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How to study chess.

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  • How to study chess.

    In my reading I have found it rather amazing how much time some people claim they have wasted studying chess before they figured out how to do it efficiently. At least one person claimed that they studied chess for over 12 years before he figured it out.

    I know it can be difficult figuring it out on one's own but there are suggestions in some books on how to study.

    I find it an interesting topic.

    Go figure!
    "Slow down and the world comes to you." A Cat in the Hat cartoon

  • #2
    For me, personally, at this point, I believe there are three really good ways to study:

    1. videos. I love, love them. I can learn more in an hour watching a master go over lines ‘with me’ than I ever could from a book. Mostly because I don’t read them enough.

    2. playing. I have a buddy who likes to learn everything from a book before trying the subject in real life, and I’m kind of the opposite. I like to hands on a little bit more. for a lot of things, we can be told and told and read about it and everything else and still not have a clue what we’re doing when we do the actual thing. Welding is a good example, which is why teachers get welders in the hands of students asap.

    3. reviewing, especially with another player. Have you ever spent an hour truly reviewing a game you just played? It’s extremely insightful, and the lines and possible plays tend to sink in deeper than if you just scroll through the moves with an engine as your partner.

    Anyhow, I babble. Carry on.
    Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

    An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

    My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

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    • #3
      For me it's books...old books...old books using descriptive notation and going through them with 2 analysis-sized chess sets. Great fun, especially at 3:00am while the house is quiet and I have a hot cup of coffee or two.

      The difficult part of how to study chess seems to be selecting the right books and sticking with them. People seem to think they're advanced players when they're more like advanced-beginners. I know I got a lot of recommendations to read books that were far too advanced for me. That's definitely a time waster and very frustrating. I was reading books that were too advanced for me before I had developed my knowledge of the basics.

      I also have read how people recommend reading chess books like a novel, i.e., without working out things on a chess set. What a waste of time. I know because that's the way I started. That takes all the fun out of studying.

      Plus, IMHO, one should finish a book before moving on to the next book. Finishing a book may mean reading it 4 or 5 times and working through the examples each time at least once.

      I have too many books and I don't have nearly as many as a lot of people. I still think I don't need more than 20 books and 12 books are probably too many but we'll see. I know I've read more than 12 but not the way I think I should read them. I'm re-reading several of them.
      Last edited by pgmrdan; 12-19-2013, 10:04 PM.
      "Slow down and the world comes to you." A Cat in the Hat cartoon

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      • #4
        This morning I went through my books again and actually increased the number to 12. Three of those are game collections and another 3 are very thorough introductory books. The other 6 are a bit more specialized and some are a bit advanced so I'll read those last.

        I could probably spend several years (maybe a decade) going through those books the way they should be studied.

        If I could remember everything in the book I'm currently reading I'd be a very good chess player.

        In addition to books, I play against the computer and I play correspondence chess online.

        How do some of you study?
        "Slow down and the world comes to you." A Cat in the Hat cartoon

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        • #5
          I call my current technique "fuzzy-study". The only thing recognizable as chess-study/practice, per se, are tactical problems and review of master games. The tactical problems are done as a control to gauge possible improvements in personal "seeing" of the board. The review of master games are done to study flow and dynamics arising within those games.

          Other than that, alot of study relating to what's known about human perception. Studies in paradox, ambiguous figures, studies of geometry, studies of history.

          Everything in chess is visible or imaginable: it's on the board, or capable of being imagined as arising upon the board within "x" number of moves. Fuzzily, I'm proceeding upon the hypothesis that habituated patterns of seeing and thinking are blinding me from playing the game at a higher level of functionality.

          Analogy to fishing: if "studying" is keeping your line in the water resolutely, my fuzzy-study is contemplating the pond, the sky, the weather and my inner state to discern the moment and place to cast the line into the water.

          BTW, I wouldn't recommend anyone studying in this way, unless and until they decide for themselves to. It's viable for me, I'm noting "improvements" and that's all I can say.
          Last edited by Celadonite; 12-20-2013, 03:28 PM.
          "They work at the pace of amnesia."--M. Bloch

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          • #6
            I have quite a lot of Chess books, but unfortunately I haven't probably read 20% of their content :/
            It is maybe a common sin accross Chess players but still I am not happy with it.

            To me, the key to progress has been (and still is) to analyze my own games. You play a pretty good game, you are quite proud of it, then you check the moves in an engine and then...
            You realize that many mistakes have been done on both sides, tactical opportunities missed. This is a reminder of what your real weaknesses are.
            Disclaimer: of course it is better to analyze with someone else who is a bit stronger. Of course, knowing that a move is "+0.37" whereas the one you played is only "+0.25" does not help at all. The computer analysis is good to spot real tactical mistakes, not wrong strategies.
            Developer of Chess Trainer, a cool app for the Iphone

            My blog
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            • #7
              Right, grumly! I totally agree on all counts.
              Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

              An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

              My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

              Comment


              • #8
                1) Determine the major, overarching principles in chess. This is done by looking at a large number of good moves and determining the common factors between them, then forming principles based on them that can be applied a vast majority of the time. Sort of like finding the highest common factor in chess.

                2) Play. Currently I play correspondence chess, using a large database as an opening reference. I will determine my candidate moves first according to the principles, then rank them from best to worst. Then I will look at my database of >=2000 rated players and see which moves were the most popular and their respective success rate.

