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How I Finally Hit 2000 on Lichess and Improved My Rating (trapezemobile.com)
250 points by PeidiWu 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 168 comments

Lichess is an excellent website. Open source[0], truly free[1] and provides an amazing UX. Lichess is a true gift to the chess community.

[0] https://github.com/ornicar/lila [1] https://lichess.org/features

Lichess uses interesting frontend technologies. The web client used to use mithril, then moved to snabbdom.

The lead developer of Lichess, Thibault Duplessis, gave an excellent talk the other year if you're interested in the story behind Lichess. [0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHP5AdRlRNY

He's also a cool dude, my cofounder and I are huge admireres of lichess and met up with him in Medellin last year when he was passing through.

It's also ridiculously fast, both frontend and backend!

The frontend virtual dom was initially Mithril and has later been replaced with snabbdom [1]. No React or Vue.js.

[1] https://github.com/snabbdom/snabbdom

It's fast on the backend due to running on the JVM and being completely non-blocking (Scala + Akka + MongoDB)

Combined with a lightweight-ish frontend (Cordova build for native mobile) and, voila, impressive performance with a decent UI all while not having to maintain separate web, iOS, and Android apps.

Am I mistaken, or was it that lichess was actually in PHP a couple of years ago? I seem to remember that I was surprised to learn that it is Laravel+Vue. But maybe I'm mixing things up.

You're probably confusing Lichess for another app, the founder has been in the Scala community since at least 2012, if not before.

Although maybe in the early days it was, for some reason, written in PHP; I'd be quite surprised if that were the case.

I’m a mational master, 2400 blitz/bullet player and full stack dev, and I support this message :-). LiChess is an incredible resource for the chess community.

I’m also building some software integrated with lichess to help people get good at chess, fast. Any chess hackers interested in contributing, please email me! Contact info is in my profile.

Indeed. Pity the culture is so... unfriendly? Rematches are basically non-existent - even in bullet! It's bizarre, and I have to assume it's going to limit the site's growth.

Yesterday I played a classical game vs an opponent rated higher than me and lost. Afterwards I analyzed the game in a lichess study, and my opponent was nice enough to share his thoughts in the study. It was an awesome experience. There are great parts of the community as well.

That's pretty cool, but it's probably best to think of classical as a whole different game/community that happens to be accessible from the same homepage.

I played the classical game on lichess.

I know. I'm saying that the lichess classical culture probably diverges wildly from the lichess blitz culture.

I analyze every game, win or lose, so I often ignore the immediate rematch request. I accept more rematch requests on chess.com because... analysis is not free! Essentially the ease of use and free availability of high quality analysis tools on lichess outcompetes my desire for a quick rematch.

You can go back to your game history and analyze any game...

I just got hooked on lichess after not playing Chess since I was a kid, it's a lot of fun, I also spend a fair bit of time in analysis...

You can copy your PGN from ChessCom over to the Lichess analysis board

I have a theory on this. Is it possible that rematch is a very "American" thing? On chess.com where player nationality is shown in the interface I've noticed (I think) disproportionate rematch requests from American players if they lose. I am pretty relaxed and tend to accept such requests, but I never ask for rematches myself. So game theory allows a closely matched player to always beat me in a match by simply continuing to request rematches while they are behind on the match score. This actually happens quite often (anecdata I know). Summarising my theory is that rematch requests are often a reflexive response to a loss, but more so in America than Europe. Furthermore lichess tends to be a more European site, chess.com more an American site. Hence more rematches on chess.com than lichess. Just a theory.

I play at a pretty decent level and have played hundreds of games on lichess. They make it very easy to send a friendly comment to your opponent. For example there's a WP button that sends "Well played". Every time I am outplayed and well beaten I press that button. I have never once seen that message in my direction, despite "deserving" it (partly a subjective assessment admittedly) in perhaps 30 percent of the games I play. I find this .... disappointing.

The button is not on the iPhone/iPad version of Lichess.

Thanks, I didn't know that. Presumably the same for Android. I've never tried to play chess with my phone.

Good you mentiond this. I never saw this button. I thought 'gg' is sufficient...

I think gg is the winner's feel good button, wp is the loser's feel good button.

Which is weird knowing that in Starcraft scene 'gg' is a residing note because there was no option in SC1 other than leaving the game. IIRC this is written in KeSPA rules.

I get rematches regularly. And probably 20% of my opponents will chat a little.

I'm just a single data point, although I've seen others complain about it online. I would love it if the major sites would release stats on this. As frustrating as it can be, especially in bullet, I'm more curious than anything. If the phenomenon is real, it could hold some surprising lessons for how design affects user behavior.

I rematch with people all the time. I literally rematched with someone in my last game just a second ago playing 10/0. Are you the sort who refuses to resign even when you have a hopeless material disadvantage?

I have won a couple games after being down with a seemingly hopeless material disadvantage. I'm not a grandmaster, and they don't play me (I suppose they might to laugh at a bad player, but that is unlikely). Until you get to the very high levels you should not assume your opponent knows how to convert even an easy endgame.

It is good etiquette to request a resignation in chat?

Lichess matches people by rating, so on average, if I blunder my way into a large deficit, my opponent may just as well blunder me out of it.

> It is good etiquette to request a resignation in chat?

Not a chance. People at lower ratings screw up what should be wins all the time. Your opponent may be hoping for a stalemate or to run out the clock or waiting for you to blunder.

At my low level, in 5/0 (so a reasonably short time control), that gives opponents an opportunity to practice converting their advantage to a win.

I love lichess website too. I used to play on fics server. Once I switched platforms for my computer, I could not find a good client for fics. lichess is easy to use and get some quick chess time everyday. I like their tourney format also. Easy to get in and out unlike other places where you cannot get in after it started.

