on guilt and the superior wisdom of antiquity

Apr 25, 2008, 2:49 AM |

so here i am on chess.com. great to be here. i wanna be a chess master. long i've stared at the cooly inspective faces of chess heros pouring over boards. but now that i'm here in a chess community i have to face facts: i'm not that good at chess.

it seems my biggest problem, my most obvious problem, is the start. whenever i start a game i stare at the board waiting for insight to arrive and splash out into a brilliant tactical move. but nothing arrives. one move seems just as likely as the next. all i know is to push the kings pawn up twice. the standard move. and with that move i admit to myself that i actually know very little about this game besides the rules.

back to chess.com. here i am with all these people who obviously know more than i do, and here i am wanting to be considered good, like them. so i start with eudesign.com/chessops. move a piece and you get info, name of the opening, a little of what the fancy guys say about it. sometimes it even says "not a good move" and sometimes "the best option here". it's a start. so suddenly i'm doing a sicillian defense with the narjof variation, doing a queen's gambit, all these names and now i feel like a real chess player.

"but hang on a minute. you're cheating." i guess so. as people move on Live Chess i click the position into the webpage and see what it says. what responses are there? i'm also using 365chess.com to give a rundown of how other chess players (presumably playing in chess tournaments) responded to each board position. now, if i were myself, say, a year ago, and was playing against someone on the computer and found out that they were punching in my every move into a database i would be insensed, to say the least. especially if i was losing. ... but what about the chess professionals? they memorise chess openings. they read studies on each and play accordingly. how is reading the information on a website any different? it could be argued that practice should be done outside of the arena. read all you want but play the game with your brain. ok, there's an argument i can't argue against. so i'm not really playing with just my brain. and i don't really deserve the ranking i have on chess.com (currently 1396).

this is, however, a great way for me to learn new openings. play them under pressure and see what happens. most of the time my opponent (i've only play a handful of games so far) doesn't follow the "main line", or any line, for more than a few moves. so so far i haven't felt like i've be transcribing database entries into the site.

it has taken me a while to accept that i need to study what other people have said about chess in order to quicken my skill to the chess-community level. i can play and i have a quick eye but against someone who knows how to play the queen's pawn game, i'm lost. my quick eye doesn't help against two hundred years of discussion. "having lost favour recently, 5...f5 loses ground to 6.e6 which opens up ...." i didn't want to believe that these truths i couldn't find on my own. i can be a chess master, just give me a minute while i think about it. but now i kinda accept that i can't get there on my own. well i may be able to but i have other things i want to do too so i'm going to take the best route i can.