Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chess From a Different Perspective

So I've had to cut back on my chess study a great deal since I started working, as one would expect. I've only been studying three days a week, and then only for about an hour. I've been working 10 hour days, and after work I'm just too tired to think about chess. Since my wife travels all week the weekends are just for us. I've only played one game since my job started, and I was pretty tired when I went in to play it. I was also ready to enjoy it.

That may sound obvious, but think how often you sit down at the board more worried about losing or really, really driven to win rather than with the idea of enjoying chess in mind. I almost always did. Though I think chess is beautiful, what I mostly got from competing was the thrill of winning. Consequently, losing made me feel awful. I studied not just because I enjoy chess, but also because I hate losing so much. There was an element of compulsion in it when I was unemployed because I felt the need to show progress at something, even if it wasn't something very important to my life in the long term.

This is all preamble to saying that the game I played last Wednesday was probably the most enjoyable game I've played in a long time. I won, but the reason I enjoyed it so much was that I didn't care all that much whether I won or lost. I don't think I realized how much importance I was placing on my chess performance, but after starting work and thus having my priorities shifted it became apparent that I hadn't been treating chess as a hobby, but rather as a serious undertaking the outcome of which I let affect my happiness, opinion of myself, and even relationship with my wife (I get very angry and difficult after losing and am not pleasant to be around). Though I know I won't be making as much progress (if any) as I continue to play, and I won't be playing as often, chess truly seems like a hobby now and I like it that way. It frees me up to just enjoy the beauty and depth of the game. I still want to win, but if I don't I don't feel like a loser (except in blitz...it's hard to be philosophical when you lose 5 games in a row on ICC, just human nature I suppose). I'd be interested to know how my few (but surprisingly loyal) readers approach the game and see themselves in relation to it.

As for the game, it marked my return to playing 1.e4 after 1.5 years of all 1.d4s. I just got bored playing the same positions. I'll probably play 1.e4 for a while and then gradually just start switching. Luckily I learned enough theory when I was studying 2-3 hours each day that I can play pretty much any opening I want, which is really nice. The game was a pretty dry Scandinavian where my opponent was trying to equalize rather than seize the initiative. He got pretty close to equalizing but misplayed when I broke in the center. In the resulting complications I was able to win a pawn and gradually bring home the win. It's a pretty interesting ending. I actually made it a little more complicated than necessary, but I think the tactics are cute. Enjoy (after move 20 or so, anyway. It's rather boring prior to that).


There you go. I'm only playing once a week and don't have a lot of time to blog, so it may be a minute before I post again. Peace out.


CHESSX said...

A very honest post.

Glad to hear the job is going well,the situation here in England jobwise is very bleak.
At the moment its any job is a good job.

A very good game,perhaps now your chess has shifted to more enjoyment less results driven,you may find you improve a little.
No nerves during if you lose.

How do you put notes/analysis in with your pgn.
I have tried many times but i get errors,so i just post games no notes.

Caeruleum Canis said...

I actually use a viewer creator website called www.chessflash.com, it's set up so that you can either create a blog there or just use their engine to turn PGNs into Java viewers like I use. There is a limit on how many games you can upload to their server, but it's a pretty high limit. I think I've only used about a fifth of my capacity. It's really easy, good luck with that.

natec said...

I've had the same struggle for about 10 years now, where I feel like the only way I can get better at chess is to devote more time to it than I should.

My iPhone and the chess puzzle programs that are available for it have helped me some in the past year though. I can open Chessquest at any time and get some decent practice in on middle games and end games.

You can usually tell if my job is going well by looking at my chess play. If I'm bored at work or annoyed and don't want to think about it after hours I spend more time on chess. If work is going well my chess suffers.

Nezha said...

paraphrasing a famous quotation

'Chess is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved'


Im actually trying to enjoy just finding moves. I mean, I try to enjoy the searching for the good moves as opposed to just enjoying the eventual score.

The end of the game is a fleeting moment. Mere seconds..

The playing of the game itself takes hours..

It is apparent where our focus should be.