Chess and Tetris are two of my favorite games. I've known about Lichess for quite a while and recently discovered jstris, which is a sort-of similar site for Tetris:


It's not quite as polished as Lichess and if you've never played Tetris with a keyboard before that may be a significant learning hurdle (though it's actually a very good control scheme for the game). But overall it's a really cool site. (There's also Tetris Friends, but I just always found the general style of the site very offputting.)

> if you've never played Tetris with a keyboard before

Wait, whaat?

Are there pointy-clicky interfaces to tetris nowadays? Well, of course there must be.. I think I last played tetris as the original version made by that Russian guy (or was it so long ago that it was a Soviet guy?) running on DOS.

I think they meant using a controller, probably from playing a console version ( Game Boy / NES )

I don't agree on the UX, the interface is _terrible_ in many ways:

1. I can't even scroll the page horizontally on Chrome.

2. There are 2 menus with a completely different interface.

3. The Android mobile app gives you a completely different experience, and I think there is no lobby, so I often pick a match from Chrome and then switch to the app (and of course the "Open in Mobile App" button doesn't work for me).

4. In general I find the UI is very confusing:

4a. There are 3 places where to write something about a match: your personal notes (never used this, I guess the value proposition here is that your notes will be stored along the match, but I don't think almost anybody cares about notes about games played last year for instance), the chat (which works only between the current 2 players, and you can't access it from the analysis page) and the spectators chat (I suppose this has a purpose for highly spectated matches and live commentary, but I could also run a separate browser where I'm not logged in and read that too so it sounds useless to me).

4b. The match history at the bottom of the chessboard is useless to me 99% of the times, as it's completely empty.

4c. Often the same information is displayed in different parts of the page, I already mentioned the menu problem, but also when playing you can see some infos about the players both on the left and the right column. All these things complicate the UI.

To close on a positive note the feature I like the most of lichess is probably the analysis page, super useful and well done.

You sound like you are working on a new ui. Can't wait to see it. Remember open source starts with the most vocal critic.

I'm a designer by trade and I think Lichess is really well done. They've managed to pack a ton of features and have a game that works well for me on both mobile and web.

Certainly there are ways that it could be improved, but calling it "terrible" seems like a huge exaggeration to me and does practically warrant an illustrative alternative that would better suit the OP.

I've also never been of the belief that mobile and should have exactly the same interface specifically given the different restrictions of the mediums.

Agreed. It's a pretty good UI considering the complexity. My 7 year old frequents there and gets around without any problems or asking how to use the site.

> I'm a designer by trade and I think Lichess is really well done.

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. If you asked designers about the state of mobile UIs about 12 years ago I think many would have praised them, then it came the iPhone and they vanished completely.

I've only mentioned very clear examples in my post, would you, as a designer, put 2 completely different menus (with basically the same functionalities), whose buttons are visible at the same time, on an app? Would you want to have the app scrollable if needed or not?

> I've also never been of the belief that mobile and should have exactly the same interface specifically given the different restrictions of the mediums.

Of course, currently lichess.org is doing the opposite by the way.

My complain was about the mobile app being a _completely_ different experience. i.e. there isn't the lobby, the first thing you see after you go to lichess' homepage.

Yeah, I am just a user, and I think they have a pretty good ux. The menues could be a bit less confusing, but the game experience is excellent.

That's just silly. One can have valid criticisms yet not know how to apply them. If I find a car's human interface intuitive, would you expect me to know how to manufacture a car's dashboard?

Actually I am, or at least I was, then I started working on some other side projects, but I should resume the development this year.

Care to share the progress you've made?

I'm not trying to make a different front-end for lichess but rather something similar to playok.com, from scratch, so it takes quite a bit of time. I haven't been working on the project for more than a year unfortunately, but so far:

- I've got the core UI framework mostly ready, unfortunately still undocumented but most components should be ready for production [1]

- Some core structures, like a Hierarchical State Machine implementation I made, should be good enough [2]

- I've implemented some games like tic-tac-toe and chess, but focusing mostly on the logic of the game rather than the UI or anything else really for now. I have a usable chessboard component but it's not really any good for production use.

- Database-wise pretty much everything still needs to be developed.

- The server/cloud infrastructure still needs to be developed.

- I still haven't quite figured out what the best way to push updates to the app is, given that you don't want to disrupt current games almost at all but you still want to push bug fixes to everyone.

[1] https://github.com/svelto/svelto

[2] https://github.com/fabiospampinato/HSM

also you can't store more than 1 premove.

This is a rules decision, not an interface limitation. You may or may not like it, but it is that way on purpose...

Suprised to learn that. What can be the rationale for that? Honestly, it doesn't seem to make any sense, if you've already decided on how to proceed, it should be your right to do so (and your problem if you blunder).

This right here is why I prefer other chess sites for very fast play. Just watch some of Benjamin Finegold's stream/videos for an example of how this works.

That's not true. You can do conditional premoves on the analysis board.

That is only true for correspondence games. For other time controls you can only make a single premove.

It's pretty great. Does anyone know a similar website for backgammon?

Yeah the UX is better than any of the commercial chess websites.

Is it? I us chess.com, and parts of the Lichess interface seems quite primitive in comparison: The board doesn't resize to fit the screen, there's no live evaluation, and it just seems a bit less polished overall.

There is definitely live evaluation on lichess, and it's really good.

Unfortunately, lichess moderation and policies for account bans or forced periods of inactivity are horrendous.

I once got banned because my cell phone lost connectivity as I passed a subway tunnel and in the meantime the other user “reported” me for abandoning the game.

This resulted in my account being frozen out from playing games for several hours. I wrote to the support email address and got no response.

