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Author: ptheland Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 9208  
Subject: Helping a beginner Date: 4/3/2007 4:31 AM
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I've been playing some computer opponenets and apparently there are some really basic strategies I'm just plain missing. Frankly, it's getting a little frustrating losing game after game.

So I was hoping maybe someone would have pity on my and give me some pointers. I really don't know what I'm missing. So I'll just post a game with my thoughts and let you all have at it.

Please try not to laugh too loudly. ;-)

I'm playing white. My thoughts are in parenthesis. I hope I'm getting the notation correct.

1. e4 (gotta start with something. This gives the Q and white bishop a way out) a5
2. d3 (lets the black bishop out as well) b5
3. f3 d5 (we can trade pawns if he likes)
4. Bf4 (let's start to get the other pieces into the center of the board) f5
5. h4 (make room for the castle) d xe4 (lost my first pawn. I could take that pawn two ways, but then I'll just lose another. I'll leave it for now. If he takes on of the pawns I can take that pawn without losing another in the process)
6. Rh3 (let's get this piece out) Q d4
7. Rh1 (that's the only way I see to protect the knight) Q xb2 (Uh oh. I'm going to lose a knight or a rook.)
8. Nd2 (move the knight out of harm's way and protect the rook with the queen.) xf3 (the pawn trade I was waiting for)
9. xf3 (I could do Rb1 and force a move of the queen, but I'd rather open up the right side of the board first.) a4
10. Bh3 (anticipating taking the pawn at f5 and getting control of that quadrant of the board.) h5
11. Bxf5 (to complete the plan) Bxf5 (rats. I didn't see that possibility. You think that might be something to work on??)
12. Bxc7 (a bit of an opportunistic move. I can always retreat back at the next move.) Qc3
13. Be5 (get the Bishop out of harm's way - I doubt they'll trade the Queen for my knight) Qxe5 check (I did it again. Forgetting to see where else the queen can go. I should have moved the bishop to f4)
14. Ne2 (again, I'll trade a knight for the queen) Qb2 (back here again)
15. Rb1 (still betting against the rook for queen trade) Qe5
16. f4 (let's harass the queen some more) Qd5
17. Rg1 (get out of the way) b4 (does he want me to take that pawn?)
18. Rg5 (I can follow that with Ng3 and perhaps get that bishop out of the way) Qh1 check
19. Ng1 (I think I can get the bishop out of this) Qxh4 check
20. Kf1 (the rook is protected, so no sense in moving it into the queen's path) Qxf4 (So much for the protection, but perhaps ...)
21. N(g1)f3 (let's put this knight in the path AND protect the rook) Bh3 check
22. Ke1 Qe3 check (these checks are getting tiresome)
23. Qe2 (it's the only move I see - will he trade Queens?) Qf4 (nope)
24. Rb5 (let's see if we can get these pawns out of the way) Qg3 check
25. Qf2 (raising the possibility of a queen trade again) Qf4
26. R(b1)xb4 (I think this will force the queen to retreat) Qf6
27. Rb1 (time to get back and protect the king again) Ka6 (I'm worried about the rook out there, but I don't see any threat yet)
28. Ke2 (to protect the knight so I can move Qh2 then take the bishop) g5
29. Qh2 (continuing the plan - but what am I missing this time??) Bd7
30. R(b1)b4 (maybe I can trap this pawn, then get into some aggressive plays at b8) Kxb4 (why can't I see these??)
31. Rxb4 (checking more carefully this time) e5
32. Re4 (get out of the way) Ke2
33. d4 Nc8
34. d4xe5 Qf5
35. Rc4 Bb5 (OK - that rook is a goner. So how do I get some value for it? I think I can get a pawn, knight or bishop for it.)
36. Qh1 (let's go for the Bishop) g4
37. Nd4 Qxe5 check
38. Kd1 Bxc4
39. Nxc4 Qd4
40. Nd2 (I think it's pretty hopeless now, but I'll keep playing to find out) Qd5
41. c3 (to protect the kinght so I can move my Queen) Bc5
42. Nc4 Qd5
43. Qd1 check (it's about time I pretend to do something to threaten his King) Kf8
44. Ne3 Qf7
45. Qh1 Rb8
46. Qc6 (I think I get the bishop or the knight - but I'll check carefully before moving) Rb1 check
47. Kc2 Qxa2 check
48. Kd3 Bxd4
49. Qxc8 (I'll try one last stand before going down in flames) check Kf7
50. Qxh8 Bxh8 (Oh !@#$. I wasn't watching again.)
51. I think the only reasonable thing to do at this point is resign. So I will.

Is there any hope for me?

