Nurturing a Chess Obsession

Apr 1, 2009, 7:10 PM |

[Originally posted on ]

Ever since I was a kid I've loved the idea of chess. It is more than a game. It is a game with an amazingly deep tradition, a game with sophistication and complexity, a game with totally bitchin carved wooden pieces. So what if the Bishop is kind of effeminate—it's got horses and castles. It's cool.

That sort of ardent devotion nurtured me through my youth and early adulthood where I'd play obsessively—at least a couple times every decade. Like I said, I love the idea of chess. I love a lot of ideas. Every once in a while, though, I decide that I'm going to take a stab at actually learning to play the game to the point where I'm not losing my ass to a gang of burly 4th grade masters. Last time the bug bit me, I started scanning through Usenet posts and burrowing through the haphazard mess that is the web in order to find out what would be my best point of entry into the chess world.I ended up with a collection of chess books of varying levels of quality and appropriateness. I read through a couple of them. Began a few others. Skimmed through and glanced through the rest. And I learned a bit. I gained a very slight insight into some of the fundamental strategic rules, and some basic tactics. About that time I got engaged and was busy flying back and forth between MN and FL every other month and chess fell by the wayside. A new wife, a new mortgage, two new step-teens, and a new baby later, I'm  ready to be a man again. I'm ready to confront Chess, wrestle it to the ground, and demand it give up its booty. But I'm still in search of a good point of entry. (There's something wrong there...)


I need a program, a regimen, a set course of study and practice. Out of my current collection of books I like Purdy and Snyder for annotated games—Nunn is over my head in complexity. I've figured out to leave the opening books alone for now. The Alpha Chess book was mildly helpful as an introduction. I definitely need to do tactical work, as I'm a blundering fool, and the Chernev book is good. But the bottom line is that my eyes have not opened. I don't see what's going on in front of me. I only have ideas of what should be happening that don't seem to correlate to my games. As I evaluate my next moves, and possible counters, I fail miserably to comprehend the things that my opponents might be thinking. And if I don't completely fall apart, I still don't have a clue how to get from my current situation to a more advantageous one—I see in little pockets both in time and space.

Right now I'm working through the second half of Snyder's (yeah, yeah, cursed be his name) Chess For Everyone and am going through the games in Unbeatable Chess Lessons. I'm going over the tactics in Chernev's Winning Chess a little every day, though not as much as I'd like. Even though I'm doing those things, I feel like I'm at a loss and there's got to be something more helpful, more productive that I'm missing. That feeling led me to Blue Devil Knight's chess improvement blog, Confessions of a chess novice—looks like he has some good ideas on how to get started in chess. Right now I'm in desperate need of organization—I'm glutted with info, but it's all disjointed and the course to take is ambiguous. I wish there was a chess club here in Fort Myers, FL. I can't afford a tutor, but it would be nice to have increased contact with other players who are trying to improve.

And maybe 1A.M. is the wrong time to figure this stuff out.