Chess

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Alan
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Chess

Post by Alan »

Does anyone play?

Back in December during AJ's winter break, I took the week off. The McDonald's that Maggie's mom used to take the kids to pre-Covid had touchscreen games at some of the tables, and AJ's favorite game on it was this 3-person tic tac toe game, which he wanted to play with me, but since we are just two people we made up a 4-player version where we each played two of the players. I noticed that he was beginning to be able to think tactically and not just make random moves so I introduced him to chess, which he immediately loved and has been obsessed with ever since. He joined his school's chess club and can't get enough of everything chess - playing chess, watching videos of chess, looking at chess magazines, etc etc.

Since he became so interested in it I decided to try to actually learn how to play (I only really knew how the pieces moved and had only a passing knowledge that certain strategies and tactics existed and that there are three phases of the game). I downloaded an app called Magnus Trainer, which is Magnus Carlsen's chess app and went through a bunch of the lessons, at the end of which I kind of had a vague inkling of what I should actually be trying to learn and pratice, then switched to Chess.com which has tons of chess puzzles to train/learn tactics and play games (generally against the computer since that allows me to not worry about being uninterrupted).

I think the biggest barrier to entry for chess is that it takes so long to even figure out how to learn chess. In retrospect all the advice people post about learning chess is accurate but for a complete novice the advice doesn't really make any sense. What does it mean to focus on opening principles instead of opening theory, and what are chess tactics? How do you even learn opening principles or tactics?

It also seems like unlike a lot of games, you need to learn and practice a lot before you step into playing games. When as a novice you play against even someone who is still a beginner, you pretty much get completely stomped in a way that it's hard to even figure out what lessons you are supposed to take away from the loss. And when you play against a beginner, if you don't have a coach or teacher helping you analyze the game you may actually learn lessons from the loss that hinder, not help your development.

I've done 682 chess puzzles so far on Chess.com, and gotten up to a puzzle rating of 1266. 1200 is basically considered a beginner, and I think that is accurate because for only about the last 50 or so puzzles have I felt like I've gotten the hang of how to solve puzzles without being at least mildly surprised by the correct solution (even when I guessed at the right move or moves). The last few games I've played against the computer I haven't made complete, absolutely stupid blunders such as forgetting to check whether a square was safe before moving my queen to it, or initiating a sequence of trades leading to me losing more material than the computer did. So, it has taken me 4 months to become a beginner at chess.

If my son wasn't so into the game, I would have given up long ago.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I should mention that I do really enjoy chess now though!
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Jonathan
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Re: Chess

Post by Jonathan »

I mean, your smart phone is a stronger player than anyone you could match up against online, so playing against the computer is the correct choice to become better at chess.

There was one guy in Schlag (maybe from 2A? kinda short, curly black hair, on the broad side, forget his name) who beat me a couple times in chess without me putting up a fight. I can't swear that's the last time I played, but it sounds about right. Part of the stumbling block for me has always been the openings. I hate to memorize stuff like that, just like build orders in Starcraft, which makes me noncompetitive.

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Re: Chess

Post by Dave »

I gave my 8 yr old a 3DS to buy time when I have a meeting, he's definately not into chess or any strategy game from the library I put on there... maybe had there been a Pokechess or Settlers of Yokai...
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Jonathan wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:20 pm
Part of the stumbling block for me has always been the openings. I hate to memorize stuff like that, just like build orders in Starcraft, which makes me noncompetitive.
Yeah, that's exactly the misconception about openings (theory vs principles) that is one of the reasons people never try to learn chess. Opening theory is what requires all the memorization; you basically read books or watch videos explaining the thought process behind choosing one sequence of moves over another and what the optimal move is for each of your opponent's responses. That only matters when you're playing at a high level when you are trying to squeeze every tiny possible advantage with every move you make. As a beginner, those tiny advantages don't matter; what matters is that you either do or don't blunder away one of your pieces.

