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Work and Play

For many people, chess is work. It's what they do. There's pressure to perform your very best - always. Otherwise you'd be letting yourself down. And there's no tougher judge than yourself. At least I know I'm really hard on myself for losses.

But it's important to enjoy your work, and that will be the topic of this blog. How I make chess fun - always.

This Easter, I went to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Open. I was looking forward to playing - which is always a great start. I haven't played as much as I'm used to, since school is demanding more time than previously. So getting a vacation to play chess and take a timeout from school was already a great start for enjoyment.

I came a couple of days early to adjust to the timezone and sightsee all my favorite 'National Treasure' spots (Liberty Bell mostly =D). But the most important reason for feeling like this was play - and not work - was having a good friend of mine as a roommate.

Sharing a room is economically smart, but I really believe it's also good for your performance. Having someone to dine with. Having someone telling you 'we should go to bed'. Having someone to laugh with between the rounds. Having someone to share ideas with for upcoming games.

Before the tournament started, I had my first ever visit to International House of Pancakes. It was a dinner meal, so I didn't actually have pancakes. So I made a pact with Shankland, my roommate, that we would have pancakes there on the morning after the tournament if one of us won.

I went through the tournament playing brilliantly, with those pancakes stuck in my mind :) Alas, neither Sam nor I won, after a surprising turn-around in the last round, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from a great breakfast. We went anyway! (See picture)

When I play online, I also try to mix it up for my own enjoyment. It's easy to just get addicted to online blitz chess, and forget to have fun while you're doing it.

I try to take a five minute break when I lose. I don't want to ruin my mood by losing lots of games in a row, so I timeout and try to think 'Do I really want to play more?' 'How am I going to crush this guy?'. It works for me.

Also, I'm more inclined to try out exciting (and often dobious) sacrifices when playing online. For one, it's not so serious if you lose, and also it gives such a great satisfaction if it works! Today I'll show one such game.

At one point I was a rook down, but I was not afraid! My pawns were powerful, and in the end I actually did have a winning line. Unfortunately I'd spent too much time, and I managed to get voluntarily checkmated in the corner.

I really encourage you to play the game through. To this day I'm very proud of this game - even though I lost! Fantastic and fun games are certainly possible in 3 0, but this has got to be one of my greatest ever :D

You can comment on the game itself at its chess.com individual game page


  • 15 months ago


    Nice game.

  • 20 months ago


    what kind of  books necessary a ameture player

  • 23 months ago


    big lose makes good champ

  • 2 years ago


    interesting game

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    if you ever go to chicago, make sure to go the weiner circle on clark street around 2 am.

  • 2 years ago


    I loved your article. Its true we should see chess more as a fun game to play than just a work, that way we have a better mentality and make better moves! Nice game, sacrificing all your pieces and promoting the pawn..too bad u made that mistake at the end..u wouldve won for sure.

  • 2 years ago

    IM DanielRensch

    @trlns and SultanofKings -- I generally tell my roommates: "You will go to sleep, or I will put you to sleep..." and it works pretty well Tongue out

  • 2 years ago

    GM SultanOfKings

    @trlns It should be 'go to sleep' I suppose :P 

  • 2 years ago


    @trlns: lol

  • 2 years ago


    "Sharing a room is economically smart, but I really believe it's also good for your performance. Having someone to dine with. Having someone telling you 'we should go to bed'."

    Is it wrong that I laughed and had 'boom chicka bow wow' in my head when I read that last bit. However, I assume the room sharing was platonic.

  • 2 years ago


    Yes! -Very bright and right idea -18 .Nc5!!.After 33...Nc7??-You had 34.Nc8!! (You played 34.Bf1)-blitz is blitz.33.Na7 ?!-not the best.Alekhine (or Kasparov) in such attacking positions are playing in BOTH SIDES (all board)-33.Qe1!and Qh4-weak point h5-  King's side! (at the Q-side You have very dangerous pawn "c")-simple rule of 2 weaknesses...and -of course -You have two nice Bishops-and future is Yours!Laughing.But ,just one little moment-why You play 1.d4? -better is 1.e4! (Fischer).Your positional understanding and intuition is very good,but after 1.e4! You will develope Your attacking skills and such SHARP moves .like 33.Qe1 or 34.Nc8-will be very easy for You-it is STYLE!

  • 2 years ago

    GM SultanOfKings

    @jjeffrey They were good - I think I made a really good pick with "Harvest grain 'N nuts"

    @davidmelbourne It's good for comparing your own evaluations to the computer's - and find out why it differs. But only advanced players would find that helpful I guess. 

  • 2 years ago


    Kinght @ move #48 was interesting, too bad u had autoqueen:), gr8 game anyways!!

  • 2 years ago


    Thanks for the post, the great game!, and the clarification about what you meant about 'cheating'.

    Though surely consulting the silicon as part of a game review is good practice, yeah?

  • 2 years ago


    How were the pancakes??  I love IHOP...

  • 2 years ago


    Tough loss with two queens on the board. 

  • 2 years ago


    @SultanOfKings l thought so too.

  • 2 years ago

    GM SultanOfKings

    @NextTime Possibly not my best phrased sentence, but what I meant is that I checked it with a computer afterwards.

    Many good coaches advocate that you should go through your games without using a computer, hence I "cheated".

  • 2 years ago


    46 "here l cheated, an checked with my computer."??

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