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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Chess Book Review blog (Read 130585 times)
ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #36 - 08/02/13 at 04:04:49
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proustiskeen wrote on 08/01/13 at 23:38:45:


Wow, I admit that this post just blew my mind.  A 1700-player was able to find a 1400-player's games in a database and correctly predict that he'd play the Alekhine Defence??  Most of my games in the databases are of openings and variations I no longer play; I can'timagine how ssuccessful you could be trying to discern a random class player's repertoire.

Preparing for a club-mate you know is one thing, but this just blew my mind.  I suppose if you know where someone comes from you can check the Atlanta Chess Club's website (for instance), but I really think that it's a waste of time and energy.
  
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Stigma
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #35 - 08/02/13 at 00:26:17
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@ErictheRed:

Well, in an ideal world I guess I would do most of my preparation before a tournament rather than during it. But for me and many other amateurs the reality is we have more time for chess when we'we cleared a week or weekend for a tournament than at any other time of our busy lives.

I'm not talking about taking up a totally new and unknown opening based on a few of my opponent's games obviously, that's a caricature. More like choosing between my 3 defences to 1.e4 or my 2-3 defences to 1.d4 based on which lines in my opponent's repertoire I want to face to maximise my chances. I tend to assume my opponents have been trying to outsmart me in exactly the same way, though quite often I guess they haven't. With White I have a fairly stable 1.d4, 2.c4 repertoire, but I don't feel at all confident I will remember what I've decided to play in every line unless I look at it before the game.

Btw. despite all this I often end up in positions where both I and my opponent are obviously on our own from an early stage, when neither player manages to get their preparation in. I'm OK with that; after all thinking is what chess is supposed to be about!

During tournaments I also believe in getting a lot of sleep and solving tactics for 20 minutes a day, so recently I've preferred long tournaments with mostly just 1 game per day. With many "double rounds" something has to give; I still prioritize sleep and may cut my opening prep time down to as litte as 15 minutes.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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kylemeister
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #34 - 08/02/13 at 00:05:09
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Incidentally, looking at the 3rd-round game immediately reminded me of Borochow-Fine (which I think I learned of from a Fred Reinfeld book) -- so your opponent blundered on move 3 like a world-class player-to-be.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #33 - 08/02/13 at 00:03:04
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I think my pre-round preparation is more along the lines of what you're talking about in this last post.  Basically I just want to refresh my memory on likely lines of play.  I am taking your point to heart, however, and just going over a few general lines before my next round and not specifically preparing for whoever my opponent is.
  
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ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #32 - 08/01/13 at 23:59:02
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Well Stigma, I think that preparation at the FM+ level is different than the 1700 level, where proustiskeen is playing.  Having said that, I know many very strong players (USCF 2300 - 2600 or so) that do all of their preparation time before a tournament, with only some minor tweaks if they see an opponent playing something different than expected. 

Perhaps I should clarify: if you notice that your opponent is a Scotch player, then it's not a bad idea to look over some lines of the Scotch.  It's a terrible idea to deviate from your general opening preparation and play a line you aren't familiar with based on a few games that you found online an hour before the round begins.

Even many strong GMs say that they prepare their repertoires for a particular event or tournament and only do minimal tweaking during the event, based on what they see their probable opponents playing.  Presumably a GM has more chess knowledge, culture, and experience than a 1700 player.  He can play different types of positions much more easily than a club player can--it makes no sense for a club player to suddenly start playing the Sicilian because their next opponent will allow 2.f4 d5! when they have no prior experience in that line.

But I honestly feel that a 1-hour nap (or nutritious meal or what have you) is better prep for most non-professional players than suddenly looking up theory that your opponent may or may not walk into anyway.  Just my opinion, which would probably change if we're talking about playing FIDE titled players.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #31 - 08/01/13 at 23:42:25
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@Stigma - I'm of the same mind.  I understand what ErictheRed is saying, of course, but I too feel a little more secure if I have some idea as to what I'm walking into.  Now, pairings here at the US Open go up an hour or so before the round, and then they magically change as I walk over to the site. Smiley  So perhaps I should take his advice to heart and just clear my head a bit before the rounds.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #30 - 08/01/13 at 23:39:36
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@ErictheRed

Dead on.  I'd maybe exempt the comments about the coach, but otherwise, absolutely.  I appreciate your taking the time to actually look at the game!
  
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Stigma
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #29 - 08/01/13 at 23:39:09
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ErictheRed wrote on 08/01/13 at 22:45:52:
1.  Preparation: Why on Earth would you frantically spend an hour trying to find information about a 2200-player from Wisconsin?  Do you really think that you can cram preparation into an hour?  Do you think that your opponent will walk into it?  Your time at a tournament should not be spent "preparing," but resting, eating well, and trying to get into a good frame of mind to play.  Your preparation should have been done beforehand--are you suddenly going to begin playing different openings based on one or two games you can find on the internet or in Chessbase?


proustiskeen can answer for himself, but I wanted to comment on this. I didn't realize looking at the opponent's games and preparing some opening the evening or morning before a game was even remotely controversial! I've done this for as long as I can remember, even if I have less than an hour available, to the point that it feels like I'm "winging it" if I haven't found time for it.

It's a bit hit and miss of course, but I make sure to look at the lines in the opponent's repertoire that I would be most uncomfortable facing. That way I can be reasonably content whether I get what I've just spent an hour learning (or refreshing) or s/he plays something I'm more happy to face.

