Sunday, August 05, 2007

I hate dropping pieces

I still have a lot to learn. The last couple of games I played at the club I lost due to an abysmal error of not seeing a fatal double attack on a piece after having made my move.

For instance:

I had black against an 1800 player. I didn’t even consider the potential double attack with white’s Qd4+ because I FORGOT my king was on an open diagonal. Instead I was considering Qc7 to be a weakness because of WHAT? Rxb7? I was tired and not seeing straight. I wanted to move b6 in this position to support the knight. I thought moving the Q to a6 was a safe bet… not even thinking about the the looming double threat. After I dropped the piece, I trudged onward… and made him say checkmate in a 58 move endgame pawn race with a piece down.

On ICC, I am beating up the highest rated WimpB bot and my rating climbed to 1399. It took a nose dive as I challenged myself to the U1500 2 8 blitz tournament. I lost 3 of the 4 games I played… to dropping pieces… after being up material. Should have…could have … would have…Oh well.

While playing the bot repeatedly, it provides for some consistent training. For instance, I learned with WimpB, if I don’t play too erractically, I can usually win in the end game. I also have a chance to throw a tactical shot in the late midgame and pick up material. If I play to forcefully, I drop a piece and get crushed. Its all good. WimpB also gives me opportunities to hone my defense against d4 as it tends to play that a lot.

What transpires though as a I play “real” virtual opponents, is the predictable nature goes away. My opponent may not be too adept to my opening, but is rather sound positionaly or tactically ( or both). The endgame struggles are more challenging.

This all lead me to a great “AHA!” moment. The revelation I had is that I tend to play OTB games better at the club. There is a predictable nature about it very much like how I train with the ICC Bots. I see the parallelism here. Going to a weekend event where my scope of opponents has increased outside the predictable norm, I am adjusting to new styles of play. In those instances I tend to have a poorer OTB performance. Much like what I experienced last night on ICC during the online Blitz tournament.

So what can I learn in all this?
1) My Opponent is faced with the same issue if they never played ME before. I should put any fears or anxieties aside and remove the psychological block preventing my creativity and tactical vision.
2) I am still trying to make stuff happen that isn’t there. ( My funk at the world open). This is BIG for me. This is my greatest stumbling block. I get to thinking, that I MUST do something rather than listen to my inner Nimzovitch make a positional move in quiet positions.
3) Real chess… it all boils back down to the great chess prophet Mr. Dan Heisman. Checks, captures and threats …OH MY!

This is my path. I am destined to repeat the same mistakes until I learn. I’ll be given plenty of learning opportunities I’m sure. For all three of the above, the only way for me to improve is through more “conscious” play. Blogging about this revelation helps keep it in the top of the stack.

Hope you all are well.



Nobis said...

I don'think the delamaza training program will help you avoiding blunders...just, concentrate and keep alert and check your opponent treats before making every move!

Anonymous said...

i find that if i play the same people over and over, i learn thier "habits" and they learn mine and i kind of stagnate. i like playing different people from different areas (for example, people from tucson, arizona play differently than people from santa fe, new mexico) to get a more diverse set of ideas. my thinking is, everyone at a certain club all train together and learn the same stuff, but different clubs train differently and learn different stuff, etc. if you play against three different clubs, you learn three different styles, etc. this has probably has no merit in actual real life, but in the surreal world my brain lives in, it makes sense.

wang said...

Chessloser, it absolutely makes sense.

In Hawaii all (and I do mean all) of the kids would respond to 1.e4 with a French Defense. There were two strong coaches in the area who were avid Francophiles. Here in Phoenix all the kids open up with 1.Nf3 or 1.d4, why? Once again the coaches out here play that.

I know exactly what you are going through. My issue is more noticeable with the black pieces. I'm sorry to say that I don't have any substantive suggestions, but I have started looking at diagonals before I make any moves as I have dropped some pieces lately due to double attacks, and skewers along a diagonal.

Joshua said...

I think that there is a high degree of randomness in blitz chess. That is not to say that there aren't skills involved in being a good blitzer or that there isn't overlap between that and being a good standard chess player, but I think that the skill sets are rather different and many games are decided based on how quickly you are calculating in any given moment in time, a factor that has a high degree of variance depending on tiredness, digestive state, distractions, etc. I have played an inordinant amount of blitz chess online, and it really doesn't translate to over the board strength. For example, while my USCF sits rather comfortably in the 1800s, my blitz rating shudders and jumps frenetically between 1500 and 1850, usually spiking and falling several times within any given month. I find that playing blitz is helpful in terms of honing tactics and can be helpful for learning openings, but it also has a tendancy to flatten out the nuances of plans and positional chess.

As far as the shortcomings of playing repeat opponents, I wonder if it's really an issue for MA chess. We have many trainers and many schools of thought represented in our players. There are those who follow the Perelshteyn/Roman theory, those who believe as Foygel and Kaprielian do that openings should be calm so that players can learn plans and positional ideas, and of course, there are many players who simply esteem a good fight, including our crop of Dragoneers, Scotch Gambit players, etc. Sometimes you end playing the same people several times in a short span, but I think that Metrowest, even taking the U1900 and U2000 sections exclusive, has a lot of diversity. Between Cousin, Ethan Thompson, Nicholas, the Lungs, Astrachan, etc. you get a huge span of styles and approaches, as well as differing fundamental strengths...

I don't know if these thoughts are helpful or not, but it sounds like a certain amount of your struggles are in the area of mindset and the psychology of the game. For example, I played a tournament last Saturday with three games. In the first round, I played an opponent who I expected to beat, I got an advantage, won a piece, and then attempted to use tickery to force mass exchanges. In so doing, I was being overconfident, and I quickly let slip a repetition. Coming from this experience, I went into the second round demoralized and confused, so I played very calmly, hoping simply to avoid stepping on my own toes. Sure enough, I got an advantage again, but this time I couldn't assess it objectively, felt very nervous, played passively, and almost lost before finally securing a painful draw. Needless to say, I was feeling very shaky by the last round, and in that game, I lost without much fight. I think that experiences like this are probably rather common for players - we put a lot of who we are and we are feeling into the game and this interacts heavily with our performance on the board.

BlunderProne said...

Nobis, for tehe most part, the MDLM method has helped me to make less errors... but when I first went throught the 7 circles, I was making crazy moves and losing that way. I thought I saw tactics in EVERY position.

CL, Wang and Joshua, Thanks for the feedback. Most of my problem is between my ears. I am learning to quiet the psychological battle itnernally. Practice Practice Practice. I need to play the board/position and not play the person/rating.

Grandpatzer said...

As John Nunn wrote in Secrets of Practical Chess, LPDO.

Loose Pieces Drop Off.

I like Martin Wteschnik's Understanding Chess Tacticsbecause it shows how combinations arise from these "seeds of tactical destruction"