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Old 02-06-2017, 10:30 PM   #1
Shuffle
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How to improve to Class B level?

So I have been playing casually for the last couple years on chess.com, not really putting in much work, and my ceiling seems to be around 1500 at 15|10 time increments. I signed up for 2 accounts so I am able to do 10 free tactics problems per day instead of 5, and my tactics rating has finally spiked to ~1700, but often it will go up and down in the 1600s range. But recent increase in tactics rating hasn't seemed to translate to standard games.

Anyway, I am wondering what are some concepts/ideas/strategies, that someone of my level should study or utilize in order to improve to the next level, from Class C to Class B?

I have self-reflected on some things and one thing I discovered is that I don't have enough knowledge on openings, usually I stick to the same ones and am probably not versatile enough. My biggest problem in lost games, other than blunders, is that I very often grab a small advantage in the opening moves, even against much higher rated players, only to make a mistake or series of mistakes around moves 10-15 from which I fall behind and never recover. I also think I get frustrated and overextend myself in static positions, where more caution should be warranted.
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Old 02-07-2017, 07:38 AM   #2
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

1500 on 15/10 on chess.com != 1500 uscf. Its severely underrated, with the rating maxing out at 2000. Your probably already class b.

Anyways, to anwer your question reaching 1700 is pretty easy imo. Just dont hang pieces, know simple tactics and have very basic opening and endgame knowledge. Like you dont need to know the many variations of the sicilian or what a lucena rook and pawn endgame is. Just really basic stuff, like passed pawns win in the endgame and 1. e4 c5 is sicilian.

Virtually ever single otb tournament game ive played against anyone below 1800 has ended with a simple tactic.

Last edited by spino1i; 02-07-2017 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:45 AM   #3
The Yugoslavian
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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Originally Posted by spino1i View Post
1500 on 15/10 on chess.com != 1500 uscf. Its severely underrated, with the rating maxing out at 2000. Your probably already class b.
I'm not sure about this at all. I'm 1820 USCF and my rapid rating on chess.com peaked at 1835 and is ~1750 (over 31 games the last 1.5 years, 15+10 or longer).

I'm not really sure just "learning basic stuff" is enough. I think it's like any aspect of chess no matter one's strength, you should identify where you are weak and improve. If you do not know basic openings at all, then a bit of work there may be helpful. If you don't understand endgames at all, then yeah, work there is helpful. But I don't think 1700+ rapid on chess.com is trivial or that the equivalent USCF strength is trivial either (which is what you seem to imply).
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:16 AM   #4
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

I have no idea what Class B is but I assume it must be below 2000 Fide. I would recommend the following:
1. solve tactics
2. play against equal or slightly better opponents, then analyse the games (with them or your coach or any other better player)
3. learn the openings from vids (there's a ton of good free material out there)
4. learn basic endgames (there's a series on this by IM Bartholomew on youtube, I believe it's titled "endgame fundamentals" or sth like that)
5. study a book with commented games of Alekhine, Rubinstein or whoever else was a top player 100 years ago

Some YT channels I can recommend - Hunschenbeth, Bartholomew, St Louis chessclub, Chessnetwork

hope this helps
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Old 02-09-2017, 09:39 AM   #5
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

You should learn a few openings. Basically, you want to know the main traps in the openings that you play regularly, as well as the typical middlegame plans to follow in the systems that you play. Also it's useful to have some idea of what to do against the tricky lines that people will throw at you.

Other than that, just focus on your tactical vision, as most games, especially at your level, will be won or lost through tactical blunders.

Endgame knowledge is not particularly important at your level, beyond the basics of King-and-Pawn endings and maybe a few Rook+Pawn vs. Rook positions.

Like for all levels of play, the best way to learn is to study your own games, try to figure out where you could have played better, and apply those lessons to the next game.
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Old 02-11-2017, 08:16 AM   #6
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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I'm not sure about this at all. I'm 1820 USCF and my rapid rating on chess.com peaked at 1835 and is ~1750 (over 31 games the last 1.5 years, 15+10 or longer).

I'm not really sure just "learning basic stuff" is enough. I think it's like any aspect of chess no matter one's strength, you should identify where you are weak and improve. If you do not know basic openings at all, then a bit of work there may be helpful. If you don't understand endgames at all, then yeah, work there is helpful. But I don't think 1700+ rapid on chess.com is trivial or that the equivalent USCF strength is trivial either (which is what you seem to imply).
I mean a few games ago in otb tournament chess i played a 1750 who hung his queen en prise. it doesnt seem like 1750 on chess.com rapid and otb tourney are even close. Pretty much every otb 1800 player i play is really bad. if its not hanging queen its overloading a piece or butchering basic endgame stuff
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:51 AM   #7
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

I mean, I don't know what to say to that except I haven't come across a hung Queen otb in a long time or ever.
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:07 AM   #8
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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I mean, I don't know what to say to that except I haven't come across a hung Queen otb in a long time or ever.
yeh he basically stormed out of tourney like 2 seconds after i took his queen. it was pretty amusing.
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:08 AM   #9
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

A book or two of tactics, 20 or so pages of basic endgames, a book or more of middle endgames, opening books.