At lower levels, all you need to know about openings are a few principles:

1. Control the center of the board
2. Develop your minor pieces (bishops and knights) as soon as possible, and generally before your major pieces (rooks and queen)
3. Castle as soon as it's feasible to do so
4. Don't leave your pieces "hanging" (unprotected and under attack)
5. Try not to move the same piece multiple times before developing another one

The only memorization you need to do is to remember that for your first move either e4 or d4 is the best way to go when you're a novice or beginner.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Still playing!

AJ accidentally cleared my puzzle history so it reset my rating to 400. I took that as an opportunity to start using a site I'd been seeing pop up a lot in the content I consume (podcasts, YouTube videos, articles) called Chessable. Chessable is a site that uses learning theories like spaced repetition to enhance learning. This is most useful for memorizing opening lines, but can also apply to tactics and endgames.

I spent the past couple months going through a series of tactics courses call the "On Attack" series. It's 6 different courses that teach attacking/tactical patterns for each of the 6 types of chess pieces: bishops, knights, rooks, queens, kings, and pawns. You definitely can learn a lot just by doing puzzles without any guidance, but learning typical patterns that the pieces can exploit helps a lot. I also spent some time learning a few openings; once you understand chess a bit then learning openings actually becomes pretty fun. There is definitely a big memorization piece of it, but learning openings also helps your understanding of strategy and ways in which you can set up some type of tactic to gain an advantage.

The first opening I learned was the London System; the first move is d4, advancing the Queen pawn two spaces. "System" openings are openings that you can play almost no matter what your opponent plays. This means you don't need to spend time memorizing various lines, but if you don't then you may not come out of the opening with as much (or any) advantage against someone who knows how to play against the System. There are ways to play the London System by varying your move order or changing some aspects of it to adjust to different Black openings, but then you do have to understand the opening in more detail and do need to memorize some lines.

Compared to e4 openings, d4 openings tend to play more conservatively. I didn't realize this at the time when I picked the London to learn first (I picked it because not having to memorize lines and being able to play the opening the same way almost no matter what was very tantalizing) but I tended not to enjoy the positions that come out of the London.

My experience with the London System led me to the realization that learning openings is the chess equivalent of deck building. When I had that realization, the thought of learning openings became way more appealing and interesting to me. Your selection of an opening determines that types of games and middle-game positions you get. So by choosing an opening that suits your style, you get to play more of the kind of games you enjoy. So I decided to start learning e4 openings.

Generally, the advice for novices who want to learn openings is to start with the Italian game. It's one of the easier openings to learn because it depends heavily on all the opening principles that are taught to beginners: control the center, develop your pieces, castle, don't move the same piece multiple times, etc. As a result it's a pretty intuitive opening to play, though of course there is a ton of theory and variations. You might compare it to playing a standard midrange deck, where you can probably do fine just by playing on curve, but there is a lot of room for skilled players to get more out of the deck. The general plan tends to be to play for either a d4 pawn break or to storm the Black queenside. After you've developed your pieces, advancing your c pawn to c3 tends to support both of these attacking ideas. Aside from that you are just trying to not blunder your pieces.

With Black, you need to know how to respond against White's opening choice, which means either knowing how to play against all the most common openings, or picking two openings to learn: one against e4, and one against d4. You can also just respond as best you can, and when you don't know what to do, mirror the opponent for the first several moves (though you do need to be careful with captures). Sometimes I have played the Sicilian Defense (Najdorf or Dragon) against e4, and against d4 I like the King's Indian Defense. All of these openings tend to lead to more wide-open attacking games, where Black either wins with quicker development, better piece coordination, or sacrifices or White defends well and gradually capitalizes on material advantages (or finds ways to attack even faster). I.e. these are basically aggro decks.

