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stevetodd 75 ( +1 | -1 )
Use of opening databases Like most I use opening databases, BUT I find myself exclusively using it without applying much thought! (especially if I have hefty gameload at the time) Ok I tend to pick the reply that suits my game but also I lean towards the win % the database indicates. I am thinking about dropping the use of these because I think I will learn more by making my own mistakes, at the moment because I am not applying much thought in the openings I am not learning. This gives me a problem in my otb chess. Has anyone else thought about this and done it, how was it for you? I also subscribe to redhotpawn so I may just drop the use on one site. Obviously it would mean my rating would drop but that isn't the most important thing, to me it is to prove yourself in an otb game.
misato 263 ( +1 | -1 )
Similar intents on my end I am playing CC at GK in order to improve my OTB game, especially openings. I am too lazy to learn opening lines not knowing if I will ever have the chance to play them. When playing CC, I have enough time to make my choices (and to learn about the reasons and consequences) AND I am sure that this line is played. Furthermore it is not only important to play this line, but to know what happens after it or (most important!) what to do if the opponent leaves this line. Unfortunately I haven't got the OTB-benefit I wanted (on first glance, but I am confident for the long run).
But in contrast to you, I use books. Advantage: The reasons and the different strategies are explained and you get a hint how to continue. Disadvantage: Not every alternative can be looked up (but that may turn out to be an an advantage because you have to find out on your own).

In my eyes it is of no use to judge about the percentages in the databases, especially not in the GK-bases. If a white junk move is answered correctly in 1 out of 10 games, the winning percentage (90%) is misleading - it still is a junk move! And speaking for myself, I prefer some types of position and hate others. So I am playing better in those ones I feel comfortable with than in the others - no percentage-influence at all. If a book's comment says that White gets a better play, but this leads to a type of position I don't like, I simply try to get away from that (even if playing White).
Chess is no game based on statistics like monopoly or memory, research of probabilities is the wrong way to improve one's game.

Of course, database are not all bad and useless. I use them to get to know what moves are most popular in some openings or lines. But I try to avoid judging by the percentages, it is better to look at some positions and think if you like them. Often enough a simple blunder in the later game ruins the whole percentage (from 100% to 0%). It may be worth looking at the players' ratings, but no one is free from blunders, and your special game may go into a complete different direction than the database-game you look at.

I had several OTB-games where both of us didn't know anything about the opening line just played, even in early moves. This is very time-consuming because none of us knows that the opponent doesn't know either. Great feeling at home when you look up the book and find out that your judgement was correct and you played a half-way reasonable line with the basic intents written there! I learnt the most from these intensive games, it gives you confidence for similar situations. And if you are trapped badly, you will never forget that line as well!
stevetodd 89 ( +1 | -1 )
The database here is nowhere large to rely upon, I was taking about databases with 100,000s of IMORTANT games, the percentage is valid in these databases (as long as you check the following lines to ensure the other colour does not get an opportunity. Now this is what I do not like slavishly following the databases. So from now on I will not use them, I know my rating will suffer but that is not important, what is important is my otb game. Actually my rating may not decline much here as I am a mid 1800s player (on redhotpawn which I know is comparable to here). I know what you mean I was playing for my local chess club on thursday night and my opponent opened with F4 which I do not think I have encountered before. I won but I was more pleased about finding out that I stayed in the book for 9 moves then he eventually went out of the book which was the point I took control.

ccmcacollister 146 ( +1 | -1 )
Learning openings ...
. stevetodd
I think that avoiding the d-base could help with understanding the opening portion. Alternatively, you could still use them but do your own analysis first and decide what you think is best, then use the d-base to check up on it. Then if your move differs from those you can determine which is really best upon review of the game.
When you do understand the opening moves you play, they will become easier to recall in the future since they will all "make sense" to you.
*****
misato
I found an easy way for a correspondence player to learn to recall openings. Simply go thru each game from move #1 each time you receive a new move, and work up to the present position from there. It serves to refresh your recall of the game to get you ready to make your next move. But also gives you memorization of your games as you play them. This is what I used to do when playing Postal Chess in the USCCC and was able to retain all 45 of my games of that time in memory. I think it helped me rise from Expert to Master in Postal.
And when you do play OTB Chess, the recall is right there for you to use as well; not only of the moves ... you will also remember WHY the moves were made. Quite easy.
}8-)
leo_london 39 ( +1 | -1 )
Not much to add.. You have probably said it all.
I use online databases to examine the lines taken by the Masters. I dont slavishly follow the percentages, prefering to follow the subsequent consequences of taking a particular line. I also find it interesting to see how trends change among the
" greats "...sometimes for no apparent reason..a line/move is not suddenly proved unsound but it seems to become " unfashionable ", why is that ?
misato 64 ( +1 | -1 )
I can confirm your advice, ccm I am forced to do that because I only have two wooden chess boards at home - but often more than two games running. And it is easier (and safer) to set up the current position by the way you mentioned than trying to put all pieces on the correct squares directly.