Openings are picked as strategical (closed), positional (semi-open), tactical (messy), technical (no strategy, no lines), dynamic (open to semi-open, no balance, dynamic moves). With time one learns all, and they are not fully separate.

Tournaments against same level players and it doesn't matter what level one is, and anyway, the talent limits the level one gets, and one sees it when one has learned the books and has enough experience and won't get any better.

Some think training tactics or endgames makes one better, but nothing does after talent limitations have been hit. Some walls one might pass sometimes, but it won't take many years to see you are not getting any better.

Average (includes beginners) blitz player is C-class, and getting to B-class and A-class is considered to be the difference between blundering and not blundering, but there is nothing much one can do about blundering less, it being one's brain (type). It is about playing every move with care, and if one's brain lets one to get that far, then one gets there with the knowledge mentioned.

Playing against an expert player, generally it happens that you will see at some point that he has made a move that puts you in trouble, and you played as well as you could have, and maybe you then learn something, but that situation will come again and again in different ways, and at best you will hold the position with your A- or B-class ability, playing accurately move after move. Of course, you will sometimes win also.
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Old 02-14-2017, 05:15 PM   #10
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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A book or two of tactics, 20 or so pages of basic endgames, a book or more of middle endgames, opening books.

Openings are picked as strategical (closed), positional (semi-open), tactical (messy), technical (no strategy, no lines), dynamic (open to semi-open, no balance, dynamic moves). With time one learns all, and they are not fully separate.

Tournaments against same level players and it doesn't matter what level one is, and anyway, the talent limits the level one gets, and one sees it when one has learned the books and has enough experience and won't get any better.

Some think training tactics or endgames makes one better, but nothing does after talent limitations have been hit. Some walls one might pass sometimes, but it won't take many years to see you are not getting any better.

Average (includes beginners) blitz player is C-class, and getting to B-class and A-class is considered to be the difference between blundering and not blundering, but there is nothing much one can do about blundering less, it being one's brain (type). It is about playing every move with care, and if one's brain lets one to get that far, then one gets there with the knowledge mentioned.

Playing against an expert player, generally it happens that you will see at some point that he has made a move that puts you in trouble, and you played as well as you could have, and maybe you then learn something, but that situation will come again and again in different ways, and at best you will hold the position with your A- or B-class ability, playing accurately move after move. Of course, you will sometimes win also.
fwiw i dont think talent comes into play in chess until 2200 uscf., and for smart people (any winning poker player) probably at 2400 fide. If your struggling to reach 2000 uscf your approach is wrong. It should never be that hard to reach that level.
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Old 02-14-2017, 09:02 PM   #11
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

What is your fide or USCF rating spino?
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:09 AM   #12
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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Originally Posted by spino1i View Post
fwiw i dont think talent comes into play in chess until 2200 uscf., and for smart people (any winning poker player) probably at 2400 fide. If your struggling to reach 2000 uscf your approach is wrong. It should never be that hard to reach that level.
Never got much past 1700 personally, and gave up and went back to poker, never regretted it since, much better at poker than chess.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:47 AM   #13
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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Originally Posted by spino1i View Post
fwiw i dont think talent comes into play in chess until 2200 uscf., and for smart people (any winning poker player) probably at 2400 fide. If your struggling to reach 2000 uscf your approach is wrong. It should never be that hard to reach that level.
According to the USCF, fewer than 1% of rated players are 2200+, and fewer than 5% of adults are 2000+.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:11 PM   #14
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

maybe it's because i suck, but i always hate when good players act like getting a pretty decent rating is just as simple as 'don't hang a queen'. you clearly need to make a dedicated study effort across a range of topics to not stall out much lower, and a lot of people have the neither the dedication nor inclination to do that.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:32 PM   #15
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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maybe it's because i suck, but i always hate when good players act like getting a pretty decent rating is just as simple as 'don't hang a queen'. you clearly need to make a dedicated study effort across a range of topics to not stall out much lower, and a lot of people have the neither the dedication nor inclination to do that.
I'm assuming Spino is either fairly young and/or just immature. When I was a teenager, it was easy for me to fall into the general mindset of "If I can do [something], anyone can."

Last edited by DrChesspain; 02-15-2017 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 02-15-2017, 11:07 PM   #16
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

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maybe it's because i suck, but i always hate when good players act like getting a pretty decent rating is just as simple as 'don't hang a queen'. you clearly need to make a dedicated study effort across a range of topics to not stall out much lower, and a lot of people have the neither the dedication nor inclination to do that.
i never said it was as easy as not hanging your queen. If you want to reach 2000 yeh your going to have to invest some time into study and play a bunch of tournies. But i do think anyone can do it and the fact 95% dont just means most dont put the effort in, dont have the spare time, or are learning the wrong way.

