After Setbacks; there were some very interesting comments.
Clearly, feeling frustrated, tired and wanting more improvement that you are experiencing is very common. (I also see this kind of comment ALL the time in chess forums)…. I don’t think that discouragement , by itself, is that instructive or useful. But I do think its important, even essential, to take a pragmatic approach to chess.
I think its important to realize that Chess is, Actually Not easy! … well, it might be easy ~given a truly easy opponent. But we need to realize the actual intensity of the hobby. The challenge is to be able to grasp the whole truth of the position. And this is the part that is mind-numbingly difficult. We can’t just wait for an opponent to throw us a simple tactical “gift”; It is our job to actually understand the position- to see what plan and principle is Reasonable with the position that is on the board.
This is more difficult than it seems. If we go for something that is easily stopped; our opponent can bind our game to near aimlessness. If we see something forceful that doesn’t work.. our opponent can ignore our plans and profit from the misplacement of our pieces. Our alternately, we can get the attack we were looking for… but fail to convert it (it wasn’t sound) to a winning advantage and watch the opponent rally with material superiority.
These are just a few common plots in the wreckage of many recent games. The bigger point is … why is chess so hard? Keep my material safe; find a weakness, build a plan- that uses the weakness to gain mate or material, Win & celebrate ! Simple!
Chess is NOT easy…
First Compare this to my dramatic photo. Anyone who has ever tried a pullup ; is impressed with this guys extreme athlete prowess. One false step orand cramping bicep- and well; bad things happen. OTOH. Chess looks horribly boring. Someone deeply staring at their chessboard in an intense gaze (and agonizing) over a few reasonable moves; N @ c3 or d2? All the visitors watch them ; curiously, what could possibly be so complicated about this decision. Perhaps, there are calculating every possible move?
NOT! Positional Chess decisions are hard to explain. From the vantage point of my club strength; get some key decisions wrong and there are weak spots and holes- and your opponent might soon get his chance to invade.
I’ve been grappling quite a while with blunders. They’re embarrassing and difficult to eradicate!? And yet despite intense motivation- they still litter my game—I even see them (just after I move) when the opponent Does not! My OTB sparring partner; gave me some advice that you hear All the time… Always ask what your opponent is trying to do?... its good advice, but not necessarily so helpful. I was am very tempted- to shoot back at him the same question (as he , I think a little less strong than I). happily I didn't say anything, as he was only trying to help.
But I had a significant revelation; when I was talking to a beginner. The guy was avidly aware of the need NOT to blunder, but seemed to take an almost ambivalent tact on spotting his opponents mistakes. Surely, I said, if you miss taking your opponent hung queen than your not concentrating hard enough at the game! I don’t always miss hung pieces but I can be unfocused and become sporadic; focusing intensely only after the big play has been made; and all I can do is weep because of what I missed. Its so essential to work important things out in your head.
Wow-that is a revelation! Take another reference at the impressive mountain climbing guy. We’re impressed with his athletic abilities- but surely- Isn’t it his constant focus and awareness on carefully gripping the mountain- what is really keeping him safe? He knows there is little hope to grip tightly AFTER he has started to slip. There is a deep sense of awareness, focus and constant concentration that are essential in both sports…
To put it in chess terms- “No matter what innate strength you have at calculating and understanding important variations in your position- isn’t it your constant focus and awareness in the safety and power of your pieces (and the weakness of his) what keeps you from a premature checkmate (or draw)…” I think this is profound. We may win or lose some games based on whether we understand the pawn structure of our opening- and whether we know how to convert basic endgames to wins (or losing positions to draws)- but I am Sure many MORE games hinge upon simply intense gaze and determination to seize the advantage (and defend against weakness).
Key to this revelation is the Chess is VERY hard…. Easy answers ( Nd2/Nc3 is irrelevant; I’m simply attacking more times than he’s defending. Nxe7 is an easy grab of a pawn….) should seem naturally suspicious. One should Always suspect a tactic; if we see loose material. One should go around the board; looking for more pieces to develop and become active. We should look at HIS whole position. What is the weakest piece? If we’re playing the SLOW game… FORCING yourself to slow down and see MORE must be instructive. One of the keys to chess is of course, knowing WHEN to slow down; but we will get our assessments wrong; and can easily miss the key moment.
The solution then is to slow down, even when we’re not sure we need to, and even if we start to lose on time. we’re NOT professional and so we’re justified to force ourselves to play for INSTRUCTIVE purposes; slow, deliberated, the best chess we can; even if that means losing.
Still I don’t think I’m necessarily TOO fast; I’m just not keeping the intense focus and I need to bring it up another notch. I need to play with more determination. I need to practice with great determination. I’m my exercises… I get too many things wrong. I need to go over it a second, third time. Do I FULLY understand the position, have I accounted for everything. I have a good book for that ; alburt’s 300 positions to know is DEEP and perfect for this.