If I have more time, I also try to look more deeply at my opponent's games and ask: What kinds of games does he win and lose? Where are his greatest chess strengths and weaknesses? This sort of thing is very useful to keep in mind when making difficult, game-changing decisions at the board.

In theory I agree it would be better to learn a lot of theory at home, but it always seems hard to find time for. Among my numerous weaknesses, tactics, calculation and endings all have priority over openigns at the moment! And I would still spend some time refreshing the lines likely to be played before a game.
  

Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone. -Jonathan Rowson
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #28 - 08/01/13 at 23:38:45
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ErictheRed
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #27 - 08/01/13 at 22:45:52
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Since you're posting this here I presume that you're open to feedback about your games, so here's what I thought when I saw your game.  Granted I know nothing about you other than what you wrote in the link above.

1.  Preparation: Why on Earth would you frantically spend an hour trying to find information about a 2200-player from Wisconsin?  Do you really think that you can cram preparation into an hour?  Do you think that your opponent will walk into it?  Your time at a tournament should not be spent "preparing," but resting, eating well, and trying to get into a good frame of mind to play.  Your preparation should have been done beforehand--are you suddenly going to begin playing different openings based on one or two games you can find on the internet or in Chessbase?  What would you have done with those 20 minutes of "prep time" if you hadn't spilled your coffee? 

Maybe look over some basic endgames or solve some simple tactics, but unless you're a professional or semi-professional player, the tournament hall is not the place for "preparation."  That should be done beforehand.  Your mind should be kept as clear as possible, you should want to play, you should be well rested and eating well, etc.

2.  Posting While Playing?: I just realized that this event is currently in progress--are you honestly wasting time and energy updating your blog while playing in a tournament?  Really?  Go out and walk around, swim, get some sun and then take a nap if you have time.  Don't waste time updating a blog and thinking even more than you have to about chess.

A chess tournament is grueling, and you have a limited reserve of mental energy.  Don't waste it updating a blog if you expect to play well.

3. Passive and "Unrecognizable" Play: Looking at www.uschess.org, it seems that you've played 1 player rated above 2100 in the last year, and only 9 in your entire life.  Your play in your first game was not passive and unrecognizable because you were nervous or tired or unprepared or because you didn't have your favorite coffee.  You were simply outplayed because you met a stronger opponent who set you more problems than you are used to having to solve, and you couldn't solve them. 

4. Blaming Time Trouble: What were you thinking about during the first 18 moves of the game that got you into time trouble?  What choices did you think were critical?  Why did it take you some much time to play simple moves like ...0-0, ...d6, responding to a2-a4 with ...a6, etc?  I don't see any particularly odd opening problems that you were set--natural moves sufficed to give you a good game.  Where did you waste your time?  Let's forget about "theory;" why on Earth would you play 6...Nge7 instead of the more natural 6...Nf6 or 6...d6, for instance?  What was so difficult for you about the first 15 moves that you needed so much time?

5. Allowing f5-f6: You wrote, "Allowing f5-f6. I saw it and calculated it, thinking it not overly dangerous. The combination of time pressure - of course - and my general lethargy (from the drive?) did me in." 

Wait--what?  You calculated it?  Why?!?  It completely rips open your King for a measly pawn; not two pawns, not a piece, not an exchange, just a pawn.  It's clearly very good for White, why would you bother calculating it at all?  You just try your best not to allow it, you don't calculate it!

I don't think that you're taking full responsibility for your poor play--you're blaming fatigue, time trouble, etc.  Though if you are wasting time "preparing" between rounds, I'm not surprised that you're fatigued...

6. Is your coach helping?: Your coach called your play "passive and unrecognizable."  Perhaps he just said that to get your confidence up for the remainder of the tournament, but I have to wonder: is he helping you to improve?  I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't notice tendencies in your play from that game, if he were a good coach.  And even if he did find your play unrecognizable, if he's a worthwhile coach he should be able to understand that you were set problems that you couldn't cope with; your play wasn't just magically unrecognizable. 

I honestly question whether your coach is helping you to become a better player or whether he's subconsciously helping you to ignore your poor play.  Maybe after the tournament he'll react differently. 

I apologize if all of that sounds harsh, but those are my thoughts.  Please don't bother responding to them until the tournament is over, though--get some rest and exercise instead.

Good luck with the rest of the tournament, and try to enjoy yourself.
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #26 - 07/31/13 at 22:22:09
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #25 - 07/31/13 at 16:46:32
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I'm diverging a bit from the stated aim of the blog, as I'm doing a series on my games at the ongoing US Open.  The first installation - 'Preparing...' - is up.  I talk about the books I read and the websites I used to prepare.  Games will be posted the day after I play them, good bad or ugly.  Enjoy.

A review of Aagaard's GM Prep: Positional Play will be up shortly after the tournament ends.

https://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/preparing-for-the-us-open/
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #24 - 05/17/13 at 05:28:35
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A review of the new algebraic version of Alekhine's Best Games:

http://chessbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/one-of-the-classics-but-better/
  
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #23 - 04/26/13 at 06:35:37
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proustiskeen
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Re: Chess Book Review blog
Reply #22 - 04/15/13 at 18:24:54
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Next up will be a review of Lakdawala's book on Capablanca, for those interested.
  
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