This then happened two or three more times in the same month.

Furious with the ridiculous policy, I only will play in “anonymous” mode now, usually at chess.com with frequently changed accounts, sometimes still at lichess with no registration.

Only several hours? Sorry, but you're being a drama queen. If you're riding a train through a tunnel, you shouldn't be playing on lichess. Stop ruining other players' experiences.

Your reply is quite rude. It is deeply unreasonable to suggest someone can’t play chess e.g. on their morning commute because other people are too whiny to accept that disconnections and move delays are simply a built-in reality of internet chess, period.

If your experience of internet chess can possibly be affected by intermittent disconnections or move delays by your opponent, then you are being the drama queen. That would be incredibly unreasonable.

Unfortunately legitimate connection problems resulting in abandoned games is the exception to the rule. But even a legitimate connection issue is still a major annoyance to your opponent. If this is happening to you on a regular basis that the bans are a problem for you, then the solution is to only play when you have a high degree of confidence that your connection won't drop.

I disagree. It’s internet chess and disconnections happen for all sorts of reasons. It’s totally backwards to have automated account bans for disconnections.

If you agree to play a game against someone, you are implicitly accepting that one thing they may do is become disconnected / idle. That’s simply unavoidable. You’re always free to resign and leave the game if you don’t prefer to wait around, but locking the other player out when there’s no evidence they did something malicious is horrible.

You're also agreeing to abide by the rules set forth of the organization you're playing under. I generally play 10-20 games a day, and a disconnect happens while I'm playing maybe once every couple of months. If you're disconnects are significantly higher than that, you're probably not the target market for on-line blitz chess.

Yes, but the rules govern intentionally abandoning games, not disconnections you may not have control over.

> “If you're disconnects are significantly higher than that, you're probably not the target market for on-line blitz chess.”

It’s not very common and it’s not predictable or uniform (not even in subway tunnels). But if someone reports you for disconnecting, it autonatically locks you out from playing and emailing to the support email gets no response to unlock in false positive cases.

Also, just in the basic rules of chess, your opponent can do whatever they want with their clock time. You’ve agreed to abide by that rule by agreeing to play. If they want to take 4:00 to think about their sixth move in a 5/0 game, they are perfectly allowed, and may even still win if you blunder.

There’s no time limit per move beyond the first move and the overall clock time. Disconnections (when the player might return) are no different.

>Also, just in the basic rules of chess, your opponent can do whatever they want with their clock time.

This is incorrect. At this point I'd like to point out that I was (and soon will be again) a USCF certified TD [1], and have run my own correspondence site for about 20 years [2]. Abandoning a game has the unique distinction of being mentioned three times in the USCF rulebook, and carries with it the most severe penalty specifically mentioned which is ejection from the tournament (with more severe penalties are up to the TD and USCF). FIDE has a similar rule, though they don't mention abandoment directly where a player has stopped trying to win under the "normal means". Not all rule violations have to be intentional, specifically similar to your case is "annoying behavior". When you fail to finish a game, for whatever reason, it's annoying and an inconvenience to your opponent, and some punitive measure is warranted.

[1] http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlTnmtDir.php?12709934

[2] http://www.net-chess.com

Why do you feel that federation-sanctioned tournament & correspondence rules are relevant to this situation? Abandonment in those cases would be deliberate if not because of an emergency.

You’re obviously not going to get punished if the “abandonment” is revealed to have been because you get accidentally locked out of the tournament hall through no fault of your own, which is the right comparison for something like online chess disconnection.

I don’t see a reason to feel that your comment is applicable.

You're the one that brought up the "basic rules of chess", I was pointing out that abandonment is a basic rule, and taken very seriously. Of course abandonment has to be done intentionally, and that's a judgement call on the TD's part. Like I said, your behavior falls more under "annoying behavior". So any disconnection breaks one rule or another, and the TD/organization needs to do something to encourage you to stop doing it.

> “Like I said, your behavior falls more under "annoying behavior". So any disconnection breaks one rule or another,”

This is the part that does not seem to be true. The way this works for federation-operated tournaments is not the same thing at all as basic rules of chess, and instead is highly specific to that physical format of chess. Moreover, the physical constraints of an in-person tournament would make its rules about abandonment less relevant for comparison with internet disconnections, not more.

On the point of “annoying behavior” — still, you’re not addressing the fact that disconnections are not the fault of that player and often are not anticipateable or controllable.

For things that happen in federation-operated tournaments that also are not intentional or controlled by the player, it would clearly be mitigating circumstances such that the rules you’re trying to cite would not be relevant anyway.

Unfortunately it's much more common for a player to leave from a losing position without resigning. It's hard to solve that problem without hurting commuters in the crossfire. I also play on the subway, but I stick to correspondence or classical depending on where I am. I usually have 10-15 correspondence games open, and long format is an amazing way to improve your game without worrying about time sensitive connection issues.

Given that the lockout policy only applies on actual accounts (someone signed up a username), I don’t see why it would be hard. If an account disconnects intermittently, the history of that would be obvious compared with someone who is disconnecting all the time because they are frustrated at losing. My whole comment is just that it doesn’t seem like lichess is even trying to differentiate at all, and failing that, they don’t respond or unlock accounts if you write to them about it either. There is so much super low-hanging fruit they could do to make the policy better, but just don’t.

Separately from this, I personally actually think it’s totally backwards and unreasonable to ever, for any reason, care that an opponent disconnects. I don’t care at all if my opponent disconnects for any reason, whether because they are frustrated, their cell connection dropped, whatever. They have zero obligation to move fast, resign from losing positions, or anything else. It is internet chess with literally nothing riding on it, ever, for anyone.

