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Beginner's Questions

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  • Beginner's Questions

    Hello Chessforums.org people

    I have come here with quite a few questions...

    First of all, I've picked up Chess 5 months ago and only played 5 games in my whole life before that, so I'm rather new. I've been playing on FICS ever since I started to play online, and that's basically the only place I play Chess at all (just recently I've reached 1100 rating...)

    Some rather concrete opening questions:
    I've been playing the Ruy Lopez exclusively as white ever since I started playing serious openings, but as the opponents grew stronger I've come up against many french defense or sicilian defense players, not allowing me to get to a real Ruy Lopez. So I've been thinking about starting off with 1.Nc3, giving me the option of easily transposing into a King's Indian, which I think would be a solid way of playing with white.
    My first question is if I should consider droping the Ruy Lopez and picking up a different opening, as I've read many people advising newer players to play i.e. the Italian game instead. I've also heard that the Colle/English System are good for newer players. Also, from what I've heard the King's Indian is a rather positional setup, where experience is particularly handy.

    Defense wise I've started off with the Dragon and Najdorf, but swapped to the French Defense rather quickly, but I'm not completely happy with the French.

    Furthermore, I've recently come to realize that I lack the ability to develop plans in the middlegame and I'm currently trying to get some ideas on this are, as well as some general middlegame advice. Up to now I've been studying almost exclusively tactics (in form of puzzles mostly) and some opening theory. Would you advise me to focus more on the Endgame, as I've read somewhere that one should study the endgame first.

    Finally, I've decided to spend more time on examining my own games, and I was wondering how you do it? Do you run Fritz and go through the moves quickly or do you take your time and think about each move and possible variations?

    Thank you for reading this rather lengthy and not always correctly written paragraph, and I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.

  • #2
    Hey there!

    And welcome to chess forums!

    One nice thing about this site and other chess sites is you'll get a lot of advice and sometimes it may even be contradictory, but I'll take a stab at your questions.

    Like a lot of us (even some players more advanced than you) you are focusing too much on opening choices rather than other more significant parts of the game. I guarantee you that most of your problems probably have less to do with the openings themselves than other things that are more important.

    Switching openings a lot can be fun and there are two different schools of thought it seems. One, that it's okay, that way you can experiment with a lot of different positions and thus be exposed to different things as part of your chess education. Two, that it's not okay and it breeds a destructive kind of chess attention deficit disorder where you become (as they say) a jack of all trades but master of none.

    But as per your decisions regarding black's responses to e4!--I'm going with what's known in other parts of the chess Internet as the Markovich doctrine (a master and chess teacher in Ohio), at your level you can start a good chess education by sticking with the open games and for the time being you should probably play e5. The reasoning behind this strikes me a fundamentally sound. One of the things Markovich teaches his beginning students is that even if you want to take up closed or semi-closed positions later in your chess career, you still have to know the open games because, ALL chess positions have the potential to turn into to open games, even if its late in middlegame or early endgame where a pawn center has been demolished etc.

    Also that goes for white too. At this point I would strongly caution you against 1.d4/ 1.c4/ 1.Nc3 1. Nf3 etc. These openings are rather more strategic in nature.

    So what to do? Well I have bad news, you are going to lose games! Lose lots! But that's how most of us get better. So when you lose a game, rather than blaming it on the opening, try and find out why you lost. Did you throw away a piece on move 12? If you did it's probably not the opening's fault. Also, I'm not making this up, I have met a lot of people in my life who made it to Class A (USCF 1800-2000) without having studied hardly any opening theory at all. Yes someone may have shown them certain moves, but they didn't have shelves of books or databases. Just worked on their tactics, endgames and getting their pieces to good squares.

    Work on your tactics. Get a tactics workbook, or google Chess Tactics Server or Chess Tempo, both sites offer free interactive online chess problems. Chess Tempo is somewhat less frustrating because you simply solve the problem whereas Chess Tactics Server grades you on time as well, and at first I think that can lead to a bad pattern of making hasty decisions rather than trying to figure out the mechanisms behind the tactics.

    The only question that stumps me a little bit is your question about the Ruy. The Ruy can lead to closed positions with a lot of maneuvering, and because black has so many options, I would think that at this juncture it might be better to go for a King's Gambit, Bishop's Opening, or Vienna.

