My Road to Master, Part 1 - A short introduction
So here I am. After all this time spent freely roaming the depths and cracks of Chess.com, I've finally decided to put the figurative pen to paper. I've spent some time during my studies thinking about documenting my own progression and explorations in my own marvelous world of chess, showcasing excerpts of my own experiences with the royal rumble we all love to play. It is in this blog I intend to post from time to time, without giving myself limitations and obligations to uphold in regards to frequency of posting material, my thoughts, games, analyses or other projects regarding my own growth. Hopefully my long-winded road down this troublesome yet addictive path will inspire others to do as I do or at the very least this blog will share a sense of 'brotherhood', of shared hardships or struggles in each other's attempt to improve in the game of chess.
To start you off... I started playing chess around the age of 8, being introduced the game at elementary school as a part of the school's project. Studies of this very time have proven that chess actually helps children in cognitive development at a young age, if I recall correctly, but this was not the reason my school offered chess lessons. These lessons were voluntarily offered by one of the parents of my once-close friends, who actually played chess at a high club level. It was around this time that I first came into contact with the beautiful game. Not that I was any good at it. I played with my classmates in a tournament and learned a lesson or two about the basics of chess - developing pieces, establishing a center, a few 'do and don't' rules, castling, etc. etc. I was given freedom to do as I pleased with chess. I now regret that the kid in me did not decide to pursue further into the world of chess, but I try not to dwindle on these thoughts; I was but a kid.
Roughly a year back a friendly game in a local watering hole in downtown 'Haarlem' rekindled my long-lost passion for chess. Of course, I got beaten with a brutal but clearly simple checkmate, but the loss only furthered my willingness to play once more. Each game I got beaten, each game I demanded a rematch. I couldn't help but play more, no matter how badly I lost. The thrill of the game captured me, shackled me to the urge to win. And thus I played.
Soon I bought my first chess book, watched my first chess stream, read my first few articles. I listened to players' advice: I tried to learn the basics of tactics, I delved into opening theory, I took a gander at endgame theory. I created my account on Chess.com and started playing 10|0 games, taking my time to properly reïntrocude myself to chess and familiarize myself with what I tried to study and learn. I started looking at the games of the grandmasters that started to inspire me to continue my journey, particularly Alexander Alekhine (my personal favorite champion of all time), Lasker, Tal, Korchnoi and a few others.
Now I am here. I took a small hiatus from chess for a few weeks. I still visit Chess.com daily, studying a lesson per day and the available tactics training. I developed my own preference of openings and try to expand my known knowledge. I rose from a poor 700 rating to 1150 in roughly half a year. I've developed my own small repetoire for both White as Black. I comfortably enjoy playing 1. e4 with White, opting for either an Italian Game or (preferably) a Closed Ruy Lopez. As Black, I still struggle. I am not a 1. d4 player (even though many players adviced me to switch to d4), and I still find it difficult to play against d4. I've tried the Slav and the Caro-Kan, yet I've grown fond of the Dutch Defense with 1. ... f5 (notably the Classical as the Stonewall). If Black plays 1. e4, I agree to enter the waters of both the Italian as the Ruy Lopez (even though my results do not favor me it seems when playing the opposite side of the board).
What keeps me going in my struggle for progression? Personally, I think it is a mixture of multiple components. There were nights where I could play game after game without losing focus. There where nights were I refused to play rated and chose for unrated games on Lichess. There were nights where I entertained myself by pursuing unorthodox chess ideas, like playing 1. ... Nc6 against 1. d4 (Lundin/ Kevitz-Mikenas Defense) or by playing 1. e4 c5 2. b3 against a Sicilian (Snyder Variation). There were nights were I analysed other games for fun, like that between GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Eric Hansen (check out Part 1 on Youtube at the 50:50 minute mark for yourself and look at the move 28. b4?! for yourself). Perhaps I shall share my own thoughts on that analyses after posting this introduction? Who knows....
Anyway, the point I tried to prove was that I actually stand by a comment most grandmasters offer when asked how they improved in chess. I love the game, and even though I can be a sore little scrub from time to time when I lose or play poorly, I always enjoy my free time spent on chess. In the future I hope to do more analysis on my own games or those of other great players. Lastly, I hope that in time I will be able to look back at my own blogs together with others and see how far I've come. My goal to become a FIDE Master someday stands, and I'll keep at it as long as I can.
Till the next time!