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erdite ♡ 47 ( +1 | -1 )
Why am I playing so bad Take a look at my graph, I was going steadily up the ratings, got to about 1480 then took
many holidays and a lot of my games timed-out and my rating went down accordingly. Ive
now been playing for about a month and I cant beat anyone, I used to dominate most players
up to 1300 and edge past players from 1300 to 1400. Now everyone I play seams to be one
move ahead of me, has anyone got any ideas for me to get good again. Please help!
i_play_slowly ♡ 185 ( +1 | -1 )
Remain calm I get the impression that you have completed only three games since your rash of time-outs. You should expect to be rusty, and three outcomes, whether good or bad, are not enough to represent a trend. Shake it off.
In one of the three games you resigned after 8 moves, although you could have continued playing at a disadvantage of less than one point. Go over the position with a chess engine (there's a free one available at and you will see that the position was far from lost. One mistake by your opponent could easily have reversed the situation.
In the two other games, your opponent's rating was 200 points higher than yours. When I am playing against someone whose rating is 200 points higher than mine, I do not expect to beat him; I only expect to learn something about chess. If you can learn something from each of those games, you did not lose.
Perhaps you are saying, "The fact that his rating was 200 points higher than mine means nothing. My rating was even higher than his before my time-outs." True, but, again, you are still rusty. If you took a holiday from the gym, returned, and expected to bench press the same weights as before, you would be crushed. The situation is similar.
I would suggest that you challenge opponents whose ratings are comparable to your present ratings, and work your way back up. You will experience some immediate gratification, but you will learn less.
For variety's sake, you could also continue to challenge opponents whose ratings exceed your own, analyze each game afterwards, and ask yourself, "What did I learn from this guy?" The points you give to the victor are your tuition fee. As they say in the gym: No pain, no gain.
Feel free to contact me via private message, if I can be of any service.
More: Chess
trond ♡ 260 ( +1 | -1 )
Good advice from i_play_slowly Erdite: I've had a somewhat similar experience as you, and thought I'd share my thoughts on this.

March this year I had been progressing ratingwise since august the year before. I was confident that I would soon be able to reach 1800 (I peaked around 1775). Then in march/april my life became extremely busy both at work and privately, so busy that I didn't have time to make moves every day. At one occasion in april I even forgot about checking my games in time, and lost several games on timeout (10 if I remember correctly) and around 100 rating points. I felt terrible about this, especially since most of the timeout games were team games.

Following this initial disaster I was trying to get back too quickly. I played too fast and lost several games simply due to poor play. My rating graph should illustrate this nicely, dipping under 1600 and staying just above for a while.

After a nice summer holiday away from playing chess for a while, reading a bit in chess books, I got back on track in august and have now managed to almost get back to where I was in march. All it took was patience, and as i_play_slowly already has mentioned: staying calm. Stressing over the chess board will only bring you bad results.

Getting back will take time. And getting back to 1480 from where you are now may take half a year or more. It all depends on your game frequency (number of finished games per week/month), and last but not least the effort you make in each game (on every move!). Taking your time on each move (at least a minute, preferrably two or more) and really make an effort to think should do wonders for you.

You should keep your average opponent rating around your current rating. If this means you are going to win a lot of games, it is good for both your self confidence and for your rating. Playing hard opponents to try to get back is not a good idea, as loosing a lot of games may cause lack of faith in your own abilities.

You might want to read Dan Heismans Chess Cafe article(s) about Real Chess as motivation for taking your time on each move. Reading about his Real Chess theory was a real eye-opener for me. (->

Good luck getting back above 1400 and beyond.
trond ♡ 12 ( +1 | -1 )
Link error in previous message Lets try again:

erdite ♡ 4 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks Thanks guys, I think you are right
ccmcacollister ♡ 250 ( +1 | -1 )
erdite ... one more ? You've already got good advice there. I just want to mention a generality because it surprised me to only think of it recently, after 30+ chess years.
The only reasons for losing:
1)Your opponent knows something you don't know ... or
2)You are not executing what you DO know to your best ability, whilst your opponent executes his knowlege better than you have even tho it may be lesser or equal.
The point here in mentioning this is, that I think it goes a long way toward helping define losses simply by realising which side of this equation one's Chess losses are falling upon. In saying "knowledge", that may mean in an acute sense, of the very game in question and its tactic and elements, or your overall understanding of Chess itself.
When I began playing correspondence, after learning systematic "tree" analysis and discovering that I must be very careful of it during combinations so as not to think that I saw it all but then find the opponent actually "saw one move further" in combinations, then my analysis became very good and losses were very much more the result of needing greater understanding of concepts. And finding times when I might just not know what to do in a particular type position. So losses were due to "#1"
After much study and added years of experience then the point was reached where very seldom were positions reached where lack of proper ideas would occur.
And losses became almost invariably due to analytical decline and attendant errors & oversights. Things of "#2 ".
Then following that period, it became less fun to play or study. Play frequency decreased and time spent on the game was less. Openings known begin to be forgotten and new innovations are never learned. Again it starts to be a matter of knowlege entering and now BOTH #1 and #2 make losses for me! :)
So whether a permanent or temporary change in matters, I think it does prove helpful to know which half is predominant in one's losses, and it can BE a very cyclical thing too.
After finding which half, then losses can be further defined, and there ARE specific remedies for most problems that ARE causing them. So to anyone else posing the same question to themselves about their play, a good review of your losses (and wins and draws as well, if you have the time) to establish the trouble is needed and this is the first consideration.

