"...a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk."

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Here's some background on my chess experience.

 My Dad taught me chess when I was around 6-8.  He taught us the rules and some basic ideas like controlling the center of board.  My parents got me a book called "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess".  I liked it quite a bit at that time although I know a lot of people look down on it.  As I got a bit older he got me one of the little chess playing computer units they used to have.  Some people may remember them.  (This was the '80's :)  Basically, it was a chessboard with some computer controls on the side.  The computer indicated it's move by lighting up a light on the two sides corresponding to the rank and file the piece was on, then you pressed the piece on that square and the computer would light up the lights indicating where the piece was to be moved to.  You did much the same when it was your turn.  I think mine had 10 levels and I never beat it on the easiest level so you can tell I was no boy genius!

At that time I also had a few Reinfeld books, like "How To Think Ahead in Chess", "Why You Lose at Chess", and a collection of games.  I knew a tiny bit about chess history, like that there was a movement that was called the Hypermodern School, and that Nimzowitch was one of them.  I even had an idea that they played moves like Na3 or Nh3.  Needless to say I wasn't serious at all and only played every once in a while.  I also remember clipping an article from the paper about one of the Kasparov-Karpov matches.

I gave it a break till my teenage years when I had a friend that I played with sometimes. At that time I would also play with people in a coffee shop I hung out at that had a lot of chess players. During these times I didn't really study the game. I just played and tried to follow a couple of ideas in the opening such as trying to not lose any pieces, try to control the center, and really that's about it.  I knew the main idea of the Stonewall setup as white, and like the first 5 moves of the Ruy Lopez and that was it.  I had some good games but only one good one against good opposition. I got more into go though and have spent more time in my life playing and studying go.

In 2008 I got back into the game.  I was frustrated with go and thought maybe chess could offer an alternative.  I signed up at FICS and played some games. I also joined chessgames.com.  I made the somewhat ridiculous purchase of the Fritz 11 program and played on playchess.com through the subscription that came with it. I got some books like Silman's endgame course. I followed the Anand-Kramnik world championship, got into correspondence chess on schemingmind.com, and got some more books particularly Nimzovitach's "My System" and started to study it fairly seriously. After a while though I kind of dropped away from it again, and then I got back into go pretty seriously for awhile.

A further factor drawing me back to chess is that my kids are into chess but don't like go. I taught them how to play a couple of years ago and they enjoyed it pretty well, and they started going to a club run by someone in our building for kids, and then later a club at school. One of the boys in particular is pretty keen on it and asks me to play sometimes so I started thinking about it more.

Last year I got back into it playing by playing on the ipad against the Hiarcs app and doing tactical puzzles first through the chess.com app and then at chesstempo.com.  I pursued it again for awhile but the move to Taipei brought go to the forefront again.

Anyway, now I'm back to chess, and this time feels more serious.  I've been playing a fair bit on FICS the last few months as well as against the Hiarcs app.  I've been doing a lot of problems, both in various books and on chesstempo.  I've also been reading Chernev's "Logical Chess".

I don't have any official rating.  I have never played in a rated event.  That's something I would like to change, but on the other hand, living in Taipei I may not have many chances.  My ratings as of right now:

FICS-1338, I was down into 1100's for a bit in this last go around and worked my way up into 1300's but without much trouble.

chesstempo-1430.4, this is the standard tactics rating which is how I solve most of the time.  I've worked this up from 1300's where I was for awhile.

ipad Hiarcs-904, yah, this rating is quite low.  I've played it several different ways.  One way was that I set it to adapt to my level.  That is it automatically adjusts it's level of play to what it assesses me as.  Then for awhile I set it at the constant level of 1400, and right now it is set at the constant level of 1200.  Basically, I beat it regularly but probably not the majority of the time yet at this level.  I think part of the problem with this rating is that it is where I was playing when I came back to chess this time, so I played a lot of bad games against it when it's rating was set quite low also, so I got a rating from it that is weighted with a lot of really crappy losses.  One thing I might do is reset the rating it gives me so I can get a fresh one and see where it puts me now.

chessmaster grandmaster edition-1153, I just got this a couple of weeks ago and haven't played that many games against it.  Mostly I've played against the Josh-age 6 character rated 1200.  I have been winning about 1/3 there.  My rating here is probably not very settled but still seems pretty close to right even if it's lower than my FICS rating.

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