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murth 72 ( +1 | -1 )
getting better Hi,

I recently returned to playing chess after not playing for a few years. i started playing on MSN and one day stumbled on this site so i started reading the forums for advice and then recently started playing games here as well.
I've discovered that i seem to be way out of my league even playing players around 1200. i seem to not get a good opener going and then just stumble my way through the rest of the game.

I just recieved the book "the Amateurs Mind" and am enjoying it however not sure how much im actually remembering from it. So my question to the board is there anyone who can offer advice on what im lacking in play or even better if anyone would like to mentor me I would be very appreciative.
coyotefan 46 ( +1 | -1 )
Buy Chessbase and Fritz ChessBase is legal to use here and will assist you in starting with a reasonable position. If you do not come out of the opening with a decent position, you will lose. Fritz is NOT legal to use for assisting you in playing here, but is a fine opponent when you find no other. No need to buy the current version. You can pick up an older version for around $10.00. For more info <>

I find books virtually worthless in improving my play. I find playing a great assistance.
myway316 59 ( +1 | -1 )
Some books are necessary.. ...but I think,from what you've said,that Silman,tho a great writer,might be a little too advanced for you right now. I recommend a title that I can't praise enough: Logical Chess Move By Move,by Chernev. As for the rest of it,look over your games,especially the losses. See if you can see any recurring patterns in your games-like falling into the same sacrifical or mating attack,fork trick,opening trap,etc. time and again,and find ways,thru better moves,to avoid them. other than that,just keep playing.
More: Chess
mate_you_in_fifty 11 ( +1 | -1 )
could someone explain Why is Chessbase legal and Fritz isn't? I thought software of any kind was banned from use during the course of a game.
honololou 43 ( +1 | -1 )
MYI50Ö Chessbase is database search software. You are allowed to use this software to search
databases of past chess games. Fritz, on the other hand, is a chess Engine. A chess engine
is a piece of software that has been programmed to play chess. Chess engines, unlike
databases and database search tools, can analyze positions and recommend moves for
unique positions (positions that do not occur in any database).
mate_you_in_fifty 8 ( +1 | -1 )
thanks honololou I used to think of Chessbase as a chess engine too. Thanks for clearing that up.
More: Chess
halfpast_yellow 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Chessbase... ... does not calculate moves for you. There's no such ban on software which is true for any form of correspondance chess. A handy rule is 'If you can play a game of chess against it, it is illegal'. You can play against Fritz but you cannot play against Chessbase; therefore is just a handy tool for correspondace play. For example I have collected a small database of games beginning 1.e4 Nf6 which helps me in my answer as Black to 1.e4 openings.
halfpast_yellow 4 ( +1 | -1 )
oops... Beaten like a redheaded stepchild :)
chessnovice 23 ( +1 | -1 )
... The confusion may lie in the fact that Chessbase has an option to analyze the position. However, the analysis comes from Fritz, which has been built into Chessbase. So coyotefan is essentially right - Chessbase is legal, Fritz is not.
halfpast_yellow 13 ( +1 | -1 )
chessnovice Is this feature in the retail or the 'freebie' light version? I have Chessbase Light, I can't yet afford to shell out for the full deal!
halfpast_yellow 27 ( +1 | -1 )
. Sorry, I meant to ask is it exclusive to the retail chessbase. Actually remembering my teacher showing me his retail chessbase program, he was able to get boards and load them into Fritz 8 with ease, I think this is it so I feel silly now having answered my own question.
chessnovice 15 ( +1 | -1 )
... halfpast_yellow, I believe there is some form of Fritz on the free version of ChessBase. But don't hold me to that answer, because I don't have the program.
larsenb 26 ( +1 | -1 )
halfpast_yellow You can find an analysis engine also in ChessBase light, Fritz version 4.x i think, and you can even plug in the 5.0 version if you can find it somewhere, but that's all: all newer CB engines are 32bit programs and are unsupported by CB Light which is still a 16bit application

peppe_l 205 ( +1 | -1 )
Coyotefan I find your post VERY strange.

Unless I have misunderstood something murth points out Silman book is too advanced, yes?