More: Chess
erdite ♡ 11 ( +1 | -1 )
I feel better now Thanks (in part) to your advise, I have started winning games again...........Which was nice.
ironbutterfly ♡ 52 ( +1 | -1 )
ccm's advice I think ccm's advice is crucial, erdite. I should post it on my computer! I am usually going to lose games to players more knowledgable than I, but when I get on losing streaks it is almost always because of distractions ("I was playing chess, but life got in the way....:) both internal and external, which for me show themselves in two major and recurring ways: I don't take enough time on each move, and I don't see the whole board. So maybe take more time on each move, be sure you see the whole board, and good chess!
pawntificator ♡ 70 ( +1 | -1 )
I enjoyed ccm's advice also but I think there is another reason to lose games too.

1)Your oppenent knows something you don't know
2)You are not executing what you DO know to your best ability

I think we could add

3) You lose because there is something you don't know.

I realize you qualified your statements by saying if you don't know something and your opponent does, then you will lose. But I think there are many instances in which neither you or your opponent has a certain piece or degree of knowledge, and that would cause a great number of losses for different reasons.

I think it is the difference between measuring yourself against your opponent and measuring yourself against Chess itself.
trond ♡ 38 ( +1 | -1 )
Back on track It seems your'e back on track erdite. Now that your'e winning again, do you feel that the advice in this thread was right to the point?

What did you change to get back?

This thread might be useful/inspiration for other players with a bad trend also.

