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How do you make your moves on GK?
I was just wondering what process other people use to make moves on this site. Do you use the analyse board feature or just look at it and figure it out mentally or both? How long do you spend looking and the board and how far ahead do you try to calculate? Do you write down your moves or just hope? How many moves do you generally consider?
Personally I only consider about 3 or 4 moves (probably why I'm this rating :) ) and then use the analyse board feature to try and figure about 3 moves onwards or so.
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How does one make moves...?
I keep a chessboard close by the machine, and if the position looks as though it will require a bit of thought (i.e. 90% of the time), set out the position on it. I have a small travelling magnetic set as well to keep the game position for reference. I have more than once set up the wrong position to decide my moves. You would be surprised how often a seemingly trivial difference in position can make a big difference in how to proceed.
I'll occasionally use the "analyse the board" if I just want to go over a sequnce of moves before playing, or sometimes just to sort out a few "candidate moves". It could, of course, be used much more extensively than I do.
Check out the games database, too, especially for openings. Until recently GK carried only the games played on GK (those played by at least one 1500+ plyer, but you could narrow this to "1900+ games". This has been replaced by master games, but these aren't complete games - only the openings (in some depth, mind you).
I have no idea whether the GK game database has been retained in some obscure corner of this site, or has been eliminated altogether. I rather hope it has been retained.
I'm inclined to think that database was more useful than has been alleged. Some of the "poorer" games might well have been valuable for showing what to avoid!
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I often use a physical board too. I have a few tricks to make 100% sure that I've set it up to the correct position.
I'll pick a couple of candidate moves and think as far as I can. Then I will set up the resulting position for each candidate move on the physical board and do the same thing all over again...unless it is a familiar simple position. If it is a position that I already know well, then I often can play very quickly without using a physical board.
Note: sometimes I get lazy and don't use this method; but I will always think ahead as far as I can. Looking 3 to 4 moves ahead is not nearly enough in my opinion. I like to say that I only think only 1 move ahead because you cannot 100% accurately predict what your opponent will do in all circumstances; yet the truth is that looking ahead varies and depends upon the situation. Sometimes 8 or 9 moves is not enough. Sometimes 1 is enough.
When looking deep into the endgame, I often don't need to count the moves. I'm looking for familiar patterns. Sometimes those patterns can give you assurance of victory 30 to 40 moves down the road. But I'm not actually thinking move by move that far. I use my intuition that I've gained from experience.
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For openings, I use databases and my current knowledge of openings. As the game leaves my brain's "opening book" I start to look more at the databases, playing through select games and then seeing what move makes the most sense (play a little bit with the board analysis).
For the middle and end games, I start off staring at the board. Just getting an idea of what's going on. Then, I bring up the 'analyze the board' and go through my ideas. If it's seeming complex, I leave myself a note here with the variation tree written out. This allows me to come back later and add to it without having to repeat all my work. Also, it makes sure that I don't miss a move somewhere down the line that I analyzed but simply forgot.
I go as deep as needed within the given time. Some moves fail at 4 ply. Others look promising, but if I don't trust them much I will take them out much further. In a game I have now, I have one line analyzed out 11 ply, and I'm going to add to this in length and in branch points (there are so far only 2 other branches I've considered for this move).
I try to look at as many moves as possible, but only a few (1 to 4 on average) get serious analysis and consideration. When I don't have much time, I look at less moves, but try to take them deeper just so I can feel comfortable enough with them (if I can't see a winning shot for me, I'd at least want a move that doesn't lose for me). Even then, I at least toy with most moves for like 20 seconds.
I think that if you have some idea of what you are looking for in a move, and you have a good way to organize your thoughts, and you almost NEVER make a move on the same day you do all your analysis on it (if you come back the day after, things will look very different), then you should be able to analyze deeper and find some better moves overall.
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ganstaman mentioned something...
... that I had intended to but forgot: using the "make a note" feature. In my view this is a very useful feature that I woefully underemploy - probably because i pencil my intentions all over the scoresheets that I keep (just A4 pages, 5 games the side). It is a useful aide-memoire when one has a forced sequence to play, or a clear-cut plan to follow. It saves having to rethink it (aside from routine checking for accuracy) especially for slowish games where you might not remember so well what's been going on. At any rate I have occasionally used it, and I do like that idea.