Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Adventures in Chess

Welcome to Chessgasm, this blog will be devoted to my obsession with chess. Nothing has the power to elate and infuriate me like chess; I'm sure you can sympathize. The title of this blog is indicative of the emotional power chess has, though nothing the least bit racy will ever be posted (not even 'Chessbase' girls). In any case, this blog will contain my observations, trials, and tribulations as I try to reach expert before I get bored and quit. I intend to review books (I buy a lot of chess books), discuss my games (hopefully get comments from well meaning readers), and discuss the frustrations and joys of being a class player in the USCF.

Perhaps you noticed I said expert. Unlike many chess players, I don't really expect to be a master. I think I can reach expert within 5 years, which is about how long I expect to be really interested in chess (I tend to get bored with things after 5-6 years, I've found). Chess may prove an exception however... I can't ever get enough, especially ICC.

I don't have a system for improving. I study often, mostly analyzing early middlegame positions from openings I play. I used to do a lot of tactics, but once I got to about 1600 I found that they didn't really seem to help so much as they used to. I think studying openings is not as overrated as everyone says, and since everyone good spends a lot of time on it they should stop telling everyone below them to give it up. How else am I supposed to learn about positions? Positions come from specific openings, and usually the positional (and even tactical) motifs that recur repeatedly in games in those openings are defined very early by the initial moves each player makes. For example, you could say that the King's Indian defense is a terribly complicated and theoretical opening that class players shouldn't spend a lot of time learning the theory of. However, if I want to play the KID, I better learn that black usually strives for an f5 break, while white will often play for c5 and invasion on the open c-file. I should know that if white plays an early f3 and goes into the Samisch, then he may castle queenside and attack on the kingside and that my best response may well be a gambit. I should know that in some positions Na6 planning to come to c5 after a d5 push is a good way of playing. I should know that against some setups going into a Benoni type position with c5 may be best. These are all opening concepts which will define the strategies of both sides for the middlegame, and studying openings seems to the best way to learn about them. Whew. There's my rant for the day.

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