But you suggest him to buy a database program that has trillions of UNannotated games. Or a chess program that usually plays good moves but does not explain WHY it plays them. Are you sure such software is first thing 900+ rated player needs?

Dont you agree even Silman book is better choice for a beginning player than unannotated games?

In our earlier discussions we have agreed most often losing in the opening is a result of lacking tactical (or sometimes positional) skills. Memorizing opening moves from a database will not help since one can hang a piece after move 15 as well as after move 5. We all know "surviving longer" by playing memorized moves is not improvement (please let me remind you murth mentions 1200 players at MSN, how many of them actually play the openings you can find from databases?) since the result will be the same, and for the same reasons.

"I find books virtually worthless in improving my play. I find playing a great assistance."

Most chess players have found books helpful.

*** Note - next chapter is NOT targeted to Coyotefan in any way ***

To be blunt, it looks like the typical product of "computer age of chess" is a player who has 20-million game database, at least 3 top chess programs and 15 opening CDs. No tactics or endgame books of course, let alone game collections - who needs game collections since databases have much more games? Quantity counts! He lets Fritz analyze all his games (no point in doing own analysis because Fritz does it so much better) before storing them to a database. Naturally he plays Sicilian Najdorf since database says it scores best, and follows state-of-the-art lines he has found from internet database.

Then his opponent plays out-of-book move and our modern day Bobby Fischer hangs a piece.

mogath 43 ( +1 | -1 )
half_yellow and chessnovice I can't remember where, but Fritz 5.32 was available for free on the web at one time. I downloaded it some time ago and also found a pretty good book for it as well.
As far as not being able to afford Chessbase, the program "Scid" is a great alternative. It is free and has a great deal of features in it. Check it out at:

Hope this helps.

dysfl 203 ( +1 | -1 )
Simplify your opening for a while murth,

I think this thread is a little off track for now. Your initial question was how to get better in chess while you think youíre having trouble from the opening.

It is a true statement? I mean, is it true that youíre losing the game because of the opening or you just miss tactical chances to recover from initial setback? Maybe youíre not paired correctly.

Iím not strong at all, just around 1400-1450 in GK. I usually download the completed games into PGN format and run 10-15 seconds blunder check using Fritz. In some of my games, especially against 1500+ players, I lose edge in opening and continue making mistakes till I give up. Games against 1300-1400 are more interesting as both side has at least 3 chances to get ahead in a game. In many cases, itís comical. I cannot blame that my opening was not good enough for these games. In short, I donít believe you need a database at this stage.

My advice, you should never take it as is by obvious reasons :

1. Play only London System as white and Modern Defense as black for a while. Or any system that you find fancy. London System will make a very boring game if both side knows how to play the opening. So youíll learn positional play and end-games. Modern Defense will make you do everything you got to prevent early checkmate as it requires a good defense skill. By playing only a few systems, not multiple of opening lines, you can defer the study of opening for later time.

2. Run computer analysis after the game. Crafty engine and Winboard combo are free, but not that cheap in quality. You can buy Fritz or ChessMaster, I recommend the ChessMaster as it has some chess courses in it also. Donít try to understand everything. I just give-up if I cannot understand a suggested move as there are so many blunders I should focus on.

3. 1200 players are unpredictable. Theyíre pretty new to GK, so some are actually 1700+ players while others are 800-900. Try to play with 1100 or 1300 level.

murth 32 ( +1 | -1 )
opening question i see alot of opening discussed but i have a qquestion i cant seem to find the answer to. when starting your opening does it only make sense to continue with the opening if the opponent makes the move shown in the opening ?
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.Be2

is it only useful to follow the opening if black does 1 ..Nf6 and then 2 ..g6 ?
caldazar 377 ( +1 | -1 )
I think the most important aspect of chess improvement is being active in the learning process. I find a lot of people attempt to improve their chess by simply reading annotations out of a book, or running a game through an analysis engine and reading the output. This isn't enough and doesn't really help. You need to actively engage yourself in the learning process. You learn by doing, not by observing others. Of course, observing others is useful; you can pick up some nice ideas or tips that way, but your core skill is typically acquired by actively thinking and analyzing (and, if my experience is any indicator, making every possible chess mistake there is).