erdite ♡ 132 ( +1 | -1 )
What helped? All of the advise was usefull but what mostley stuck in my mind was firstley "I play slowley"
said I should expect to be rusty after my chess break and him comparing my break to not
going to the gym for a while and expecting to lift the same weights.
Your(Trond) and "I play slowley's" suggestion on playing opponents who are around my
current rating rather than playing opponents with a rating equal to where I think mine should
be was taken on board and worked, it got my confidence back. I started to take more time on
my moves as suggested by "Iron butterfly" and often if I cant see any good move ill come
back to it another time, sometimes I have found amazing combos by going back to a board the
next day where previously I would have made a poor move because I couldnt find anything
Realy what I needed was a boost in confidence rather than anything technical because I knew I
could play. Once again thanks for your advise and I hope to be around 1400 early next
year(but I will need to improve because despite winning a few, it was more down to poor play
by my opponents rather than great play by me and that wont happen when I step up a level)
ccmcacollister ♡ 688 ( +1 | -1 )
erdite , well actually . . . [ "... that wont happen when I step up a level)" ]
* * * * * * *
not to worry, because YES IT WILL ! :) ... at least it will IMO.
I share your attitude, to assume your opponents WILL make the correct moves and strategies. But from my experience in correspondence games, Postal & Online, it appears that opponents will ALWAYS continue to make errors even to the Expert and Master levels! It is just a matter of being able to see them. To have the knowledge to understand when an error (or less than best play) has been made against you, and have the alertness in your play to catch it.
During my decade of serious corr play, I noted few if any "perfect" games ... and if I thought there was, then likely I just could not catch the mistakes. After playing a lot of games, and studying even more, it became apparent that there was almost a Formula for predicting the minimum number and quality of errors that an opponent of a given level would make. Very simplistic looking, and yet it proved out to be almost invariably true, that a(an) opponent would have at least this many mistakes at these levels:
Master = 1 to 3 minor errors
Expert(aka Candidate Master) 1 major error
Class A = 2 major errors
Class B = 3 major errors
Class C = 4 major errors
Class D = 5 major errors
Certainly, not all such errors were caught on the board, during the game. Some only after serious and prolonged post-mortum; or discussion with the opponent or with some other players ... but the point is, that they Will be there waiting to be found if one can exhibit the ability, determination, and necessary Time-Devoted to that end. Rather like a treasure hunt :)
Of course, it helps very much to be the First to catch an error. Whether catching theirs and capitalizing; or catching your Own before they do so you have time to do something about it. Once an error has been made, then the other player may not necessarily make Their FairShare according to the chart. But they might.
A major error does not mean a piece blunder, but might be a pawn lost or gambited incorrectly, overlooking a zwishenzug, misplaying the center pawn(s) or formation, reacting to a false "threat", creating a permanent weakness without compensation, etc.
Part of it all is learning to distinguish between what IS a big error vs a minor one. Using the Wrong-Rook is usually on the borderline of major vs minor. And unless a player is in an intense & ultra-sharp position, it almost always takes somewhat more than one major error to lose a game. Naturally, the WT pieces tend to be more forgiving of First errors, generally.
So in closing, I just want to point this out to everyone, since it seems to me to say that you can have as much as you want out of the game of Chess. As much out of it, as you want to put into it. Much of what success I had (EG being able to be Master in corr play, tho only Expert in OTB play) was due to study, study, study, plus Time and More Time put into each important game.
There is also something you may wish to try, as I did, to aid you in eliminating your own errors. If your willing to put in the time for some statistical analysis of your play.
You might find it very surprising to review your games with attention to the first 30 moves to see where your errors are occuring. It was extremely helpful to me in my OTB games, not to mention somewhat startling, when I did this type review. From it I was able to gain a much better understanding of my own tendencies. For instance, these discoveries that were made:
1) Without regard to what opening, it turned out that I would err on move #18 more often than any other. 2nd most common would be to err on move #22. And indeed that range of moves 18 thru 22 accounted for over 3/4 of my major errors.
Just being able to spend extra time and care in that area, and #18 in particular did save me many mistakes and helped to climb from Class B to Expert.
2) The first 8 moves of a game, I'd not feel any advantage, and might feel at disadvantage during moves 8 thru 11. But often would begin to develop advantage from moves 12 thru 16. This was a strong area in my game, and knowing that allowed me to make it even more so.
3) More strong play would occur for me centering around move #26. And good play in general up until around the late 30's ... for two reasons. It was apparent that the stage of transitioning from late middlegame to endgame was a strong part of my play; including the ability to snuff counter-play and liquidate to a better endgame if advantage was attained during the middlegame. BUT, moves from 35 to 41 needed special care not to err, caused by most of my tournaments having a 40 move time-control, and my being an invariable clock abuser.
There was never a compete remedy to that for me (for one thing, I think it was hard to pass up that rush of adrenalin from having to cram in moves to make T/C, perhaps even having a subconscious craving for that. It just feels SO good to have to scramble, but still come out good enough to win!). But it was Some degree of help in knowing that problem, and taking some countermeasures, like:
a) Determining what openings aor variations I'd use before the clocks started .
b) Writing down time usage upon my scoresheet in order to keep conscious of it, & see for the future if too much was being used at any certain points.
c) Trying to develop certain maximum times to give to certain segments of the game, and reserve time for the trouble area of #18-#22. And extra time for moves of King, Queen, or Center Pawns (basically using twice as much time on these type moves).
What this all meant to me was that the effort put into understanding my own play and tendencies was some of the best investment I ever made in my OTB game. To go beyond that, the next thing was similar review of games by my most frequent or difficult OTB opponents. And similar study of Corr Chess opponents when their games were available. Probably part of the reason my corr rating fared better vs
players 2200-2450, than vs players 2100-2199. The generally greater availability of published games to study for the higher rated players provided greater opportunity to understand their style & tendencies, including tendencies to err. And of course also gave a chance to prepare variations against them.
How about this as a Formula-for-Success:
Know The game, know Thy game, know thy Opponent's game.
*********** *********** *******************
PS// MAYBE there are actually MORE errors than the chart gives that just take a GM to SEE them ?! ! . . . . . Suppose ?! :))
A Very Encouraging Thought !!
alberlie ♡ 112 ( +1 | -1 )
first, I want to second Craig in saying that amazingly at every level, you'll find that you and your opponent blunder in a way that more or less decides the game right away. The games where you slowly, slowly build up advantages without your opponent really going wrong are quite rare and usually get a place in your personal top10 or so.
A 1200 player might hang a queen for a rook in one move, whereas a 1600 player might hang a knight for a pawn at the end of a four-move combo. The result is in either case quite devastating - the only difference is, that a 1200 player wouldn't have noticed that four-move combo. So, chess is equally tough at every level - you only realize that you improved when you play a 1200er some time later and see how easily you beat him.

But Craig, what I really would like to know is how you got that kind statistical information organized? Did you do that by hand, e.g. keeping charts of when you blundered etc. or can you do stuff like that by using databases?
schaakhamster ♡ 63 ( +1 | -1 )
actually a few years ago a had some fun playing a game in clubchampionship against a good friend (he also plays on gk and has surpassed me in chessskills these past few years)... during the blitzsessions the week before I noticed he had taken up the italian opening... now I'm a great fan of the Two knights opening and so I had taken him on during blitz with the Na5 variation (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6)
... but for the game I decided to sidetrack him with a minor line in that variation (being 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ Bd7, it's more passive then the main line but it's not bad) ... this worked like a charm and he fell into a trap ... the game was home-preparation from the first to the last move...