The Rookie

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:26 pm

Just finished "The Rookie", where Moss describes his three-year effort to propel himself into the (loosely defined) expert category (~170 ECF?). I'm wondering why he didn't make it. From what I can glean, he played a fair bit but didn't study the game systematically, didn't analyse his games (in terms of making copious and time-consuming notes), and didn't develop an opening repertoire. He also seems to have taken his victories and defeats emotionally, thus affecting his play in subsequent games. Is this a fair appraisal?

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18057
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:27 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:Just finished "The Rookie", where Moss describes his three-year effort to propel himself into the (loosely defined) expert category (~170 ECF?).
Given that he was mostly playing 140ish opposition. he needed to be able to put them away around 75% of the time. There are ways of doing this, but you have to play less nonsense than your opponents. Confidence helps, you consider yourself better than them.

Alternatively he needed to learn how to survive in Opens against 170 plus opposition.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:47 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Arshad Ali wrote:Just finished "The Rookie", where Moss describes his three-year effort to propel himself into the (loosely defined) expert category (~170 ECF?).
Given that he was mostly playing 140ish opposition. he needed to be able to put them away around 75% of the time. There are ways of doing this, but you have to play less nonsense than your opponents. Confidence helps, you consider yourself better than them.

Alternatively he needed to learn how to survive in Opens against 170 plus opposition.
True, true. I'm merely wondering why he didn't prepare properly, given his supposedly serious intent of storming the heights. Now it could be that he didn't/doesn't know how to prepare. I've met many club players who don't have the foggiest on how to study, on how to analyse, on how to prepare a repertoire.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18057
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:37 pm

Not relating to Stephen Moss, but the more general point of those writing about their self improvement process.

Here's a position (White to play and win)



Obviously (or is it?) a position arising from the English or an Accelerated Dragon. The very first move for White that comes into consideration is Nd5, the tactical point being that Nxd5 is met with cxd5 winning the Knight on c6. So Q moves somewhere staying in touch with c6. Then you take on c6 and if recaptures, Nxe7 check wins the Queen. Another point is whether .. Nxd5 can be flicked in before Qxc6. No, because of cxd5 again defending the c6 Knight.

I'd imagine that Black's previous was .. b6.

So posing a slightly different question, what grade or rating would Black be to fall into this? Given that .. b6 is a normal move in these variations, perhaps anyone who was playing a bit casually or who knew enough about the opening to reach the position but wasn't aware of some of the pitfalls. But at what level would White not spot the winning combination? Maybe "winning" should be in inverted commas as there's a level where piece odds doesn't guarantee victory.

Jonathan Rogers
Posts: 3857
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:26 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:23 pm

One needs some ability even to get to 170, and perhaps Stephen, much as he loves to play, simply does not have it. (I recall what Nigel Short, a former coach of his (!) once wrote - there is only so far you can help someone who has quite forgotten what you have shown him just half an hour or so ago).

Or, perhaps he has the ability but needed to start a serious attempt at a much younger age.

Brian Towers
Posts: 1214
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:23 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:28 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Arshad Ali wrote:Just finished "The Rookie", where Moss describes his three-year effort to propel himself into the (loosely defined) expert category (~170 ECF?).
Given that he was mostly playing 140ish opposition.
Surely you can stop right there?
You improve by playing stronger opposition, even much stronger. You don't learn very much by playing opposition of your level or lower.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:53 pm

Brian Towers wrote:You improve by playing stronger opposition, even much stronger. You don't learn very much by playing opposition of your level or lower.
You improve by playing stronger players (how much stronger can be quibbled over) and then subjecting the games -- regardless of result -- to painstaking scrutiny and writing up the analysis in a notebook.

Another thing is you can't go into a tournament with the hope/expectation of winning it. That hope/expectation interferes with concentrating on the position in front of you. That position should be the only thing in your mind. After each game you have to expunge it from memory or it will interfere with the next game. And you have to be unemotional about the games -- the result of any game should not touch you. You also can't be worrying about how much your rating has gone up or down after each game or tournament: concentrate on the position in front of you and let the rating take care of itself. Moss was guilty on all counts here.

If Moss was actually doing any study, it doesn't come through in his book. He kept playing the Scandinavian despite indifferent results. He never developed a response to the English (though I concede it can be a slippery opening that can easily transpose to other lines). If he was studying tactics or endgames he certainly doesn't describe it.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:59 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:One needs some ability even to get to 170, and perhaps Stephen, much as he loves to play, simply does not have it. (I recall what Nigel Short, a former coach of his (!) once wrote - there is only so far you can help someone who has quite forgotten what you have shown him just half an hour or so ago).
Plausible. In fact, quite likely. You have the chess gene or you don't. If you do, just being shown something once is enough.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7277
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: The Rookie

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:02 pm

The book is about more than just his games. That is what I took away from the book, at least. Think about it this way, if he had improved to 170-ish level, what difference would that really have made? I'm about that level, and I'd love to improve to 180-200 level (and then I'd want to improve further again).

