Friday, August 15, 2014

7 tips to winning more chess games

Rulang is coming in a month's time, so before we start proper I just want y'all to take some time to read this. Throughout the year I have sat at the back of the class and observed everyone during our training sessions, and I realize that everyone of us in this team can be divided into 3 basic categories.
  1. The enthu saikang warriors
  2. The ones who have little time to learn, so they just do whatever's required of them
  3. Those who make me wonder why the heck they joined the team in the first place

I am not concerned about those in Category 3 (which fortunately aren't a lot), simply because there's absolutely nothing that Mr Lim, Darryl and I (or anyone else in the team) can do to help you at all unless you change your attitude. Since you'd rather waste your 2 hours slacking off rather than learn something useful, then I don't see why anyone should be interested in teaching you either. All I can say is good luck.

So if you know that you belong to Category 3, then don't bother to continue reading this post, and go find yourself another CCA next year. Sorry for being brutally honest, but I'm not here to give flowery words. I'm here to tell the truth.

Leave no man behind... except those who choose to

For my friends in Category 1, I'm not concerned either because y'all are well on your way to improvement, and that leaves me with little worries. All I will say is, keep it up.

The vast majority of us fall in Category 2. Juggling chess and school work is an understandable predicament, and I myself have been through it many times. The advice for this is simple: You don't have to spend 3 hours per day mugging chess theory. All it takes is a simple 10 minutes per day solving some chess puzzles which can be very easily sourced on the internet (Chess.com provides 3 free chess puzzles per day to all its members). You might not see immediate results, but over time you will find your tactical vision starting to pick up. The important thing is: Do it regularly!

To paraphrase from Mr Lim, you can only improve in a subject if you are willing to spend time on it. Not just chess, but any other subject in general.

All good everybody? If so, then let's start proper:


7 tips to winning more chess games

Everyone wants to win. If so, then why are there so many average players but so few good players? Perhaps your gameplay will improve by mugging every single line in the ECO (think biology)? Or perhaps you can hire the most expensive coach in the world to give you the best training?

As Mr Lim has went through with us yesterday, here are the 7 tips you should know if you wish to improve:


1. Learn the Basics

The most difficult to master are:
  • Tactical Play, and
  • Positional Play
If you expect to win, you must know them.


2. Don't lose in the opening

You only win in the opening when your opponent makes a terrible blunder. If both opponents play the opening correctly, neither will win. One player might get a solid advantage, maybe even a winning advantage, but it must be converted to a win in the middle game or endgame.

Caption please.

If you're still unsure on how to play the opening properly, here are 4 basic but important guidelines on how to play the opening well: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.sg/2014/07/4-basic-but-important-tips-on-opening.html


3. Win in the Middle Game

Most chess games are won and lost in the middle game, where your imagination is your greatest ally. Whether formulating a deep plan or calculating a tricky combination,you need to be well rounded in all facets of this most difficult phase. The basics of the middle game are:

  • Pattern recognition
  • Combinations
  • Plans
  • Double attacks
  • Open lines
  • King safety
  • Pawn structure
  • Piece placement

Your imagination will be even more powerful if you possess the fundamentals of chess knowledge.


4. Win in the Endgame

Some of the most difficult positions have the fewest pieces. How can you expect to handle 32 pieces when you have trouble with 5 or 6? The Elementary Endgames are forced checkmates (e.g. King + Queen vs King). Everyone tells you that endgames are important, but few players ever study them. Be different! An hour spent on the endgame is worth more than an hour spent on the openings.

What endgames should you study? The suggestions by most trainers: Study Rook and Pawn endgames. These are the ones which are most likely to occur in actual games, so it's worth spending more time on those than on some unlikely occurrence like, let's say, Bishop + Knight checkmate. If you're looking to strengthen your foundation on Rook endgames, the following link might be useful: http://nushsblackknights.blogspot.sg/2014/03/rook-endgames-journey-so-far.html


5. Win tactically

You'll never be a good player if you overlook mate in two moves or simple wins of material. Sharpen your tactical eye with tactical presents puzzles from real games. Puzzles are great practice even when you only have a few spare minutes. A specific position may never occur in your game, but the theme definitely will. Tactics occur in all phases of the game.


6. Study the games of the great players

Step through every move explained, move by move with a diagram and commentary for each and every move of particularly instructive games. Openings, tactics, positional play and endgame principles are explained from a chess master's point of view, but with beginning and intermediate players in mind.

Popular choices to study include the most famous masters such as Carlsen and Kasparov, but it is best if you pick a player whose style you are comfortable with and you wish to take after. For dynamic and tactical players, the top candidates are Fischer and Alekhine; for more solid and positional players, Petrosian and Karpov are your best teachers.


Remember: At this stage when you're still learning, it is never shameful to emulate the gameplay of the great masters!


7. Have a strong mind

At last to be a good player your mind too should be powerful: More fast, logical, and tricky than your opponent. So whenever you play a game your mind should be calm and stable, without any tension or unnecessary thoughts.

...

So there we have: The 7 tips to winning more games. Anyone has anything else to add on? If so, feel free to comment below!

Sources:
http://atruepatriot.tumblr.com/post/7548719203/leave-no-man-behind
http://www.firstpost.com/sports/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-anands-tormenter-magnus-carlsen-1235521.html
General Chess Discussion Group: How to win AT Chess?

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