Maybe I am too afraid of "fingerfehlers" or missed chances, but I don't like to move right on the screen - even with the fantastic GK-analysis board (I only use that when following other players' games). So I accept this little preparation to be done, and you are right: it helps a lot to memorize the main lines and ideas (though I am still waiting patiently to get the benefit in one of my next OTB-games).
i_play_slowly 105 ( +1 | -1 )
I'm starting to hate databases It's funny that stevetodd should start this thread now, just when databases are really starting to irk me. I dislike the fact that it might take 16 moves before the game becomes original, which, at Gameknot, might take weeks. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm 'going through the motions'. Also, there are times, when I move according to the database, choosing a line that wins more often than not, only to discover that I have given my opponent, who is also using a database, the opportunity to play some almost invincible subline. Irksome.
*
I wonder if there might be some advantage in ignoring the database, simply because I could take my opponent immediately out of book and say, "Now you're in MY world!" Surely, if the ideas behind the openings, as outlined by Fine and others, are worth their salt, then striking new paths should be worthwhile. Even if my rating were to nosedive, at least I could feel like I, instead of ChessLab, had played the game.
wschmidt 346 ( +1 | -1 )
my two bits...sorry for the length... I think there's a preliminary question that really hasn't been addressed in the discussion up to this point. That is whether or not the player is making choices based on an opening repertoire. And, for the purposes of this discussion, I'm talking about an opening repertoire that is more than a vague sense of how the first three or four moves of the Sicilian Dragon go. Rather, I'm talking about having a working knowledge of between 20 to 30 main lines, 7-15 moves deep, in any particular opening. Knowing those lines will inevitably lead you to "tableaus" that you are familiar with. Some more than others because they come up in your games more often. If you know the plans associated with those tableaus you know what sort of activity works best for you and what doesn't.

Now, my sense is that for strong OTB players, databases are probably most useful for preparing opening repertoire choices, familiarizing themselves with cutting edge new moves and, to a lesser extent, for post-game analysis. Myself, I'm a big fan of repertoire books because, like Misato says, there are explanations of moves and plans that databases just don't have.

The reason I bring the whole discussion of "repertoire" up, is because I think that a lot of database use on GK is being done in place of developing an understanding of an working repertoire. And, as stevetodd and misato say, moving without understanding won't lead to OTB improvement. And, as i_play_slowly says, it makes the first bunch of moves on GK pretty boring as well.

However, i_play_slowly, keep in mind that a set of repertoire moves is pretty much rote as well. And, of course, there is a reason why those moves are in the repertoire - they're good! And when someone makes a move that's not in my repertoire and not in the database, I start to look hard at it, because it's a safe bet there's something less than ideal about it.

Playing on GK, I start looking at databases when my opponent makes a move that is not in the repertoire I'm following. Before going to the databases, however, I think through the position and come up with my own list of candidate moves. At that point, I take a look at the various database moves that have been made in that position and weigh various factors: Do I understand the purpose of each move? Does one best fit in with my understanding of the position and what I think the plan for my side should be? Was it played by strong players? Was it played a lot? Did it win a lot? The weight I give to each of these varies from game to game.

After the game, one of my regular tasks is to go back and look at where the game deviated from book and try to see if the choice I made was a good one. I'll also run Fritz for awhile at that point to see what it thinks about my choice. I'll then reach a conclusion about what I should do the next time I see that move and add the line to my repertoire.

So, the bottom line to all this rambling is that, for folks at our level of play, there is a place for databases if they're used as a tool, not a a crutch. It's easy to slip into the habit of using them unthinkingly. Used wisely, they can assist in the repertoire development and understanding. I'd encourage folks not to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. ws

PS - ccm and misato - I came up with the same method of repeating the moves of my GK as an aid to familiarizing myself with the opening lines. I dont' use it consistently, but I like it when I remember to use it!