Monday, April 20, 2015

SAFE at ANY SPEED part 1. Why?

From Sleeping to speeding; my chess has been pretty intense with a lot of great games and more effort then normal in getting some of the critical moves right and working through my calculation weaknesses.

But Recently, what’s really started to bother me is the blunders and oversights to the game….   When I mention this to some people they immediately become kind of defensive about it;  and I can tell that it is more THEM than I – that they are thinking about.   Nonetheless their will usually throw out the idea that “blunders are part of the game”.   I don’t like this sentiment.   Lets me argue against it….

  • Blunders are part of the Game…”  yes, they are!  But that doesn’t make them a very GOOD part of the game.  Making a mistake that the opponent can immediately use to gain material or a mate; means you didn’t think through your move carefully enough.   ITS embarrassing!  In what sport; do you routinely fail to do something that is easy even for a beginner??

  • Many moves are mistakes…”  True.  But a blunder Isn’t merely a Mistake, weakness, or error.  A blunder is to GIVE the opponent an immediate opportunity to gain material, or a mating attack.   A blunder means you didn’t carefully work out what the opponent could do to you.

  • Masters make blunders…” (HATE this one). Yes, but masters don’t become masters because they frequently give away their pawns and pieces.   Instead masters only succumb to tactics when their opponent has nursed their positional advantages until ALL moves are Blunders and that , fundamentally is different… yes, VERY infrequently a master hangs a piece or misses a simple easy tactic. (exception do not disprove the rule).

  • Loose chess is More interesting”.   I disagree.  Just because two sides are careful doesn’t mean- awesome mind boogling combinations are out.   In fact, if all the easy stuff has been seen and prevented what is left; are Truely chess ‘Puzzles’ where insight carry the day…. Often, where small weaknesses is properly exploited; and the chess board explodes with excitement.   In other games;  pieces dwindle down to the fine points of pawn position;  and the game hinges upon the fine technique of handling pawn masses.
 In all these cases- Technique, knowledge and strategy is tested, reinforced and becomes the critical difference between a win and a loss; rather than random oversight.  Chess becomes a display of great skill instead of a dice throw.

SEMANTICS;   Calling a poor move a blunder REALLY implies you knew better.  And in most (of my) cases this is (unfortunately) very true.   It I make a move that I could exploit with seconds of thoughts-  I clearly am not being serious about the moves, themselves.   While its true that I can get tired and frustrated, disappointed and overconfident; I have thoroughly explored the world of simple tactics.   I’ve done many thousands of puzzles- some of which were complicated and that pretty rapidly- SO WHY Should I give my opponent such an easy shot of mastering me.?   In the WORLD of chess, you should demand that your opponent show real skill, to defeat your mighty king.  In this regard; every error will need individually measured? 

IN THE END, MOST of what it means to be GOOD AT CHESS means to be careful and aware of all the foreseeable consequences of ones move.  NO BOOKS can give you that!  It’s the most intangeable strength in the game.….  And there is NO higher compliment, then “wow! You saw Everything I didn’t have a chance!!”

PS….  I’ve blogged quite quickly after me last grab-bag post.   I think it was GOOD to remind myself, that ultimately I need to enjoy My chess; and not get so obsessed in rating or winning as to eliminate my enjoyment of chess.

Some might feel that this Strongly worded post contradicts the spirit of the former post.  Perhaps.   But enjoying chess is clearly exists as much of a balance, just as is the task of improving in it.

If your not serious, involved and earnest in chess; the game becomes somewhat trivial.   There’s a joy to the intensity that is difficult to explain to those that don’t obsess in it.   On the other hand, pushing yourself into nearly professional rigour squeezes the sense of wonder, social enjoyment, and relaxation that the game could afford.

If you learn nothing else about me; you need to appreciate that I am intense person that really enjoys obsessing on things.  I realized just a little while ago; that chess was a worthy subject for this inclination.  I nearly need to remind myself to have patience and acceptance about my limitations. 


