For The Love Of Chess

For The Love Of Chess

Oct 13, 2008, 1:56 PM |

     Lately, I've been reading a great deal on the subject of cheating and chess, specifically the use of computer software for determining one's next move. Maybe it's because I'm comfortable with my place in the greater scheme of life, maybe it's my love of the game, or maybe a combination of both, but cheating never crossed my mind! This last thought got me to thinking about the game and what keeps an slightly below average player like myself coming back to 64 squares. I decided to do some writing and get to the bottom of my interest in the game.

     In my younger days, prior to the advent of sophisticated home computer systems, I played Avalon Hill's Advanced Squad Leader. It's a great game but can be costly to play. You need to sink about $400.00 in manuals and add ons to play scenarios from the entire second world war. That's pricey for a game made strictly of cardboard and paper. One of the fantastic things about chess is that you only need a simple, cheap set to start playing. You can find books at the library to teach you the game or, in this day and age, find endless instructional material on the internet. It's also an interesting note that chess has been able to move forward with modern technology and never change a rule or basic tactical concept.

     One of the things that interests me about chess is the simple truth that every game played is filled with valuable lessons. So win, loose, or draw, there's a lesson to be taken and used for improvement later on.

     I use Chess Mentor and Chessmaster a great deal because it's been hard for me to play face to face this last year. I really enjoy training programs and Chess Mentor has been wonderful in that respect. It definitely helps with game improvement. Of course, I do my reading as well. Chess is a game that has so many published books that you can pick and choose with ease, finding a book that is written for your level of playing. You don't see this with many other games. There are plenty of good software programs as well, which brings me to another point: You don't have to cheat when playing online because you don't feel you're a good enough player! You can read some books, take the books  advice and then practice your playing again a computer until you feel comfortable with you playing. Then you can go online and play others. Sadly, some people don't think this way.

     Maybe it has something to do with video games. Before you start jumping down my throat let me say that I've been playing video since before many of you were born. The problem (my wife, who also games, pointed this out) with video games is that game cheats are openly used. This can lead to the idea that using a cheat, say a computer program, is alright in any game. Yes, I know it's wrong, as do most of you, but there are some people who have a warped sense of playing by the rules, since the line between right and wrong is often blurred.

     The point is that chess offers so many learning tools that you don't have to cheat. I love the learning process which is why I have the educational background that I have. I'm a guitar player. That's what I do and my science background is there only because I love science. I work on scientific projects, such as developing biological fuel cell, but at the end of the day I am a professional guitarist, plain and simple. The fact that chess is not only a great game but can be approached in so many ways, makes it appealing to me. I love learning the nuances of the game through my studies and I have too much time invested in my studies to ever consider cheating. It would detract from the entire road I've taken to learn the game. If I cheated once, I would give up all I've worked towards.

     I can't imagine sitting down to play an online game and using a computer to decide my next move. That would make all my efforts trying to learn the game meaningless. It would also be insulting to your opponent. Let's say you beat your opponent who has worked very hard to earn their rating. You opponent suddenly thinks there is something wrong with their approach and starts tearing their game apart. You could nd up causing them to really screw up their personal strategies if they were (unknown to them) beaten by a computer too many times.

     I had to spend a lot of time learning how to play guitar. I had to spend a lot of time learning the science required to do some of the projects I work on. If this knowledge was handed to me without having worked hard to get, I wouldn't appreciate either as much as I do and I would never have gotten as far as I've gotten without hard work. The same holds true for chess. I'd like to have a master's rating, but I don't want it handed to me. While I'll probably never become a master, I can still enjoy the game. I can still love the game and there's no better way to demonstrate my passion for the game than putting in the time to learn it.

     I here a lot of chatter about vacation times, how much time one should spend making taking their turn and so on. Honestly, it's just a bunch of background noise. Simply agreeon the terms of the game and play. Play the game! It's really that simple. I guess if you have enough free time to rant endlessly about the above mentioned vacation and turn time rules you might consider spending that time actually playing the game instead of go on and on about dribble. I'd rather spend me free time playing the game and  writing about it's good points. I love this game win, loose,  or draw. It;s all about the lessons learned!