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ordinary_man 221 ( +1 | -1 )
deciding on a move. (thinking technique) I have recently started developing a systematic thinking technique for deciding on a move. Partly due to seeing this idea in Kotov's book "think like a grandmaster" and silman's "reassess your chess."

I am curious what all you fellow chess generals do when deciding on a move...do any of you have a specific process of checking the board?

I have just started to discipline myself and this is what I came up with.....

Your opponent moves, hits the clock and your on the move.

step 1) Why did he play that move? Does he threaten anything directly or indirectly, is he planning a positional maneuver which I can prevent with a prophylactic move?

step 2) look at all your opponent's possible next moves, again looking for particularly strong moves which you may want to counter, or prepare a defense for.

step 3) look at all your own possible moves, looking for any tactical threats, or possible sacrificial breakthroughs.

step 4) look at all the positional ideas in the game, pawn structure, space, open files, etc. and develop a plan of play based on the position. choose candidate moves that will help execute the plan.

step 5) calculate your candidate moves, checking for errors, and decide upon which move has the best line of play.

step 6) write down your move and double-check it, calculate as deeply as needed, making sure you aren't missing anything and then make your move.


This is my rough idea of what should go through a player's mind when he is on the move. It may sound elementary to some of you, but blunders are extremely common in this royal game, due to lack of mental discipline when deciding on a move. All it takes is one move where you decide to be lazy and not check everything, and bam! the game is lost...

Don't believe me? Check out Grandmaster Larry Evans' book "The ten most common chess mistakes and how to avoid them!" 218 examples of typical blunders that actually occurred in real games, most of them grandmaster games, and there are even world champion examples in here!!!

"the mistakes are all there, waiting to be made."
-Tartakower
luresau 20 ( +1 | -1 )
re: deciding on a move Great post.I am one of those chess players that have read the books but totally disregard them while actually playing chess:).
Hopefully i can begin to think as structurly as you
atrifix 83 ( +1 | -1 )
Thinking I never really think as rigidly as that. My thinking techniques tend to change based on situations. I recently started rereading Think Like a Grandmaster and some ideas seem so far removed from modern psychological/cognitive perspectives that they're not even worth trying to replicate ("I don't think like a tree. Do you think like a tree?"-Anatoly Lein)

You'll never completely eliminate blunders from your games. The classic examples are Alekhine dropping his bishop on b5 to an elementary attack ("I forgot the piece was there") and Fischer's ridiculous 29... Bxh2?! (no annotation could really describe this) against Spassky.

Anyway, more recently I've begun to simply feel my way through positions, looking at possible positional threats, or possible variations, etc. and deciding on a move.
v_glorioso12 84 ( +1 | -1 )
i look at my opponents last move, see what it does, any tactical threats, and stuff like that. i look at my candidate moves, or possible moves, but first i look at moves that look sort of weird, and they sometimes can be winning. i look at squares where there is a possible pin, fork, or anything like that, and try to find a way to remove the defender to that square, or try to find a way to sac a piece that will propose that threat if he/she accepts. then i see if i can win material or gain space. then look for a mating threat or weak squares prone to attack. i gather all the moves possible, do deep analysis, and find out the best move. hope this helped :-P oh yeah, and find positional weaknesses/plusses and structural weaknesses/plusses in both players' positions, and try to exploit those
victord 51 ( +1 | -1 )
number 1 ... I look for the threat! What's he/she trying to do? Play both sides of the board. Try to read their plan .. then disappoint them, frustrate them, block them, manuever them and finally crush them.
That is my plan at the beginning.
When in trouble .. I'll try anything. I'll check every possible move of every piece I have. I look to counterattack quickly when I'm in trouble. I hate the slow grind down games ..waiting to be mated ..I prefer to go down fighting.
ordinary_man 110 ( +1 | -1 )
these responses are great! This is the most interesting chess discussion I have ever participated in or seen. The thinking process behind the move of a chessplayer. Just What IS actually going on in a grandmaster's head as they sit looking at a complex position for 30 minutes? What is going on in an amateur's head? (see Silman's Amateur's mind, good book).