  1. I will comment a few points you mentioned in your post.

    1. Blunders are part of the Game - NO!, No!!, NO!!! Mistakes are the part of the game. Blunders are the things that KILL the game immediately! I will not even consider blunders as the elements of the game - they are just "game killers and destructors".

    2. Many moves are mistakes. I am NOT sure about this statement as it is too broad and non-defined precisely. What do you define a mistake? What does it mean "many moves" (5, 20, 100, million?). However it is true that some moves are mistakes and some of them are inaccuracies.

    3. Masters make blunders. It is one of the biggest BULL-SHIT I have ever heard. Sorry about that but it is my view on this. You cannot consider chess a SCIENCE if you take such an approach. Masters really make mistakes, but it is the same exception to the rule - as statement: "some people are killed by thunderstorms". It has NO FUTURE at all.

    4. Loose chess is More interesting - I faced big problem to understand this point. What do you mean by "loose chess"? I would comment on that, but I simply cannot comprehend this whole point. What a pity.

    "In the WORLD of chess, you should demand that your opponent show real skill, to defeat your mighty king" - yes, that's right! I cannot agree more! If anyone is going to beat me - let him show his real skills, not just my oversights. Of course no one is morally obliged to make blunders and blame his opponent about this. It is simply ridiculous.

    "IN THE END, MOST of what it means to be GOOD AT CHESS means to be careful and aware of all the foreseeable consequences of ones move" - could you explain it more detailed as I am not sure what you meant? What does it mean "foreseeable consequences of ones move"? Sorry, but to me it is too general (too less concrete) statement.

    "there is NO higher compliment, then “wow! You saw Everything I didn’t have a chance!!” - Huh. Recently my opponent has told me that I simply move instantly and "see everything". Seeing everything is simply impossible - or to be more specific - possible in an extremally narrow margin of chess positions.

    To sum up this comment - nowadays chess is for me just a great fun and a game - I did not expect to master this game any longer (I wanted to be a good player, but it turned out that I am too lazy, too individual, too stubborn and have to many interests).

    PS. None of my comments were directed to abuse anyone - it was NOT my intention (I stress this out as I used strong words in a few parts of my comment).

  2. for the record; I agree with you completely.

    I don't want to be confusing. my list is a list of how some people justify chess blunders. but I'm not entirely sure I can show you where someone said these, and whether I have taken them out of context.

    the purpose of this blog is mostly Motivational. I want to stop making game- killing mistakes. .. ABSOLUTELY! Strong words are appropriate!
    I want to perhaps be a clear about the definition of a blunder. I need to stop making move that gives the opponent an easy way to earn a peice, pawn or a simple checkmate that wasn't forced (sometimes in some positions all moves are bad ones).

    I am being strictly materialistic about it, because I am still working on understanding positional chess. and there is neccesary leeway for making moves that are weak; when you don't understand the weakness. In short, when games are more explorations of the deeper concepts of chess; I'll be much more satisfied with my game- irregardless of whether I win or not (I think NOT making blunders and taking advantage of blunders will mean big increases in my chess strength).
    "loose chess" -- I'm not sure where I heard it, but I lurk at the forums alot; and likely someone has excused poor play to say; that moves played fast without a lot of careful calculation allows for brilliance in your opponent and vice versa.

    Its all in defining words, I suppose. but winning a game when the opponent gives you his peices-- is this really brilliance? NO! your opponent more or less pushed wood without a fight. moreover, if there is a sharp tactical exchange after you have taken peices- doesn't the fact that you have all that extra material; cheapen the brilliance a little? yes. it does. Even if the blundering guy won, he's still showing less skill for allowing someone to potentially win the game.

    again, my whole blog is meant to be deeply motivational; and perhaps a little philosophical. I have been giving away wood, recently.

    but I don't want to obsess on rating! rating means nothing for an amateur. Instead, I want to earn the right to game after game, and play "hard fought" games- where no easy tactic would have went against me; where I dropped no pawn without exacting a compensation; and where I saw all the easy pawns/peices and checkmates- that the game had.

    thank you for reading. expect new updates.