--Peter

PS - I caught myself typing a K for the Knight instead of an N. If there are any odd moves by a King, please consider it may be a typo for a Knight.
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Author: pikapp383 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9149 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/3/2007 11:44 AM
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Well, here's some advice from someone who is better than a beginner, but much worse than a master.

I don't have a board in front of me to offer specific move advice, but here are some general thoughts.

5. h4 dxe4
6. Rh3 Qd4
7. Rh1 Qxb2


You just spent 3 moves trying to get your rook into play. Generally speaking, it is better to keep the rooks on the back rank in the opening stages and use castling to both move your rook towards the center and protect your king.

My overall plan in the opening is to control as much of the center as possible and find good places for my bishops and knights. Note that this doesn't necessarily mean *occupying* the center, just controlling it.

There are a lot of chess books on openings out there, including stuff online. A google search should yield lots of results for you. A better player than me can recommend which books are better than others.

11. Bxf5 (to complete the plan) Bxf5 (rats. I didn't see that possibility. You think that might be something to work on??)

Well, that happens to the best of us. In the recent match between the world champion and the best computer chess program the human grandmaster missed a one-move mate. If you are playing speed chess, then I'd recommend starting with slower or untimed games, especially against a computer who will wait forever for you. You will pick up common mistakes since you'll make them over and over. :)

Probably the best advice is to play more often. In high school I improved my play dramatically when I joined a local club that met at a community center once a week. Playing against people better than me, I think I won 2 games in the first 2 months, but I got better quickly.

Good luck!


pikapp383

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Author: feedmeNOWhuman Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9150 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/3/2007 4:24 PM
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I don't have time to go thru your game in detail, but you might want to pick up the book Logical Chess: Move By Move, by Irving Chernev. It explains, literally move by move, what you need to be thinking about at a given moment. That book really got me thinking about my opening moves. I was losing too many games in the first ten moves.

There is another book, Understanding Chess Move by Move by John Nunn that is also highly rated. I've not read that one, but you can read the reviews of each here:

http://www.amazon.com/Logical-Chess-Every-Explained-Algebraic/dp/0713484640/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-2086186-4424944?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175631205&sr=8-1

Get one of the two books, at least. Then play through some games and pay close attention to the reasoning that lies behind the first ten or twelve moves in each game. Beginners tend not to think much about the opening moves, and they doom themselves before they even realize it. I know this from experience! Pick a white and a black opening and stick with them for awhile (like a year or two or three or four) and you'll start to understand what works and what doesn't.

If you're losing a pawn by the fifth move or if you are about to lose a knight or rook by move 7, you've made a mistake already and need to be thinking more about the consequences of your moves from the very beginning. Good luck!



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Author: ptheland Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9151 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/3/2007 7:14 PM
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Get one of the two books, at least. Then play through some games and pay close attention to the reasoning that lies behind the first ten or twelve moves in each game. Beginners tend not to think much about the opening moves, and they doom themselves before they even realize it. I know this from experience! Pick a white and a black opening and stick with them for awhile (like a year or two or three or four) and you'll start to understand what works and what doesn't.

If you're losing a pawn by the fifth move or if you are about to lose a knight or rook by move 7, you've made a mistake already and need to be thinking more about the consequences of your moves from the very beginning. Good luck!


Thank you. I think that is what I was looking for. Get the match off to a good start and I'll have a better chance later on.

You're right that I seem to be losing a lot of pieces very early in the game. I'm constantly playing at a disadvantage - probably as you mention, within 5 - 10 moves.

I think I'll take a look at a couple of openings and then pick one to use consistently. Hopefully, that will give me at least a consistent base to move forward from and build on.

--Peter

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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9152 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/4/2007 12:06 AM
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I've been playing some computer opponenets and apparently there are some really basic strategies I'm just plain missing.

If you can, try playing some human opponents. They will play differently than the computer does. Among other things, they won't always repeat the same game when they get into the same line of the same opening.

A computer may be programmed to play weakly, but it won't overlook something it's been programmed to see. Its tactics will be accurate unless it has been deliberately programmed to randomly miss things sometimes. You get no relief from a long game, because the computer doesn't get tired.

The way you beat a computer is typically to play a deeper game than it does. For simple programs, this might mean seeing a four and a half move combination when the computer only looks ahead three moves. For programs that look further ahead on forced move sequences, this means playing a good positional game while avoiding a tactical loss.

So, what do we have from your game?

1. e4 a5

The computer doesn't have an opening book.

2. d3

Very unaggressive. Blocks the natural diagonal for your light-square bishop, and you don't want to fianchetto the bishop because of the pawn at e5. Moves for a beginner to consider in this position would include d4, Nf3, Nc3, or Bc4.

2. . . . b5

No book, no plan, and not programmed to try to control the center.

3. f3?

