Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Chess Video

I have posted my first chess video on

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mind reading

While helping at a local scholastic chess training day, I was asked a question about looking ahead.

One of the chapters of Soltis' excellent book Studying Chess Made Easy is "Two-and-a-half move chess". I started describing this concept, and was asked a second question, "how do you guess your opponents's move?" So the real question was not how to limit the search, but how to read your opponents mind.

I think the first thing is not to look for your opponent to make obviously bad moves.

During planning, you are assessing both positive and negative imbalances. The negative imbalances point to your weaknesses, that your opponent would want to exploit. Expect counter attacking moves that strike at your weaknesses.

If you have made a threat, then your opponent needs to defend against that threat, or make a larger threat of their own. Your threats should lead to improving imbalances in your favor, or be the start of some tactic. Assume your opponent is doing the same.

Tactics are primary in class and scholastic play. Doing tactical puzzles will improve your ability to see defensive moves.

Tactics puzzle sites:
Chess Tempo
Shredder problems

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What if I were a Beginner: Openings

I just finished How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire by Steve Giddins. I had learned the hard way most of the lessons in this book. It would be a great 2nd book on openings. The first book on openings should be Seirawan's  Winning Chess Openings or Fine's The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings. I favor Seirawan's book, because I think his advice on what openings to start playing to be excellent, though I think Fine's explanations of e4 and d4 openings is better.

Though I did not learn much from Giddins' book, it did get me to thinking what a student's path through the openings should be. A caveat is important here. Most of one's chess study time should be taken up with playing over well annotated master games and reviewing one's own games (50%), then endings (20%), tactics problems(20%), and only a little on openings alone(10%). ( Although, I do suggest focusing on master games that are in the openings one plays.)  An argument against the following advice is that you will often be at a disadvantage to a person who has studied an opening more deeply, but that will happen anyway. Even grandmasters regularly run into another player who is more prepared in a line than they are, and they continue to do well. And this is learning advice, not winning advice. To become a better player and thus win more often one must learn, and one learns from one's losses more than one's wins. OTOH, lots of players at the class level will play moves that are not in the opening books, which makes the time one spent studying opening lines wasted, but not time spent learning the ideas behind the openings, nor the common plans and tactics.

Each of the following steps should be done, until you are bored with them, or think you need to get a book on them to advance. Each step should be phased into by changing what you play in blitz games, club games and/or casual against the computer first. Then changing what you play in tournament games, and lastly only change what you play in team games when you think you would do better with the new opening. (You might skip a phase altogether for team games). This trip through the openings should take place over several years. Do not move on to the next step when you lose games, you are supposed to lose games and learn from them. Play each game hard. Defend strongly. Learn to win or draw against your usual opponents from a position of disadvantage!

  1. Start with following Seirawan's advice: King's Indian Attack (KIA), King's Indian Defense(KID), and Pirc.
  2. Then reread the Scandinavian part of Seirawan or Fine and start playing that.
  3. Next is the big shift. Instead of starting with Nf3 for the King's Indian attack, start with e4. Transpose into the KIA if you opponent does anything but e5 or d5. For 1.e4 d5 (the Scandinavian), you already have been playing this as black, and can try the white side now. For 1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 and aim for the Scots game (2...Nf6 3.d4) , dealing with the Russian or Phildor as they arise. This will expand your chess knowledge and will give you experience in open positions. 
  4. After that is the Guioco Piano and Two Knights (aka Italian Game)
  5. The Ruy Lopez (aka Spanish game)
  6. Another big shift: Reti opening, which is like the KIA. The key break is c4 and the secondary one is e4 (the opposite of the KIA), which changes the flavor of the game a great deal
  7. Now time to let go of the KID, and start playing the Queen's gambit declined (QGD) especially the Slav varieties. Learn about the minority attack, isolated queen pawn games, and the glories of the Bxh7+ sacrifice, often on the receiving end  :(
  8. White next, now you are going to look for opportunities to transpose into QGD positions, especially the Catalan.
  9. Actually start opening 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 2.d4.
  10. Start going through other non-Sicilian black defenses to 1.e4 (1...e5, French, Caro-Kann, Alekhine)
  11. The Najdorf, you know you want to!
Now you are informed enough to choose a repertoire and buy opening books to support it. You will be prepared for transpositions, and comfortable with a broad range of middle game issues.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Status Update--Dec 2010

I have played 12 rated games since returning to chess.