Sure, there will have been better ways to study and improve, but some of the insights in the book are as much about the psychology of chess and perspectives on the English chess scene, and about chess history and chess in other countries and people's love for the game, as about his games.

(Disclaimer: I've talked to Stephen about the book, he may well read what is said here at some point, he will very likely be more than happy to talk to anyone who contacts him about the book, and he did publish a game where he beat me, so something must have gone right! 8) )

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7277
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: The Rookie

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:04 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:
Jonathan Rogers wrote:One needs some ability even to get to 170, and perhaps Stephen, much as he loves to play, simply does not have it. (I recall what Nigel Short, a former coach of his (!) once wrote - there is only so far you can help someone who has quite forgotten what you have shown him just half an hour or so ago).
Plausible. In fact, quite likely. You have the chess gene or you don't. If you do, just being shown something once is enough.
True, but other factors can be at play. I've seen many people freeze in time trouble and or a difficult position and just collapse for no apparent reason. Beating themselves, rather than being beaten. It's all about the psychology, not having a chess gene!! :twisted:

OK, I'll modify that. You need both a chess gene and a psychology gene. (And a more helpful coach!)

Nick Grey
Posts: 1148
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:16 am

Re: The Rookie

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:16 pm

Stephen plays for my club & previous Surbiton. He also puts a bit more into organising rather than playing.
ECF history below. He is busy with his profession much like the rest of us. I have not bought the book but will let him know when I see him next. Ambition & plan is Ok - achievable - look at my own history - hoping to get back up & over175 now I know what my illness/mental issues are.

Moss, Stephen : Grade History
Standardplay Grade
List
Rapidplay Grade
139A

Jan 2017
125F
144B
July 2016


140A

Jan 2016


142A

Jul 2015


141A

Jan 2015


136A

July 2014


131X

Jan 2014


132A

July 2013


128A

Jan 2013


133B

July 2012


130D

Jan 2012


133C

July 2011


142C

July 2010




Jan 2010

146C
143C

July 2009

146B


Jan 2009

104C
111D

July 2008

94C


Jan 2008

88D


July 2007

88D


July 2006


Standardplay Grade
List
Rapidplay Grade

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:03 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:The book is about more than just his games.... but some of the insights in the book are as much about the psychology of chess and perspectives on the English chess scene ...
It was an enjoyable read and there was the occasional genuine insight. His chess playing is an integral part of the yarn, though.

Nick Grey
Posts: 1148
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:16 am

Re: The Rookie

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:38 pm

On Brian's point I think you can learn a lot from analysing games against weaker players.
Chess for Tigers has a good section on grading.
I have lost 1 game in 33 years of grading against a player rated more than 50 points below me.
I will be seeing Stephen once this week & once next week.

Arshad please feel free to Private Message me to give you some insights into improving your own game.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18057
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:39 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: Think about it this way, if he had improved to 170-ish level, what difference would that really have made?
He would have been a credible entrant for many Open tournaments. The forthcoming East Devon is a case in point. A possible chance to play the top seed Keith Arkell, or the second (!) seed John Nunn.

https://eastdevonchesscongress.com/entries/

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3146
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: The Rookie

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:00 am

A Question:
Arshad Ali wrote:Just finished "The Rookie", where Moss describes his three-year effort to propel himself into the (loosely defined) expert category (~170 ECF?). I'm wondering why he didn't make it.
An Answer:
Arshad Ali wrote: If Moss was actually doing any study, it doesn't come through in his book.
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:... if he had improved to 170-ish level, what difference would that really have made?.
I once got speaking to a non-player about how much time and effort it would take to have a chance of making a significant improvement in my playing strength (i.e. of getting to 200 ECF or thereabouts). She asked me what difference it would make to me if I ever reached that goal. The only specific change I could come up with was that I’d be playing my games at one end of the tournament hall rather than in the middle.

I’m quite sure this is why most of us don’t significantly improve as we get older. Improvement is hard and takes a lot of time an effort and yet actually makes little difference so why bother?


It’s not so much that I don’t believe in talent per se. More that I don’t think we need to go searching for difficult to nail down, hard to measure explanations when there are very concrete relatively easy to measure variables - i.e." have you put in the hours?" - available.

Post Reply