If you click to play a game of length X minutes or whatever, that’s your commitment. It’s not your opponent’s. They might waste X-1 minutes looking at cat pictures before playing a move— that’s well within their rights and you agreed to play, meaning you can quit or disconnect if you don’t wanna wait around for the next move, or you can cede that your opponent can do whatever they want with their allocated clock time, whether that is resigning, disconnecting, or playing nonsense moves, or playing for real.

I think all the frustration that an opponent can degrade your experience by using their clock time to do whatever they want is unreasonable. That’s on you, not on the system or the opponent.

Especially in longer time controls, it is plain rude to "resign" from a losing position by timing out instead of resigning. I get that this does not apply to your case, but it's unusual to try and find that mate in 10 by disconnecting.

Isn’t it possible to play in “email” mode (read: days long time control) or something else if you’re going to be in a situation with spotty coverage? As I understand it, live games mean just that.

A few hours ban is a slap on the wrist from a moderation perspective, and it seems... odd... that they’d even hit you with that unless you regularly leave games.

> This then happened two or three more times in the same month.

Sounds like they do it pretty regularly :/

The bans are automated. It happens even if you disconnect irregularly and infrequently through no fault of your own.

I have a little bit of experience with lichess and as far as i can tell, their treating of abusers is typically rather deliberate. Maybe you should start considering their usage policy.

This is just false. Lockouts from playing due to disconnections happen automatically, whether the disconnection happened through no fault of your own or not.

I like the points about studying in this article but its overall point is trash. Ratings across different websites are not the same thing!

2000 lichess is actually more like 1800 chess.com. I would know because that is my playing strength on both and because reddit.com/r/chess has literally dozens of posts of people comparing their lichess and chess.com ratings (my impression is the average difference is ~200). That subreddit also has dozens of posts of people 'reaching 2000' on lichess. It corresponds to about 95th percentile on lichess blitz, just as 1800 corresponds to about 95th percentile on chess.com blitz. So literally anyone switching platforms would 'improve their rating'.

The headline was 2000 lichess, how can that not be more clear? It is not hard to find out lichess uses a different method of calculating ratings and thus their numbers will my nature be different. 2000 is still impressive even if it isn't nearly as good FIDE 2000.

The entire article is about the author having stalled at 1800 before lichess but then breaking 2000 when switching to lichess. So if chess.com 1800 = lichess 200, then the author did not improve and all his notes about learning are useless.

I read it as: Lichess came out with a good engine for analyzing games, which helped get to 2000. They were on Lichess the whole time.

Nobody reads. The dude had a 10 year hiatus. Lichess didn't exist at the time. Most chess websites have had ratings roughly analogous to either USCF or to FIDE but lichess is the notorious exception.

1) why would you think it wasn't clear to me? 2) this isn't about finding out if lichess has a different method of calculating ratings 3) furthermore, their different method for calculating ratings probably isn't why their ratings are higher 4) ratings are arbitrary, unless they aren't--I could make my own website and give everyone a rating of 3000 and there would be nothing as impressive about it 5) the whole point of author's article is to demonstrate he improved at chess and he probably didn't, he just adjusted to the new platform until his rating rose to reflect his strength. He's still pretty good, ~95th%ile

Collecting this data and making a few nice correlation graph looks like a nice project for a blog post I'd like to read.

Here's some data collection: https://chessgoals.com/rating-comparison/

Here's a blog post along the same line from a few years ago: https://www.chess.com/article/view/chesscom-rating-compariso...

You fix your misunderstanding, look at the picture at the top of the article.

I see the graph. When I first read it, I instantly inferred from that graph that they simply were adjusting to the lichess platform because (1) everybody starts with a rating of 1200 on chess.com and 1500 on lichess--the two biggest chess playing sites by far--so you naturally 'raise your rating' if you're simply better than the website's guess at average and (2) it just takes a bit of adjustment to a new platform.

A rating difference of 100 points means that the stronger player will collect 3 out of 4 points over 4 games. A difference of 200 points is a full category jump: Candidate Master to Master, Master to Internation Master and International Master to strong Grandmaster. This is not something that can be achieved in just 16 days of playing/training. As already pointed out by other posts there is a lot of randomness especially when playing blitz and rapid chess. All the improvement suggestions are valid ones ( and mostly common sense for anybody that has read some chess books ) but attributing a 200 Elo point increase to 16 days of training to me tells that this player is probably not worth 2000 yet.

Indeed, the idea of 200 points in 16 days is more or less absurd, at least beyond beginner levels. In fact, looking at the author's Lichess profile I see no evidence of any improvement at all, to be blunt.

Improvement takes really a lot of work, far more than I think the author appreciates. Going from 1800 to 2000 in a year would be an excellent outcome and would require hundreds of hours of work on chess.

The author dismisses the one method that is arguably most recommended by strong players: studying GM games. Chess is about playing good moves, and studying the games of the world champions helps you learn what good moves look like. Studying GM games is hard work with little tangible reward (no dopamine rush from finishing a puzzle or playing a quick game) but it seems highly effective.

Another thing that stuck out to me: the author dismissed tactics puzzles based on what looks like 30 puzzles done on Lichess. That's nothing. I've done 7500 tactics on Chesstempo standard mode alone and it did a lot for my chess. It was basically the only thing I did to go from 1300 to 1600 or 1700 or so (over the board). Tactics aren't a panacea for chess improvement, but neither is anything else.

I have some smaller comments (for example: re: "If I want to get difficult puzzles correct, I don’t rely on any pattern recognition. I just spend a lot of time and mental energy explicitly calculating out every combination of moves. I’m really not learning much, most people can get the same puzzle correct if they just thought as hard as I." -- pattern recognition is the basis for calculation skill so it doesn't make sense to say you don't rely on it when calculating) but the main point is that chess is hard and improving takes a lot of hard work, far more than the author makes it seem.