My rating of 1419 established at 17 in 1975 has improved to 1570.

I suspect that I am still a much stronger player than my rating indicates.

Next tournaments I will likely be able to play in are next year.

Book Review--Elements of Positional Evaluation by Dan Heisman

I have been worrying about my uncertainty in positional evaluation, "Given a position, who stands better, and by how much?" This is a difficult problem, which breaks down into any number of  smaller practical questions, "Do I have enough compensation to make the pawn sack?, Is this opening position good for me?"

From my readings during this first year of re-entering the world of chess, I see that positional evaluations have changed. The biggest change I have noted is the term activity, and its use as justification for positional sacrifices. Back in the day, there was great astonishment when Petrosian, Fischer or some other great player would sacrifice material for no immediate gain, the Benko (Volga) gambit seemed unique in its pawn sacrifice for positional advantage, but that seems to have changed a great deal.

In search of improving this aspect of my chess, I read Dan Heisman's Elements of Positional Evaluation. This is a deep and complex book. I am not sure what I really learned, and I expect I will absorb more when I re-read it again, after I am a stronger player. Some ideas from this book correspond to thoughts I was having back in the 1980's when I thought about writing a computer program to play chess, (e.g. that the value of pieces varies depending on their mobility).

Heisman's elements:

  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Vulnerability
  • Center Control
  • Piece Coordination
  • Time
  • Speed

I likely will continue to rely on what Heisman terms pseudo-elements:

  • Material
  • Space
  • King Safety
  • Development

Though I think I will focus on understanding piece activity rather than development.

The book is not a manual on how to evaluate a position. I think I have partially resolved my original dilemma for now by rephrasing the question, "How happy am I with the position?", and using Fritz for postmortems. Maybe someday, I will be better at determining who stands better.

Heisman points to this paper on the relative value of the pieces by GM Larry Kaufman as important, I agree.
Dan Heisman's home page.

Book Review--Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis

Though the title is a fib, this is a very good book. It still is hard to look at one's mistakes honestly, it still is boring to get precise endings down, opening theory is still a thicket, planning is still a jungle, but this book helps with all except facing your mistakes. I suppose Studying Chess Made Not as Difficult would not have made a good title.

The book covers all phases of the game, but it is not a general book on how to play better chess, the title does not promise that after all. It is a guide on how to get more efficient use of the time you spend trying to improve. It also offers valuable advice on how to use a computer chess program to help.

Personally, I found the sections on "two-and-a-half move chess" and on "how to learn more from a master game" to be the most valuable, but all were instructive.

The Plan--Middlegame

This is where the rubber hits the road. For me, thinking about the middle game starts during opening preparation. Part of the opening preparation is to understand what kind of middle game plans I am striving towards. If my opponent takes me out of my preparation, I need to develop some kind of middle game plan over the board.

I try to use the method outlined in Silman's how to Reassess Your Chess. Silman's Imbalance descriptions provide a framework for positional analysis, which one uses to decide where you want to apply pressure (king side, center, or queen side). Plans evolve around turning temporary advantages into more permanent ones, and taking advantage of favorable imbalances. It should also be turned around and used to figure out what the opponent's plan should be.

Silman's imbalance list:
  1. Superior minor piece
  2. Pawn structure
  3. Space
  4. Material
  5. Control of key file or square
  6. Lead in development
  7. Initiative
Reassess provides lots of good examples for all of these, but particularly extensive is Silman's exposition of superior minor piece.

To improve my planning, I intend to write extensive notes, while sparring with Fritz or playing solitaire chess.  (I love Pandolfini's monthly column in Chess Life, even though I think he telegraphs too much in his comments)

The planning process I am training myself to use is covered in my move method under A.1-4 and B.2. The results of planning are used in B.3 Candidate moves along with tactical possibilities.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Move Method--B.1.Absorb Suprises

I added this phase recently to my move method, because of a game I played in the Sept 11 2010 Rochester Chess Club tournament. My opponent made a move that I had not analyzed, and I panicked. This will happen, and when it does, I need to take a breath, calm down, and take some extra time to reset.

So the first thing to do when it is my move is to take time and absorb any surprise move, and reassess the position, including my expectations and plans.