One thing that I never quite understood before about openings is that you enter an opening mutually (though some opening choices are more forcing than others). You can go into a game as White or Black with the intention of playing a specific opening, but your opponent can respond in a way that forces you to abandon that plan. When Black plays asymmetrically (not responding to 1 e4 with 1 ...e5, or 1 d4 with 1 ...d5) the White player needs to adjust. If you start out 1 e4 expecting to play an Italian game, and your opponent responds with 1 ...c5, you can't just play the moves you normally play; when they play 1 ...c5 it is now a Sicilian. But most of the time (especially at lower levels), Black will respond to 1 e4 with 1 ...e5, and then the next few moves tend to determine the opening. For the Italian game, White's second move is 2 Nf3, and Black has a lot of choices, but the easiest to play is 2 Nc6 using that knight to defend the e5 pawn that White is attacking with the White knight on f3. When White plays 3 Bc4, that defines the game as an Italian game. If on move 3, White plays 3 Bb5, then the game is a Ruy Lopez.

When Black responds to 1 e4 with 1 ...c5, the game becomes a Sicilian. When White plays 2 Nf3, and Black responds with 2 ...d6, Black is trying to go for one of the Open Sicilian variations, such as the Dragon or Najdorf. If White wants a Closed Sicilian, their best move is 2 Nc3, defending the e4 pawn. But once 2 Nf3 d6 has happened, White's best move becomes 3 d4, which leads to 3 ...cxd4, entering the Open Sicilian (Closed Sicilian is when the capture on d4 does not happen). White's best move is then 4 Nxd4 Nf6, and White's best move 5 is Nc3. At that point, Black will decide which type of Open Sicilian they want to play: 5 ...a3 leads to the Najdorf, and 5 ...g3 leads to the Dragon.

When a player does not play into one of the established lines, they are putting themselves in a suboptimal position. This doesn't mean you will definitely win though; players who are very strong tactically may choose to deviate from a line, willingly taking on a disadvantage, in order to nullify their opponent's superior opening preparation. Their bet is then that their tactical ability is superior enough that they can overcome whatever relative disadvantage they took on by going into unestablished lines of play.

A few weeks ago after focusing on learning openings and going through the Chessable tactics courses, I started over with the Chess.com puzzles. After 400 puzzles this time around I'm up to a puzzle rating of 1551. So I've definitely made some improvements!
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Re: Chess

Post by quantus »

Up until that last post, I'd consider playing you, but I'm pretty sure you'd beat me now. I tend to have a puzzle rating in the 1300's from just messing around in some random chess app i found on iOS. I understood what you were describing at least as far as move progression, so I might be able to catch up to you eventually. Unfortunately, I'd rather play Fortnite with Erik or watch Netflix now that I found a good browser extension that lets me accelerate the videos.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

We would probably still have a good game. I still make plenty of blunders in actual games.

For puzzle improvement I found that it was important to change my mental approach. Up until my previous update the way I approached puzzles was to look for a theme (like a pin, skewer, or fork), and if I didn't see a way for my piece to be taken, I'd go ahead and play it. Then the computer would sometimes make a move, then I'd look again to see what the next best move was, until the last move of the puzzle when I'd find out if I was correct or incorrect. I was often surprised when the puzzle didn't end with my first or second move, because I didn't actually comprehend what the puzzle was about. In retrospect, when I solved a difficult puzzle, it was because it was a poorly designed puzzle that did not actually reward understanding or penalize a lack of understanding.

Apparently that is the completely wrong way to do puzzles, and you shouldn't make a single move until you have calculated out to the conclusion of the sequence (unless the first move you make is forced). In order to be able to do that, you have to first evaluate the position. In the past week I've started using a different site for tactics puzzles, Chess Tempo, because it doesn't give so much weight to the time it takes you to solve the puzzle. I've found with the Chess.com puzzles I feel a lot of pressure to solve it quickly and if more than 2 or 3 minutes elapse I kind of resign myself to not getting many rating points for solving it. It rewards intuition rather than calculation. Chess Tempo doesn't start penalizing you until a longer period of time elapses, and puts more weight on making all of your moves within a few seconds once you start making moves so that you are encouraged to think through the puzzle to the conclusion. It also has a separate Endgames puzzle section, which is useful to get better at.