This is unrelated to your main point but I've always been confused why people cited an "over the board" ELO. Is your 1600 rating FIDE, USCF or something else? Aren't they not calibrated against each other?

Moving from 1800-2000 must certainly be very different than 2400-2600, is it not? I assume the higher levels of play follow a bell curve with a long tail.

It seems within reason that one could move from 800 to 1000 in 16 days with very basic study and coaching.

> there is a lot of randomness especially when playing blitz and rapid chess

This is likely true, but this randomness appears to be averaged out by the sheer amount of games he played over the ~6 month period in the chart.

>A rating difference of 100 points means that the stronger player will collect 3 out of 4 points

That would be correct if you'd written 200 points.

LiChess ratings are inflated; I'm ~1800 on LiChess but I probably am 1200 in real life.

They're inflated cose to 200-250 points not 600. Why do you think you're only a 1200 in real life?

Maybe I missed it reading the article, but did the OP mention the time limits he was playing at?

In blitz (5 minutes or less), time management is absolutely critical. When I went back and reviewed games I lost, it was frequently due to tactical opportunities or poor moves I made while short on time. You simply don't have the luxury of time to find the best move in a 3 or 5 minute game. If you can quickly find a move that improves your position in some way and doesn't hang material or create opportunities for your opponent, make it, and don't think twice, unless you already have a large time advantage over your opponent. My rating improved dramatically once I focused more on managing my time better.

Largely agree with most of the other advice offered in the article though. It cannot be overstated how much playing with strong players and reviewing your past games (wins and losses) will help you improve and develop a sense for tactical opportunities.

The screenshot at the top of the article shows it is classical time control. On lichess that means games are expected to last 25 minutes or longer[1] (the shortest classical controls are 25+0 and 15+15).

It's also worth noting that on lichess (and online chess in general) the fast time control pools are more competitive, so reaching 2000 in Blitz is much more difficult (for most people) than reaching 2000 in Classical.

1: https://lichess.org/blog/Wh9KWiQAAI5JrKVn/introducing-rapid-...

Im 1800 classical on lichess but bullet I'm like 1300, so for me bullet is real strength. It's obvious I'm not great at chess

I am around 1700 in bullet (1 minute or 2+1) and I had to claw myself from 1400 as I am 1900+ in Rapid.

I played in anonymous mode for a long time experimenting and I realized that I was losing most of my games in bullet to time not to tactics.

For bullet: Just play average move each turn based on long term goals (I want to castle king side and pawn storm queen side etc), dont bother about tactics or traps or any other short term strategies.

Good advice

I think the author's main point about concentration is even more important in blitz. My own peak on lichess in blitz is 2117 (super humblebrag) but if you look at my rating history it has massive volatility due to playing on mobile phone on bus rides, in bed before going to sleep etc.

Concentration != using n-seconds per move... More like not wasting n% of seconds per game with non-game stuff.

My cofounder and I were originally inspired by Lichess to make something similar for Poker (clean UI, simple, no ads, fast, etc). It's not ready for real money just yet, but if people are interested, you're welcome to play for free here: https://oddslingers.com

We tried to do it in Mithril like Lichess but eventually gave up and wrote our own animation framework for react-redux that uses a similar declarative, pure functional style: https://github.com/Monadical-SAS/redux-time/

You should allow people to play without having to sign up; you know, like lichess.

We'd love to, but I think it would be too much engineering work to do properly to put on our short term priority list, since it would require reworking a lot of the auth + websocket system and would likely be buggy for a while.

For now you're welcome to sign up with a fake email, we don't require email verification.

Your website is a battery drainer, at least on firefox. It uses 100% of a core at all times.

Good to know, thanks for reporting that.

Ok, I've been fiending for something intellectually engaging outside work that isn't just more programming, and also for competition (that isn't smash bros), chess seems like an attractive choice, but I have no idea how to "get into it" decently. Is there the equivalent of like, smash wiki, for chess? Or similar to Sonicfox's YouTube videos? Or any good books for total beginners to get into the strategy of it?

I got very interested in chess after downloading the 'Magnus Trainer' app. I hadn't particularly been looking to improve my chess playing (I knew the rules but rarely played and had never studied strategy before), but I'm a sucker for any app that promises to make good use of 'playing with my phone on the bus' time.

The app is a mix of minigames and interactive tutorials. I moved through them quickly because they're all bite-sized enough to do in spare minutes while waiting in line etc. The tutorials are short, single topic, interactive lessons that introduce a concept, give an example from tournament play, and sometimes quiz you about what the next move should be.

The minigames seemed dumb at first, (and I still hate Dream Escape) but after playing them a few times in order to continue advancing through the lessons I came to see them as well designed "wax on, wax off" style drills. 'Poker Face', looks like a memory game but it's actually teaching you to quickly evaluate which player would benefit more from exchanging pieces. Beach Bounty helps you instantly visualize where a piece could be n moves in the future. Flight Control, where you try to quickly tap the appropriate square when shown the coordinates in standard chess notation, seemed pointless until I tried reading books about chess and found the notation slowing me down. Once I'd drilled the coordinates enough that they were second nature, I could visualize them as I read instead of constantly referring to a diagram and counting the squares.

In my lay opinion, Magnus Trainer is a brilliant bit of educational technology. It's not teaching you anything you couldn't learn elsewhere, but it felt easy and fun to me. If I hadn't stumbled across it I don't think I ever would have delved as deeply into chess as I did.