Paulik vs Newshutz

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 c5 6. Be3 cxd4 7. Nxd4 O-O 8. Be2

With Nc6 I can go into a classical Dragon. It is possible that my opponent has preparation in this line, but it is more likely that any white player would have prepared a Yugoslav variation against a Sicillian Dragon.  I had not yet prepared anything in this line yet, but I had played over a number of Classical Sicilian Dragon games in my youth.    In fact, it was the first opening I ever studied, from the first book I read on chess, Reuben Fine's Chess the Easy Way. OTOH, if you are a Dragon player, this is a good line against the Pirc, because you are more likely to be familiar with this.

Instead, I decided to play a little more Pirc-ish, but I think it would be better to prepare  something against the Classical Dragon and just dive in next time this presents itself. 8...a6 9. Bf3 Nbd7 Fritz thinks this is a novelty. (9... Qc7 has been played before and white got an advantage with 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. exd5 b5) 10. Qd2 Nb6 11. Be2 Bg4

I am looking to trade off the light square bishops, then chase the dark square bishop off the long diagonal, or trade it for a knight. This move also vacates c8, so I can place a rook there. Fritz says that 11...Qc7 12. f5 is equal.12. O-O-O Bxe2 13. Qxe2 Qc7 14. Nb3  Nc4 15.Bd4 e5 16.fxe5
Here I should have taken on e5 with my knight and after 17.Bxe5 dxe5 white would have a small advantage, but I really wanted to drive away that bishop. 16... dxe5 17. Bc5 is the suprise! I did not see this move as possible in my lookahead, probably because I had a pawn at d6 when I moved e5. This move attacks my rook and blocks the guard of my Nc4. This is where I should have absorbed the suprise, re-evaluated and made new plans, after 17... Rfd8 18. Qxc4 b6 I could regain the piece for a pawn and fight on, but I paniced and just went for "complications", which Paulik quckly demolished  17...Bh6+  18. Kb1 Nd2+  19. Rxd2 Bxd2 20. Qxd2 Rfd8 21. Qf2 Nd7 22. Nd5 Qb8 23. Rf1 f5 24. Be7 0-1

In Chess Master at Any Age, Wetzell talks about developing mental toughness. His prime example is developing the courage to not make excuses, to clearly analyze the errors one makes in games, and to delve into why you made the errors. Missing 17.Bc5 is an error of visualization, and practicing visualization will help with that. My response of 17...Bh6+ shows a lack of mental toughness over the board, and I intend to recognize surprises in the future and absorb them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Game Analysis--Newshutz v Dobbs

I have been trying to make a video of the game that led to the position in my last post.

My allergies have been getting in the way, and the audio is full of my throat clearings and other disgusting congestion noises. I don't want to pay for a video editor program, and I haven't gotten the free ones to work, yet.

Anyway, I have been going over that game so much, I am going to move on to another for my first video, and I will post my analysis of Newshutz v Dobbs from the 2010 Region VI open. I used Fritz to help create this analysis.

1. Nf3  d5 
2. g3   c6 
3. Bg2  Nd7 
4. O-O 
Instead of O-O I could have transposed into some kind of Catalan or Slav with d4 and c4
4...    e6 
This is a very cautious but solid move, setting up the QGD pawn wedge. A more challenging move would have been 4...e5, or to develop the bishop with Bf5 or Bg4 before playing e6
5. d3   Bc5 
6. c3 
I think this move is too cautious. Better would have been e4
6...    Ngf6 
Now I have to do more preparation to play e4
7. Nbd2 O-O 
8. e4   dxe4 
9. dxe4 e5
With this trade opening up the d-file and e5 mirroring the pawn structure supporting the d-file. I looked to gain space on the queen side. I am hoping to draw his pawn off of c6, or to get my own pawn to c5 to create an outpost at d5 or d6.
10. Qc2  Re8 
11. b4   Bb6 
12. Nc4  Bc7 
13. Bg5 
This is a mistake. all it does is provoke h6, which in some cases can become a weakness, but also removes the possibility of my knight going to g5. It works out ok for me in the end, but was unnecessary.
13...    h6 
14. Be3 
And this is probably not the right square for the bishop, but I wanted to connect my rooks for contesting the d-file. There is no urgency to contesting the d-file, because  there are no invasion points for either player along the d-file, I could bring the bishop to d2, leaving e3 open for my knight on c4
14...    b6 
15. a4 
I was too focused on gaining space on the queenside and missed his next move. I should have moved Rfd1 to avoid the pin.
15...    Ba6
16. Nfd2 Ng4 
17. Rfd1 Nxe3 
18. Nxe3 Qe7 
19. Rab1 
I did this to support b5, but I missed that if cxb5 it opens up d5 for my knight. This is odd, because I
am prepareing b5 to dislodge c6 to open up d5 for my knight. (19. b5 cxb5 20. Nd5 Qd8 21. Bf1 and I regain my pawn. Bb7 22. axb5)  I am moving to fast and not considering the full ramifications.
19...    Nf6 
20. c4 
I am bringing up more support for b5, and opening up the option to do c5, but I am giving up contesting d4 (20. b5 cxb5 21. axb5 Bb7 +=)
20...    Rad8 
21. b5   Bb7 
22. bxc6 Bxc6 
23. Nd5  Qd6 
24. Nf1  Ba8 
I missed a tactical shot here.