Here is a post from the Chess Tempo forum. I'm not sure if you can see it without an account so I've posted it here. It has good tips for tactics improvement.
drahacikfm wrote: Tips for improving your Tactics Training using Chess Tempo

1) At the start only do Standard. No Blitz. Your goal is to get the problems right and improve your calculation, not to do them fast.

2) In the Preferences make the board as big as will fit on your screen. That's more like a real board so the training is better. And don't choose "Continue on correct" or "Continue on fail" because you want to study the problem after you finish it. Do some problems each day with the "player on top" in Preferences. This gives you practice seeing what your opponent can do to you, which is a very important skill.

3) When the problem first appears, take time to count up the material. Why? Because if you are down a knight at the start, you know that you better win at least a rook or deliver mate. Then ask these questions: Is his King exposed? Is he threatening something big against you, such as mate? In that case you better check him or do something that defends the mate. You don't have time for a quiet move. Which of your pieces are well-placed? Which of his pieces are poorly-placed or unprotected? Lots of combinations happen because the opponent has an unprotected piece. After asking all those questions, then start thinking about what move you will make.

4) Take your time. Don't make a move until you really think it's the best move and after you considered several other moves too. Before making your move, ask yourself if your opponent will be able to check you, threaten mate, or take anything after you make your move. You have to look at all those kinds of moves by the opponent and think what the position will look like after your answer to each of those moves! Consider all of your opponent's possible defenses at every step in the line you plan to play, not just after your first move of the line. Consider the final position of the line you plan to play, and ask what your opponent can do to you in that position. Most problems are failed because you miss a good move by your opponent! I've seen problems where many people made a move that allowed Mate in One by the opponent! There's no excuse for that.

If you can't find a good move and want to guess after 5 minutes, ok. Some people don't have the patience to spend longer on one problem.

5) After you get a problem correct, don't go to the next problem immediately. First look at the problem you just did, and ask yourself WHY you had a combination? Did you have more active pieces? Did you have a lead in development? Was his King exposed? Asking those questions will help you to know what kind of positions to aim for when you play a real game.

6) After you get a problem wrong, study why your move was wrong. What move could your opponent make after your wrong move? Then study the correct moves that are given to the right of the board after you finish a problem. Play through them and try to understand why they work. If you have a silver or gold membership, it shows you which other moves were winning alternates. Study each of those to see if there were some tactical ideas that you didn't think of while solving.

A silver or gold membership helps a lot for improvement. The best benefits are you get the computer analysis of the 4 best moves for you in every position in the problem. And you can do special problems sets, such as all the Mate in 1, then all the Mate in 2. Or you can do all the problems rated under 1000, to get a lot of practice with simple tactics. Then you can work up to harder tactics, doing all under 1100, etc. Or you can make a problem set of all the problems you failed, so you can review them.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Here's a good illustration of some of the points above:

https://chesstempo.com/chess-tactics/77505
chess tempo example.jpg
chess tempo example.jpg (106.04 KiB) Viewed 450 times
With Black to move, there is an obvious line that wins a Pawn and a Rook for a Bishop (along with a Queen trade), with:

1. ...Qxf3
2. gxf3 Bxf1

If all that mattered was to make a favorable trade, that would be a correct solution. HOWEVER!

At the starting position, White is up 6 pawns with two connected passed pawns nearing promotion (in addition to being up a Rook to your Bishop). So even after the favorable trade Black is in a completely lost position.

So, before playing the first move, you need to realize that the solution to the puzzle either has to lead to a completely dominating material advantage for you (eg somehow winning White's Queen and one of their Rooks without losing either your Queen or Bishop), or finding checkmate. Which leads to the somewhat similar but also very different solution of:

1 ...Qxf3
2. gxf3 Rg8+
3. Kh1 Bg2+
4. Kg1 Bf3#
Last edited by Alan on Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:48 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

And before playing the first move, you also have to realize a couple things:

1. Your king is in check, so your first move has to bring you out of check.

2. The obvious move is to take White's Queen with yours, but you should also look at what would happen in other lines before realizing that the obvious move is the correct one, because that is not always the case.

