FAQ With ih8sens

NM ih8sens
Mar 24, 2016, 7:32 AM |

Pretty much every day I get a message or two on here asking one of a small handful of questions.  I tend to ignore these messages because they're silly, but I decided to look a bunch over today and write a blog.

Here are a few questions that I get asked on a regular basis, and my answers for future reference!

How Long Have You Been Playing Chess?

I learned how to play when I was 4.  I joined my first tournament when I was 16.  I'm 24 right now.

How Long Did It Take For You To Become A Master?

After my first tournament at the end of 2008, I decided I wanted to become a master.  If you count from that point it took me a little less than 5 years (October 2008 to June 2013).  Keep in mind that when I started I was already a class B player. 

How Do You Become A Master?

This question could be taken two ways.  If you're wondering how does one get this strong, it takes a lot of hard work; there are no shortcuts.  If you're asking about the technical requirements, well that varies from country to country.  Typically the first master title you can earn is Candidate Master or National Master.  The CM title is awarded by FIDE for achieving a rating of 2200.  The NM title is awarded by your national federation where the rules may vary.  In Canada you are required to achieve a national rating of 2200 plus three performance scores of 2300+ in open tournaments.  You may also earn the title by simply achieving a rating of 2300+.

How Do You Learn An Opening?

If I have a book on the opening, I read it carefully and copy the main lines into a Chessbase file.  The act of copying it over helps me remember the moves.  Then I go over a few hundred GM games in the opening to make sure I understand the ideas and to spot any trends that the book might have missed.  I'll review and amend the lines periodically, and usually that's all I need to do to remember a good chunk of most openings.

What Openings Should I Play?

I can't answer that for you.  If you really want to improve, I would caution against playing gambits (excluding Queen's Gambit).  Gambit openings are typically quite tricky and might score you a few wins at first, but as you run into stronger opponents, they'll either have some prepared refutation, or they'll find a way to avoid the complications and then outplay you from an equal position.  On the other hand, I don't believe you need to keep up with the theoretical lines that the SuperGM's are testing these days.  The Berlin, for example, is not a good practical weapon in an U2000 weekend event.  In short, I believe balance is required.  Pick something that is completely sound, but somewhat uncommon.  

Can I Have Free Lessons?

Of course not.  You might learn something from reading my blogs though!

What Is The Most Important Thing To Study?

At just about every level the answer is the same: Tactics!