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jsalberg's journal 
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post jsalberg's journal
This is my first posting on chessvideos.tv, though I have been a lurker for over a year. By the 'standard' of this site, I am very much a beginner. I've known how to play chess since childhood (mid 40's now), but I've never been very good - except once in college when I played a LOT of chess with a fellow far, far superior than me and I improved.

I work the daily puzzles here, some on chess.com and do some of the chess.com tactical training. I've played around with some other tactical training sites. I have gotten a TON of enjoyment and learning from the "Dual Commentaries" posted here, and do selfishly hope you guys will continue to post them. Watching that real-time analysis has done more to help me see my problems lately than any amount of book study I have time to do.

I would guess that when I am playing "good" for me, I am 1200-1300. My problem is lots of blunders, some so stupid there should have been a warning sign saying 'don't do that.' I get tunnel vision on a tactic and lose patience. I'm working on that. Correspondence games on chess.com is allowing me to slow down, and in almost every case, I am forcing myself to not move the first day.

I'm teaching my children to play, and my daughter (9) has beaten me a few times due to these mistakes. She's even captured TWO QUEENS in one game due to carelessness on my part (and alertness on hers). I figure I need to improve to help her improve and to keep it interesting for her. My son (several years younger) knows the basic moves and is developing as well.

I do pretty well on many tactical puzzles. I did one web site (don't recall the site) to get an ELO equivalent rating based on solving 20 puzzles from real games at the master level. I scored a touch over 1500 on this, which I know is an overestimate, due in part to the fact that while I can see tactical solutions in cases where I know there is one, my BIG problem is setting up such an advantage in the first place.

I'm also pretty decent at endgame...if I can last that long without being completely blown out. I've won games in endgame simply by staying 'allive' til then even though way behind. Maybe I've just been lucky.

My biggest two problems, and where I hope to improve are

(1) Late opening / open-middle game transition; over the years, I've probably lost more games here than anywhere else

On the topic of patience, here is where my transition suffers. I have concluded that I one of my most recurring mistakes is forcing the transition too early...say move 5-7. I start 'attacks' or 'counter-attacks' before I'm fully set up to do so. I'm trying to slow down and not always go for the spectacular ending in 10 moves or less.

(2) Positional chess, if I understand the term correctly. I usually have a hard time developing pieces into a structure that allows them to work together. Sometimes, I'm amazed when playing against a computer (or watching good players play) at how the pieces interlock. It's beautiful, and something I only stumble upon accidentally when I manage it.

Related to (2) is a very basic and specific training goal (and question!): I've watched numerous dual commentaries here and many games and instructional videos...and I still get VERY confused over something as simple as "pawn takes" vs not taking or passing the pawn. In other words, I'm confounded at present as to when certain pawn moves are strong or weak, so I hope to improve upon that.

My Opening Theory At Present:

With my daughter, and my own chess, I figure it's best to focus on transition to and middle game itself, so we've picked a basic open and are sticking to it. The one I've chosen for my daughter and I to play (endlessly) is King's Gambit Accepted. By agreement of just sticking to one opening and looking at the rest of the game, I think we have removed a lot of variables that at her early stage only cause confusion.

I've seen her improve a lot in a short time since adopting this strategy.

For my part, in games with others, my basic opening "suite" is as follows:

If White, open e4.

If 1...e5,

proceed with KGA.

If anything other than 1...e5, move into the King's Indian Attack. I'm still learning how to set this up with various Black moves, but I enjoy the logical puzzle aspect.

If Black,

On 1. e4

I usually respond with 1...e5, though I'm thinking about starting to explore Sicilian a little bit as it looks interesting.

On anything else from 1. e4, I move to King's Indian Defense.

I'm trying not to get too wrapped up in a lot of openings and variations, but just the first few moves to set up a basic structure, then explore the transition and middle game "off book" if that makes sense.

That said, KID is helping me with the patience issue since it's my understanding that for this defense to work, Black must play patiently and methodically. I hope this will be a good moderator for what I can only describe as my haphazard style.

I play as jralberg (notice the spelling difference) on chess.com

My next post, I will post my first real chess.com game as an example of a disaster (that I resigned in less than 10 moves).


Last edited by jsalberg on Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:12 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:56 am
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
Here's a game that I resigned early because I committed not one (which I can usually recover from) but FOUR rather serious blunders in 8 moves. That's pretty poor, and truthfully, is below even my standard. The only thing I can offer as explanation is that I lost patience and rushed my moves. In a three day correspondence game, I was rushing moves in 2-5 minutes.

Black declined the gambit and threw me off...he played well enough to exploit my colossal errors early on.

I usually don't play THIS poorly, but figured if I start with the 'bottom,' I can see some improvement.



Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:06 am
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
Another exercise I am doing with my children is working on the 'basic checkmates.' We set up an arbitrary position with say King only vs king + rook, king + queen, king + two rooks, etc.

"Checkmate me in as few moves as possible."

I'm doing this in part to learn the basic mates, but also because I think it helps them to learn how pieces work together...forcing opponent's moves.

They enjoy this in addition to playing regular games.

My daughter has successfully worked a few of the Daily Puzzles here.

I hope it's okay that at least for the short term, this journal will be for their training as well as mine.


Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:23 am
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
Another training goal: I want to get better at both in-game and post-game analysis.

Thanks to whoever posting this site recently.

To this end, I'm keeping notes in a text file of my "thinking" in my correspondence games on chess.com. It's been interesting so far to see how my 'view' of the game changes over the course of a few moves. Hopefully, awareness of this will help with my "tunnel vision" and getting too married to one tactical approach too early.


Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:32 am
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Live Commentary Messiah

Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 5:54 am
Posts: 389
Location: Worcester, MA
Rating: 2203
Rating Class: National Master
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
"I usually have a hard time developing pieces into a structure that allows them to work together. Sometimes, I'm amazed when playing against a computer (or watching good players play) at how the pieces interlock. It's beautiful, and something I only stumble upon accidentally when I manage it."

I'm right there with you on this one. It seems so easy when they do it, doesn't it?

Good luck with your chess development. I think it's really cool that your children are learning along with you.

_________________
USCF: 2203


Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:57 am
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
Tonight:

182 Tactical Practice on CT; I can sure tell when I start to get tired.
8 Problems on Endgame theory


Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:33 pm
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
87 Tactical problems on CT; man I miss some simple stuff.

The good news is that of the ones I get, it's usually quick, often beating or right at the blitz average time. Seems to be "I see it right away or miss it" in many cases. I think that's good news.

A few times, the right answer was my second choice, which I take as minor consolation for missing the problem.

Played a quick game with the six year old tonight. He's starting to learn to defend his pieces rather than hanging them, and he's aggressive with counterattacks.


Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:46 pm
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
Been working tactics on CT, and got my tactics rating there up to 1350. Hit a slump a few days ago and missed a ton of obvious stuff and finally realized I needed to take a break for a day or so.

I've got three correspondence games going on chess.com, and the slower pace is REALLY helping me. I will need to learn to figure things out quicker, but for now, this is good. I've missed a TON of stuff on the first day that I did pick up before moving that given my 'rush it' habit, would not have seen in a regular OTB game.

Perhaps I will try to make videos of these games to post in the beginner section - would welcome more experienced analysis. I'm keeping some rather detailed notes of my thinking during my move time, so I should be able to re-enact the process pretty close after the games are over.

I completely blew the openings of two of these games and am spending the rest playing catch-up....the story of almost every chess game I've ever played.


Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:10 pm
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Pawn

Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:49 am
Posts: 8
Rating Class: Novice (<1200)
Post Re: jsalberg's journal
jsalberg wrote:

I completely blew the openings of two of these games and am spending the rest playing catch-up....the story of almost every chess game I've ever played.



I lost one of those games and will post it when I get a chance. I know one "strategic" mistake a made, and that was:

(a) I was losing early and identified a strong counter-tactic that depended on my opponent not seeing it.

(b) When he didn't play into it, I stuck to the possibility too long and allowed him to really build a position on me.

Later in the game, I had a (mild?) shot at turning it around with some heavy pawn pressure, but I waited too long to exploit this, opting instead for trying to subtle him into into making a mistake.

On the other game (STILL IN PROGRESS, but I'm very frustrated at what I did), I had fairly well equalized over my mistake early and then completely blew it. This is the kind of mistake I make all too often. I can grow as a tactical player (up to about 1370 on tactics in CT), but until I learn how to stop doing these extremely major blunders, it's a lost cause.

The bad thing is that I saw this as a premature move before I did it, and later did it anyway.

Here's the position before my blunder (I'm White):

Image

This game is in progress, so no input yet!

The background:

He attacked early on a miscalculated opening and he really squeezed my King and Queen with both Knight and Bishop, and he maintained constant fork threats with his Knight. I gained some breathing room and countered with an attack on his Bishop driving it back.

My plan here was to continue to try to drive him back..attack his Knight either with pawn or by discovery by moving my Knight. My other Knight was pretty much gone (b6 wins the Knight), but I saw several lines that if I played it right, I could keep it even. That's what I was playing for at this point...

I even looked into possibility of playing Ng5 just to see how he handles it. Bishop takes then I get the Knight with continued threat on the Bishop in particular and the King side in general. I was also looking at a getting his Queen off the 6th rank with my Queen on c4, so if he did go b5, I could take his Knight. I was trying to be patient to wait for this to, and was contemplating Raf1 at an intermediate move.

And so, I threw all the "thinking" out the window and I left my Knight on f3 hanging to the Rook by moving Qd3. My thought was that if he doesn't want to trade Queens, the only move he's got is Qe7, which lets me go to c4, attacking his Knight if he goes after mine with b5. I completely neglected the Queen trade followed by Rxf3, putting him up a Knight. Or, he can go Nf2, I trade Queens and he gains the Rook for Knight, with his rook on my side to boot (that's probably the best I can hope for at this point).

This is a game in progress (will welcome comment after it's over), so I'm now looking at anything to minimize the damage of going down at least a Rook and maybe two Knights. It's not looking good. I see a lot of ways he can just devastate me.

I will love to go back and play this game from this point.

And, I should also add that I could have won this game on time had I chose; I'd rather play chess. So, now I'm probably gonna get a loss, but hopefully will come out of it a better player....maybe.


Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:15 pm
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