My Chess Life
I just wanted to share how my chess play evolved.
Well, I started to play chess when I was at primary school (I think first or second grade). Two friends of mine were already going to the "chess circle" (that's how it was called in the former Sovjet Union). Since chess was considered a quiet and mind developing game by my parents, they gave me go-ahead to visit the club.
What can I say, of course, I lost the first game to some geek. I think I even shed a couple of tears. Nevertheless, I liked the game.
The chess club moved closer to our home and I visited that regularly. We were playing, solving tactics puzzles, chess etudes etc.
I do not remember what happened then but I stopped going to the club after like a year of study. Also I recall that my friends stopped going there too, so may be that was the reason - no company. I was young and probably didn't really understand the whole beauty of chess.
Then, in the secondary school we got a call from our school sports section asking who could play chess. They were making a team that was supposed to represent our school in an inter-school tournament. Wow, that was really exciting! Three of my school friends and I were fighting in the tournament.
Obviously, without any preparation we didn't do well. But this competition was an impulse that made an impact on my life. I started to study chess again, this time by myself. Also, a match was played against my friend Alexei, who was one of those that brought me to the chess club for the first time. I won the match, and my mum gave us both some prize money for the winner and the second place. However, after that my friends didn't really want to play with me, as I started to beat them too often.
Then great many games were played against my home computer (ZX-Spectrum) that helped me develop my skills. That was about time to go to the chess club and have real games with experienced human players.
I watched the local TV programme "Chess" and wrote them a letter. They answered me on TV (!) inviting to play at the chess club. It was soooo exciting.
At that time I was a fan of Robert Fischer, copying his manner of play, his favourite openings. Needless to say that I played only 1.e4 as a first move. There was no internet, and it was quite a struggle to get a chess book that you needed. Computer programme helped a lot with the openings.
Ok, so here I was standing in the chess club for the first time... Anatoly Zyrendorzhievich Radnaev (I think he was a FIDE master) welcomed me and we played several games. He was surprised about my opening knowledge and got me into his training group.
At first, everything was fine. We studied, played with each other and in the tournaments.
I started to realise one huge drawback of playing with my home computer. Once you play against a machine you get conditioned, that your opponent doesn't make blunders or overlooks. With real human players the situation is different. So once they played incorrectly I was often missing their mistakes and failing to find the best reply. Eventually I lost those games. My tactics skills were really weak. Many times I has a huge advantage in the opening but lost the plot in middle game.
Then I made a very interesting observation for myself. I started to play 1.d4 against the computer in my training games and the efficiency went up to 84% with White! I understood, that I tend to like more positional play than sharp tactical. The most important conclusion was, that copying other players style (even Fischer's) is not always a good thing. One need to develop his own style that brings him joy of play and victory. At that time I started to study the games of Rubinstein, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Keres, Bronstein. Now I tend to like their play more than Fischer's.
My endgame skills were more than advanced. Surprisingly, very few people like and can properly play endgame. May be they find it boring? For me though to have slight advantage in the endgame - is the most delicious piece. Many games were won by me having minor advantage that was squeezed into a point.
My first tournaments with real players were not successful. I got the 2nd grade, but my way to the 1st grade was way too long. (1st grade precedes the candidate in Russian ranking and is considered a very good achievement).
Also, our coach Radnaev started to drink heavily. Sometimes we were waiting for him to come but he didn't even show up for his lectures. That was enough, and I abandoned him for another coach Tatiana Agafonova. With her training I finally achieved the 1st grade. I am very grateful to her for that.
Sadly, that was the time that my family and I left Russia. The tournament chess play was abandoned for more than 10 years. I played occasional games in the interim but very few, may be 2 or three. Until 2016 my main hobby was to play blitz (5 min) in the social network. However, I cannot say that this play made me stronger.
Now once I settled down in NZ I play in the New Zealand League. Here is a lot of nice players, and I made a lot of friends. So, my chess development continues and hopefully will bear some results in the nearest future.