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I'm tired of losing. Even with good tactics I keep losing. Reading Seirawan's Strategy did not help, but mostly confused me. Now I'm going to read The Art of Attack and hope that helps. Any ideas would be appreciated.
I used to be pretty passive as a beginner, too. I got to about 1400 USCF and got stuck there for over a year.
I decided I needed to learn to attack, so I switched to a "nothing but wild gambits" opening repertoire. In the first 6 months playing that way, I lost about 100 rating points, because I handled those positions badly. But I eventually got better at them, studied my games, studied my openings, etc, and after about 6 months, I suddenly shot up to the 1500s, and haven't dropped back down since.
I did stop playing most of those wild gambits once I was in the 1500s, trying to beat guys over 1800 who actually knew how to defend better than the lower rated opponents, but it was a great learning experience for how to learn to play more aggressively.
"Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald
Vucovik's book might be above 1200. I think it's recommended material for Class B players but one way to get to Class B is to study Class B material. But, unlike Seirawan, it probably won't confuse you because it will demonstrate patterns and themes you can incorporate into your games.
With discussion of patterns, what kind of tactics do you study? What are your study and playing habits? I.e. how often.
Give us a typical game.
We can't help you if you don't provide specific information.
Are you playing fast or slow games? Is your handle on Chess.com the same as here? I’d like to check out a couple of your games when I get a chance if you don’t mind.
For a great long time, my problem was openings. I’d try to get cute or not pay attention and lose the game. Now I very rarely get into trouble there, but I’m having issues transitioning into a middle game from a very good position out of the opening.
Skwerly's got the right idea, if you could post some of your games, it'd surely help people offer fruitful suggestions. Otherwise there's not much to be done but offer the same old annoying platitudes regarding the general principles of play. You could doubtlessly remove/change the player names of your games before posting to retain privacy for yourself and your opponent.
The answers, I believe you'll find, are on the board and within yourself and not in books at this point in time. If one's skill at chess is a knife, the board is the stone to shape the edge on. Books are the strop to hone that edge once it's already been formed.
Passivity is nearly always an expression of "not knowing what to do next" and being at some level fearful of "doing the wrong thing", which is the inner component. It sounds like the edge needs shaping more than it needs honing at the moment.
Some platitudes which may help adjust the inner focus and vision:
Assume you will lose when you begin the game, but with the caveat attached that you will make your opponent truly suffer and sweat for his win. This attitude once assumed might free you from crippling passivity: if you've "already lost" you are free to play the game aggressively.
Contend for the center. (the most annoying oft-repeated platitude of all, but vital!)
When your opponent threatens one of your pieces, threaten one of his somewhere. Give him something irksome and threatening to think about instead of happily moving on to the next stage of his plan when he chooses his next move. When you play passively, you allow him to bring other pieces into the field according to his desire and move them closer in proximity to your king. When you threaten him in turn, he must consider this--you may be developing as potent an attack against HIS king as he's moving to develop against yours.
Unless in the case of a back rank mate or smothered mate, it will generally require three pieces training their effective attention upon your king in order to create a mate. Simply refuse to allow your opponent this luxury, making any move necessary to prevent it. Simultaneously, get three of your pieces in close proximity to his King, and start searching for the mating combination--he will have to answer this threat, or risk losing the game..and, while he's answering it, keep the pressure up on him..move more pieces and pawns towards his king. When you're pressuring him, he's not pressuring you as actively. (force a passivity upon him! But remember than in any game there's usually a rhythmic flux of attack/repulse/counter-attack/repulse/attack which will repeat itself several times during the course of the game, and at some point remember that he will be attacking you again! Which is ok, it's the way the game works.)
Remember, you're looking for mate, not for grabbing material. Take material only when no mate is likely. Games are often lost because someone pauses in their attack upon the king to snatch a pawn that's utterly insignificant on the other side of the board. (remember, your opponent may do this, be watchful for such wasted moves and be determined to act aggressively when you see this chance and turn the tables on him!)
It's passive not to take the opponent's pawn en passant, unless there's clearly a reason to restrain from taking it. And there very rarely is a reason not to take it.
You might practice routinely castling on opposite wings of your opponent as an exercise in learning aggression on the board. This generally ensures the inability to play passively, but requires that you throw the kitchen sink at him as quickly as possible or lose.