I would make a small request. That every person who reads this thread, please post a reply, however brief on -WHAT GOES IN ON IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL MIND BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR MOVE???

My turn- Of course I don't actually think that perfectly as my ideal system would imply!
Usually I look at the threats, tactical motifs, and positional ideas, I calculate when necessary but in certain positions, I simply look one move ahead and play positionally...I always dreamt of being an aggressive attacking player, but I seem to have a natural talent for the positional game and so....I do what works for me.

Come on, this thread could really teach us all something if everyone responds!

:) -ordinary_man
ordinary_man 6 ( +1 | -1 )
by the way... I gave you all a + on your forum rating...good responses!
poisonedpawn78 303 ( +1 | -1 )
i find it interesting the order of importance .. on some of your thought processes ... so ill share mine ..

Now of course by no means is this static ..

0)Starting from Move 1 of the game by my oponent i begin to formulate an attack plan based on his move order , for example if he chooses a pseudo dragon defence , im going to castle queenside push the H pawn and get behind his defence from there .

1) I look for attacking ideas , rooks on the 7th , windmill attack , PINS , forks . and when i look for these im not talking about whats THERE on the board right now .. I "imagine" what if say his queen moved here and his rook there .. i can fork them here .. now i just have to figure out how to get them there .

2) I organize what i have imagined into my pre-existing plan from the start of the game based on the move order my oponent selected . for example if i can see that i can fork say a peice and a pawn ... and can win that pawn .. if that doesnt fall into my overall plan of attack i will ignore that option .

3) once i have figured out my plans , my imagined positions , be it a pin , a fork , creating a passed pawn ... advantages to work with .. i then calculate very lightly how i wish to proceed , this includes the exploitation of pinned peices .( it is very important that you limit your calculations to what you are looking at , no point in looking at moves like a3 b3 and such if your attacking on the kingside !)

4) I check to see if there is a way to "tempo" off any of my oponents peices to gain a developement advantage in my plan EX. if i was going to move my rook over to say the E file later .. why not do it now when i can tempo off his king/queen making my oponent waste a move .

5) i look at my oponents peices and see if there is a way i can make any of his peices less useful than they where befor , for example .. heming in a bishop into a closed end of the board , open up the position if he only has knights to my bishops left . one aspect of the positional side of chess .

6) I look at my peices and see if there is a bad peice , how can i improve this peice's abilities according to my plans . this is infact the positional aspect of the game ... the improvement of your poor peices .

7) now i consider of all the "candidate moves i have chosen , is there any longterm positional disadvantages with each move that i need to be aware of , for example gaining doubled pawns that have been blockaded .

8) Sacrificing , can i sac a peice for mate .

9) after i have considered all my moves and what i wish to continue with , only NOW do i care what is my oponent doing with his side of the board , does he have any major threats ? , is he trying to gain a pawn that i can tempo from by allowing him to gain it to miss position his peice ?

10) final decision , i choose my course of action , i picked my move .. now i do a last second check to make sure it doesnt walk into a fork /tactical error


and remember , pins are the second most dangerous attack in chess , learn to use them as an attack , not as a hinderance to your oponent .

i hope this helps someone out .
brobishkin 187 ( +1 | -1 )
Forming a plan... There comes a point in the majority of games when your acquired knowledge will be exhausted and you will have to rely on your own resources... This point normally arises in the early middlegame... The next step is to formulate a plan...

In some positions, for example, those with a blocked center, it may be appropriate to construct a long term plan which may require ten or twenty moves to execute... And more than likely, your plan will be much shorter-range, lasting perhaps five moves, while playing in open positions...

In formulating a plan you should first make sure your plan is beneficial... There is no point in aiming for a target that doesn't actually enhance your position... Typical misguilded plans are: attacking on the wrong part of the board, aiming for the exchange of the wrong pieces, and commiting yourself to weakening pawn advances...

Make sure your plan is realistic... There is no need to embark on a five move plan if your opponent can wait for the first four moves, and then stop your plan by playing one move himself...

Make sure your plan is not tactically flawed... Even if what you are aiming for is worth while, this will not help you if your opponent can mate you while you are executing it...

Another note while executing a plan... If your opponent has blocked Plan (A), but at the cost of creating a weakness elsewhere on the board, it would be foolish to stick to your original intention, ignoring the new situation... Most games are like this... The players formuate a series of mini-plans and strike a balance between forwarding their own plans and interfering with those of their opponents...

Bro...

Coming up with a plan is the hardest part of playing chess...
tonlesu 40 ( +1 | -1 )
atrifix In reference to Your 29...Bxh2?! (no annotation could really describe this) world championship 1972 Spassky vs, Fischer---Larry Evans in his book "Chess World Championship 1972" says after 29...Bxh2?! Fischer still has a draw. Evans says 40...p-b5 is the move that cost the precious half point. He says Fischer still holds the draw with 40...K-q4.
brobishkin 141 ( +1 | -1 )
What goes through my mind... First of all I always keep my focus on my current plan (which ever positional plan I might have)... But after his move I ask myself "How has his move changed the position?... What are his threats?... What are his objectives?"...

I always try to keep the position "up to date" by demanding to know how, and to what extent, my opponent's move has changed things... It is vital to be aware of threats... But when I see a threat, my first reaction is not to search for a defense, but rather for a way of ignoring it...

Then I look at the board and the position...

1. Material (noticing such things as two Bishops, Bishops of opposite colors, pawn majorities, etc)...
2. King positions (is one of the Kings exposed? and noting if there is a lack of flight squares)...
3. Weaknesses and strengths (weak pawns, weak squares, confined pieces, lack of space)...
4. Development (am I behind or ahead in development? and taking note of tempo)...

After taking this in, I determin if a good combination exists... Then I ask myself "How can I best exploit my opponents weaknesses and reduce his strengths?"...

After determining the best move, I then viualize the move as though made, as firmly as I can, and ask "does it leave me vulnerable to any combination?"... After confermation I then write the move down, then with the same hand, move the chess piece, then with the same hand again, punch the clock...

Hope this adds to the thread and answers the Ordinary Man's question...

Bro...
r_lawrence 156 ( +1 | -1 )
A lot of great posts have been made. I would like to bring up a sort of 'danger zone' that I've fallen into lately in my own personal playing, that may be a help to others.

I like to read and study. Currently, I'm going through Silmans Amateur mind (which as most of you know, is basically .. learn the imbalances, and make a plan and go for it!), and also the TASC tutor CD .. which is basically all tactics.

The emphasis of these studies is to not let your opponent knock you off track, and to follow through with your plan (or in tactics, to find the sacrifice that forces mate on your opponent). Because of the emphasis of these studies, I've found myself spending a lot of time on my plans and my ideas, and not adequetely assessing just what my opponent is up to! I've had some great 'game plans' smashed lately, because I just haven't played both sides of the board enough. I've also make unsound sacrifices, which were quite unneccessary, but isn't that what we do in tactical exercise programs? Make the winning sacrifice?

Anyway, my warning to those doing similar studies is this. Try to follow through with your plan, but not at the expense of neglecting your opponents ideas! And also, before you make that sacrifice .. are you sure it will work? Really sure? Is it a necessary sacrifice, or are you just being a bit lazy at the moment, and HOPING your sacrifice will turn out okay? These are questions I have to ask myself as of late when I hit the board. Take care all!
calmrolfe 23 ( +1 | -1 )
Also When playing Over The Board games try and do the bulk of your thinking whilst your opponent's clock is ticking. Time is an important factor in chess games so players need to maximise this resource.
brobishkin 13 ( +1 | -1 )
Absolutely... Very good point Cal Rolfe... Time is of the essence... And time can be the desiding factor of many a game if taken lightly...
jeffz_2002 65 ( +1 | -1 )
Advice from Bent Larsen When asked what was the single most important piece of advice he could give to players, he said (paraphrasing), "Just before you move a piece, take a moment and look over the /entire/ board, and see if there's anything you might have missed."

After all the effort required to formulate your move (as shown above), this final sanity check will hopefully cut down on the number of outright mistakes (eg, yesterday I was playing a game with a really complicated center and after Nd4+ I thought I was the cat's meow -- until my opponent played ...Nxd4; then it was time to break out the kleenex <sniff>).
ordinary_man 142 ( +1 | -1 )
poisonedpawn... ahhh....the attacking player, and a GOOD one at that!! (I looked at your record.) You do have a very different thinking pattern than mine. Of course that is because I tend to be a positional player rather than an all-out attacker. obviously we are both successful with our techniques, but it seems yours is a bit cumbersome for over-the-board play. The reason I look at my opponent's plans first is to save time...imagine you spend a good 15 minutes calculating and thinking in an extremely complex position and then you notice that your opponent has a 6 move combination resulting in either mate or serious material deficit....so you play the best possible defensive move immediately and your oppoent already was ready for it and plays his move immediately which completely changes the position. Now, you have played very well but since it is over-the-board, you have wasted 15 minutes thinking time and your opponent ends up winning the middlegame because of your time trouble....

I am not knocking your style in anyway, I am just explaining my different thinking order. But, still yours may be perfect, I will consider everybody's ideas...opened mindedness is the key to success.

Thank you poisonedpawn and others...I would welcome a challenge from you poison, as I am seeking higher rated players to help gain myself a decent rating as I am still only a provisional player.
ordinary_man 83 ( +1 | -1 )
also..Calmrolfe Very good point....just what I like to hear. very simple concept but extremely effective. I also have had good success thinking about the position while my opponent is on the move.

Interestingly...John Nunn, highly acclaimed Grandmaster and chess authority claims he almost always gets up and leaves the board after his move. He has been very successful using this approach to clear his mind and make every move with an open mind...(Chess Olympic Gold medal winner.) It works great for some players, but not for me, I have tried it and i get much better results using my opponent's thinking time to assess what's going on, after all after his move the position will have only changed by one piece movement...
poisonedpawn78 223 ( +1 | -1 )
Ordinary ... just send the challenge i dont have any requierments filled in anymore .. i just want to play chess .

and as for my defences , its true im an attacking player at heart , this is a result from getting my butt whooped by the two guys who taugh me chess . for a long time they would whip me around the board .. until i figured out the deal with attacking . a great attack is the best defence .

and as for my oponents combinations and threats .. i dont know how to explain it really i tried my best above without sounding "weird" , but when my oponent has something going thats too dangerous to ignore .. its almost like an alarm goes off in my head .. " hey you dope , stop this then do what you wanted" . and this alarm only seems to fail me when im really tired and shouldnt be playing chess anyways lol ! i can usually just look at the board and without any calculation pick out the best move just by looking at the geometry of the peices .

as for over the board play , i just recently started going to tournaments again . my first tournament back i went a perfect 6-0 to take first place by 2 full points . altho i dont wish to sound like im braggin , i have yet to run into time trouble in classical games ..

however you are absolutly right about the time it sometimes takes to think the way i do . i cannot play blitz games because of it .. i just feel lost without direction . i end up finding the good moves go ahead on material and lose by the clock lol !

( played an internet blitz tourney , 5 games lost all 5 , by the time the clocks ran out i was up a total of 2 queens 3 rooks and many minor peices but its the clock that counts in blitz lol )

after saying all that . i totally respect the "defencive positional" style of chess .. there have been a few world champions to prove that it is truely effective ! defencive positional chess can be for alot of people . just not me =)


As for GM J.Nunn , he is quite right in my mind , i find it much more effective to look at the position after you walk away from the board .. or to even just stand up and look at the board from a higher angle .. its amazing sometimes how much more you see !
atrifix 55 ( +1 | -1 )
29... Bxh2?! Yes, Fischer still had a draw. but it was now an arduous task in what had previously been a dead drawn position. It's generally accepted that Fischer did not see the continuation 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 33. Kg4 Bg1 35. Bd2! and the bishop is trapped. By playing 32... Ke7 Fischer maintained a drawn position, but he went from a dead level position to one where he had to fight for a half-point. All in all, no one in the world--probably not even a class C player--would make those sort of moves in a world championship match, except Fischer. At any rate, that's why I said "no annotation could really describe this".
tonlesu 23 ( +1 | -1 )
29...Bxh2?! Well you're right about one thing, class C players very seldom make moves world class grandmasters make and class C players very seldom very seldom able to explain them.