The Amateur's Mind is a fine beginning book on chess strategy. It doesn't provide you with a lot of breadth of strategic knowledge, but the fewer examples allow Silman to explore each position in more detail. But you can't just read the book and hope that you'll absorb the knowledge that way. Instead, consider the starting position without reading any of the published analysis, apply the methods Silman recommends, and do you own analysis. Pretend it's a real game and think for 5, 10, 15 minutes (or whatever). Then compare your analysis to what Silman writes. If your analysis matches up with what Silman recommends as a good line of play, then that's great. If your analysis matches up with what Silman points out are flawed continuations, then that's great too because he comments on why he thinks those continuations are flawed, and so you'll be learning what you did wrong. If you come up with analysis that doesn't match up with anything Silman presents and you're not sure whether or not your analysis is correct, ask a better player for his opinion.

If book study isn't your thing, you can learn by simply playing a lot of games too. However, you can't simply play the games and be done with them; you need to take every game you play and analyze it in-depth afterwards. You'll essentially be doing analysis on each game twice; once against an actual opponent and a second time by yourself, looking for good moves, mistakes, ideas, and the like. You should do this second-pass analysis by yourself without any assistance. If you get assistance first, you start to fall into the situation I mentioned previously, just passively accepting commentary and without actively trying to generate any annotations of your own. It's too easy to read commentary from a master or look at a computer engine annotation and say to yourself "Yeah, that makes sense. That's probably right." and move on without doing any real work yourself. Also, don't worry if your personal analysis and annotation is not so great; the goal is to actually try to do the analysis yourself, not to generate masterful commentary fit for publication. The quality of your analysis will improve over time as you gain more practice and experience.

A book on tactics will supplement your book on strategy nicely. Seirawan's Winning Chess Tactics is a nice starter book. After you've worked through tactics and strategy for a while, you might want to consider picking up a book on endings. Again, I can recommend Seirawan and his book Winning Chess Endings or the rather more challenging Just The Facts! by Alburt and Krogius. Ending knowledge may not necessarily be that useful in the short term since I'm guessing many of your games are rather one sided and so never reach a competitive endgame. However, endgames force you to practice your calculation skills. And of course endgame knowledge will become increasingly important as you progress and games become more hotly contested.

Best of luck to you in your chess studies.
peppe_l 99 ( +1 | -1 )
Some thoughts Great post by Caldazar!

I wonder how many beginning chess players fail to improve because whenever they ask advice people start talking about openings etc.

It is pretty clear what beginner needs is basics, not 10-million game databases, numeric evaluations let alone opening repertoire.


I am not a great player so I can only give you this advice : DO NOT TRUST to advices you get from here. Really. Even though some, for example caldazar and myway316 wrote very good posts, some others gave "tips" that do not help you at this point (if ever).

If you can, visit local chess club and ask advice from the strongest players there (remember to make sure they know your current level!). Or write to some of the _known_ chess instructors online.

It may require more effort but you will get better answers.

Good luck to your chess studies!


alexamenos 111 ( +1 | -1 )
Murth: Get a book of tactical puzzles!!!! ...and study them until your eyes bleed.

Take a look at the last game you won against Slick_shoes_max. It was a fine game in which you mated your opponent in 22 moves. Problem is, you missed a forced mate in 2 on move 18 and you missed mate in 1 on moves 14, 15, 16, 17 and 20!!!

Pardon the tough love here my friend, but this game, as well as a cursory look at some of the games you lost, indicates that you've got some serious tactical deficencies. Odds are, you simply don't really see what is going on in a game. Your head ain't really registering where pieces are and where they're going.

Learning the finer points of good v. bad bishops and how to induce your opponent into creating a backwards pawn aren't going to do you much good for now. As for openings -- try to play legal moves and worry about dealing with the King's Indian later.

Work tactical problems. Lot's and lot's of them. Any cheap, simple book will do.

