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I have a question hopefully someone can help me out.

3 days ago I won a tournament (25+5) semi-rapid section under 1450 OTB. I scored 5/5 beating some high rated players.

My rating OTB semi-rapid prior to the tournament was 1244 and my chess.com rating is 1840. The strongest part of my game is tactics, positional play is just ok. I met with an IM some months ago, he looked at a few positions with me and he rated my tactics as 2000-2100 and my positional play as a 1500...

Now as White

  1. -I play the Vienna against e5

  2. -Advanced variation against the Caro-Kann and I pray that they play Bf5 line so that I can enter the Tal

  3. -I play the Smith-Morra against the Sicilian

  4. -I used to play the advanced variation against the French but I am not a huge fan, now I am looking for some dynamic (kind of) of beat variation Schlechter variation

    • against the Modern I play Nc3 and 3 pawns attack

Now as Black

  1. I play the Caro-Kann against e4, I enjoy it a lot, I won 3 games with the Caro in the tournament
  2. I play the Classical Dutch against d4,c4,Nf3

Now the question, I want to try to push to 2000-2100 chess.com. I realize that my openings are my strongest point, my middlegame is quite decent and endgames are just ok.

I also realize that I get quite impatient so I start taking a lot of risks (rook for bishop/knight sacrifice for some imbalance, sometimes brilliant move, sometimes blunder :D) especially with black and I end up losing.

I am hoping for some advice how to work on that and some ideas on how to improve, be it opening or some other type of advice.

4 Answers 4

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From what I see, you tend to play very aggressive and unsafe openings as white and on the other hand you like playing more solid and positional opening as black. Also you say that you like tactics and struggle with the positional play.

And I think here lies your opportunity for the improvement! Usually in chess development when you have such disproportion in your skills, you should find a way to eliminate that and not hone it by just avoiding what you don't like.

I suggest you try playing more solid lines/opening as white for some time and also study some games on the topic, to get your positional play on the same level as you have your tactics. Don't worry, you won't lose your vision, but on the other hand being more versatile player is a true key to success.

Of course, you may find it challenging and lose a lot of games, when you try to switch to more solid and positional play out of the blue, but after some time you'll become confident and will notice a real boost in your performance. You will understand how to play safe and win and gain some patience which is crucial in chess.

This has been proved by many players including myself and Magnus Carlsen who at the time invested a lot of time playing different openings and styles to get the grasp on chess at its fullest.

Now to the practice:

  1. You can try to drastically change your white repertoire for the time being, something like 1. d4 or 1.Nf3. This is the hardest but will also give the bigger boost
  2. Just switch to main lines instead of playing the most aggressive gambits for everything. Ruy Lopez, Scotch, Italian for e5, advance variations for Caro-Cann/French and choose main lines later, some classic Nf3-d4-Nc3 against the Sicilian

Hope it helps, Jan

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  • Hey thank you for your comment. I do not believe that the dutch is considered a safe openning at all, but i do agree that the caro-kann is solid. That was my main reason to pick it up, I wanted to start improving on my patience. I will consider the ideas you gave and maybe give it a go. Thank you :) Sep 27, 2023 at 19:44
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    @DimitarZhekov Dutch is pretty fine if you don't choose wilder lines, I play it myself as a solid option for anything Nf3/d4 related. Although I prefer to play Stonewall instead of the Classical which I think is even more hard to press against if Black's good at positional chess
    – Jan
    Sep 27, 2023 at 19:53
  • Do you have a chesscom account? What is your rating, maybe we can try and play? Sep 27, 2023 at 19:59
  • @DimitarZhekov here it is. You can add me and write smth in DM
    – Jan
    Sep 27, 2023 at 20:28
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When you are working on your chess you should focus on:

  • improving your strengths
  • improving you weaknesses

As you told us tactics is your strength. That is great! Get yourself a copy of any good puzzle book and feed your brain with more patterns. Do not forget to work on calculation.

Now to your weaknesses. I believe that your issue with positional chess is highly connected to your black opening problem. You rely too much on tactic and might know less about positional play. I believe players like you are the ideal victims of stronger players, who play the London System.
Get a copy of improving your chess pattern recognition.

I was relatively strong positionally, but learned so much from this book.

I have recently analysed a very positional game from the Junior World Championship. Just look how GM Nesterov creates weaknesses and exploits them.

Demolition of the London

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  • OMG, I hate the LONDON!!!! It's like you read my mind... how did you go about improving your positional play, I thought the caro-kann will force me to play more positionally. Oct 4, 2023 at 14:58
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I would give two pieces of advice.

First:

I get quite impatient so I start taking a lot of risks (rook for bishop/knight sacrifice for some imbalance, sometimes brilliant move, sometimes blunder :D) especially with black and I end up losing.

Any sacrifice is a tactical decision and tactics must be backed with hard calculation. If you don't calculate your exchange sacrifices then you are playing "hope chess". Sometimes you get lucky and win. Sometimes your opponent gets the luck from your slack play and you lose. Never play a tactic without calculating at least one move beyond the end of the combination. The "one move beyond" part is important because otherwise you risk your opponent having a saving / winning move at the end which you didn't consider because you stopped calculating early.

I realize that my openings are my strongest point, my middlegame is quite decent and endgames are just ok

Not surprising that the weakest part of your game is the endgame. If you want to move to the next level you need to stop giving away half points or even full points because of lack of endgame knowledge and technique.

The English GM, Jonathan Hawkins, was a late developer. He didn't start studying chess seriously until his late teenage years. That he went on to become an IM in his late 20's and a GM at 31. After becoming an IM he wrote a book, Amateur to IM, describing what he did to go from mediocre club player to the IM title.

I highly recommend the book. It is all about endgame technique. It starts by describing how you should think in the endgame, how you should plan and what approach you should take. Playing the endgame well is all about the right attitude of mind. He describes this attitude of mind, how to plan, what to be thinking about and looking out for.

Of course knowledge and calculation are also extremely important and he gives the key concepts which he thinks are most important.

The most important thing a player needs to do is win their won games. There is nothing more frustrating than reaching what should be a winning endgame only to let it slip away because of poor knowledge and application.

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This is not complicated. Just study tactics, tactics, tactics. I recommend the book Woodpecker Method, but there are others. If you can do that whole book in a short amount of time, you will whiz to 2000 immediately.

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