3. Escaping check by moving your King leads to many possible continuations for White, all of which will be bad for you. In your best case scenario, White will capture your Queen and you will recapture with your Bishop. A Queen trade when you're losing by so much is a terrible outcome for you. In your worst case scenario, your King will be caught in a mating net.

e.g.
1. ...Kd7
2. Qb7+ Ke6
3. Qe7+ Kf5
and so on

4. White cannot stop your checkmate by playing some other forcing moves after 1. ...Qcxf3. If this weren't the case, and there were a way for White to put your King in check after that move, you would need to calculate out whether they could stop you from ever playing your intended line (eg by checkmating you, or entering a perpetual check). In this case, if White does not play the obvious move after 1. ...Qcxf3, for example playing 2. gxh3 instead, you will still have checkmate (with 2. ...Rg8#), or if they play some move that does not address the threat of the Queen/Bishop checkmate, you can just play Qxg2# on your next move.

After you go through these points, then you can be confident that the only way for you to address White's check (and to win) is to play Qxf3.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I think it was probably not quite correct to say that I was approaching puzzles in the wrong way before. I think you probably need to do a bunch of puzzles in whatever way you can do them to start building your pattern recognition before you can take a more methodical approach to them. I think it's only been in the past month or so that I have been able to recognize a change in how I perceive a chess board.

It's been written about extensively that novices perceive a chess board differently from experts and intermediate players. I think it's only been about the last month or so that I've noticed a change in how I perceive a chess puzzle. In the past I had to look at an individual piece and then look at each square that piece could move to (and sometimes forget about captures), which meant that when the puzzle popped up it was a pretty time-intensive task to even identify where I could move a piece without it being captured. I particularly struggled with enemy bishops on long diagonals, and with knight forks, and really had a hard time perceiving what the enemy side's likely next move would be because I had a hard time visualizing the enemy pieces possible moves. It was hard enough keeping track of where my own pieces could go!

So, to run through that checklist in my last post would have been a tall ask. I think that when books/articles get written dispensing chess advice the person writing it has long forgotten how a novice views a chess board.

John Bartholomew is an exception, and he does a great job of explaining his thought process step by step. I thought I'd take a stab at doing something similar with the last puzzle I solved and how I thought through it.

CT puzzle original.png
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Before I even really see the whole board a move jumps out at me immediately, Qxc4+. It captures an undefended pawn, adds the Queen as a second attacker on another pawn, and puts the king in check. Generally speaking, forcing moves, such as putting the enemy king in check, or threatening checkmate, will pretty much always be part of a puzzle solution.
CT puzzle 2.png
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Back in April, if presented with this puzzle once I saw that move I probably would have gone ahead and played it. But nowadays I do take a step back to evaluate the position before considering any moves.

Step 1: General impression of the position
White's King is pretty exposed, and there several possibilities for us to evaluate in terms of attacking moves. Black''s King is under some threat with White's g pawn very advanced and potentially providing White with some attacking possibilities. The material is in White's favor; they are up a Rook for a minor piece as well as having an extra pawn. White has a space advantage but Black has more immediate threats against White's King. Likely what has happened is that leading up to the position in this puzzle, Black has sacrificed material to gain the initiative and a positional advantage.

Step 2: Am I the attacker or the defender?
The White pawn on g6 brings up the possibility of Damiano's Mate. But we have several pieces (especially the f6 Knight) available that can defend against that possibility, and if White takes our pawn with theirs we can recapture with our King and there are no follow up threats. The c3 Knight could go to a4 and attack my Queen and b pawn but I can defend that b pawn with my Queen on c7. If he moves his Queen b3 adding an attacker, then the Damiano's Mate possibility goes away so I can move my f6 knight to d7 to add another defender. And that's presuming I completely waste a move accomplishing nothing else.
CT puzzle 4.png
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So, I am not under any immediate threat. I have a bishop under attack by a pawn, which may or may not be relevant.