25. Nfe3 
I have a discovered attack set up, and I did not take advantage. (25. Nxb6! Qe6 26. Nxa8 Rxa8 27.Ne3+-)
25...     Qc6 
26. Rdc1  Bd6?
This mistake allows me to disrupt his kingside pawns and makes that provoking of h6 on move 13 look good!
27. Nxf6+ gxf6 
28. Nd5   Bc5 
29. Bh3   Qd6 
30. Qd2   Bxd5 
31. cxd5 
I do not want to retake with the e-pawn as that releases his e-pawn (31. exd5? e4 32. Re1 Qe5 -+)
31...     Qf8
32. a5 
I should have doubled my rooks on the c-file and began infiltrating on the light squares. I thought I was only marginally ahead, and I was playing for a draw at this point. (32. Qe2 Re7 )
32...     Qg7 
33. axb6  axb6 
34. Qe2   Qg5 
35. Bg4   Rd6 
36. h4    Qg7 
37. Kg2   Re7?
This is a fatal weakening of the back rank, and I missed a winning move here. I think he was worried about me shifting my rooks to the a file and taking the seventh rank.

38. Ra1
(38.Rxc5! Qf8 (38... bxc5 39. Rb8+ Qf8) 39. Rc4) and I am up a piece with a dominating initiative.
38...    Qf8 
39. Ra4  Qe8 
40. Rca1 Bd4 
41. R1a2 Rd8 
42. Ra7  Rxa7 
43. Rxa7 b5 
44. Be6??
I made this move too quickly (see last blog post)
44...    Bxa7  0-1

[Event "Region VI open"]
[Site "Minneapolis,MN"]
[Date "2010.09.05"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Newshutz"]
[Black "Dobbs"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A07"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 Nd7 4. O-O e6 5. d3 Bc5 6. c3 Ngf6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. e4 dxe4 9. dxe4 e5 10. Qc2 Re8 11. b4 Bb6 12. Nc4 Bc7 13. Bg5 h6 14. Be3 b6 15. a4 Ba6 16. Nfd2 Ng4 17. Rfd1 Nxe3 18. Nxe3 Qe7 19. Rab1 Nf6 20. c4 Rad8 21. b5 Bb7 22. bxc6 Bxc6 23. Nd5 Qd6 24. Nf1 Ba8 25. Nfe3 Qc6 26. Rdc1 Bd6 27. Nxf6+ gxf6 28. Nd5 Bc5 29. Bh3 Qd6 30. Qd2 Bxd5 31. cxd5 Qf8 32. a5 Qg7 33. axb6 axb6 34. Qe2 Qg5 35. Bg4 Rd6 36. h4 Qg7 37. Kg2 Re7 38. Ra1 Qf8 39. Ra4 Qe8 40. Rca1 Bd4 41. R1a2 Rd8 42. Ra7 Rxa7 43. Rxa7 b5 44. Be6 Bxa7 0-1

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Practicing the move method and sparring with Fritz

I think my greatest weakness at this point is moving too fast and not sticking to my move selection method:

A. On opponent's clock: planning
  1. Assess imbalances
  2. Am I playing to win or draw?
  3. Revise my plan
  4. Detect opponent's plan
B. On my clock
  1. Absorb surprises
  2. Finish planning
    1. Anything undone?
    2. What does the last move threaten/allow?
    3. New imbalances
  3. Candidate moves
    1. counter threats
    2. further my plan
    3. hinder opponent's plan
  4. Evaluate candidates
  5. Final Blunder check
To practice this I am using Fritz's sparring mode. In this mode, Fritz keeps track of the amount of time used, so I know how I am a doing against a time control, but there is no sudden death.