Because compared to many things in life it really isnt very hard. And top level talent in chess usually goes from 0 to 2000 uscf in a year. But they might spend 3 years going from 2500 to 2600 fide.

You want hard? getting a good paying job with no college degree or becoming a true scratch golfer or becoming fluent in mandarin (from english). Those things are actually hard.

Last edited by spino1i; 02-15-2017 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:25 AM   #17
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

I tend to agree with Spino. 2200 USCF is achievable for most people, it just takes a lot of time. Most of the people I know who put serious effort (let's say playing 60+ tournament games a year for several years straight) into chess plateued around 2100-2200, most of those who started young and worked with professional coaches got to at least 2300-2400.

Now there are some people just enjoy the game and are content to just sit at 1700 for years, and there are a few who don't seem to have a good mind for chess and never get past 1800 despite their efforts. But it's not something that's out of range for the average person.

I actually think it's pretty comparable in difficulty to becoming proficient in a foreign language. It takes time, it can be frustrating, and it requires humility, but ultimately most people can do it if they put in the work.
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Old 02-16-2017, 01:35 PM   #18
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

spino - I see you missed my previous post. What is your ride/uscf rating?

Fwiw I tend to agree (it seems reasonable to me, I have no evidence to back any of it up) with what Jacob Aagaard has written recently on this topic: http://www.qualitychess.co.uk/blog/4421:

Quote:
Can a normal person become a titled player, even a GM?

I was asked this question (rephrased) on Facebook a few days ago. I felt that the right place to offer my opinion would be here. It will be an answer with a few points.

a) First of all, the answer is probably both yes and no. John and I are nothing special. I had “talent” for about 2200 and John maybe 1800. What I mean by this is that we got to these levels after playing chess for quite a number of years, but essentially just by playing. We did not study much before we hit the ceiling. This comes at different levels. For Luke McShane it came at 2600, while others face it at 1200 or 2100.

b) If you face the ceiling at 1200, I am honestly not so optimistic about you getting the GM title. I like to play music and I spend a lot of my time trying to improve, but I am not under the illusion that I will ever reach a professional level. This does not mean that it does not have tremendous value for me, it does. I love it.

c) The main issue with my musical ability is not that I do not have the talent of Prince or the educational possibilities of Mozart (home schooled by one of the greatest musicians of the time, his father). The real problem is more to do with the ‘10,000 hours rule’, as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell. (I know this is highly controversial, but let’s at least for the moment say that the idea of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is a good indicator of how difficult it is to learn something). I do not have five years of 2,000 hours to invest. I maybe practice 3-4 hours a week on average, 10+ hours on a good week and only 1 hour of fooling around the last few weeks. Progress is understandably slow.
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Old 02-18-2017, 11:48 AM   #19
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

Wish I knew the answer, but I made a mistake in not spending more time on tactics and too much time on openings.

I also took the game a bit too 'seriously' in how I study. I would go through a game looking at the move, trying to understand it, lots of read and nodding.

I've dumped this approach now - much better to predict, try and get into the game, play around with variations etc, only after making a decision try and figure out what you might have missed.
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Old 02-21-2017, 11:30 PM   #20
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

Thanks for the responses everyone. Sorry I haven't checked back more frequently.

Anyway, I've watched some tutorials on TheChessWebsite.com's Youtube page before. I do the tactics problems on Chess.com. I find myself using the same d4 opening as white over and over again, and either Sicilian or Indian games as black depending on what white does.

Does anyone have any specific tactical or opening suggestions to keep an eye out for or try at this level?
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Old 02-22-2017, 09:00 AM   #21
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

Once you've got a good grasp of basic tactics like the pin and fork, probably the next thing to focus on is common schemes for attacking the King (pawn-storms, piece attacks, typical sacrifices on h7, h6, f7, g7, etc.).

As for openings, it's really about finding something you feel comfortable playing. It's fine to experiment and figure out what works for you and what doesn't. If you have a problem in the opening in one game, look that opening up in the database and see how stronger players typically handle it. You can build up a decent amount of knowledge in this way by trial and error.
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Old 02-23-2017, 05:53 PM   #22
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Re: How to improve to Class B level?

I would definitely keep grinding away with the tactical puzzles. I use CT-Art on my iphone all the time and find that having it on my phone gives me the chance to study chess during those 5-10 minute breaks we get during the day that otherwise go to waste.

I also wouldn't worry much about openings. If you are reaching playable positions that make you comfortable, you are doing fine imo. Tactics and endgames are where the pendulum swings most violently at our level. Positional/middle game work is obv important as well. Openings are probably the least important.

Also, I think playing slightly longer games or playing live could really help. I feel like blitz games do very little for our improvement. Your 15/10 games are close enough to blitz that I worry you may not be fully processing your games.
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