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I (around 1700 on classical games on lichess) need advice on how to correct some mistakes I often make during the games, if possible, from a player with a Master title or higher.

I have noticed that during my games I tend to make the following:

-Hang pieces (usually pawns, but from time to time a piece of greater value).

-Capture a defended piece with a piece resulting in a disadvantageous exchange.

-Quite commonly make wrong assumptions of the nature of the game. For instance, thinking that after a move I can capture a pawn only to realize it is already defended or thinking that I am threatening checkmate with knight and queen (say on the 8th rank) when in fact, the queen cannot deliver it because the knight would not protect the queen when checking the king.

-Fail to see a tactic (a pattern easy to spot for me but I still omit it). In particular, some combinations in which a check made by my opponent makes the game turn into their favor.

-Sometimes I make a calculation mistake. I think this is due to my inability to play blindfold chess and see the variants in my head.

I know it is embarrassing to make these mistakes but I really need some advice from a player who has been there.

Plus, I also realize it is hard for me to follow everything that happens in the game. For instance, after a discovered attack, I sometimes miss it and if I realize, it happens by luck and very late. I feel like it should be easier for me to keep track of these things after 3 years playing chess quite seriously.

The conclusion I get from my games is that I should be more focused but I am missing the ability to not be overwhelmed by the changes caused by the pieces' moves (that I mentioned earlier).

Thanks very much for reading.

  • What time control are you playing with? – Ywapom Sep 11 at 16:07
  • @Ywapom. 15+15 pretty much all the time – Maths64 Sep 11 at 16:10
  • @Maths64 Hi, this post seems to have received a number of decent answers, if you have found one to be particularly satisfactory please consider accepting it, as it's important to give closure to well addressed posts. Thanks for considering it. – user929304 Sep 12 at 11:50
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OK, assuming you are still very young, then really, you need to do two more things: Study more tactics, AND read some books with interesting games without a board.

The first thing is obvious, but I recommend doing 50 per day, spending no more than two minutes on each problem...then look at the answer. I once helped a 38-year-old friend go from 1000 to 1850 on ICC in just three months by doing this. He stopped, and never went any higher. This is much harder to do than it seems, and requires a lot of time invested, but the immersion learning will pay off. I can also tell you that I have seen many 2000-2200 players, who are really not that strong at tactics, so this can be for everyone.

The reading games without a book (including all the sub-variations), I personally always loved Irving Chernev's "1000 Best Short Games of Chess". The games start out short, and go up to only 25 moves, and are all loaded with fun tactics. The only problem with this book is that, to this day, it is still only in descriptive notation. The goal of reading this book is to read the games, and REALLY keep the position in your head. You are not trying to analyze the game. When you are done, you play it over on a board and see how well you really kept it in your head.

If you are getting older, especially in your 40s and 50s and above, the above will help, but also, you may simply need more time to process the board. For example, pick a time control for "blitz" of 10 with 10 seconds increment, or play OTB tournament games. JUST yesterday, I had a 5-hour battery of mental tests at the doctor, and I can tell you that at my age (almost 58), I was simply MUCH slower than I was in my 20s and 30s.

My last suggestion comes from an esteemed source, and it almost seems crazy, but when starting to analyze (at least every few moves), look at every possible move you have on the board. You ARE NOT analyzing them. You are just looking at them for a split second because you will be amazed at what just briefly considering them will sometimes trigger in your mind. It is almost subconscious. When you are about to make your move, again, quickly, look at EVERY opponent reply. Of course, this is primarily for an OTB game with a lot more time than a blitz game. This practice might sound crazy, but this is the suggestion of none other than Arthur Yusupov (former top 10 in the world, three-time world-championship candidate, and one of the world's foremost trainers). He recommends this in the first volume of his 10-volume series when discussing why he has students do composed two-move mate problems.

At almost 58, I know that I now do not see the board as quickly, and miss things, and this last suggestion has been helping me A LOT.

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    Thanks again for your help. I will follow your advice. Maybe I am just too weak in chess but I cannot see the board on my head let alone follow a game from the beginning. I am still in my early twenties so I can devote more or less a fair amount time to chess despite I am in college. However, blindfold chess really is beyond me, I cannot even see an empty board – Maths64 Sep 11 at 11:41
  • Well, the good thing is that your mind is still young, and fast, so you will overcome this minor hiccup, and gradually see the board better. – PhishMaster Sep 11 at 13:45
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    really well put, +1! These discussions remind me a bit of an older post where I found the discussions really helpful, thought you might find them interesting as well. – user929304 Sep 18 at 11:43
  • @user929304 Thank you! – PhishMaster Sep 18 at 12:28
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People vary very much in their thinking. As well as visual thinking there is verbal thinking, kinesthetic thinking...An artist friend told me that when he looked at the board the important squares and pieces took on a slight glow. You are probably at least good at one style, so dont try to push a skill you haven't got. One thing that might help (at longer time limits) is to review every piece on the board and ask yourself why it went to that square. Strong players do this subconsciously. This will give you a listing of the important aspects of the board position. Try to group the pieces into "constellations", for example the attackers and defenders of a weak pawn. In psychology this is called "chunking".

