Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I am it, I suppose...

Pawn Shaman has tagged me...

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I have been playing for about 35 years.   As a kid I knew nothing, and pretty much nothing stuck.  Somewhere in about 10th grade I learned scholars mate, and was starting to get good enough to beat my dad.   I accidently became captain of the chess team at my high-school, and after years of being the nation's best chess team, we miraculously came in second.  I was third board and was a solid d-class player.   D&D came into my existence, and chess left my life.  My first attempt at college was aborted by a young nerds ability to play in real-life, so I joined the Navy.   I came back from the Navy, played on ICC for a little bit, tried some real life chess, and become a c-player, won 50 bucks, and didn't play competitive chess again.  About 10 years later, my son wanted to play chess.  And against my better judgement I have worked to tutor him to become a better player.   After looking around for best methodologies, and coming up with a training program, I had agreed that de La Maza's was by far the best approach, and that blogging about it was part of that.   It has helped a lot in creating clarity and motivation.   It still boggles me what is missing in the world.  But we muddle along.   Ultimately, lulls, for me, have been good.   I have been gone long enough that I am more open to fresh training, and that I have been ready for it each time.  And indeed I have found that each time I approach the game, I have improved 1 Quanta (~200 ELO).  This is true even with the stroke.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

Personal Chess Trainer.   But there are many, many other things I do as well.  (Primary, I suppose is a good qualifier, but I don't think PCT represents >51% of my training).

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Currently, and this is because of playing against my son and scholastic players.  I like to play the Italian Opening as white against black e4.  This leads either to two-knights and then Ng5, or Evans gambit with b4.   Against the Sicilian I play Smith Morra gambit.   These are the main white systems.   As Black, I play d6 g6 Nf6 Bg7 0-0.  Pretty much against anything.   This is pretty bad, but it works well as black.

Most games at my level tend not to be decided by traps, but mistakes.  Most of the time, my plans are simply to increase pressure, and to wait for my opponent to err, and then take advantage.   My worse flaw is inattentiveness in won positions.

5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?

Magnus Carlsen.   I am continuously amazed at the developing ability to win against whomever he decides.  I was disappointed in Mexico, and it may not be his time yet, but it will be.   I also like Hikaru Nakamura because he is pretty much willing to throw anything on the table and go with it.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

This is the topic that will get me into the most trouble.  It is a question that I asked of others because I wanted it to be able to find a book that would help me at my level of the game.  At pretty healthy level.   And I have yet to find it.  I have a lot of chess books.  But the ones that have helped me the most, had been Sierawan's books.  Not just because he went to my school, but because they actually have stuck with me the most in providing insight.  But the best book I have seen will be in the next question...

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

Without a doubt, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess.  For both the player and parent if applicable.   It is by far the best example of modern educational principles in book form, and help to get from knowing the rules to actually playing chess. 

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

Rarely.  They just do not have many tournaments here locally.  As a non-scholastic player, it is hard to find games that are appropriate for my level.  I have played some interesting skittles locally and online, but find I play more against the kids.   There have been some attempts to include adults in kid's tournaments locally, but the kids don't like.  This is different than kid's in adult tournaments.    I wish there was a more active scene locally, but I am going to go play in the park tonight.  I don't know if I have a "favorite" experience.  

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).

This is a bit of a cheat, as I am only going to give 1 link and refer to several posts.  I have written several posts regarding "Position Tactics" or Opening Tactics that are based on the possibilities that come about based on opening pawn moves and where the pieces are.  This series covers an area that is not at all well covered by either beginning books or more advanced books, but are things that critical to understand to move on.   I think they are my best because they help to contribute to the arena, and highlight the kinds of things that I think are missing.

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

My second favorite topic, mainly because I have raging ambivalence towards it.  I think the right answer is that it depends on the person.   For some the greatest amount of demonstrable strength will come from openings training.  This comes from real positional training, the conceit of learning something your opponents don't, the motivation of showing off your knowledge, the excitement of taxonomy, and the ease of getting the training.  For most, I don't think this will give you the greatest amount of strength.  I believe that templating and brain programming are the greatest level.  But that will give you the least amount of "understanding" and ultimately, I think that is what many want and strive for.   Unfortunately, there is very very little written to help you understand.  Hikaru doesn't take a second of any strength at all, because he doesn't want to teach them to play chess.   I am convinced that there is indeed, a higher level of understanding that comes at the super-gm level, that is not at all well communicated, or is guarded information.   I think some of it has been written about in the Kasparov's great predecessors series.  But that we have yet to get there, because the final book has yet to be written.   It may be something I will never get to enjoy or share.  And I really do not fully understand why emotionally, even if I do in cold reflection.

Unfortunately I have not been paying attention to the tagging, as I thought it had long passed me by, even more telling than the nags from BDK and untold others I suppose.   If there are any that need to be tagged, or you would like to, please comment.   Hopefully, I will be able to edit this last paragraph quickly to point to a more worthy blogger than I.


Blue Devil Knight said...

Huzzahhh! Wow interesting that your rating jumps like it does after layovers.

I've decided to stop nagging :) (Though what about Dennis at chessmind or Sig at daily dirt?)

Glenn Wilson said...

As Black, I play d6 g6 Nf6 Bg7 0-0. Pretty much against anything. This is pretty bad, but it works well as black.

That is pretty much the basis for my black openings. Pretty much. And recommended by David Bronstein.

See The King's House


The Moron Defense

Pawn Shaman said...

Thanks for following up on it. Your a bit more prompt than I am.

chessloser said...

i enjoyed that...good answers...