  3. Jason!

    You are absolutelly right and I really appreciate and like your blog. It is NOT a simple technical one ("this position is won - find a solution" type), but inspirational, motivational and a little bit controversial. I love such approach as it helps to burn imagination, creativity, deep thoughts, reflection and so on. What's more - it looks like you are a few levels below mine. Is it bad? No! Just the opposite! Your reflections FORCE me to think over many concepts, beliefs and ides in my mind. Most often at first - I do not know what is going on, but after a while (or a few repetitions) I get what you wanted to share (or at least I feel it or ask to explain again).

    I want to be BRUTALLY honest - If I would look for a blog with "solid chess instructions", I would not waste any time for this one. I hope you know what I mean my friend. However I am interested at looking for nice, inspirational and original blogs that share their independent, but deep and original approach. Your blog fills these requirements without any doubts.

    And now let's go for the main of your reply.

    1. Killing mistakes (KM). I always try to convince ANYONE that unless you learn how to stop playing KM... you can call yourself "a good player" - no matter what your rating or chess level is! That's for sure! I compare these KM to the painting process and an artist (Marcel du Champ comes in mind). If you are painting an art (or at least you fell it may be this kind of great thing) you cannot make ONE (not to mention more) "false move" that kills your painting definitely - isn't it? The same is with chess. The second reason is that unless you avoid playing KM - you cannot feel what chess REALLY is (or at least - may be), because you have not climbed to the mountain yet... and you cannot see the top of the biggest mountains you always wanted to see. Did I express it clearly? I hope so! :)

    2. Your definition of blunder is a really good one! I am going to use it when teaching my young chess student. Now it is absolutelly clear to me what you think when using the term "blunder". I asked about it because many people use bluder and mistake interchangeably (they replace one with the other - and it confuses me very much).

    3. "...sometimes in some positions all moves are bad ones" - it is the position that we can call "zugzwang" (ZGZ). However if you play in a correct way - you will not be forced to reach it. By the way - according to my theory it may be the only reason anyone can lose the game from a starting position - even playing best moves.

    4. "there is neccesary leeway for making moves that are weak; when you don't understand the weakness..." + " are more explorations of the deeper concepts of chess; I'll be much more satisfied with my game- irregardless of whether I win or not" + "...NOT making blunders and taking advantage of blunders will mean big increases in chess strength" - NO DOUBTS about it and I cannot agree more with these statements (I made just the most necessary excerpts of the quotes).

    to be continued....

  4. continued from the previous post...

    5. Probably we can agree that "loose chess" is the same (or quite close to) as "lazy chess". You simply play the moves without any deeper insight and base only on the universal rules (like control the center, double your rooks on the 7th row, etc.). If chess would be just a simple set of rules (without exceptions) - all of us could be MASTERS within a period of 3 to 6 months work. But, hey! What would a title of MASTER mean if it would be so trivial to reach?! To me? Nothing (worthy) or if you want to hear it in another way - worthless!

    6. All in all - I deeply feel that you advocate to play a NICE, DEEP and HARD game of chess. Such game that is full of ideas, concepts, traps, amazing and unexpected moves and without simple mistakes (like dropping a pawn aftter 3-4 moves exchange - without ANY compensation) - not to mention blunders. Am I right?

    To sum up my comment - after you reach the level you can play safe chess (not making simple mistakes) you can start to taste chess in a NEW level. It is like you are at high school and help your brother (or student) to solve the math task at the primary school level (be it 5, 6 or 7th grade pupil). You can his actions (and thinking) from a different perspective - even if both of you can solve such math task without much effort - isn't it?