If you are just starting out, and you know the rules and played a few games, I'd recommend these youtube videos [1] by John Bartholomew. Youtube has a bunch of other good videos for beginners, e.g. chessnetwork, st louis chess club, etc. Also, I wouldn't bother learning strategy until you get to like >1500 rating or so. If you get really good at tactics, you can get to 2000 without having much strategic understanding.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao9iOeK_jvU

John is amazing, that fundamentals series was a huge help for me. Climbing the Rating Ladder is also explicitly for beginners and really good, he plays longer time controls and fully explains his thought process and line calculations as the games progress. So much good content on his channel.

Yeah, his lecture on pawns helped me a lot. Literally I never thought about pawn structures or pawn breaks before that lecture, and thinking about that improved my game tremendously.

For beginners I'd recommend Agadmator's channel [1] (not mentioned here yet? I can't believe it). Regular dude that reviews recent & famous games, mainly for tactics and strategies. His channel and SC Saint Luis's [2] (particulary GM Finegold videos, guy's hilarious) are what made me come back to chess after decades.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/AGADMATOR [2] https://www.youtube.com/user/STLChessClub

You could also look into learning Go and playing on https://online-go.com/. Although, if it's all the same to you, Chess will be more popular so you'll be able to find games easier, and you'll be able to find real people to play with easier. Still, it's fun to learn Go and start to see the emergent complexity of the game from such simple rules.

The Chess club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis has a lot of great videos on youtube for beginner/intermediate players, and Ben Finegold is also hilarious.

I'll thrown in another youtube recommendation, IM Eric Rosen has a good mix of recorded streams and instructional videos on specific themes, all with extremely relaxed commentary. He plays the London System a lot which is a solid opening for newbies.


For youtube, I recommend ChessNetwork. He's a self taught GM that explains his thoughts as he plays. He also has a beginners series to get you in the proper mindset. Really good guy, but a bit mysterious...

For actual playing I recommend something fast like 3min/0increment or 2/1. It kinda of resembles a video game at that point, where your knowledge and speed is helpful, you get to play a lot of games since they're short, and you don't have to live with your mistakes for very long if you mess up

I actually actively dis-recommend watching videos on something as a way to "get into" participating in a competitive activity. It's a substitute for actually doing things like practice and competition. Like, some research can be done for like what tools to use or where to play, but doing too much research and not enough actual engagement is a huge trap people fall into.

Jerry, aka ChessNetwork, is an NM (national master), not a GM. Besides that, I highly recommend him and his tutorial series as a learning resource for anyone below 2000

blitz/bullet is absolutely atrocious for improving, 15+10 is the shortest time control you should be playing if you're seriously trying to get better.

I feel like 5 minute blitz forces me to think on my feet and see things quickly. It might end up being self limiting but I can see that my blunder rate has been declining. I get relatively immediate feedback which has to be good for something ;) As a rank beginner that's something. I enjoy it and I don't need a large open time slot to play a game.

I should play longer games I guess. I do much better on puzzles when I have time to think through the move. Donno if the lichess ratings are comparable but my puzzle ratings are much higher than my blitz ratings...

I think that's a bit limiting as a minimum, 10+2 sounds more reasonable for a new player's introduction to a faster pace chess where they still have an opportunity to calculate lines; 15+* is certainly a great time control to play though.

that's fair, anything over 10 minutes with increment is good enough while you're figuring out if you actually enjoy the game or not

There are lots of cool books- I have a strong preference for ones like Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess which present problems or walk through games with somewhat conversational commentary.

There are a lot of good suggestions (based on my admittedly limited experience) in this thread: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-books-for-a-beginner...

I've just started on Chess after not playing since I was a kid. And I didn't play much back then either. lichess has pretty decent tutorials, puzzles, etc. which will definitely help you get to a point where you can play like a novice ;)

There are endless resources on YouTube including lectures from grand masters on various topics from various chess clubs.

I've mixed lichess training, actual playing, and their tutorials with YouTube videos and I'm having a lot of fun and improving slowly. I can recommend Ben Finegolds' lessons as fun and instructive and various other members of the club he belongs to also have good lessons.

Just be warned, it's very addictive!

I agree with others that watching chess youtubers/twitch streamers is a good way to get into it. I recently compliled a list of youtubers that I have found to be very instructive and fun to watch (instructive meaning they play longer time controls and are good at explaining their thought process while they play):


Genuinely curious - what makes chess such an intellectually engaging game over more "fun" games such as dota2 or StarCraft? These have all of the same Dynamics plus some. They are so dynamic, in fact, that the odds of just seeing the same "opening move" (hero picks) occur in two separate games are ridiculously low. Sure there aren't decades of documentation on the strategy and history of modern video games, but that isn't to say they aren't more complex.

Chess is not real-time, and it's intellectually very "pure" in that your ability at the game is not influenced by any ancillary skills- APM, hand-eye coordination, rapid scanning of multiple windows of screen when managing, say, multiple RTS expansions, etc. Your win or loss is never going to be driven by "I couldn't click fast enough" or "I mis-clicked in the heat of a battle".

Also, at least in my opinion, the very limited nature of the total set of states relative to the total set of states in something like an RTS lends itself to repeat engagement and analysis. You can, and likely will, see exactly the same board position in more than one chess game. You almost never going to see exactly the same game state in multiple SC games. That changes the dynamics of post-game analysis and skill development, IMO.

(Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both- but I do enjoy them differently.)

>Also, at least in my opinion, the very limited nature of the total set of states relative to the total set of states in something like an RTS lends itself to repeat engagement and analysis. You can, and likely will, see exactly the same board position in more than one chess game.

This makes it reactive, rather than proactive. Reactive judgments are driven more by depth of knowledge, habit, and memorization. Whereas proactive judgments are driven more by predictive/entrepreneurial reasoning. Both seem equally driven by calculated risk with a little psychology involved.