    At 1100 you'll absolutely have to improve your tactics and a good way to learn about tactics and piece play is to play gambits, oodles of them.

    Best of luck on your chess journey!
    "Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated."- George Bernard Shaw

    Comment


    • #3
      i have taken a vast knowledge from these things,like to try you guys also,,,,
      Mega database 2010
      Mega database 2008
      Roman's Lab 1-14
      Chess books
      Chess base 9
      Schachendspiele - Teil 3 - Endgames - Vol.3
      Openings

      Comment


      • #4
        I'll just add an "Amen" to everything BrillatSavarin said.

        And it's not just Markovich who says to stick to 1. e4 as white and 1. e4 e5 as black until you reach a decent level (we're talking 2000+ rating - candidate master level). Many, many, MANY other coaches, masters, and even world champions (Kasparov!) have agreed with him on this.

        But as BrillatSavarin said, the Ruy Lopez leads to some closed positions, as well as open ones, so I agree that there are better openings to play when starting out. One common recommendation for beginners is the Italian complex of openings (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4), which can lead to the Giuoco Piano, Two Knights Defense, or Hungarian Defense, depending on black's play. That bishop on c4 targets the f7 pawn, which is black's weakest point at the start of the game. That's also why the Bishop's Opening (1. e4 e5 2. Bc4) is another good choice.

        And yes, you'll face lots of responses to 1. e4 besides e5. Your opponents will try to catch you unprepared - welcome to Chess. You'll have to learn to deal with all the variations eventually. But if you understand opening principles, you'll be able to improvise once you hit the end of your memorized knowledge, and that's far more important than trying to know everything.

        Lastly, let me throw in my standard recommendation. Dan Heisman is a master and professional coach who specializes in help beginner/intermediate players reach strong amateur level (1800+). He's been writing a monthly column called Novice Nook on chesscafe.com for the last 10 years, and it's well worth reading his archived columns. Start on his home page, where he has the past columns sorted by category: Dan Heisman's Chess Cafe Links. I recommend starting with the articles entitled "An Improvement Plan" and "The Four Homeworks".

        --Fromper

        "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

        Comment


        • #5
          I wanted to thank you for your advice, I've switched from Ruy Lopez and French to Italian Game and Lativan Gambit for now, responding to d4 according to the general opening principles, and after reading some of the texts by the author Fromper brought my attention to, I've basically stopped playing Blitz for the most part and I'm focusing more on longer games, which resulted in a decent rating point gain on FICS (but I think this is because there's fewer people playing standard games). I also started doing more tactic exercises and focusing on Endgame principles.

          I'm currently rather clueless when my opponents respond to 1.e4 with c5 or e6 as well as people opening with 1.d4, do you have any advice on how to handle this situations. At the moment I'm simply developing piece after piece without a real system.
          Thanks a lot in advance
          Last edited by Bumbeli; 03-07-2011, 09:48 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bumbeli View Post
            I wanted to thank you for your advice, I've switched from Ruy Lopez and French to Italian Game and Lativan Gambit for now, responding to d4 according to the general opening principles, and after reading some of the texts by the author Fromper brought my attention to, I've basically stopped playing Blitz for the most part and I'm focusing more on longer games, which resulted in a decent rating point gain on FICS (but I think this is because there's fewer people playing standard games). I also started doing more tactic exercises and focusing on Endgame principles.

            I'm currently rather clueless when my opponents respond to 1.e4 with c5 or e6 as well as people opening with 1.d4, do you have any advice on how to handle this situations. At the moment I'm simply developing piece after piece without a real system.
            Thanks a lot in advance
            If I am you I will buy Play Winning Chess by Seirawan,when I was still a beginner, after reading only a few chapters of that book, I started beating consistently players on my level ,prior to reading that book. Read that book and solve chess puzzle and in no time you will beat players that are troubling you(maybe 1100-1300 range of levels).

            Additional tips

            1. Always study your opponent's last move
            2. Put your rook on open file
            3. Put your bishop on open diagonal
            4. Look for tactics like pin, skewer (that could win you material) and look for mating combination.
            5. Castle
            6. When ahead in material, exchange pieces.
            7. If you don't know what to do, improve the position of your pieces.

            1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5, play 3.exd5. You will have much easier time to handle this structure at your level.