    By the way - can you remind me your chess level (grade)? I ask because I simply forgot and in my case - after I reached B-class (1800-1900 level), I can say my game has finally evolved! What does it mean? Most often I can play the game without so called "drop out" (simple mistakes or oversights). It requires concentration, stamina, perseverance and endurance (especially if the game lasts 3-4 hours and just ONE small mistake is enough to lose the game), but to reach this level - I needed about 16-18 years of playing chess. You can comment or ask me anything related to this topic if you wish.

  5. thank you; I really appreciate the instructive comments and thoughtful replies.

    I think my rating is unclear- officially I am USCF 1187 ( perhaps 1087 FIDE?). but I think this does me a little bit of unjustice. I am Not really able to compete in tournaments and my rating is only based on a handful of games.

    I think it is likely from my online results; that playing slowly and careful I am near 1300-1400 FIDE. (high class "D"). I might be lower, though, IDK.

    I've been playing for a long time as well... BUT very unseriously. this summer I have decided to take this game and get good at it. Anything worth doing is hard to do! it is very, very hard to be good at the game.

    the amount of time and passion that it takes to stop making Gamekilling moves and actually be half-ways clever is... well. its incredible, amazing! this game has such scope and depth.

  6. BTW, I can agree with your definition of the word "loose chess" as lazy chess ... but I think of it as the inclination to base one gameplay on an incomplete analysis of the position. and specifically to attack or defend; where exact analysis is essential, without much analysis (or inaccurate, half completed analysis)

    sometimes it is easy to feel like the opponents king (for example) is vulnerable and that your simply going to make some aggresive moves and hope that it will all work out! that is "loose" thinking , because it is based on simple thinking and not the hard realities of what the exact position will look like once you attack.

    I think at my level I sometimes suffer from "loose" attacks AND defenses. a bad habit gained from player weaker players.... so I would say that for me "LOOSE" means inaccurate tactical play.
    this is (near as I can tell) a common patzer problem. historically, my "training" in chess was to play (and beat) a very weak chess computer. It has served me well over the years; as when playing novices- one only needs to put them under pressure; they usually fall apart.

    but I am playing high rated players online; studying tactics and striving hard to create attacks that don't fail and defend tenaciously.

  7. It is really nice to read your comments - I enjoy it very much! :)

    It looks like you are D and I am B-class player. It means we see chess in another way - probably I can see it a bit deeper and know what to expect and how to proceed when you may have problems to understand what was the reason "the attack did not work".

    Being really good at ANYTHING is great - it requires work, dedication and effort! The same is with chess - you can become good (what do you mean by good? C, B or A-class player? Or maybe chess master, International Master or Grandmaster?), but only when you treat is seriously and work in a efficient way.

    And yes, chess is incredible deep and beautiful indeed!

    Thanks for explaining what chess players mean by "loose chess". As far as I understood it means that you are playing (relying) TOO MUCH on the rules instead of concrete analysis. Most people rated below B-class play this type of (blitz) chess due to having a good fun! However some players rated 1900-2200 do the same if they are not motivated enough to play a serious game. Of course I play such games too - especially as I need to have a good time with the help of chess.

    You said: "I would say that for me "LOOSE" means inaccurate tactical play." I think you have to overcome this habit as fast as possible. Otherwise you will stuck at C level for long. It is because at higher levels you simply cannot play tactically UNSOUND moves (I mean - tactical mistakes), because your opponents will exploit it without any effort. I know what I am talking about as I have played a lot of games against a pool of players rated 1200-1700. The lower rated the player - the more tactical mistakes he makes. Yes, it is THAT simple!

    If you need advice related to (sound) attacks: try to make conclusions about the necessary factors (elements) that make an attack right (sound). If one or some of such elements are missing - it is very highly probable that the attack is a bad choice. There are many books related to attack topic - you should not have a problem to choose and learn from these.

    If you want to ask about any other chess part of the game - let me know. I will answer unless I do not know the answer.