On the other hand, I have a whole bunch of threats against the White King.
Last edited by Alan on Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Step 3: Evaluate possible moves
My Queen and Bishop are positioned to attack the King, Queen, or take away escape squares.
CT diagonals.png
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And what about Qxc3, which was my initial instinct?

Unfortunately, the first move I thought of doesn’t pan out. With each move you make, you need to think of the possible responses by White. You want White’s response to be to move their King to f2, which would allow you to take the f pawn with your Bishop, have White take your Bishop with the g2 Knight so that you can take that Knight with your Queen and put the King in check again. Overall you win two pawns and trade minor pieces and maintain the initiative. But White is not going to play moves to enable your idea; you have to at each step find the best response to each of your moves. Instead of moving the King, White can block the check with the Rook, or White can move the c3 Knight to e2 which simultaneously blocks the check, adds a defender to the f4 pawn and reveals an attack by the Black Queen by the Rook. So Qxc4 is definitely not the right move.

Other Queen moves don’t have any bite, because they aren’t forcing in any way. Neither are any of the Bishop moves. Moving the light-squared Bishop to h3 pins the Knight to the King but doesn’t accomplish anything else.

So what about the Knights?
CT knights.png
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One Knight move in particular accomplishes two things. With a Knight on g4, moving the Queen to f2 would be checkmate. White can defend against this, but having the Knight on g4 also threatens the undefended h2 square, where a Knight would put the White King in check. With each move White makes to escape check from that point on, you will either get checkmate or win the Queen and possibly more.
CT attack.png
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The only White defense that minimizes the losses is to trade the Queen for Black’s Knight.

Once you calculate that all out, then you can play Kg4 with confidence.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I decided to try my hand at some games against real people instead of the engine. It's been a while since I've played a live game.

There are a bunch of different time controls.

Classical chess is 90 minutes for each player for the first 40 moves, then you both get an additional 30 minutes after that. Plus, you get 30 seconds "increment," which is time added to your pool for each move you play.

Blitz is 10 minutes or less per player, and may include an increment or not. The "official" Blitz time control (e.g. for the World Championship) is 3 minutes + a 2 second increment.

Rapid is 10-60 minutes, again with or without an increment. The "official" control is 15 minutes + a 10 second increment.

Bullet is anything under 3 minutes per player.

I'd played a few Blitz games a few months ago and didn't do so well. Not knowing any openings I either got myself into trouble by getting flustered by an early assault or just blundering away piece after piece (no link because all my other losses were basically because of that).

Part of my trouble in those games was poor time management. I spent way too much time considering moves in the opening; at the time I didn't really know any openings and spent a lot of time trying to calculate each move. That might be okay in a longer time control game (to some extent) but not for Blitz.

Pretty much every chess trainer, YouTuber, writer, etc says that chess learners should minimize their time playing Blitz because it is hard to learn anything from Blitz games. But a lot of the time I can't really predict whether I will have a solid block of 30+ minutes available for a chess game (which is what you need to set aside for a Rapid game), so I have mostly done puzzles, Chessable, or engine games.

I'd steered clear of Correspondence games, which on online sites allow you to set a time limit of 1-14 days per move, because that seemed like it would:

1. take too long to play a game
2. be too easy for cheaters to use an engine to play moves

Yesterday I decided that if I just treated the games like puzzles playing a few moves per day wouldn't be a big deal, and if someone uses an engine against me so be it - it'll be a challenge and chess puzzles basically require you to find the best move anyway. So I started a few games which are still ongoing.

In the meantime, today I did have 30+ minutes free so I played a Rapid game. My opponent has played about 1000 Rapid games with a rating in the low 800s. He played the Petrov's Defense, and played pretty aggressively in the opening. On move 9, he was trying to go for an early checkmate with Qxh2 but I had that defended with my f3 Knight, and in the process blundered his undefended Bishop. When he recaptured Qxb3 he undefended his h5 pawn. I was able develop naturally while he remained almost complete undeveloped so winning was just a matter of not blundering and not giving up the initiative.

