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Thread: Advice for chess playing seniors

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
    I'm wondering how useful the video would be when both players are beneath international tournament competition level, such as average players (up to national master level) in a Canadian weekend Swiss (or chess club); maybe you can elaborate a bit on why you thought the video was useful to you.
    Its been many years since I watched it but I remember recommendations to trade queens early and to aim for games of a strategic nature rather than tactical slugfests. I like Nigel as a person and as a presenter. I would watch the video again but there are so many urgent things on my to do list at the moment.


    Another thing I'm wondering is if the video should be more appropriately addressed to (by the reviewer?!), e.g., age 55+ players (except that could limit potential sales). I think a 35 year old normally would have lots of energy still, but maybe typically would have rather limited free time to study - noting that all that may be true of typical 25+ year olds, too(!)

    In my own case I'm almost 60, as I wrote earlier. When playing, my usual opening choices are many, and both tactical or positional. I simply play positional openings more often against kids who are not clearly that weak, while sometimes using tactical openings against the ones who seem the opposite (at least by rating). Against everyone else, I assume most have limited time or will to study openings too, so I play what I please; I don't play in big events too often, so I'm even less likely to suffer by using the occasional 'bluff' when it comes to openings. If I was to take a more responsible approach to my opening play and study, I suppose I'd have to shed the tactical openings in my old age (if not immediately), but then I'd be wasting a lot of experience, and previous study (however little), with said openings.

    One other thing I'd note is that e.g. Timman and Korchnoi both kept playing tactical openings well into their senior years, and they were/are still a force, as Yermolinsky put it, so it appears some older GMs don't seem to worry about having less energy compared to youngsters (though as professionals they do have lots of time to study, at least).
    I have a number of adult students in my private lessons and now in group lessons aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s and have had students in their 50s and even 60s and 70s. I think all of those players face the task of fighting with some of the monster kids and the advice is useful to older players in all of those age groups.

  2. #12
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    It might be nice to trade queens fast in a game as the older player (though I worry a bit about physically tiring first during an endgame, if a younger opponent were at all competent at that phase). However, arranging this may be easier said than done (a lot of quick queen trade lines right in the opening phase seem to be available more to White than Black - the late GM Mednis wrote a book From the Opening into the Endgame many years ago; all recommendations were White variations). Thus the more important thing for an older player would normally seem to be to aim for a strategic sort of game rather than a highly tactical one (though sometimes an old former tactician doesn't mind having at least a few tactics crop up).

    Revisiting some openings I commented on earlier in this thread, based on what I've seen on the internet somewhere, White sideline openings like the London System are being played often by high level players these days in an effort to gain a micro advantage (+=/=[?]) out of little novelties discovered at home, e.g. with an engine. I guess the old search for += positions out of standard openings is proving harder to transfer to actual over-the-board elite games these days, or else it could prove more profitable to stick with such openings instead (I've seen the odd comment that elite players can regularly defend [known?] += positions with technique nowadays - but still, it seems a bit of a regressive step to me to settle for +=/= more routinely). Such sideline openings may include, e.g., 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3!?, a sequence I first used decades ago myself, at times [P.S.: Chess Assistant 16 seems to indicate that White gets a very minimal +=/= edge in all mainline openings with good play - whether Black has {counter-} play to largely negate a theoretical White edge in practice is what used to concern Botvinnik].

    Kaufman's latest Black & White repertoire book - Kaufman's New Repertoire for Black and White - claims certain Anti-Sicilians (notably 3.Bb5[+]) are approved the most (vs. that defence) by a certain engine he's acquainted with, so I may have to revise my opinion that Open Sicilians are objectively best for White (somehow I still doubt they aren't). If I eventually decide he is right, or agree for merely the sake of conveniently avoiding heavy theory & tactics, that could pave the way for me to use both the rich 1.d4 and the just slightly less rich 1.e4 (without Open Sicilians) as the basis of a positional repertoire for White in my old age with a fairly clear conscience, if I choose my 1.e4 lines with some care.

    On the Black side of things, I thought I'd note here for posterity that a few Black French Winawer major lines I've admired have been more or less cruelly pruned by Chess Assistant 16 analysis (as supported by Houdini), it appears. They include 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5 8.Qg3 and now all the vital lines of 8...cxd4, 8...Nc6 or 8...Ne7 [edit: my latest deep engine analysis of the latter gives Black a draw in a critical line, but even if best play, that's not much of a consolation to me - however the other 2 lines now seem somewhat more hopeful for Black, to me]. Also sadly pruned [edit: probably, but not clearly] seems Rossetto's line of the Poisoned Pawn that can be reached by 7...Ne7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.f4 b6 [edit: 7...Kf8!? and 7...g6!? are two playable alternatives that make some White options vs. each now less interesting, compared to if 6...Ne7 7.Qg4 first, if one is looking to more fully argue that, even now, 6...Qc7 can be an option significantly independent of 6...Ne7 - aside from that, I think the reputedly suspect 6...Qc7 7.Qg4 f6 just might be okay for Black]. Note that the highly tactical Poisoned Pawn Winawer might not be recommendable to seniors, unless they've played it for ages (Black often has the fun, at least). Otherwise, the positional French still seems very strategically rich (same goes for the Nimzo complex). Meanwhile, I've given the positional Caro-Kann and Slav a second look. The former may not be so terrible for winning chances in its (just somewhat) rich main lines, as long as one avoids 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6, when it appears White at the least can draw at will in the long run, if he is competent (as some playing around with Houdini suggested to me).