Opens a diagonal pointing at your king, takes up the most natural square for developing your King's Knight, and adds protection to a pawn that didn't need further protection. I like Nf3 better, but theres a case to be made for d4.

3. . . . d5

Begging you to play 4. exd5 Qxd5 Nc3 and gain a tempo to further develop your pieces.

4. Bf4 f5

exd5 is still there.

5. h4

Planning to develop the rook to h3. This is a bad plan. The rook doesn't do anything you need done on the third rank, and you further weaking the Kingside pawns that you would normally want to castle behind.

5. . . . dxe4

Forcing you to play 6. fxe4 or lose a pawn. If 6. . . . fxe4, then 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qxb5+ Bd7 9. Qe5 winning the kingside rook. If 7. . . . Kd7, then 8. Qd5+ wins the queenside rook. More likely, Black plays 6. . . . g6 to defend the check, and the game continues 7. exf5 Bxf5.

6. Rh3

Putting the rook on a bad square and dropping a pawn. You now can't play fxe5 because when the computer retakes, he uncovers a bishop attack on your rook. Then you have to move the rook and he takes another pawn.

6. . . . Qd4

The computer found a better way to take that pawn you dropped.

7. Rh1 Qxb2
8. Nd2 exf3

I'd rater play 8. . . . exd3, giving White an isolated Q pawn and leaving the White pawn on f3 to prevent the knight from going to its most natural sqaure. But more than that, Black should work on developing more pieces than just the queen. He's up two pawns, so it's time to get conservative and consolidate the advantage.

9. gxf3?

I like Ngxf3 better, putting the knight on its most natural square, leaving the g-pawn where it belongs, and salvaging what you can of a safe haven for your king.

9. . . . a4

Premature. Black should work on developing pieces.

10. Bh3 h5

Another pointless pawn move by the computer.

11. Bxf5?

Oops. Dropping the bishop from chess blindness, and forcing the computer to actually develop a piece.

11. . . . Bxf5

At this point, you're down a piece and a pawn, but about to get the pawn back. The computer doesn't have to play well to win. He only has to avoid losing material, trade pieces off, promote a pawn, and mate you from being up a queen. But that's a human plan. The computer isn't going to play that way.

12. Bxc7 Qc3
13. Be5? Qxe5+

Chess blindness strikes again.

14. Ne2 Qb2
15. Rb1 Qe5

I like 15. . . . Qxa2 16. Rxb5 e6 better, creating a passed pawn for Black and opening a diagonal to develop the other bishop. But the computer isn't fond of development.

16. f4 Qd5
17. Rg1 b4

I'm beginning to think the computer is programmed to push a pawn at random when it doesn't see a tactical combination.

18. Rg5 Qh1+
19. Ng1 Qxh4+
20. Kf1 Qxf4+
21. Ngf3

After all my harping about f3 being the natural square for this knight, at this point perhaps Ndf3 would build a little better place for the king to hide and force the computer to win the slow way.

21. . . . Bh3+
22. Ke1

Kf2 would leave fewer holes for the Black queen to exploit.

22. . . . Qe3+
23. Qe2 Qf4

The human plan would be to trade queens, develop pieces, win pawns, trade pieces, and easily win the endgame.

24. Rb5 Qg3+
25. Qf2 Qf4
26. R1xb4 Qf6

Dropping a piece to 27. Rxb8+ Rxb8 28. Rxb8+ Kf7 and the idea is for White to keep the Black kingside pieces bottled up and try to salvage a draw through a tactical trick or a perpetual check. If the computer blunders and plays 28. . . . Kd7 you continue 29. Qh7+ Ke6 (or Kc6 or Kd6) 30 Rb6+, winning a queen for a rook and having good chances of winning the game.

27. Rb1 Na6
28. Ke2 g5

Dropping a pawn to 29. Rxg5, which also maneuvers the rook towards defending the king's position.

29. Qh2 Bd7

Practically forcing you to play 30. Rxg5, winning a pawn.

30. R1b4 Nxb4

The computer could also play Bxb5, but he'd rather give up a knight for the rook than a bishop.

31. Rxb4 e5

Finally opeing a line for the dark-square bishop. There can't be much left in this game for White.

32. Re4 Ne7
33. d4 Nc8
34. dxe5

I'd be inclined to try 34. Rxe5+ in the probably vain hope of getting the Black king into the open and finding a perpetual check. The computer shouldn't let this happen, but it's been making some pretty pointless moves at times.

34. . . . Qf5
35. Rc4 Bb5

and the computer has enough material that it won't play badly enough to give up a draw. After this point I begin to have some trouble making sense of your notation, but there can't be much left in the game anyway.

Is there any hope for me?