Otherwise, advance SLOWLY up the board towards your opponent in the opening and for the largest part of the middlegame unless a true opportunity presents itself, and keep your pieces grouped near each other where they can co-ordinate both attack and defense.
Don't be afraid to wage chess with your king uncastled--some positions call for him to remain uncastled, and you'll find that the king can be a skilled and fearsome close-quarters fighter. He can generally hold his own against two pieces such as rook/rook, rook/bishop, rook/knight, bishop/knight, and knight/knight at close quarters in a jumbled position and as often as not your opponent will lose one of those pieces to your king if your opponent doesn't quickly disengage and gain some distance between his pieces and your king, or send another piece into the battle. Such engagements will quickly show you the value of a non-passive stance; for the king to prevail he will have to be aggressive, constantly threatening the two pieces, approaching them relentlessly, dodging their attacks to get ever-closer to them and never relenting. A moment of passivity on your King's part, and the opponent will cast a third piece into the fray. Good, good, exercise in non-passivity!
"The first essential for an attack is the will to attack."--Tartakower
(Inner work on attitudes, not book-study at this phase of your development! Shape the knife-edge first, then hone it! )
Enough annoying platitudes--maybe you can post a few games so that someone can offer more specifically useful advice?
Thank you all for trying to help me be more aggressive. I don't know how to post my chess,com games. But here are the scores of games, before or after we played: (scores of opponents) 1103, 1483, 1228, 1437.
If you have pgns of the games you'd like commented upon, open the pgn with Notepad (if you're running Windows).
This involves right-clicking on the pgn file, selecting "Open With" on the popup menu which will appear, then choosing "NotePad" from the options available.
In Notepad, right click in the body of the pgn file, selecting "Select All" from the popup menu. This will highlight the text of the pgn file. Holding your cursor within the body of highlighted text, right click again, and then select "Copy" from the options presented in that popup menu.
Return to the Forum, and make a reply to this thread. Right click in the field of the reply and choose "Paste" from the popup menu which will appear. This will paste your pgn file's contents into your editable reply to this thread.
This is when you can alter your and your opponent's names, say to "Me" and "Mr. X", or whatever pleases you.
Interested parties are then free to copy your pgn and insert it into a viewer of their choice, review it and offer suggestions according to their estimations.
This would be the simplest/quickest way to post your games, without bothering going into how to post them as viewable games directly--more complications which I wish to avoid for you
Posting ratings of your opponents unfortunately yields nothing one can comment about regarding the dynamics of those games.
Skippy, I've downloaded the pgn of the game you lost on May 24 to "WR"..shall I post that game here for people to view for helpful suggestions, after I remove the names of you and your opponent? I won't do so without your permission, and I will edit out the names, indicating you by "Skippy", if that's ok?
I'm deleting the message above where you give your handle at that site, so that you can maintain your privacy, ok?
I don't think I'm out of line in asking Skippy to annotate one of his games. If you don't analyze your own games don't think you're going to know why you're not winning. I also looked at 3-day correspondence game between him and "VR"; he should have had plenty of time to think about his moves and be able to describe what he was thinking at the time.
Your fatal mistakes in that game involved not asking yourself "what is my opponent threatening?" Having a repository of patterns should help you out in doing that.
I might remember a pattern if I do a puzzle with it. But if I blunder a piece to a two mover in a G/75 (let's be ingratiating and say I wouldn't do such a thing in 40/2) game I'm not going to forget that pattern any time soon.
After that playing game, what do you think black should play here?
click to show
1 ... c4 wins the bishop. Think of what he did with his f-pawn against your light squared bishop.
Or what about this:
White to move. Black threatens 1 ... Bxg4 and Qh2#.
click to show
1. Nh6+ or 1. Nf6+ both win the black queen. Remember how he played Nh6+ and picked up your knight on h5?
If either of these problems took you <1 min you're not spending enough time on your correspondence moves. If you got them very quickly, then good job; you probably wouldn't have seen them so quickly if an opponent hadn't once played them against you.
I hate to tell it to you but chess is work. Unless you're happy to not improve (perfectly acceptable!)—then it's very casual.
Looking at your games I see this pattern where your opponent will attack a piece with a pawn (twice a dark squared bishop) and instead of moving it you just let him take it. You have to know this can't be acceptable against 1000+ players. If someone just gave you free pieces you'd win the game. You shouldn't do the same for your opponents.