When you quit missing mate in 1 and you quit routinely hanging pieces, then let's talk strategy, endgames, and openings.

Best regards...
coyotefan 53 ( +1 | -1 )
peppe_l Different people learn differently. I know I have little use for chess books. I used to own many, now only a few. I find that playing master games, annotated and unannotated, and of course, trying to deduce the next move played, I am improving daily. Especially tactical books on middle and endgames to me are worthless. I do agree with the idea of if you own books, 'puzzle' books, mate in 2...mate in three... are the best. The problem is that when playing the game, nobody tells you when you have mate in 2.
dysfl 147 ( +1 | -1 )
murth - on opening order On your last posting :

> 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 0-0 6.Be2

> is it only useful to follow the opening if black does 1 ..Nf6 and then 2 ..g6 ?

The order might not that important for now, at least in my or your strength level. In every opening lines, there are numerous variations. Changing the order is frequent. Actually, black transposed it to a Modern Defense (1..g6 2..Bg7 3..d5 4..Nf6 5..O-O). The database helps in this case that it will show many opening lines could end up at this specific position.

My own earlier mistake was trying to remember the opening lines and variations as in the book. It was a mistake because :

1. I cannot remember all the variations.
2. There are too many variation lines to learn.
3. The opponent will walk out of the book sooner or later.
3. You don't understand what to do next even when you managed to play it till the end of the book moves.

Each opening line has its objectives and creating mixture of strength and weakness for each side. Rather than remembering all the lines, understanding the underlying idea helped me a lot. Losing a tempo was not a big deal if I was able to continue with my original plan or modified-by-situation plan.

That's why I'm playing "systems" at this point. I can focus on the plans, not the specific order. By doing this practice, when I review my other games using other openings, I feel I can understand a little better the flow.

As I warned you before, all the above is only my opinion. Don't commit yourself to anyone else's opnion. You will find your way soon.
buddy2 101 ( +1 | -1 )
learn by doing Caldazar makes an excellent point: "You need to actively engage yourself in the learning process." As an ex-high school teacher, I used to tell my kids to avoid being passive in learning, i.e. sitting and listening or just watching. Ask yourself questions, try to guess the next move, calculate different variations that never happened, etc. Going through hundreds of games on a chessbase will not help you as much as digging through one game, analyzing as you go, reading the notes and making your own decisions about what's good or bad. Silman is a good teacher. His books force the reader to become engaged. I might suggest the Lazlo Polgar book, Chess (5334 problems combinations and games) which can be picked up for around ten bucks. No doubt about it, Murth, learning chess is WORK, the four letter word people hate to hear. If you enjoy the game, though, it doesn't SEEM like work (at least not as much). Hope this helps.
coyotefan 16 ( +1 | -1 )
buddy2 Very well said

One other comment. In spite of many posts asking the question.....NO there is no magic opening that will guarentee you a win :)
murth 45 ( +1 | -1 )
thanks everyone for your advice im slowly getting better at not hanging pieces and not missing mate in 1+ so much. however i still need to get a tactics book can anyone recommend a good one? even better one that can be purchased as an eBook?

another question i have is can crafty be used as a blunder check? ive tried the annotateh command but it basically just suggests differant moves and doesnt really call the move a blunder.
caldazar 52 ( +1 | -1 )
As I said, Seirawan's "Winning Chess Tactics" is good if you're looking for primer on tactics. The book goes into detail about the different basic types of tactics (pin patterns, skewer patterns, overloading, etc...) and there are enough examples. If you just want a workbook, Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices is a decent puzzle book.

I think you can use Crafty as a simple blunder checker; just set the annotation threshold to something high like 1 pawn or something. See the documentation for details on how to set this.
alexamenos 52 ( +1 | -1 )
I suggest some relatively simple books such as "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" or "303 Tricky Chess Tactics." I suggest working through them a couple of times and then graduating to something more difficult, like Reinfeld's 1001.

Whatever book(s) you may choose, push yourself to solve the problems rather than simply flip to the back and see if you guessed right. Actively engaging yourself in the process is, as Caldazar and others have stressed, the most important point.