A few months ago, @sunday decided to start a chess club offering here at ALC-NYC. I had dabbled a bit in the past, learning how to play a few rudimentary opening moves from an old friend, and mostly playing against my ex-girlfriend for a year or two, before putting away my board and pieces about two years ago.
Mostly due to the enthusiasm and dedication of @timotree, I’ve now been playing at least one live game per week, and averaging about 2 online games per day. You would think that with all of this practice, I would be getting a lot better, but instead, I feel like I’ve hit a wall. Not only can I not beat @timotree anymore (before Winter break I had decent success against him in live games), it seems that I’m greatly over-matched against most of the players I’ve been paired up against on Lichess, the app that we’ve been using.
Here’s a screenshot of our game currently in progress:
It doesn’t look promising for me (black), does it?
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past few weeks…
- I’m prone to making “blunders.” These are equivalent of “stupid mistakes” in math problems, i.e. completing a really difficult standard deviation calculation, then typing a 2 instead of a 3 in the answer box. These are moves I make, and then when my opponent makes their next move, I immediately see what I did incorrectly and regret it. I hate losing this way. It’s way harder to accept than when an opponent outplays me.
- I’m susceptible to “tactics,” as @timotree calls them. I get caught in a lot of “pins,” and often find myself frustrated when I think I’ve set myself up nicely (being up a piece or two early on), only to find that I my opponent was setting me up to trap my queen and rook between the same attacking piece.
- I’m good in the early game, but after the 7th or 8th move, I don’t really know what the “best move” is in most situations. I’ve been trying to use the Lichess “analysis board” to help me understand what the best moves are. The problem is, once you reach mid-game, they stop giving you suggestions.
- Number of pieces in play isn’t the only factor to judge who’s going to win a game- piece positioning is just as important.
- If two important pieces are on the same color square, they are able to be pinned. It’s best to keep important pieces in close proximity on different colored squares to avoid the pin.
- A great resource to learn more about the game is The Chess Network on YouTube.
Here’s a video of a game between two masters featured on The Chess Network: