Weekly chess meet-ups against players you know can help you improve your online chess. Chess understanding has a lot to do with pattern recognition — seeing a particular position and knowing how to play against it. By playing the same opponents on a regular basis, you get a feel for the openings they play and how to adjust your strategies accordingly. It’s more than just openings though. You learn to play against a particular style.
Below are a series of games I played against my friend Fritz on Lichess last week. I’ve mentioned him before in other posts. He has a very aggressive style that is fun to play against. I won the majority of the games but I was not happy with the quality of the wins. In many of the games I was worse and managed to fight back through tactical means. This is not the way I prefer to win. Excellence in chess is playing well in all phases of the game; a well fought game, free from major mistakes. You will see that I made a series of positional misjudgments that I need to work on.
Review the games, read my notes and let me know what you learned from my analysis. Please add anything you feel I missed in the comments below.
Game#1 A bad bishop cut off from the battle
Game#2 Strong center, weak king
Game#3 No trades during a winning attack
Game#4 Up a rook? Watch for counter play
Game#5 A simple recapture leads to a loss
Game#6 Opposite side castling duel
Game#7 – A Comedy of Errors
Improve your online chess – takeaways from these games:
- Pawns storms should not be ignored. Often times, moving your pawns creates more weaknesses than strenghts. Moving pieces out of the way was the theme in several of these games. Moves like Nfd2 or Nh5 are strong in that they avoid the pawn storm and threaten to occupy key squares.
- Chipping away at a strong center can lead to a winning attack. This is particularly true when your opponent has not fully developed his pieces. Lack of development almost always leads to counter play from the other player – even when he has a strong center.
- Avoid trading pieces indiscriminately. Amateurs love to trade pieces – I know because I do it all the time. They often do this because they can’t think of anything better to play. Trading pieces is part of the game but this should only be done if it benefits you. When a player is under siege, his best defense is to try and trade off his opponents pieces. After all, an army with less men is less effective. Don’t help your opponent trade off pieces unless it benefits you. This is one of the top problems amateurs need to improve on. Want to improve your online chess? Be careful about trading pieces too quickly!
- Open lines for your pieces. This is particularly true for rooks and bishops. In game six, I was quick to play Nd5, but after Black recaptured, my d5 pawn cut off the scope of my g2 bishop. If Black played more accurately, he might have secured a draw.
- Be wary of weak squares. Playing an early h5 has it’s drawbacks. It weakens the g5 square and invites a future g4 from your opponent. In game five, my opponent was able to put his knight on g5 with impunity. I suffered through the rest of the game. Defense is important but keep an eye on weakening squares around your king that you cannot defend.
- Pace yourself. Try to average a move every 5-10 seconds. Allow yourself only a few exceptions to that rule.
To improve your online chess, start by analyzing your games – wins and losses. Although I won this online chess blitz match 7-1, I was concerned with the quality of my play. In many of the games, I either blundered or was outplayed. I was fortunate to take advantage of my opponents mistakes. Now, I know some of you are thinking that that is part of blitz chess – and you are right, but it’s important to keep a high standard in the quality of your play.
Piece placement is perhaps one of the most important areas that separates amateurs from masters. For future games, I am going to focus on:
- Placing (and sometimes leaving) my pieces on good squares.
- Opening lines of attack for my bishops and rooks, even if this comes at the expense of a pawn.
What are your thoughts? Did you see anything else in these games that I missed? Do you suffer from similar problems in your own game?
Tell us how you improve your online chess.
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