also looked at TheChunkyRook’s blog and he has a link to RoseRants blog that is very interesting, I really studied that guys blog, an Expert/Master.

    Chesstiger hit upon something that I had heard of before “The retained image” – this is the key to improve!

    I was going over one of my games with Crafty and now I have this postion combination burned into my brain. You have to stop “seeing” the board and seeing the “retained image” instead.

    Try to do this with a tactic as quick as you can, in a manner of seconds – speed actually makes it easier to hold it all, memorize the combination. Now go over it again. This time go slowly and don’t see the actual board after two moves, but see the “retained image” instead.

    Now don’t look at a board at all. See if you can still retain the image, the colors of the squares, then the pieces on the squares, even the color of the pieces if you can. Then make a mental note of what the theme is with the tactic. I imagined a double-attack on e2 and c2, with a Black knight on d4. The knight on d4 also blocks off the queen on c4 from defending the White knight on e4 which is attacked by the bishop on f5.

    We talk about analyzing/calculating, but you have to analyze from the future position, not just the starting point. There may be branches from that future position as well.

    Have you ever looked at a board during a game and continued to stare at it over and over again with the same analysis? Perhaps even starting to get more chessblinded the more you do it, and the pressure to move hits you? Kasparov basically does not do this. He is looking so far ahead that you know he has to be retaining the image and no longer looking the board (which seems strange a bit because right before you move, you have to notice the real board again).

    I’ve noticed that I look at the board for a long time, but most of my opponents don’t. They see what they see quickly, and then I don’t know what they really do after that. The ones that really excel at tactics, the few, I believe that they have somehow trained themselves to retain the image. The last opponent I lost to, I could outcalculate him, but he has improved drastically, like 200 points suddenly, and he is calculating far, far better than he was before. I’ve seen this before in a player I once “owned” at the board, funny because he beat people I couldn’t beat, but later he improved his visualization of combinations. People who do this seem to think faster at the board as well, come to a decision more quickly. A lot of it is probably really simple tactics training, but that is probably not quite the whole story, something definitely has improved, you can tell when you post-mortem a game together.

    The important part to remember is that this not _really_ about tactics, it’s about calculation. We’ve probably all seen the Fritz analysis or Crafty’s during an attack, and it’s like the Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations (best book) – forget the actual title. The problems are not a simple tactic (besides, it is true, their is no message over the intercom during a game “Combination Alert! Combination Alert! White to play and win!”), they are simple tactics strung together with a lot of other simple tactics, and then branch off according to the opponents alternative replies/moves. Unless you are an Expert, I would say that it’s a safe bet that this type of calculation is what is holding you back.

    The Rose Rants blog at Chessville is interesting because he can visualize far ahead when he has an attack, but can still miss the two-mover on defense because it is psychological to want to either spurn the opponents ideas or not spend time on them as it gets in the way of asserting our own ego/plan.

  6. Hey guys this is good.
    We are getting to the nuts and bolts of chess now.

    โ€œPlay with intuition, but rely on calculation.โ€ โ€œThe retained imageโ€
    You guys should get together and write a book,you talk sense our sense.

  7. “Play with intuition, but rely on calculation.” is indeed a great quote. I’ve posted my improvement plan at my blog, and calculation is part of it but still a neglected part, and I’m readying myself to be proven wrong about that over the board ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Your comments on self-destruction or your house-of-cards metaphor also carry valuable insights, I think. Your way of talking about these things, I believe, is very accurate concerning intermediate to advanced players. To me it reads almost like the intermediate to advanced version of what masters/experts/professionals talk about when they say things like “Black has to prove that he has compensation for the pawn” or “White seeks tactical complications” and things like that. You’re doing a great job at spelling out your experiences!

    I’ve added your blog to my blogroll. Also, in case you’re interested in a longish FICS game, let me know!

  8. Thanks, guys!!

    “For me its working on concentration, tactics and believing in myself.”

    For me, it’s calculate on (just about) every move, just to do it. Even if I don’t play what I am looking at, at least I will have a reason why I didn’t play something and not just “I was ascared to” or “I didn’t bother to look”. Don’t be afraid to throw away this analysis and make a reasonable move instead, just don’t have a regret of not having looked, or not playing a full game due to time-pressure.

    I think Rose on his blog said something like find a sensible move right away. That way, if you don’t like the more aggressive possibilities, you can play your fallback move without burning too much clock time, or “forgetting where you are at” so to speak.

  9. Rollingpawns, – here’s what you should expect, if you can get it next time.

    I concoct these opening secret weapons with Crafty. Black has an advantage before Crafty ruins it with …b4, and you can see Crafty play …a5 later, which almost turned out to be a burn. Crafty, IMO, often has no conception of the endgame. Obviously Black should want for pawns to stay on dark-squares there, and not make pawn trades unless it is weakening the opposing king. Before this, I had to win a rook endgame for Crafty because I was actually better at that endgame than crafty, intuitively knew what to sacrfice. Hard to believe, but ending require some memory/past experience, not simply brute force, or at least a lot of brute force.

    Anyhow, your opponent messed up playing Bd3-e2 to relieve the pin, nice find! Instead, he should have played h3!

    Note that in that game above, I played …b5, so another move could have been played instead, if you don’t like that one. The main point is that this would have taken your opponent out of his/her “book”. I’ve played that French exch game like you just did almost more times than I can count (being facetious). There is very little that Black can improve on if White plays quietly, but you almost pulled something off. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Okay, so the next step in the ACIS format seems to be when you play a game, afterward is a great time to study that opening in depth and even come up with some surprises. It’s only a matter of time before you have covered all the opening variations that you play, and the wheel comes ’round again.

  10. It’s hard to come up with improvements to openings even after one’s game, and with an engine. I usually can’t really do it.

    I’ve almost finished going over the Zurich ’53 book. Bloody h*ll, the last 10 rounds just about everybody is going for broke. The first 20 rounds, I think they were more concerned about who had the best seats at the opera (little joke).

    Most impressive player, probably Kotov (best endgame player) and his poise against combinations as well. Most boring player, hands-down Gligorich, second most boring would be Petrosian, the others were alright. Craziest player, Geller, threw away needlessly so many games over boneheaded, dumb-looking opening experiments. I think he lost 3 games lining up for bishop and queen against h7, and you saw it coming all game long so that it never even had a chance to happen.

    Favorite game was Reshevsky over Kotov.

    Strongest player. Well, Smyslov came in first. 2 pts behind tied for second-fourth were Bronstein, Reshevsky, and Keres. It’s hard to know what to make of Bronstein, although he is an interesting player. My favorite player to watch is Reshevsky – very strong player, but probably doesn’t prepare like the Soviets do. For example, Averbakh wins a game over Taimanov that is really a “prepared win” – copied a previous game of Taimanov’s and had studied his notes to find a flaw. Also, Sammy had really, really bad time-pressure syndrome and didn’t seem to understand that that was a flaw of his.

    Yep, it looks like time-pressure did bite Reshevsky. In a position that looked even, move 40, Sammy offered a draw with a move which blundered the exchange to Bronstein. Bronstein won both games against Sammy. If Sammy had drawn just one of those games, he would have taken clear second.

    Smyslov got first in part because, as the points leader, people were trying for a win against him at any cost and so he pocketed some big victories against his closest rivals that way, at the very end.

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