Many people associate playing better with learning more. "I really must read a book/ study more/ swat up on the cube" etc. Well it is true that improvements in technique can only help, but I think that everybody who plays below World Class level, that's 99% of us, can play very much better just by making better use of what we already know. What we need to do is organise our approach to the game in such a way that what we know is at the surface and available when we make our play decisions.
Like any other sport or game, preparation is the foundation. Don't rush up to your computer, log in and dash into a quick game while you drink your coffee, with one eye on the tv and the other on the clock. Not only is this a recipe for disaster in the game that you are playing, but every time that you make a careless play you are reinforcing a bad habit that will poison your play when it comes to a match that you really want to win. When it is time to play, sit at a tidy desk, turn off the tv, radio, stereo and telephone and log in. Take a moment to do some breathing exercises with the aim of clearing your mind, because all you want to think about while playing is the game.
Don't play while hungry, thirsty, tired or under the influence of adult beverages, not even for "fun". Bad habits start here.
The most common fault at every level online is to play too fast. When you have rolled, let go of the mouse! The temptation to make the first reasonable play that you see is much stronger when it's just a click away. If you have rolled a doublet, sit on your hands as well, because you need more thinking time than normal. A high percentage of checker play blunders happen on rolls of doublets.
Online, we have a very useful feature that doesn't get used enough, which is that it is very easy to try out plays to see what they look like. We can reset with a click and not run the risk of confusing ourselves, resetting incorrectly or irritating our opponent. Use this feature.
If you aren't used to thinking very hard about what play you make, you are going to tire very quickly when you start, so don't jump straight from one match into another. Take five minutes to clear your brain. You can be downloading your last match into your bot for analysis. You don't analyse every match you play? Very strong players do, imitate them.
Long ago, although for some it is still fresh I remarked that "Even a fencepost can be 1700 on fibs." My tongue was in my cheek when I said this, but it is actually true. Playing at a low intermediate level isn't very hard, easily within the compass of us all, but without application it is almost impossible! if you are under 1700 on fibs, you are either very new to the game or you don't want to take the trouble to play better. Think about this; playing better is more interesting and more fun, because you will win more, always good!
I'll talk a bit more about improving in my next post, coming soon. Thanks for reading, enjoy the game!