How the Internet has changed chess: Part 2
Thank you for coming back to read my continuing series. The biggest change I have noticed in the last 17 years is that there are now fewer chess clubs and weekend events and participation is much lower. Why is this? There are many reasons including fuel prices and the economy. However reality is simply the attrition of life. Chess players age, retire, and pass on. The new generation of chess players still is exposed to chess in many of the same ways the older ones were but technology has placed chess on the Internet and into their homes. Also, for the most part, Internet chess is free. I purchased my lifetime membership to the USCF forty years ago for $200. One could easily spend a similar amount just entering their very first rated tournament. If one is an absolute beginner at chess, this is a tough sell in light of free Internet chess play. I don't know the number of players who only compete on the Internet, but ideally a number of them will eventually enter and excel at real live over - the - board tournament chess. Chess.com has over 7 million registered members. To me this translates to an incredible market of interest in chess and many of us are working in tandem by publishing works on chess to attract interest and participation from this large pool of players.
The next big difference to me between Internet chess and real chess is two-dimensional versus three-dimensional. When you play on the Internet it's two dimensions. When you play live pieces are three dimensions. All serious players read chess books which of course are two-dimensional and we are used to looking at diagrams when solving positions. But there is no purer substitute for analyzing a game than with a full-size chess set and I mean the kind you would compete with in a real chess tournament. Since a lot of Internet chess games are played at rapid time controls one must learn to play on a two-dimensional board or lose the game quickly on time. The difference is if you play a standard time control game on the Internet you do have time to have a full-size chess set next your computer and use that when determining your moves. I have found a lot of players who play standard time control games online do not do this. Instead they analyze from the position on their monitor and play the entire game with this method. After having made 151 game analysis videos for Team 4545 league on another chess server, I have determined the top three reasons why players lose games. The first is they move too quickly and I think this is because they are accustomed playing blitz and bullet chess. The next two reasons go hand-in-hand; they neglect development and weaken their position in the opening. Many of these weakening moves are defensive in nature in order to prevent threats which have no merit. Instead these create new problems which could easily be solved by following my number one rule; develop your pieces. I laugh in jest a fourth reason exists. All players in this league have access to my videos but most do not watch them. Those that do watch them show high correlation of wins in regard to the openings and their strategies that I explain. Conversely I see plenty of players losing games to the concepts I have explained in countless videos.
As I note in my video lessons program it is ideal to play a standard time control game on a full-size chess set. Even for those that play chess one night a week the Internet allows you to stay home instead of driving off to the club and being away from your family. Now you can get your kids and your spouse involved in chess. You sit quietly and play your game, and they input your moves into the computer and relay your opponents’ replies on your board. As long as your family is quiet, everyone should be happy, you're all together at home.
I have always said way to drop the price of gasoline down to one dollar per gallon is to let people who commute more than 30 miles to work do their jobs at home. With e-mails, Web Cams, instant messaging, and other tools, the parent can stay home all day, get their job done, and further save money if they have to place their children in childcare while they're working. This concept can work well for chess in the future by following models of the past. In 1945 the USA and the USSR played a historic chess match by shortwave radio. In 1965 Bobby Fischer competed by Telex from New York in a tournament held in Cuba. In the 1970s a chess league was played in the USA by telephone. All major cities in the nation participated. All that was needed was an open telephone line and a runner to relay the moves from the phone to the other room where the team sat in order just as if they were at a real tournament.
Now let us consider just one application of this concept to real chess in the United States. This summer the U.S. Open Chess Championship is being held in Wisconsin. What if players around the country or even the world could drive to a designated location near where they live and through the Internet compete in this tournament. It seems to me participation in chess activities would rise. Objections that might be raised that unseen opponents might be using a chess engine to assist his play would be quelled simply because all these Internet players are competing in a monitored location.
I have something in mind along the lines stated above that will further assist development of chess participation and skill for the members here at chess.com. I will unveil it in my next blog. Thank you for your time.