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Archive for November, 2009

The enormous success of Magnus Carlsen sparked the fire in me for the good old game of chess. As spending more time on chess means less time for other things, I wanted to make sure that my study approach is correct and that the time is used efficiently.

My biggest problem is that none of my friends play chess. The obvious alternatives are to use the computer or to join a chess club. Joining a chess club is something I seriously consider at the moment but I am still unsure if I am willing to commit myself to it. Chess programs I have heavily used in the last years and I would have expected my playing strength to increase over time. Surprisingly, this was not the case and led to a lot of frustration. What was I missing?

I think I have found the answer. I was not playing chess but moves. I saw the computer evaluations and thought “-0.35, oh my goodness, I am lost”. I never really started the battle and missed to come up with a plan. Whenever the computer moved, I too often countered with moves that didn’t help me in the long run. In addition, I didn’t think hard enough and played too fast. When I analyzed my games I put too much focus on the opening and looked for better moves. After memorizing variations I could be sure, of course, that I would run into different move orders where the lines were useless.

Time for a change. I looked up some methods how to plan a chess move and came up with “The Amateur’s Mind – Turning Chess Misconceptions into Chess Mastery” by Jeremy Silman. It’s by far the best book for a motivated amateur and revealed my mistakes very clearly. A lot of things make sense now, e.g. why it’s important to fight for the center and to have the initiative or the difference between knight and bishop. Together with the tactical themes taught by CT-ART 3.0 I can feel a new understanding – finally, after all these years… I am also not so scared anymore about losing a pawn or a figure. Even a pawn down or rook vs. queen it’s possible to draw a game if one knows how. Everything is better than playing without a plan. A bad one can be reviewed post-mortem and improved but if you have none, there is no chance of getting better.

Anyway, a computer is still a computer. Playing against humans is much more fun! I have registered at the Free internet Chess Server (FICS) and you can find me there as ScotchYeti. This is a new, thrilling experience for me and the first game I played was absolutely crazy. I quickly had a big advantage, missed the punch, was in trouble but found a mate-in-one. I will set up a webpage to host the games in future. I am curious how good I really am.

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