Monday, August 24, 2009

Life could be worse...

I had a successful tournament and scored 4/5 points, much better that I expected. I was surprised how well I played, given that my work/life schedule doesn’t really allow for much time spent on studying chess. I went into the tournament thinking that I’d probably get my ass kicked quite a bit, but at least I was looking forward to learning a thing or two from my mistakes. But I did not lose a single game! I still took away a few key points that I will try to remember going forward:

● Play aggressively! Don't shy away from complications; don’t settle for dull “safe” positions. I started the tournament with a bishop sac in my very first game, making it a very exciting game. I went for the kill in every game except one, where my brain was just way too tired to calculate and I didn’t want to make mistakes brought on by complications. It ended in a draw.

● Initiative is key - keep it by all means, and don't allow counterplay. Sounds simple, but it certainly isn’t. I kept looking for moves that put me in charge, and I think it worked out ok . More often than not, it was my opponent reacting to my threats rather than the other way around.

● Calculate, calculate, calculate! Don't be lazy, don't move fast even when it's tempting. Don’t think a move that looks “simple” doesn’t require much calculation. I think for most of us patzers, there just is no such thing as a simple move. I often find myself getting lazy in later rounds, when fatigue starts setting in… But whenever I noticed it, I forced myself to be disciplined and calculate every single move, making sure I took advantage of the long time controls. I got up pretty much after every single move, got some fresh air, or just walked around to get my heart rate up a bit. Sometimes I would splash water in my face. Whatever it takes, just don’t settle for half-assed calculations.

Will try to post some games soon, stay tuned!


From the patzer said...

Congratulations! Did you win the tournament with that score? In which rating class did you playm or was it one big open?

Your findings are right, only problem is that you also can miscalculate but i guess that didn't happen this tournament.

CMoB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CMoB said...

Keeping the initiative and not allowing counterplay doesn't sound simple at all to me because (like you said so yourself) it just isn't.

Congrats with your result.

Glenn Wilson said...


"Play aggressively!" Yep. You can't win a game of chess unless your opponent makes a mistake. Give them an opportunity to make a mistake by playing aggressively, but soundly. They may overlook something; they may see a phantom threat; they may lash out in unsound counter-attack; they may just crack under the pressure.

"Calculate, calculate, calculate!" Aggressive play with calculation beats lazy vagueness almost every time.

Great result!

Chessaholic said...

Thanks everybody!

Chesstiger: The tournament had several sections. Thanks to the fact that I don’t play in tournaments very often, my official rating has been fairly low so that allowed me to play in the Under 1600 section, where I came in second place. As far as calculation – yes, of course miscalculation can always happen, but my point was that it pays off to be disciplined to always calculate as opposed to just going on “gut feeling”, which I am sometimes tempted to do (or I stop calculating at 3 plies deep when I could look a little deeper).

CMoB: hehehe yes, keeping the initiative is certainly anything but simple :) In the past, I hardly ever included the concept of initiative in my thought process/move selection, but during these games I always tried to look at every move under that aspect as well, asking myself: is this move active enough, and will he have time to follow his own plans? I guess if nothing else, it helped me avoid making passive moves.

Glenn: Exactly! I found more than once that my opponent looked surprised by certain aggressive moves, literally staring at the board with eyes wide open hehehe… Like you say, people will often overreact with unsound counter-attacks, or get tangled up in defensive maneuvers…

I’ll need a few days to analyze a game or two in detail and post them here, hope you’ll enjoy them.

LinuxGuy said...

"Calculate, calculate, calculate! Don't be lazy"

You are already a formidable chess opponent in my eyes for saying this.

If everyone had to do this before a move, I think one of two things may happen; either I see smoke coming out of a players' ears, or people conking-out over the board from exhaustion, or it happens to me so I don't get to see them do it. ;-)

Chessaholic said...

LinuxGuy: lol... maybe that's the reason I won, my opponents couldn't see the board with all that smoke coming out of my ears!

wang said...


I'm happy to hear of your success. I agree with your findings. You are far ahead of me, I've just recently vowed to not play namby-pamby chess recently.

Chessaholic said...

thanks wang!let's vow to abstain from namby-pamby chess once and for all!

Infinity Chess King said...

Nice post. Keep up the good work!