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I would like to get some advice on how I can get better at chess. I know that it's a lot to ask, but I would like an analysis of what I am doing wrong and in my games. I would also like to know what I should do to practice, rather than improve the tactics or the endgame.

My Lichess ratings are as follows: 1760 for classical games, and 1900 for tactics. The latter is these days quite low but two months ago I peaked 2100. I intend to do more tactics puzzles these days until I reach again 2100.

I am quite good at my openings. Considering the last month, my average centipawn loss is 32.4, though it has usually been a bit lower (around 28). The ones belonging to middlegames and endgames are respectively, 68.2 and 35.3.

As far as endgames are concerned, I studied up to the middle of part six (corresponding to ratings:1800-1999) of the Silman’s complete endgame course, but I admit that I have not been able to test what I learned because most of the games I play are decided in the middlegame and if they reach the endgame, one side often resigns because of material imbalance. I know that I need to refresh this endgame material even if I have not used them so far very much.

Regarding calculation, I have, in my opinion, recently improved a lot as I make the point of finding candidate moves and calculate up to 10 moves deep.

I make the point of analyzing my games after I play them. First on my own, then with the computer and finally, I play the game on board again so I can see if I can use the computer‘s ideas in the game.

In general I realize that there are some mistakes that I make that I can find on my own after playing a game but some middlegame and endgame moves are quite hard for me (not straightforward endgames such as pawn and king against lone king). Plus, I often cannot understand some mistakes (and particularly some blunders which “only” decrease my advantage by 3 points) that Stockfish detects in my games.

Here are some links to recent Lichess games of mine for you to take a look at for my requested analysis:

#1, #2, #3, #4 , #5 ,#6

In case someone needs anything else to ask a more complete question, please do ask.

  • It would help to know specific moves that you don't understand. 6 whole games is a lot to go through. – D M Aug 3 at 13:48
  • The link to game 5 gives a 404 error. – D M Aug 3 at 14:01
  • @ D M. The problem with the link has been already solved. – Maths64 Aug 3 at 14:06
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    Ok, looking through the games, you're bird67, right? In that case, I don't really agree with your assessment that you are quite good at your openings. As white I think you're fine for your level, but as black your Caro-Can needs some heavy work if you intend to keep playing it. – Scounged Aug 3 at 17:30
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    @Maths64 If you don't know how to react to a move that you see for the frist time, then you are not good at the opening. Anyone is capable of repeating the theory! – David Aug 5 at 16:16
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+50

As as Master here are my recommendations:

I. Play slow tournament games

"Slow" because you need to sit there and really think on your own. "Tournament" because you and your opponent have skin in the game and it makes it serious.

Games from such an event are what you then analyse in detail to find your shortcomings. The lichess games you presented are full of elementary oversights.

II. Play romantic openings

I am talking about go for the throat openings including gambits. It has nothing to do with the inherit value of these openings and everything to do with developing as a chess player. If you can't play sharp you won't succeed, so spend some time playing this way before you adopt a more positional approach. The games you shared show weakness in combative play.

III. Take it from a World Champion

Get a book(s) written by the player who was a world champion, and study one or two games a night. Try to read through the games as if you are playing them. Guess the moves, analyse continuations, and then see what the player does and comments.

Great books are

  • "Tal Botvinnik 1960" by Tal
  • "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" by Smyslov
  • "My Best Games" by Karpov

and it goes on and on.

IV. Solve

Eat tactic and endgame puzzles daily

Final comment You shouldn't be spending a lot of time on openings at your rating, but with the romantic openings you are basically studying tactics and developing a sharp vision. Good luck.

  • Thanks for the tips! I will try to follow them. One question, as a Master, do you think that my chess skills are more or less similar to those of the 1700-1800 players you often play against in tournaments? Thanks again. – Maths64 Aug 7 at 20:21
  • @Maths64 I rarely get paired against that rating bracket. I wouldn't worry about your rating, but your rating would not be too different from lichess, maybe 200 point variance max. – Ywapom Aug 7 at 21:55
  • Ok. Thanks, again! – Maths64 Aug 23 at 14:36
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You may be able to get some help from the following tips. Not all of them apply to everybody, so you must be able to think for yourself in a critical way, picking up what works best for you!

  • First, forget about centipawns! I would suggest to remove computer engine assistance completely if you want to improve your game. The reason is that, more often than not, checking positions with the engine is like copying in an exam. It helps you get the right answer, but does nothing to improve your knowledge. I am not saying that engines are useless for chess training, but I am saying that it's very difficult to distinguish when they should be used. This results in often doing more harm than good (it may help you judge a bad move as bad, but for the wrong reason!)

  • Then, you need to work on your tactics. Puzzles and studies are great, but (of course, unassisted) analysis of your own games also plays a role here. I really doubt you can find candidates and calculate accurately up to 10 moves deep. If you really could, you would be a top-tier Grandmaster. Work on finding out what mistakes you are doing without even realizing!

  • Once you have a decent tactical skill (which you probably are close to having given your ratings and games), you'll need to work on your endgames and middlegame strategy. Get a book that covers topics like piece activity, central control/counterplay, weak squares, good/bad bishops, open files and so on. Don't just stick to the general tips. Instead, analyze illustrative games in depth to study how those concepts translate into practical advantage. Try to find strategical themes in your own games as well.

  • Last, but not least, every time you make a move, it must have a purpose! If it doesn't, then it's a bad move! If the reason is more of an excuse than an actual reason, then it's a bad move, too! (See, for instance, the ...Bxf3 mentioned in DM's answer. What were the reasons/excuses behind that trade?)

PS: If you can afford one, get a professional coach! If they are expensive on your area, go online!

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    @David. Thanks a lot for your recommendations. – Maths64 Aug 7 at 20:21
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One thing I noticed is that, as Black, you should probably put a priority on castling. For example, move 14 in game 6 - you play a5 (which hangs the pawn) rather than playing something like Be7 so you can castle. In game 4, look at the position after 10.O-O. Your opponent is castled, and your entire kingside hasn't moved at all. Stockfish evaluated the position as +3.4; you're already lost.

A couple of times in the opening you played Bg4 followed by Bxf3. There wasn't really a good reason for this exchange, and both times it allowed your opponent to develop their queen with Qxf3 while your king was still uncastled and the position was not closed. You might think that it's a weakness for your opponent to have their queen out early, but you can't take advantage without that bishop.

  • @ D M Thank you very much for your answer and your time. – Maths64 Aug 4 at 10:05

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