There were a couple spots where I didn't play the best possible move, including move 16 where I missed a forced Mate in 7 (16. Qe8+ was the correct move), but his response to 16. Ne7+ was Kh7 leading to Mate in 4, when Kf8 would have escaped the forced Mate entirely (though I would have retained a large advantage.
2020-08-09 chess.com rapid game.gif
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

Finished my first Daily (Correspondence) game. I won with Black, playing the Sicilian. It was a pretty tight game until my opponent failed to notice that 17. ...e4 had two purposes: 1) defending the Rook on d3 but also 2) unveiling a discovered attack by my g7 Bishop on his a1 Rook. On move 20, when he needed to play Rb1 he instead moved his King so he resigned after Bxa1.

There's something wrong with the images Chess.com is exporting and I don't feel like cropping a bunch of images.

Overall I played okay, at the time he made his blunder the material was even but I had several pretty advanced pawns giving me a space advantage in the center and my plan would have been to activate my King to the middle of the board so that it could be flexible, playing a role in defending on the Queenside where he had his pieces and a pawn majority or supporting an attack in the center and on the Kingside where I was poised to make my assault. My g7 Bishop had up until this point done a massive job on the long a1-h8 diagonal.

I had missed some key moves. On move 11 there was tension between the Queens and I should have left the Queens on the board. I had actually miscalculated the line, I failed to notice that after he recaptured my Queen on on a4 with his Knight that when I captured his Knight I was leaving my c5 pawn undefended, but luckily I had a way to capture back his pawn on e4.

And on move 14 I thought I was playing really cleverly by counterattacking his Knight when he attacked mine with his Rook, but it turns out that defending the Knight by playing f4 first was a far superior move. According to the engine I completely lost the advantage I'd had up to that point, and if he had played optimally we would have been completely even. But he didn't see the line that would have evened up the game, and played Rxe4 (capturing my Knight) allowing me to play Rxd3 (capturing his), giving me back my positional advantage.

But after he blundered his Rook on move 20 it was all a moot point.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I won my second daily game as White; my opponent chose what is apparently called Alekhine's Defense. Despite not having seen it before I tried to stick to standard opening principles which led me to a pretty strong position. It helped that my opponent (despite picking this opening) apparently deviated from the strongest lines by move 3.
081220 Daily game 1.gif
081220 Daily game 1.gif (222.63 KiB) Viewed 380 times
Apparently I made a mistake on move 9, throwing away what the computer evaluated as an almost 3 pawn equivalents worth of a positional advantage. The move I didn't see was retreating my light-squared Bishop to d3, with a follow up of placing my Queen on c2 to form a battery along the b1-h7 diagonal. I instead decided to blow apart the center of the board by counter-attacking his Knight with a pawn move c4. When I calculated it out it seemed to me like I would come out of the exchanges with a slight advantage; the engine confirms this but I would have had a much larger advantage if I'd gone with the Bishop move instead.

As it was, on move 14 I had a position I was very happy with; my Queen in an advanced position on d5 that was 1) difficult for my opponent to attack, and 2) preventing Black's King from castling, and the pawn on e5 that was threatening to smother the Black King.

I was in a good position but my opponent had the potential to generate some counterplay on the Queenside. One idea would be to continue advancing the b pawn and forcing an exchange with my a pawn prior to my castling. If Black could get their Bishop on a6 this would attack the f1 square, and my King would be stuck out in the open. Black's last move 13 ...b4 seemed to suggest that this was their idea, but since it was my move I had the opportunity to castle. Another idea would be for Black to activate their Queenside pieces (Rook, Bishop, Knight) and the Black Queen to the center to try to harrass my Queen, and at the same time put pressure on my e pawn and my King positioned behind it.