Ancillary skills are important in start craft, I'll give you that. But at least in DotA those skills could be learned by anyone relatively quickly. I don't play video games any more so no other examples come to mind unfortunately.

Turn-based strategy games such as the Civilization and Total War series are probably good examples to compare chess with. Aside from the potential asymmetries (which can be removed), they are both 'purer' than RTS games and less deterministic than chess. In 1v1s, they're probably a better test of predictive reasoning than chess.

> Your win or loss is never going to be driven by "I couldn't click fast enough" or "I mis-clicked in the heat of a battle".

True with 1 exception, 1/0 (all moves in 1 minute per side) bullet, some of the really strong players at that use high end/high accuracy gaming mice because with so little time even a slight decrease in move time pays off.

I don't play anything less than 15/15 or 20/10 though and your point holds for that.

Genuinely curious - what makes chess such an intellectually engaging game

I don't know, but it is very addictive. It's a 'fight to the death', but in a realm of ideas. There's a neverending amount to learn, so many different types of situation can arise in a game, so many varieties of strategy and tactics, unlimited, it seems.

I'm not sure what you mean 'these have all the same Dynamics plus some. They are so dynamic'. There is a fairly common chess variant, Chess960/Fischer Random, where the pieces are shuffled before starting, and you will rarely see the same opening move. But it hasn't taken over from normal chess, which seems the better game to most people. The opening move won't be new, but after a few moves you're in uncharted territory.

https://www.chesstactics.org/ a free online book, I learned quite a bit from it.

ChessNetwork on YouTube is an entertaining channel to help you get excited about learning more. Jerry's enthusiasm for chess is infectious.

In terms of books, Play Winning Chess by Yasser Seirawan is a great introduction to the game and first layer of strategy, tactics, openings, etc.

John Bartholomew's "Climbing the ratings ladder" video series on YouTube is a nice entry point, obviously looking at the lower part of the ratings ladder (e.g. 1000-1500).

Thousands of books, hundreds of websites, millions of videos. Of course with numbers that large the quality varies a lot. Chess has been popular for a long time. To get really good requires a lot of hard study, so most people who get good end up writing a book to try to get some payback for their effort. As a result there are probably more books on chess than all other games combined.

Haha yup, that's what my cursory googling resulted in. Hopefully some HNers have traveled this path before and have some favorites... judging from replies so far, that seems to be the case.

Build up your Chess by Artur Yusopov (3 books in each level, 3 levels from novice through to master strength).

Fundamental Chess Endings (Muller and Lamprecht)

Fundamental Chess Openings (Sterren).

A good games database - The best free one is this http://caissabase.co.uk/ (It's my project so I might be biased but it is the best free one I've found, it exists because I couldn't find a great free one that was always updated at least monthly) and Chess DB software (ScidVsPC is open source).

That and playing and analyzing your own games is all you'd need (apart from a massive commitment to improvement) to get to Category A (1800-2000USCF.

If you feel like throwing in another (cheap) book I like https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mammoth-Book-Chess-Books/dp/1845299... as it's a weighty dense cheap book you can throw in a bag and not care about getting beat up.

Lichess ratings are quite a lot higher than your equivalent Elo or FIDE rating by a good few hundred points at least, I reckon. Although I reckon this disparity reduces the higher the rating but is still there.

It's worth noting that lichess rating system is glicko2[0], while FIDE rating system is Elo.


1.b4 is a really strange idea to have, and even stranger to stick with it. It is very disadvantageous for white. He even acknowledges this:

> I looked at my win rates by opening and I won far more as black than white.

Normally he should have been winning more as white, not less.

I've been reading so many fantasy novels that I initially parsed "Lichess" as "Lich-ess", as in, a female lich.

Huh, this makes me realize I've never actually encountered a female lich in any games or fiction.

Check the wiki page plenty of examples including divinity original sin

The wiki page for what?

Also, ah, guess I hadn't gotten that far in divinity!

> because we would en passant to capture any piece that was left or right of a pawn. I still remember my first non-dad opponent’s very weird face when I en passant captured his knight.

I remember as a kid, learning chess, I never heard of the 'en passant' rule and thus never used it. When I played my cousin one day and he used that capture, I actually leapt up in livid outrage and scattered the board pieces at this 'cheating' move he played. When I learned it was actually a legitimate move, I was totally red faced and humbled.

Liches is awesome. I found it when I was researching on alphazero. Used to play on other chess websites, but have been using nothing but lichess since.

Lichess classical (long time control) most likely has a weaker smaller pool than the blitz most strong players that are playing online usually are in blitz. Good for him in excelling but I noticed he didn't mention the time control in the article. If he plays overboard and gets a rating using those openings (i.e. Orangutane)I'm guessing around 1700 maybe a little less

I've been playing chess all my life and I still suck (for someone who knows more than the basics). Up until just a few years ago, this definitely limited my enjoyment of the game. But now I use Shredder and it's fantastic at figuring out my exact skill level and giving me challenging games that I can actually win if I focus. It's made chess my go-to casual game.

It's so good in fact, I can tell the difference between playing late at night or during the day, after an expresso, or a large meal. It remains super consistent while my concentration and skill wavers.

I highly recommend it - I'm having fun and slowly improving my game without that horrible frustration that comes from an opponent that's just too good.

(I think it would be interesting to learn how it makes itself less skilled - it's not just about search time, as that's what older programs did and they were either trivial to beat, or impossible.)