    The Slav has been described as a 'Wall' opening by Kotronias in The Grandmaster Battle Manual (think Berlin, i.e. mainly to be played as a drawing weapon), but I am not sure this is entirely fair. The 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 line might help cut out the heaviest Slav theory, if that is a concern. I think the real problem for winning with Black (if any) may be the Exchange variation, as I noted earlier. However, there's ways to try to win all the same, whether they end up working or not (as I discussed in a separate thread). On more than one occasion I've successfully played the Slav formation as Black in a 'money' round of a weekend Swiss, partly figuring my slightly lower rated opponents also wanted to win at those times (so, no Exchange variation happened, whether that was convenient or not). I also recall tournament winner GM Bu played the Slav successfully in the last round of the 2007 Canadian Open in Ottawa when he had to win (not sure if his opponent could afford to draw). Anyway, if one is a pessimist, one can still use the Caro and Slav when it isn't necessary to win at all costs, which may be a large fraction of the time.

    Here's a link to that thread on the Exchange Slav that I referred to above:

    http://www.chesscanada.info/forum/sh...draw-for-White

    Here's a link to a CFC Forum blog entry of mine on Rossetto's line of the Winawer Poisoned Pawn, which I referred to much earlier, above:

    http://www.chesscanada.info/forum/en...Pawn-Variation
    Last edited by Kevin Pacey; 05-02-2020 at 12:17 AM. Reason: Adding content
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

  3. #13
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    On an only slightly related angle, how do older players find they fare online vs. over-the-board? I'm asking because, especially during the pandemic homedown, it's become obvious that I am at least 200 points weaker when playing online, vs. playing over-the-board. It's like my brain is (mis-)firing differently looking at a screen.

    Anyone else older having similar experiences? Any physiological insights into why?

    Thanks!

  4. #14
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    If it's speed chess time controls online that you play, it could be using a computer makes a significant difference brain-wise from playing speed chess over-the-board. For one thing, the board may seem smaller to your mind, and there may be some visual distractions on the screen, too.

    I'm playing chess (or more usually, chess variants) by email, which is pretty much play by correspondence. Except as my personal habit, I don't ever write down what I plan to play (my email games not being overly-important to me, especially nowadays), so if my opponent takes over a day to reply, sometimes I forget my original plan. The chess [variants] site I play on is gentleman's rules, so there's no anti-cheating rules/hassles enforced, incidentally, though I suppose one might try complaining to the (active) webmaster, if one has some sort of a gripe.

    Otherwise, I've got the 4th highest overall rating (of all chess & chess variants play combined) on that (US-based Chessvariants.com) website, though the (odd, IMHO) rating formula used slows the rate of improvement or decline in overall rating for players who have played a lot of games on the site. Otherwise, I've won all my chess games (a relatively small number), and have the highest rating for chess alone, but I'd say most of my chess opponents have been class-player strength. There's hundreds of names registered there, but the vast majority are currently inactive as far as playing goes.

    Fwiw, years ago an older RA club player who lives near me in Ottawa informed me that he'd quit the RA to play online (ICC), to save himself the trouble of driving to the RA. I haven't run into him since, but at the time he would have been big on the Smith-Morra gambit vs. the Sicilian, except Black can play ...e6, he said. Years later fellow master Bob Gelblum told me he'd taken up that gambit in online games, and that it was not so simple for Black, he thought, as he'd been 'making out like a bandit' with it. Bob's a tactician, and at around that point would have been in his late 50s at the least, I'd guess. Speed chess games (online or not) seem like good occasions to use gambits, depending on the players' relative tactical skills.
    Last edited by Kevin Pacey; 04-24-2020 at 04:01 PM. Reason: Adding content
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

  5. #15
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    Thanks for the reply, but I meant I'm about 200 points weaker online AT ALL SPEEDS OF PLAY. It's like my brain can't SEE as well looking at it two-dimensionally.

    So just wondering if others have noticed anything similar, i.e. a lower level of play online vs. over-the-board. If yes, I would also like to know your range of age.

    Of course, I would love it if someone knows of physiological reasons, to share here!

    Thanks.

  6. #16
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    Fwiw, not quite what you asked for, but here's one link on some players' (unscientific) opinions about online vs. otb play - at least one person thought they played blitz better online, so just maybe the subject is full of rather unstudied mystery, at this point:

    https://chess.stackexchange.com/ques...online-and-otb
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.

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