Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Progress report

Progress Report: I'm about half way through Simple Chess, with 3 more chapters the go. It's a well-written and concise book. I could have finished it by now, but I'm going at a leisurely pace, picking up the book every few days and reading 10 or so pages at a sitting. I'm also doing daily tactical exercises from The Chess Tactics Workbook by Al Woolum. I've completed 40 of 130 pages. Though the first 1/4 of the book was pretty easy, it's become more challenging quickly. I find myself searching for a solution for 10 minutes sometimes. Of course, once found, the solution becomes obvious and I wonder why it took so long. Also, some of the positions are tricky. Either the obvious way doesn't work because of some overlooked tactical save, or you find a win of material but the solution is a mate. For a 3rd edition of a book, the editor could have done a better job. I've found typos in the solutions, as well as alternative solutions. However, overall I like this book for my purpose of daily tactical training.

I've started playing standard chess on US Chess Live, soon to be simply Chess Live. After 35 games, my rating is in the high 1900s. IMO, the standard ratings there are around 300 points higher than USCF over-the-board ratings. My win-loss record is very good, but probably attributable to playing players in the 1600-1800 range. I think playing other 1900s would be a challenge for me. Despite the good record, I'm not very happy with my play. Even in standard, I find myself falling for one-move tactics. Last night, a pawn forked my knight and bishop. The night before that, a knight forked my king and rook. In both cases, I moved a piece into position to be forked, so perhaps a quick 5-10 second check for simple one-move tactics is in order. This might also indicate a blind spot in my visualization, so hopefully my tactical training will help remedy it.

Concerning standard, I find that at 15 0 time controls, I still run short of time. I think I'll start playing the rapid time controls (25 10 and 30 0) or longer. I've joined the STC Bunch and am looking forward to playing in their STC Gauntlet 2003, a 45 5 elimination tournament. I'm also planning to play in the 2003 Hawaii State Championship, to be held over Labor Day weekend. With events to look forward to, it helps me to focus on my chess study.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Goodbye ICC

Goodbye ICC: Today, I gave the remaining time on my ICC membership to a friend. One less distraction to have to deal with. As a farewell to my old handle 'yolk', I played a final 15 0 standard game this morning. Even though I won, I missed a very nice mating sequence. I guess I have to work on my visualization. I'll still log onto ICC as a guest to check in with my friends, but the bulk of my serious chessplaying will take place on US Chess Live. I'll probably get another ICC handle in the future. after I get some booklearning behind me. I'm toying with the idea of organizing a Hawaii team to play in the STC 45 45 League. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Relapse to blitz

Relapse, Revelation and Salvation: I miss chess. So much so that I've again started playing blitz and bullet on ICC in my spare time. Like a habitual drinker or smoker, I know it's bad for me, but I do it anyway. And any feeling of fulfillment or satisfaction is an empty one. My blitz and bullet ratings are so volatile that any euphoria associated with a new peak rating is accompanied by the certainty that it will be short-lived. Fear sets in, for the next game might be the beginning of a string of losses. What's supposed to be fun has become a chore.

I've developed a particular distaste for bullet. Even if one side were to achieve a superior position, it all boils down to who can move the mouse faster or who has the presence of mind to make unexpected, material-sacrificing checks in the last few seconds. Is this the kind of chess that Botvinnik would be proud of? I think not.

I'm lucky to have some good chess friends. (You know who you are.) They help me keep my eye on the ball, and don't let me stray too far away from chess. I'm going to try to ease myself back into study mode. Tonight at Border's, I picked up a little book called Simple Chess. It's a Dover reprint of an older work which received favorable reviews. Thumbing through its contents, I think it's manageable for me. Hopefully, this will be my salvation from the evils of blitz and bullet.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


All things are on hold while I spend time with my dad and help him recover. He spent 5 days in the hospital after taking a nasty fall, hitting his head full force on a cement sidewalk. He was admitted when the CT scan showed bleeding both inside and on the surface of the brain. A subsequent scan showed improvement, so he was discharged. However, he is markedly weaker and gets dizzy and nauseated easily.

Suddenly, becoming a chess master isn't important any more. So for now, the quest is paused until I can start again with a clear conscience that I did what was most important first.

Lesson of the Day: Chess is a game, not life.