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apastpawn 168 ( +1 | -1 )
Chess School of Hard Knocks Inline, somewhat, with an earlier thread by Craig Mc (the tierless forum poster who has too many c's in his name) I would like to discuss the lessons learned the hard way in chess. As in knocking our heads against the preverbial wall trying to improve.

My biggest improvement came in my early 20s when I realized there was other ways out of a bad situation besides the immediate one move that saved the piece. In other words: If a piece is doomed to fall you have other recourses at your disposal (hopefully). While going over some games of GM Tal, I observed him ignoring threats in order to counter-threat at an equal or stronger level ie. a larger piece or mate. This also applied to the lose of a piece. Prior to that I would simply do the move that developed me the best or hurt me the least. So now I also look for tactical counterplay during my reasoning.

The other revelation happened here at GK. I came back to chess about three years ago after 10 plus years of hiatus. While playing here I was trying too hard as black to turn the game around. I was trying for the knock-out punch or at least a sucker-punch that would give me the advantage. After some self evaluation, I realized that the best black can do is come out of the opening approximately equal to white if all play well. Some of you players do the same on maybe a bigger scale. Like playing a "cute" move, hoping for the wrong reply instead of playing the best move and expecting the best reply.

So, there are my two lessons learned the hard way.

What about your lessons?

Wayne aka apastpawn
More: Chess
ccmcacollister 287 ( +1 | -1 )
hoping for the wrong reply instead of ... ... of playing the best move and expecting the best reply.
[This is addressed to players striving to gain in true playing strength, and understanding]
That's an important thing to realize. I've always cautioned players against wishful
thinking too. In a way, sometimes now I still feel that temptation in the form of perhaps wanting to make a "trappy" move... which is just not a good idea, in Corr Chess especially, unless even their best reply to it leaves you with some small advantage or at least equality, providing that such is no worse a result than you would get from playing the objectively 'best' move. What might be self-deceptive is
how similar making a trappy move can be to the sound & strong practice of forcing
decisions upon the opponent, which provide options to go astray.
In my postal play, I found that a player below Expert would invariably make at least one large error per game, and even Masters would usually make one to three minor mistakes ... aka inaccuracies. If such is the case, then it stands to reason that the more significant decisions put upon an opponent, the greater opportunity
of producing that mistake. Also, it would almost always require more than one error
to make a loss. Unless the mistake were an actual "blunder" or occurred at a most critical moment.
My point here, however, is to suggest a solution if someone is having trouble resisting the temptation of wishful-move making. The one sure method which I am aware of is to increase the strength of your opponents so that you Will be punished for making inappropriate moves. Because getting away with such moves,
or worse yet, winning because of them serves to reinforce that very bad habit. And will end up decreasing your ultimate playing strength. Not only by making it appear to yourself that maybe a Wish is not such a bad way to go. But even more importantly ... those games where you succumb to that temptation will deprive you of the understanding you could have gained from playing a proper move which would have given you a "pull" ... that type of small advantage(s) that we see very
good players able to sustain for many moves and ultimately turn into a win thru proper prosecution of the initial advantage, and accumulation aor trade-offs of added advantages. And such games as those are the ones which are vital to improvement and honing of technique.
The satisfaction gained from carrying thru an advantage for a couple dozen moves, and culminating in a well deserved win, is much more lasting than the pat on the back given to oneself for feeling cleverness from gaining an "easy point" by stealth.
Just something to consider.
stendhar 121 ( +1 | -1 )
Playing the whole game That is realising that the game of chess doesn't end just when we have a sufficient advantage for victory, it ends with mate. I certainly can recall many games against much stronger players in which by some means I gathered enough of an objective advantage for a win. But faced with stiff resistance many a time the opposing player would turn the game around. This lead me to the conclusion that by far the most important phase of the game is the endgame, as here points are actually won or lost. This came rather late as in the beginning I mustered all my efforts into the labyrinth that is the opening game. I also think that many a player is sucked into this quagmire and thus they are not playing at maximum strength.
After learning this important lesson, I too have managed to turn around "lost" games against less experienced players through sheer determination and wining desire. So, my advice is to focus on the part of the game that really counts, the last part. You'll stop searching for new lines and traps in the opening, and just focus on what is the milestone of chess excellence.
ionadowman 89 ( +1 | -1 )
I agree with stendhar... ... Weak as I've always been in the openings, I've found my endgame technique has often pulled things around, in OTB twenty and more years ago, and on GK today. And endgames are a lot more interesting than you would think.
In my recent games (vs detroyder and efrog1074), the ending was the decisive phase...
The former featured 2 Knights vs 2 Bishops at one stage, and later a N vs B. It shows what a powerfully posted Knight can do. detroyder himself called it a 'backbreaker'. (It is surprising the number of my games in which 2 Knights have overcome - or at least matched - the B-pair. But it does support my view that the B-pair can be overrated. Not that I favour the 2N especially at all!).
efrog1074 vs ionadowman featured a double rook endgame, with White in possession of 2 extra pawns, and 4 Q-side passed pawns into the bargain. Mind you, instead of advancing one of these, my opponent could have forced a draw at one point...