Sure, there's hope. You need to learn to watch what's protected and what isn't, i.e. to pay attention more consistently. You need to learn some basic opening principles. Maybe read a beginner's book or two. And try to find some humans to play. It's easier to learn to make sensible moves when you see your opponent making sensible moves instead of pushing pawns at random in the absence of a plan.

Patzer

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Author: ptheland Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9153 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/4/2007 1:38 AM
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Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate your taking the time.

and the computer has enough material that it won't play badly enough to give up a draw. After this point I begin to have some trouble making sense of your notation, but there can't be much left in the game anyway.

There probably wasn't much left in the game several moves before this point. ;-)

Sure, there's hope. You need to learn to watch what's protected and what isn't, i.e. to pay attention more consistently. You need to learn some basic opening principles. Maybe read a beginner's book or two. And try to find some humans to play.

I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. Learn some basic openings and the principles behind them. Pay attention. Read a book or two. Pay attention. Play more games. Pay attention.

It's easier to learn to make sensible moves when you see your opponent making sensible moves instead of pushing pawns at random in the absence of a plan.

At this point I'm the one pushing pawns at random without a plan. I don't need a computer to do that for me. ;-) And besides, the human factor of making errors from time to time might help in the motivation side by actually winning a game every now and then.

One more question if I may.

Even doing some basic reading on the internet I can see that playing the examples is likely to be helpful. How do you all feel about a good ol' chessboard vs. a computerized board - not one that plays the games, just a computerized version of a board where I can move the pieces as instructed and follow along. I'm wondering if the ability to quickly go backward and try different moves is a worthwhile learning aid.

--Peter

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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9154 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/4/2007 6:53 AM
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How do you all feel about a good ol' chessboard vs. a computerized board - not one that plays the games, just a computerized version of a board where I can move the pieces as instructed and follow along. I'm wondering if the ability to quickly go backward and try different moves is a worthwhile learning aid.

I have mixed feelings on that subject. There is both a convenience and a mental exercise tradeoff. The computer program will make it easier to go back moves to the position where you started looking at variations; but using a physical board forces you to exercise your memory for the position where you branched off. You get reminded when you can't reconstruct it from memory, so you have play through the game to that point to get it back.

Then there's the scenario of playing from a position given in a book rather than playing through a whole game. While you will be able to set up the position on the computerized board, it will be clumsier than setting up the position on a physical board. If you'll actually do it, no big deal; but if it means you go through 3 positions from a book in the time you have to spend instead of 10, it's making your chess study time less efficient.

I suppose the real determining factor is, which will you actually use? Using the computer board is superior to not doing anything because the physical board doesn't fit easily on your desk!

Patzer

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Author: psuasskicker6 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9155 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/4/2007 1:59 PM
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Hey p, welcome to the board and the game!

This board doesn't get hit often, but there's a very nice signal:noise ratio on here so there's tons of good stuff in past postings. I'd suggest reading through each of Manfreud's annotated games vs. some other masters.
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18156487
There's an absolute wealth of great chess info here.

And of course this is one of my personal favorite games...
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=17240835&sort=whole

- C -

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Author: feedmeNOWhuman Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9156 of 9208
Subject: Re: Helping a beginner Date: 4/5/2007 1:08 AM
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By the way, a couple more things to think about: Always think about your pawn structure. Beginners tend to move and/or recapture with pawns without thinking about it, and the truth is that pawns are critical. Imagine a game in which you trade pieces evenly until you each have nothing left but your king and a few pawns. The guy with the biggest pawn chain(s) will win. If you have three isolated pawns and your opponent has three in a chain that protect each other, he will win. If you have a group of two and a group of three, and he has all five of his in a single chain, he will win. You want to always think in these terms, even in the first few moves. Yes, you have to move a pawn or two or maybe even three in the opening (you really want to be developing pieces and not pawns), but always think about what will happen if you trade. Will your pawns be doubled? Will you end up with an isolated pawn (one without another pawn on either side)?


So if you have your knight out in the third row, and your opponent captures it, forcing you to double your pawns in order to re-capture, he has gained an advantage even though you each lost an identical piece. This is even worse if it disrupts the pawns in front of your king after you have castled. A good opponent is always looking for such a trade, even one that costs each of you your queen and a couple of other identical pieces. If he's got pieces that are able to capture your pieces, and your pieces are only protected by pawns, that means he can trade evenly, but your pawn structure gets screwed up.


You've seen the scenario where two queens are facing each other, and one queen captures the other queen, forcing the other guy to use his king in order to capture the enemy queen, and this costs him the ability to castle, right? It's an even trade as far as "points" are concerned, but the guy who moved his king got screwed. Watching your pawn structure is along the same principle. Even if you each lose an identical piece, it's not an even trade if your pawns get disrupted!



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