Beginning A Long Journey To Really Learn Chess

Beginning A Long Journey To Really Learn Chess

Apr 10, 2016, 9:02 PM |

I first started playing chess back in 1972.  I had bought a chess set and used to play some games with my uncle who lived with our family for a time.  Looking back, Uncle wasn't that strong of a player to be sure but he was certainly better than I was, just learning how to move the pieces and some of the most basic things.

I never beat my uncle though and after he moved out, I didn't touch the game for many years.  Not having anyone to play with had a lot to do with that, none of my friends played chess.  

When the first computer chess game came out, I bought that, the problem though was that I was getting my butt kicked at even the first level out of 10 that the thing had.  I did work my way up to being competitive at the lowest levels but lost interest.

A few years later, I joined a local chess club, but the players were better than I was and all they wanted to play was blitz chess, I had a hard enough time coming up with good moves given a decent enough amount of time, so I quickly lost interest in this.

I did buy a couple chess books and did learn a few things like some basic tactics and some basic strategic principles, but I think at about the third book, it became obvious that I had a big challenge ahead of me if I ever wanted to become good, as moves would be annotated and you're supposed to be able to follow along in your head but I can't do that.

I'm one of those people without the ability to visualize anything so I'm stuck with one or two moves ahead tops, and this isn't even a matter of getting better at this with practice, as there's only so much you can do without visualization.  So I can do things like figure out back rank mates and such a couple moves ahead but that's about it.  Other than that I'm left to play by intuition, presumably like the kid in Pinball Wizard, perhaps play by sense of smell.

My memory has always been terrible as well, and a good memory serves you well as a chess player of course, and now that I'm in my 50's it hasn't gotten any better to say the least, although even in my teens it wasn't good either.

These challenges have served to discourage me from really getting into chess, and up until recently, I would guess I have played less than 50 games in my life and read maybe 3 chess books, never getting past the beginning stages.

I find myself enjoying strategy games though and not long ago, I was thinking of chess, and thought, well this is the ultimate strategy game really and would be worth considering to keep my mind sharp as it matures further.  

So I ended up joining on Jan 29, 2016, and have found this to be a great site with a lot of great resources, something we couldn't even dream of in the old days.

So how good of a player can I become with no ability to visualize and a poor memory?  I do understand how big these challenges are but I have been blessed with very high intelligence and feel I can use this to compensate for these deficiencies to a decent degree at least.  

It will take quite a bit of time for me to learn enough of the game where I can look to become more creative with it and use my abilities more that way, that's a ways off though and I have to put the time in to ever get there.

So my goal right now is to learn the game and become fairly proficient, I don't have any real goals as far as rating or anything, I'm enjoying learning more about chess though and plan to dedicate a good long time to this, several years perhaps.  

I'm not even looking to play at this point, I did play one game so far but only to see how the thing worked, my opponent had yet to achieve a basic understanding of the game though and this to me speaks loudly about the importance of learning versus playing.  I choose the latter path with no reservations.

I would say though that my understanding is progressing quite well given the very short period of time I've been at this.  I'm going to have to work a lot harder on pattern recognition though but this will come with time, and I'm more of a deliberate thinker so the tactics puzzles have been a challenge, not figuring them out as much as trying to do so quickly, or get 1 point for solving one and losing 9 for not solving it.  I'm not looking to ever play speed chess though, I think 15:10 will be the quickest I'd ever look to play, but these 3 day games don't appeal to me either, that seems like a good time control and a great balance between speed and time to think.

As I go along I plan on playing more games but I'm in no hurry, there's so much more to learn, and I want to become at least decent with openings before I get into playing too much, especially openings for black.  Since opening theory involves memorizing things and I can't really do that, this part will take some time.

I'm out to have some real fun with this in any case and so far so good.  My wife thinks I spend too much time on chess these days but I think I only spend the right amount of time, but thankfully I get to decide