                3) Analyse those positions with the engine. I make a move first in CC, then analyse with the engine. I have my own protocols for this, like what scores are "equal" or what scores are "white/black has a slight advantage", how much is a blunder worth, minimum number of ply to analyse, etc.



                That's probably it, for now.

                "Blame yourself, or blame God." - Delita, FFT
                "Give up on yourself, and you give up on the world." - Joshua, TWEWY

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                • #9
                  If you are beyond the basics and remember without difficulty how the knight moves, then it is time to move on from beginner status.

                  Tactics first. You'll learn how the pieces work in harmony. You will always need this no matter what opening you choose. You don't want to miss an oppurtunity to play a winning shot. And you will also learn how to best place pieces to create that winning shot. A tactical eye is also a necessity to defend yourself - see the storm coming before it hits.

                  Endgame is next. There is more finesse, but there are also rules that do not change. You can steer a better middlegame into a winning endgame. Or even an inferior middlegame into a drawn endgame. There is nothing after the endgame so the endgame would be your saving grace.

                  From the endgame you can obtain certain positions from middlegame play. From middlegame formations you can work out your opening schemes. By working backwards you are looking at the game as a whole instead of trying to decide what phase is next.

                  But tactics will always be your best friend.

                  Active Library (updated 07/11/15)
                  *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

                  The King In Jeopardy
                  Perfect Your Chess
                  Sharpen your Tactics
                  The Middlegame, Book I
                  ICC Tactical Trainer bot


                  "It's not the book. It's what you can understand and learn from it."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Phoenix View Post
                    If you are beyond the basics and remember without difficulty how the knight moves, then it is time to move on from beginner status.
                    This is the most intelligent and succinct definition I've ever read. Thanks, seriously.

                    I agree with the entirety of the rest of your post--well stated, and true.
                    "They work at the pace of amnesia."--M. Bloch

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Phoenix View Post
                      If you are beyond the basics and remember without difficulty how the knight moves, then it is time to move on from beginner status.
                      These days remembering how the knight moves may be a measure of being beyond a beginner player but years ago a beginner's book would expect you to understand opposition, several endgames, some middlegame strategy and tactics, some openings, etc.

                      It appears the basics today are hardly the basics of yesterday. I consider Lasker's Manual of Chess, Capablanca's A Primer of Chess, and Tarrasch's The Game of Chess to be beginner's books.

                      Reuben Fine's Chess the Easy Way, which is definitely not easy, recommends Lasker's, Tarrasch's, and Nimzovitch's My System books to be read after his book.

                      There seem to have been much higher requirements for defining a beginner in days past.
                      "Slow down and the world comes to you." A Cat in the Hat cartoon

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pgmrdan View Post
                        These days remembering how the knight moves may be a measure of being beyond a beginner player but years ago a beginner's book would expect you to understand opposition, several endgames, some middlegame strategy and tactics, some openings, etc.

                        It appears the basics today are hardly the basics of yesterday. I consider Lasker's Manual of Chess, Capablanca's A Primer of Chess, and Tarrasch's The Game of Chess to be beginner's books.

                        Reuben Fine's Chess the Easy Way, which is definitely not easy, recommends Lasker's, Tarrasch's, and Nimzovitch's My System books to be read after his book.

                        There seem to have been much higher requirements for defining a beginner in days past.
                        The first book in my signature (Your First Move) is an English translation of a Russian text. It had only a few pages on how the pieces move and how to annotate (square names, etc.) and then goes right into actual "chess stuff" - tactics, complete games, strategy, etc. It's almost like a small chess bible. I showed it to my friend (he is 2300+) and he looked at me with a Scooby-Doo face and said "This is for beginners?!"

                        I guess the old school Russians don't mess around.

                        Active Library (updated 07/11/15)
                        *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

                        The King In Jeopardy
                        Perfect Your Chess
                        Sharpen your Tactics
                        The Middlegame, Book I
                        ICC Tactical Trainer bot


                        "It's not the book. It's what you can understand and learn from it."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          That’s pretty much how My System is. Couple-few pages on how pieces move and basic strategy, and then whamo! Right into the chess. I would *think* it’d be a little much for a total beginner, but then again, I’m not a genius.
                          Alexander Alekhine is my chess hero.

                          An eerie chess short story: The Empty Chair

                          My newest chess story: Gamble: A Supernatural Chess Tale

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Skwerly View Post
                            Thatís pretty much how My System is. Couple-few pages on how pieces move and basic strategy, and then whamo! Right into the chess. I would *think* itíd be a little much for a total beginner, but then again, Iím not a genius.
                            I think My System made more masters than any other book.

                            Active Library (updated 07/11/15)
                            *I found I needed a change in study material as what I felt there was a difference in 'just studying chess' and 'studying chess for tournament play'.

                            The King In Jeopardy
                            Perfect Your Chess
                            Sharpen your Tactics
                            The Middlegame, Book I
                            ICC Tactical Trainer bot


                            "It's not the book. It's what you can understand and learn from it."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't know that Fine meant to say it is a beginner's book but he lumped it in with the books by Lasker and Tarrasch to be read after Chess Made Easy.

                              I wouldn't consider it a beginner's book either based upon what I've heard but I haven't read it.
                              "Slow down and the world comes to you." A Cat in the Hat cartoon

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