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I want to amass as much Chess experience as I can, by playing several games against my phone/laptop AI.
   
I'm not a good player, and would estimate my ELO is <1500.
   
I am wondering if I would level up fastest by playing against an AI closer to my level, or by playing against my AI at the highest level.
   
I've known the rules of chess for several years and been playing casually — I want to start playing seriously.
   
What I most desire, is experience — and the intuition that comes with.

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    If you are playing against a computer, make sure to use several different engines. There is not much benefit from getting used to the quirks of a specific program (and learn how to use them to your advantage) – user4378 May 3 '17 at 15:39
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Playing against machines will definitely help you get better at playing against machines. If that's the goal, go for it.

If you want to get better at Chess, you need to play several slow serious games against human opponents (both slightly above and below your skill level) on a regular basis.

The metaphor here is picking up a "learn some language in 6 months" interactive audio/software course that you do solo vs. being thrown into a village where that is all that people speak and your ability to survive and grow is acquired organically by making mistakes, getting critiqued with regular feedback loops as well as the social osmosis that is typical of increasing competency in any learning fraternity.

Even the mighty self-taught Fischer visited the clubs and competed against the world's finest to get from good to better.

There's also an aspect of gamesmanship, learning how to use the clock under pressure, deceptive stratagems and sub-optimum "play the man" ideas like gambits that you will NEVER pick up when practicing against a machine. Gaining experience and intuition in a very short window of time is best achieved with a human feedback loop to help you constantly identify your weaknesses and recommend avenues of play (openings, endings, middlegame strategy) that you are clearly missing.

With that being said, seeking out human opponents at any time control is fairly easy these days via your laptop/tablet/mobile device. For instance sites like Chess.com, Playchess and the ICC provide mobile-friendly apps that you can certainly use to get some chess in at all times of the day against human opposition.

For your kind of ambition though, start hitting your local clubs and find (and in some cases, pay) a strong mentor to review each and every slow game you play as often as possible.

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The IM (International Master) Jeremy Silman, at the age of 14, "studied master games until he was slaphappy and drooling." (He also mentions eating a lot of ice cream.)

Luckily, there's an easier way for beginners.

Read Silman's books:

Re-assess your chess: 3rd edition

The Amateur's mind

Complete Endgame Course

Re-assess your chess (workbook)

Chess Fundamentals (By Capablanca - recommended but advanced reading - meant to be read ONLY after finishing the above four)

Reading the four Silman books for an hour a day (do the included exercises) and playing ONE 60/5 game on Sunday will net at least 36 hours a week and satisfy the necessary practice to play ratio.

Your practice to play ratio must be 20:1. You cannot play well if you don't practice. I don't mean go and play 20 30-minute games for one tournament game; no. I mean devote 400 hours of reading and strategy, positional, and tactical exercises for 20 hours of games.

Surely enough, you will win. The 2000's+ didn't get there on sheer luck. The 1500's and below only stay there because they don't put in the necessary work or are focusing on the wrong information.

It should take you ten weeks to finish the four Silman books and unofficially land you (at least) at the 1800 level.

By the way, playing four 15/5 games is not the same as playing one 60/5 game. You have at most enough time to consider and ponder seriously upon one move in the former; four or five in the latter. I no longer play 15/5's, even though they are very fun! They just don't get me any better.

I am not selling anything and/or do not receive commissions for selling Silman's books.

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  • Yuk. Where to start: Your play to study ratio as a player less than an Expert/1st Category player should be 50/50 at best. 20:1 is way off. You are not playing enough and not "practicing" at that ratio (i.e., gain experience, the thing you seek). You need to "see positions under fire", investigate them post mortem, and find the deficiencies in your play. it's one thing to read hours on Rook Endgames and an entirely different beast to actually have to play one out and win or try and hold a disadvantageous position. – Priyome May 6 '17 at 1:54
  • Playing a single 60/5 game per week is way too scant playing time. If you are setting aside an hour a day for chess, then split it up into two segments - half study, the other half play. G15/5 games are fine for gaining experience and seeing positions, but of course, blitz is better for that. – Priyome May 6 '17 at 1:54
  • @Priyome I completely agree that knowing the path is different from walking it. However, you do realize that practice involves playing hundreds of positions such as King, Rook, and Pawn vs. King (each randomly placed) against a computer or from a book, I hope. That is essentially the same as playing a game except now you're specializing the area of the game you want to improve in. Also, 15/5 games do not give you enough time to consider a position. I do agree that you see a lot more positions (simply because you are playing more, but the quality of those positions will be less.) – Jossie Calderon May 6 '17 at 3:24
  • Ever ask yourself why you never get some of those endings? It's because you did not play a game where you understood the opportunity to transition into such an endgame. You can - and should - practice all facets of the game, but don't ignore game action for the sake of it. 15/5 games give you enough time to develop your intuition in chess. It's clearly a give and take, but the transitions from opening to middlegame and middlegame to endgames are the most important moments in chess, something only games allow you to practice upon. Yes, 50/50 is a good ratio. – Priyome May 6 '17 at 14:01
  • @Priyome You're putting words in my mouth. I did not say I "never get some of those endings". In fact, although Jeremy Silman has only gotten KBN vs. K once in a tournament, I still find it useful to practice, only to appreciate the powers of the knight and bishop. (It's like a puzzle, like a knight's tour.) Lastly, who said anything about developing intuition? We're more concerned about playing well (read the post). – Jossie Calderon May 6 '17 at 16:21

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