Fritz moves very quickly in the difficulty mode I have selected, so I need to do the whole method on my clock. Once I am using the whole method on every move, I will then try to improve my speed, so I fit in a time control. Hopefully, I will still use most of my time on evaluating candidates.

Here is a position where I really blew it. I am to play, and black just moved b5.
I was so fixated on what I wanted to do, that I missed that my rook was under attack. Without thinking, I moved Be6?? which would have been a great move, except that my rook is under attack.

With a little thought, I could have maintained the pressure with Rc7, or gone into a winning endgame with the exchange of R+B for Q+P with Rxf7

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Endgame Studies

Endgames studies are different than chess problems. Both are composed, but while problems are short and end in mate, studies are many moves in length and may end at an exact ending or preponderance of material rather than a checkmate.

Endgames studies can be useful for endgame learning, while chess problems are usually not directly useful for tactical training (though they can help with visualization). Though mostly they are just beautiful.

Youtube has a lot of endgame study videos, user EndgameStudies posted 5 nice ones in 2009. The third one, has white with 3 minor pieces against the black queen. This was similar to the material at the end of Shirov vs Carlsen which had lots of asymmetric exchanges and went for 174 moves, before Carlsen gave up and accepted a draw. Carlsen's problem was that he could not escape the white queen's checks and get two pieces attacking one of Shirov's pawns.

Of course youtube has some that may not be so good, also.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Memorize openings?!

  1. e4 d6
  2. d4 Nf6
  3. Bd3

This is a position I have seen a lot in play on the internet. I am black playing the Pirc and instead of the common Nc3, white choses the less than best, but not bad Bd3, and black is likely out of his book.Bd3 is not a bad move, there is no "refutation", and it seems logical to protect the e-pawn without blocking c3 to support the d-pawn. 3...e5 is met by 4.c3 as is 3...Nc6.

Understanding of the general ideas of kingside fianchetto with an opposing pawn chain down the long diagonal is what you need to play black here.

Similarly quickly out of the book is a game of mine from the recent Region VI open (Sept 2010) with a strong class B player (1766) (Analysis with help of Fritz 12)

 1.e4   d6
 2.d4   Nf6
I think this is a way to quickstart the normal anti-fianchetto kingside attack, so I abandoned the fianchetto and went into an "open game" where I hoped f3 would be misplaced.
 3...   Nc6
 4.c4   e5
 5.d5   Nd4
 6.Nc3  Be7
 7.Ne2  c5
 8.b4   O-O
 9.bxc5 dxc5
10.Rb1  Rb8
11.Nxd4 cxd4
12.Na4  Bd7
This does not look much like a Pirc! I misunderstood this position and played:
I need to ensure control of d6 and c5 and keep his c-pawn backward or try the sacrifice Nxe4!? to get a dominant central pawn mass and open lines toward his king after 14. fxe4 Bb4+ 15. Kf2 f5 16. Nd3 fxe4+ 17. Kg1 Bd6 18. c5 exd3 19. cxd6 e4 black has more than enough compensation for the knight. Nxe4 sacrifices are thematic against a f3,e4,d5 pawn chain and an un-castled king.
14.Bd2  Qb6
15.Nd3  Qc7??
16.c5   Rfc8
17.c6   Be8
with a significant advantage to white.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Plan--Endings

There are two aspects to ending preparation. There are the positions in endings books with clear winning/drawing lines, and practical endings where you use such knowledge to gain winning/drawing positions.

I purchased Silman's Complete Endgame Course (by Silman) to help with the former. It is really good! It's chapters are laid out with essential knowledge for each class of player. You memorize the material up through the chapter of your current rating range. There are quiz positions at the end of each chapter. I thought I was good at endgames, because of the number of games I have rescued in the endgame, but I found material in the earlier chapters, I did not know. The final chapter has a bunch of endgames to play over from great games.

For the latter, beyond playing master games and trying to understand the endings, I have taken to playing endgames where master level players have resigned and trying to win them against Fritz. I am not sure how I got these settings, but Fritz is annotating the game with its evaluations of my moves. I can note where the evaluation worsens and review my decisions at these points.