            1.e4 c5 play 2. d4, sicilian open has lots of theory that you don't need to concern to much at the moment, the thing with 2. d4, it is fun, and by playing 2.d4, it will help you develop your calculating ability, cause many positions here are sharp.

            Along your quest for improvement you will suffer setbacks, don't let it discourage you, learn from your defeats.
            Last edited by ryan_c; 03-08-2011, 05:23 AM.
            " Deep calculation is not what distinguishes the champions. It does not matter how far ahead you see if you don't understand what you are looking at. When I contemplate my move, I first must consider all the elements in the position so that i can develop a strategy and develop intermediate objectives"

            -- Garry Kasparov--

            "Tactics must be guided by strategy"

            --- Garry Kasparov--

            Comment


            • #7
              As white against 1. e4 c5, I'd say go with the Open Sicilian. That's 2. Nf3, then against black's normal second moves (d6, e6, or Nc6), you play 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4. That's the normal opening at higher levels, and there's a ton of memorized lines to learn eventually, but none of that matters at beginner level. So it's best to dive into the main lines at the very beginning, so you can learn a little bit at a time as you go.

              I don't think you should give up blitz entirely. Playing slow games is essential to improvement, but so is playing lots of games, even if they're blitz. Balancing the two is best. Personally, my weekly study goals include playing 2 slow games and 10 blitz games every week. I don't necessarily hit those goals every week, since my slow games usually depend on what we're doing at my local club that week, and I play slow enough blitz games (5-10 minutes, plus an increment) that it does take a couple of hours to play that many.

              The most important thing that I think hasn't been mentioned here yet is studying your games after you're done playing them, especially with the help of stronger players. Learning from your mistakes is the best way to improve.

              --Fromper

              "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, if a newbie to the forum can hop in here,

                Its good to set the Ruy aside for the time, one of the most played openings that's theory can go 30 moves deep, fraught with traps and a single mistake can cause your position to unravel completely. Its kind of the same thing with the Sicilian, if you play against someone who knows the lines (and there are TONS of them) you can find yourself in a hard spot. Of course, Fromper is correct: you should be prepared to lose a lot when starting out, regardless of your opening/defense choices.

                e4 is the best place to start, and while I agree that opening theory is a tad overrated and overly pushed on new players, you really cannot go wrong with Yasser Seirawan's Winning Chess: Openings. It isn't very detailed but explains the common responses to the most common and some offbeat openings and defenses, and everyone does need at least a HINT of understanding on opening theory.

                With the French defense you have to remember that in the Advance Variation (1. e4, e6 2. d4, d5 3. e5) can lead to a very cramped position that novices should really avoid (learned that the hard way in my first tourney, lol).

                As far as developing plans/tactics/strategies in the middle game, I am a fan of books and websites. Chesscafe (as mentioned) is great and I am personally a fan of chess.com where you can play long games, see instructional videos, tactics trainer, etc. ubt if your a reader I would recommend (and I know there are newer books but we are talking about basics here) Aaron Nimzovitch's "My System" is a great starter book, as is anything Pandolfini wrote (whats great about Pandolfini is his books are so numerous and common for beginners that you can find them at used book stores for next to nothing).

                When it comes to game analysis you don't run it through a program for help OR sit and go over it yourself in multiple variations...you do both. That's the other reason I like chess.com, you can submit a game for analysis (even as a free member) and have the comp do the work while you, yourself, analyze it and then compare the 2, I have found that to be the best way to advance your understanding of where you, as a player, need to focus your attention, because if you analyze a position and find the comp disagrees, go through the move order and see the difference between what you thought and what was best.

                ANYWAYS, sorry to ramble there, just remember, chess, like life, is never about the destination, its about the journey...and how much you drink and smoke on the way
                Last edited by DeviantKnight; 03-17-2011, 02:56 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Forget about openings.
                  1. Go over your own games carefully, and use a silicon friend.
                  2. Look for the LOSING MOVE.
                  In the old chess books, Fine, Reinfeld others used to indicate the
                  "Losing Move". Botvinnik I believe did that also in his books.
                  As did Keres.
                  3. Learn the end game rules. Especially pawn structure.
                  R&P endings.
                  4. There are probably 20 million chess books out there in every language. Look for a book that will help you.
                  Before you buy, read a review of the book.

                  Comment

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