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All of the errors you describe are "short attention span" mistakes. That is a polite way to put it. A less polite way would be to say that you make simple blunders. Having identified what the problem is the next step is to find out what the underlying cause is and try and remedy that.

There are two obvious possibilities -

  • Underlying psychological problems
  • Bad chess habits

Underlying psychological problems could come from personal problems in your life. This could be stress, divorce, bereavement, bad job or work environment. When my mother died 20 years ago I had a period of about 6 months when my play was as you describe. I lost 70 or 80 rating points. When I recovered from her death my chess picked up again. Things like divorce, bereavement, relationship breakdown can take quite some time to recover from.

Psychological problems could also come from drugs you are taking. This could be medication which has bad side effects. My brother worked for a while in the tropics and took Larium, an anti-malarial drug, which had bad mental effects on him. Once he realized what was happening he found other ways to protect against malaria. Substance abuse can obviously also produce unwanted mental side effects. If you are taking drugs for any reason you should find out about all the possible effects.

If you don't have some underlying psychological problem that leaves "bad chess habits". You say you have a lichess rating of 1700. I bet that is not for playing long-play games.

How much blitz do you play? How much standard rate chess do you play? How much internet chess do you play? How much face-to-face, over-the-board chess do you play? Are you a member of a chess club?

My suggestion to you, if you are serious about fixing the problem, would be to give up internet chess completely for a year, stop playing blitz, join a chess club and play "proper" chess at a slow time control. Do that for a year and you should have a good chance of fixing your bad chess habits and become a much stronger player. When you then go back online the benefits should remain.

  • Thanks for your answer. And it definitely has to do with some bad habits My 1700 rating refers to classical games. I do not play blitz or bullet games. My problem is that the classical games I play are 15+15 but to find rivals to play longer duration games against is really hard on the internet. – Maths64 Sep 11 at 11:28
  • @Maths64 It's sometimes hard to find a 60 minute game on the Internet, but sometimes it's not as hard to find a 3 days per move game. – D M Sep 11 at 11:34
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Hang pieces (usually pawns, but from time to time a piece of greater value).

Pay more attention to the game.

Capture a defended piece with a piece resulting in a disadvantageous exchange.

Well this is a bit more complicated . Before you capture think: Will I gain anything from the exchange?Can that piece move freely around the board or are there many squares which cannot go(for example in front and right or left of a pawn)? Does my piece im exchanging do something important? For example if your opponent threatens something with that piece then exchange it.

Quite commonly make wrong assumptions of the nature of the game. For instance, thinking that after a move I can capture a pawn only to realize it is already defended or thinking that I am threatening checkmate with knight and queen (say on the 8th rank) when in fact, the queen cannot deliver it because the knight would not protect the queen when checking the king.

Become familiar with all the pieces and how they cooperate and you will see a big improvement.

Fail to see a tactic (a pattern easy to spot for me but I still omit it). In particular, some combinations in which a check made by my opponent makes the game turn into their favor.

Train your tactics.Be cautious for in-between moves.We think that after I capture my opponent's bishop with my knight that he/she/it will capture my bishop.But not always!

Sometimes I make a calculation mistake. I think this is due to my inability to play blindfold chess and see the variants in my head.

Place a chessboard next to you and play there the moves you think are worth considering.

Plus, I also realize it is hard for me to follow everything that happens in the game. For instance, after a discovered attack, I sometimes miss it and if I realize, it happens by luck and very late. I feel like it should be easier for me to keep track of these things after 3 years playing chess quite seriously.

Be more focused and not only do your plans but follow your opponent's plan as well.

I wish I helped.See you in lichess.org.

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    "Place a chessboard next to you and play there the moves you think are worth considering." - That would be cheating, unless you're playing a correspondence-style game. You can't analyze a live game on another board while it's in progress. – D M Sep 11 at 5:06
  • But if he cant calculate then how is he going to win any games? – Software Player Sep 11 at 5:29
  • Then maybe he should play some correspondence-style games, so he can do that legally. – D M Sep 11 at 11:29
  • @SoftwarePlayer. My problem about capturing defended pieces is that I think they are hanging when they are really not. I want to emphazise that this does not happen in all my games. – Maths64 Sep 11 at 11:34
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    @HerbWolfe I disagree. Cheating is defined by lichess as "using any external assistance to strengthen your knowledge and, or, calculation ability to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent". In my opinion this falls in that category (the external board improves your calculation ability.) Also, it's explicitly illegal in OTB play, so I don't see why that would be different for online play. – D M Sep 11 at 21:19
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At 1700 you should be missing tactics, but not at the level you describe.

You obviously need to get better at calculating and that is done by simply solving puzzles.

It seems to me you don't have any skin in your games. It is just an internet game (yawn). Try playing a live person in a tournament or something to get you more motivated to do better.

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