Castling Kingside (14. 0-0) seemed like it would solve several issues; it would get my King out of danger, enable me to move my Rook to the e file both to defend my e pawn and to x-ray his King. My opponent then blundered on move 15. ...Rf8 which not only failed to address my attack but also trapped their King, so that 16. e6! guaranteed that Black would lose material. d6 would have been the best response, limiting their losses, but no matter their response I was guaranteed to win material (or if they played it poorly, checkmate).

I missed an opportunity to maximize my material gains, but after we traded Queens and my opponent was entering an endgame down a Rook and Pawn they resigned.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I lost my first daily game after winning my first 5. My opponent was clearly a pretty strong player; they created their account on 8/9 and as of today have won their first 35 daily games in a row.

I played them pretty evenly actually. Here I missed an opportunity to gain a positional advantage:
Taleh55 position 1.png
Taleh55 position 1.png (152.53 KiB) Viewed 299 times
12. f4! would have set up a strong kingside attack and allowed me to stay on the offensive. Instead I played Nf3 which set up a Knight trade that was just kind of bleh for me.

My other missed opportunity was here, on move 22.
Taleh55 position 2.png
Taleh55 position 2.png (129.59 KiB) Viewed 299 times
'

This was an error in my evaluation; I thought my Rook was better on the open e file so I wanted to allow them to take my e1 Rook so that I could take back with my d1 Rook. But keeping my Rook on the d file allows this after several moves:
Taleh55 position 3.png
Taleh55 position 3.png (118.36 KiB) Viewed 299 times
Last edited by Alan on Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Alan
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

After a huge series of trades we went into a pretty even endgame. With accurate play it would have ended in a draw, but I blundered on move 47 by trading off my Bishop for their Knight, which allowed a passed pawn. I couldn't see how to hold both sides of the board at that point and resigned. I probably should have just played it out for practice though.
Taleh55 position 4.png
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I also had my first draw.

There was a huge opportunity I missed on move 19.
Mihalyic position.png
Mihalyic position.png (137.62 KiB) Viewed 296 times
I got tunnel vision, worrying too much about his advanced g pawn and did not look for counterplay. 19. Rf6 would have set up a more or less unstoppable attack for me. Instead I found myself under attack and had to play very precisely to not lose.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

And finally, I played my best game.
Troubadour15.gif
Troubadour15.gif (255.31 KiB) Viewed 295 times
Move 8 gave me a nice tactic to win a pawn:
Troubadour15 position 1.png
Troubadour15 position 1.png (150.28 KiB) Viewed 295 times
Their d5 pawn is defended twice (e6 pawn and the Queen) while I am attacking it twice (c4 pawn and c3 Knight), but the e6 pawn is overloaded, defending both the d5 pawn and the f3 Knight. So by playing 8. Bxf3 the e6 pawn is forced away from defending the d5 pawn, allowing me to capture it for free.

That sequence gave me central control as well as the 1 pawn advantage, so I pushed the center leading to my opponent being unable to develop.

On move 17 I attacked their Queen with Nb5. The only reply that allowed them to defend against a mating attack would have been to retreat to d8.
Troubadour15 position 2.png
Troubadour15 position 2.png (143.11 KiB) Viewed 295 times
Instead, they played Qa6 pinning my Knight to my Queen but I just supported my Knight with a4, then played Qc3 on my next move threatening the Black King along the a1-h8 diagonal.
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Re: Chess

Post by Alan »

I actually missed forced Mate in 2 on move 22 (22. exf7 Kxf7 23. Qg7#), and instead played 22. Ng5 which was instead forced Mate in 4 :lol: Having my Knight on g5 seemed good to me but was totally unnecessary. Luckily there was no significant counter-play but moves like that against stronger opponents can lose a won game.

But they blundered with 22. ...Nd7 attacking my Queen and allowing 23. exf7#.
Troubadour15 position 3.png
Troubadour15 position 3.png (131.39 KiB) Viewed 294 times
My record is now at 11-1-1 with a rating at 995. I'm currently playing two Daily games and have advantages in both of them so hopefully will cross over the 1000 mark soon!
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