What feature allows it to "guess" your rating? Is it automatic (after a number of games it guesses your rating), or do you just set one manually and upgrade it yourself over time? I did not find any mention of such feature on https://www.shredderchess.com/

I think this article has an important lesson. Here is his graph now: https://lichess.org/@/peidi

He quickly dropped those 200 points right back. In chess there is luck. Not luck like you hit a 9:1 longshot on the draw from a deck, but in other ways. Ratings don't account for personal differences. There are plenty of situations, all the way to the world champion, where you will have 3 players A,B,C of about the same rating. But A crushes B who crushes C who crushes A. One of the most famous here was Kasparov > Shirov > Kramnik > Kasparov. Keep getting paired as 'A' to your 'B' and you can hit a major hot streak.

There are also simple practical things. It's not uncommon to run into a player that's drunk, exhausted, on tilt, or whatever else that's just completely throwing them off their game. Which probably leads to maybe the most important point. In chess there is a huge element of variance in your own mental ability. It can be short term - did you sleep well, do you have anything grinding in your head, etc. It can also be longterm for a countless array of reasons.

Current world champion Magnus Carlsen was recently asked who his favorite player from the past is. He responded it was himself from 3-4 years ago. His game has undoubtedly deteriorated over the years for no great reason. He's probably just started to lose the motivation he once had. Nobody would argue against him being the best player alive, and few would argue against him being the best player of all time. Where's his motivation supposed to come from now?

And while those examples are negative, they have perfectly equal opposites on the other end. Sleeping extremely well, very clear headed, highly motivated? Things like this don't necessarily last, but when they're there - they can give you a very substantial boost.

So the lesson? There's variance and randomness in places you'd never expect to find it. In order to find genuine improvement it's important to be able to appreciate the difference between randomness and legitimate change. It's not easy, but I find there is a pretty simple clue for it. When you find yourself not wanting to play as much because you might screw up your rating - you have already subconsciously (and consciously really) accepted that you're overrated. This is a really common phenomena that I think we're all guilty of at some point or another. As the author of the article states, "As you can see in the chart, I played far fewer games in all of March to November than those sixteen days in February." That's a red flag for cognitive acute overratitus. Fortunately the cure is simple and fun - play more!

The fluctuations are fun to notice. My relative lichess rating is a good indicator for how I am feeling.

Also, when I've been doing lots of coding (systematic thinking), my score goes up vs. when I'm doing non-engineering tasks.

Step zero for me: stop playing one minute bullet chess

For real! I'm almost a thousand games in already... So addictive!

I recently discovered lichess in the past couple of weeks and LOVE it. I've even gone as far as to donate to them. I played a lot of chess as a kid and I've been getting back into it. Hit me up for a game - usuallymatt

For what it's worth, I read the post with the eyes of a Go player and everything makes sense in Go as well (adapting concepts to the Go equivalent). Possibly it makes sense in any other game of this kind.

I was resisting posting my OT question on this thread, but I will, briefly: Is there something like Lichess for Go (the board game)? Similar quality and openness.

A couple of years ago, I spent a good little chunk of time searching something out, and I think I recall seeing a few interesting candidates, but I didn't follow through and don't have those results at hand.

Can't vouch for it myself, but it was linked elsewhere in this discussion: https://online-go.com/

I missed that reference elsewhere in this thread. Thank you -- at a first glance, this looks promising!



Online-go.com is made possible by the generous financial support from hundreds of individual site supporters, the guidance and welcome friendly attitudes of the Go community at large, and by a large collection of volunteers that have helped translate Online-Go.com into a multitude of different languages from all over the world.



For what it's worth, I stopped training on lichess after they implemented a spaced repetition system for their tactics puzzles. I think it's a shame, it meant that if you wanted to follow any other system at all (even something simple, like doing lots of simple puzzles quickly) you no longer could. There are something like half a dozen different systems you can use for selecting puzzle difficulty/type automatically, so it's kind of disappointing that a single one gets hardcoded in an otherwise very feature-packed site.

Unrelated - Lichess android app sent credentials in plain text last I checked. I'll have to check up on that again...

sorry don't know much about lichess but i'm curious how much of an ELO bump does this correspond to?

This is a pretty substantial achievement, if you look at an estimated percentile breakdown: https://www.reddit.com/r/chess/comments/54c1nv/player_rating....

FWIW, I’ve found that on Lichess I’m rated at least 100 points higher than what I would be on Chess.com (the most popular chess site), and maybe 150 points higher than what I’m rated by the US chess federation, which mainly rates live, not online, games.

A player with a rating of 2000 by the US federation would be called an “expert”, just below the 2200 rating that earns you the title of “master”.

Elo (it's a name, not an abbreviation) refers to a certain calculation method of rating. Lichess uses a glicko2 rating system.

You can't really compare ratings from across websites or groups like FIDE since the pools are so different.

200 points in the 2000 range is reasonably significant and something to be proud of.

As a wild guess, amateurs who only generally know the pieces and play casual games infrequently are likely to be less than 1000 ELO, so it's a bit of an achievement to be in the 1800+ range.

brazen plug: https://slack.com/apps/ACY93NUCV-chessboard chess for Slack - also free.

I found the data from Microsoft really interesting. Great article

Thanks for sharing! :)

what prevents me from playing chess is i know i’ll never be as good as people that started when they were 7, so what’s the point? i know it’s not a good attitude

Wouldn't that prevent you starting to learn anything?

I remember when I was about 9, reading that Mozart started composing at 7, and thinking it was too late. So I didn't compose much until in my mid-30s, and really wished I'd started when I was 9!

Anyway, when you play online, you don't play the best in the world. You play people about as good as you are. And it's super-easy to find them online. I mostly played on FICS, which is very friendly, and I played and chatted with people from (what must be) nearly every country in the world. Most people play for fun, not to be the best in the world.

Not everything is competitive

Came here to discover what amazing things female liches have been up to in the exciting world of the undead.

Walked away somewhat disappointed. :-)

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