Here is an example of an internet game, where I escaped a loss, because of the simple knowledge of the King needing to be in the square of the pawn. I saw this position several moves earlier and worked to get here. White to move and win:

White is quite willing to trade queens in this position, no only because his king is more vulnerable, but also because the black king is outside of the square of the a-pawn and the white king is inside the square of the h-pawn.

I just found this site with 398 endgame studies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Plan--Openings

I had purchased Seirawan's Winning Chess Openings to help my sons get an overview of the openings. They did not spend much time with it, alas, but I skimmed it. It seemed as good and more up to date than the opening section in Fine's Chess the Easy Way, which I read as a child (and I could not find my father's copy of Fine's book).

I think Seirawan's advice is good. Start out with Kings Indian Defense and Attack, plus the Pirc. I had played the Pirc back in the day, and I expect the Benko lines I used to play are obsolete anyway. The KIA is different from the Reti/Nimzo-Larsen stuff I used to play, but will ease my way back into chess without all the theory needed to play d4 or e4.

Wetzell's advice (developed before the chess computer age) is to construct tables like the ones in opening encyclopedias(just many more of them). I think some of the computer based opening trainers like Chess Opening Wizard or the free Chess Position Trainer are a better way to go, but I have spent a great deal of time memorizing lines over the last 6 months, and I find very few times that I end up playing the memorized lines.

I have come to the conclusion that below the master level (maybe expert) opening line memorization is not a good way to spend opening preparation time. The right thing to do is to study annotated games on the openings you want to play, and get a good understanding of the kind of opening tactics and middle game plans that arise from these openings. Opening repertoire books can be a good source for these games and plans.

I have found the videos on to be useful. The site has videos arranged by openings, and class players have submitted videos describing their games. I hope to make some videos and post them, but so far my allergies have made my attempts too full of coughs, snorts, and throat clearings.

In later posts, I will review the opening books, I have been working with.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Plan--Flash Cards

An important part of Wetzell's method is to create flash cards of key positions pulled from your own mistakes. These mistakes can come from your games, chess problems, or missed moves in solitaire games. I had no current games of my own, but a year's membership to came with Fritz 12, so I began playing 15 minute games there. I had game collections on my shelf, that I could try solitaire chess. And there are lots of sources for chess problems.

Flash cards are to be gone through periodically, and as a warm up.

I am creating my flash cards with a word processor. Fritz can send a position to a jpeg file or I use Apronus chess to create an image of a position. (UPDATE: 10/7/2011 I am now mostly using the Chess Alpha font to enter board positions. It is a little harder, but I think more portable in the long run.)

This is an example of a flash card I made from an internet game position. The 'W' at the top indicates it is white to play. I have begun to place the source at the right on the top. In the box at the bottom is a meaningful (to me) short phrase indicating that I do not need to simplify this position (cxd5) and that no progress is made with Nc3, but that I should have formulated a plan to advance e4.

For places to play online there is the Internet Chess Club,  the Free Internet Chess Server, and many other places to play online (google is your friend).

Tactical chess problems can be found on the Shredder chess site and on

Crafty,  good free chess engine to help analyze your own games can be found at

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Beginning

I start this blog in October of 2010 as my chess training journal. I am 52 years old and have started playing tournament chess again after a short break of 35 years.

I stopped playing tournament chess in 1975 when I was 17. As time has gone on, I have occasionally played around against the computer, taught my sons chess, and went to a handful of club meetings.

Sometime in the very late 90's, while wandering around a Barnes and Noble, I came across a book, whose title intrigued me, Chess Master at Any Age by Rolf Wetzell. Browsing through the book raised my interest further. I thought I could follow the study plans or modify them to suite me. I bought the book, took it home, and put it on the shelf. I had bought other chess books through the years, skimmed them, and then put them on the shelf.

In 2002, my employer enabled me to pursue other endeavors  (I was laid off), and I took up parenting duties as my wife went back to work full time. In 2009, my eldest son went off to college, and over the next few months, I found my mind searching for challenges.  In January of 2010, I took Wetzell's book down off the shelf.

I bought a copy of Fritz 12, cleared off the chess table my grandfather made, unpacked the chess pieces I had bought to match the table, and pulled a few other books off the shelf. I was hooked again.