Project Shellfish: My Personal Attempt to Learn Chess

Mar 12, 2017, 12:02 AM |

Project Shellfish is my personal attempt to study chess incrementally, by picking up chess information little by little. The name is generic, except for "shellfish" symbolizing the incremental aspect.

First, for my own reference and for anyone curious, I'd like to record my background at the time of this post. I'm a junior in college and a 2150+ USCF expert closing in on the master title after returning to chess 3 years ago. I consider myself largely self-taught, although I had a coach for some time during elementary school who was instrumental in keeping me interested in the game. I'm decently active in my local chess community and write for a new-ish chess website and personally.

As a result, I've gotten to where I am by being tactically astute and applying "chess fundamentals" well, but I lack more advanced or specialized knowledge characteristic of many 2000-2200 players I know. In particular, I definitely have weaknesses in my opening repertoire and endgame knowledge that have started to show as my competition has increased. Although I'm very close to master, I know how tricky it can be to make the final hurdle and if I want to improve beyond that (which I do) and consistently play high quality chess against stronger opponents, I will need to shore those up. My goal since breaking 2000 has been to break 2200, although if I manage to do that fairly soon, 2300 will likely be my next target.

Also, much of my "learning" consisted of poring over a few (not many) good books as a kid and developing practical skills from playing a lot. So I don't have experience studying chess in a structured manner. I have quite a few resources (a few books and many issues of Chess Life) but haven't found a good way to learn from them. My memory in particular is rather selective; I remember a lot of random things people wouldn't dream of, but can't remember a lot from the books I have.

My intention is to learn and do some minor exploration about a few small chess topics somewhat regularly; for example, 2-4 topics a few times a week. One likely way to generate a topic is to look at a game in a recent Chess Life issue, and study the opening a little by looking up some other games or in some database. As with many things that are meant to avoid a huge time sink (since I'm also busy outside chess!), I don't expect this to produce immediate results, but do hope that I can accumulate some decent knowledge over time.

Lastly, I'm posting my studies from this account as to not link it conspicuously with my public chess identity (although I don't particularly mind if people care). And while this is for personal use, I definitely don't mind if anyone takes a look and perhaps benefits a little from it.

Later! -AL