Low Level and Reality

Sep 3, 2014, 7:43 PM |

Sometime last week I decided that I wanted to learn the English Opening and that was going to be my Opening of choice. Like most of us low level players, when I made that commitment to myself, I had visions of grandure!

The English was going to be my new found weapon and magically I was going to raise from the ranks of "Patzer" to challenging Magnus Carlesen for the World Title with my mastery of my new found arrsonal. And to aid me with my studies and complete profecentcy in the English, a friend of mine (Tony, Fida rating 2047) graciously gave me his copy (all three volumes) of "Grand Master's Reprotoire - The English".

With an excitment that I haven't felt since being a young boy waking up and racing down stairs on Christmas Mornings to see what surpirses Santa Clause had in store for me, I raced through the manuscript thristing for knowledge. Where is the magic "Silver Bullet"?

I quickly committed the "main line" to memory and went in search of a victom on Chess.com's Live Game, found one, and even got the White peices. My plan was working perfectly, I was prepared to general the white peices to victory, UNTIL:


Now, I must confess - I looked everywhere after the game for that position, and it should not be to anyone's surprise that in a database that contains over 1.6 million games this position is NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! Is the GM's book flawed?

I returned the book the following day to Tony, with the snide comment, "The theory in this book must be out of date, it didn't even cover the most simple of black's responses."

I showed the position that the GM who wrote the manuscript "forgot to include" in his highly acclaimed book.

With a smug smerk Tony quititly asked,"Are you done trying to conqure the world with a sling shot?"

We talked for awhile more. Then he sent me to the store to get a Red Horse - which he conventally forgot to give me money for. When I returned, laying on the kitchen table was a new tomb of excellance: "Starting Out: The English."

"Learn the principles, master the ideas, You won't conqure the world, but you will have the fondation to build a fortress."

Tony then opened his Red Horse, and knew he was done talking chess for the day. I picked up my new "Beginer's Manual" and crawled home with a new found humility.

What Low Level Players Must Understand:

Hidden deep within ourselves, whether we admit it or not, is a secert desire. The desire to be great. The desire to play like Bobby Fisher. We get caught up in theory that is way over our heads, and more importantly; over the heads of the competition that we face every day.

We spend countless hours memorizing opening moves and the fasinating tactical tango's that can occure. But we never really get to use this information, why? Because our opponents don't have any better understanding than we do of what is going on. Our opponents, just like the example above - deveate from "book" so early that the positions we study never arrise.

So how do we progress? In my mind, we progress by understanding the basics - we build that fortress that Tony was speaking of; not by memorizing a series of moves, but by understanding the formations and the plans which arrise when we play. 

We most understand what makes a good move, and what constitues a bad move. We must then make every move in a game based on our understanding -no matter how deep or shallow. Only after we can use the most basic weapon - the sling shot - profecently, can we engage in warfare with a more lethal impact.

I beleive it starts with humility, I beleive that it starts with admitting what we do not know, and haveing the desire to enlighten ourselves. 

The intention of this blog moving forward is to serve as a constant reminder of how little I know about the game. And to share my expereinces, successes, and frustrations the feelings that all of us rated under 1500 have in common. 

I intend to cronicle my efforts to combat my lack of knowledge, and share my discoveries. If you are under 1500, I invite you to join me in the exploration of chess basics, and I hope you share your expereinces in the comments section so that we can learn together.

If you are over 1500 - then you are where I want to be by the summer of 2015. Your insights would be greatly appreciated.