I’m struggling with chess after about six weeks of proper learning, i.e. strategy other than how the pieces move. I get this is a short time.
I’m working hard to try and learn, and joined a chess club about a month ago. So far I’ve won zero games. The OTB ratings range is 1,300-2,100. These things are often over in about 10-15 minutes, and I don’t feel like I’m learning anything other than being bad. It’s not competitive for the other players either, and they are being patient with me. I’m known as the one who gives up his pieces, and I’m clearly the worst player at the club.
The leader of the club (1,700-1,800) also plays constant daily games with me, where I’m shown stuff about openings, little bits of strategy, etc. This isn’t exactly what I think I need to improve right now, but it’s exposure to chess so I’m grateful for the knowledge.
My main issue is undefended and hanging pieces, and making the wrong move. It’s constant and frustrating – especially when I’m working and taking the time to assess my options. I always seem to miss the exact move that stitches up my entire game – even similar rated players turn into Grandmasters when I blunder or miss something. It feels like I’m getting battered for no benefit. Everything is reinforcing that I’m a bad player, calculating suboptimal moves, then playing the bad ones.
I’ve asked how I can improve hanging and losing pieces, but I’m told you can’t teach it. This sounds like a, “You either have it or you don’t” answer, which doesn't seem correct.
As such, I’m trying to do work on my own to cure this, but it’s not working, and I’m still making the same errors. Here’s what I’m doing to get better:
- I’ve watched the IM John Bartholomew video on undefended pieces and try to implement the advice.
- I’ve also enjoyed WFM Anna Cramling’s video on the subject too.
- I do Aimchess tasks every day, especially the Blunder Preventer.
- I was doing puzzles, but I do less per day now as I want to focus on not losing pieces before I look for opportunities. I'm more refined with how many puzzles I do, rather than skip them entirely.
- IM Jeremy Silman’s popular post on chess.com is a good touchpoint for what I should focus on at my level.
- I study much more than I play, because I find games aren’t helpful for me given that I chuck all my pieces away.
- I’ve just bought the book, Am I Safe? (I think) by NM Dan Heismann, but decided that I needed more fundamental help before I tackle the book’s content.
- I use the Loose-Piece-O-Tron to try and drill myself on spotting loose pieces.
- I’m using the forcing moves method for every turn, but this often shows up my poor decision making rather than provides clarity.
- I do analyse my rated games, but at this stage, the OTB and Daily games I play involve constant discussion and analysis.
- Probably some other stuff I’ve forgot about 😅😅😅
Here are my questions:
- Is chess club right: Can you teach this, and if not, does it mean I won’t be able to become a good chess player?
- Also, what else can I do to improve on this area that I'm not already doing, as it’s a massive bottleneck?
I want to start learning properly about tactics rather than have working knowledge, and I have books to help (such as Chess Tactics for Students). However, the advice I read is to solve the issue of undefended pieces before I move on.
I understand almost all of the other chess concepts I look at, so getting rid of this issue is getting me down and making chess not fun. I’m not enjoying getting blitzed every time without benefit.
Edit: Here’s an example of my play. This is the position with black (me) to play. I’m learning a little about the French Defence:
I feel like a knight move is appropriate here. You have a king-bishop threat, a potential queen pin along the diagonal down the kingside, and an undefended pawn.
Nf6 is wrong to me. Ne7 doesn’t do too much. Nd7 blocks the potential bishop attack but attacks a pawn. Nc6 seems better as it forks two pawns, offers greater development, and blocks the king-bishop diagonal.
From there, 7. Qg4:
I can play Ne7 or g6 here. I chose g6 because otherwise I’m down a Rook and pawn. However, apparently Ne7 is better, and I don’t understand why.
My logic seems okay for both moves, but after white’s Bg5 follow-up, I’m scrabbling to reposition a queen.
I said in the chat that although it’s not the case, I feel hoodwinked in a way.
Also, I don’t want a solution here, or move suggestions as this is an active game – thanks!