Reading Silman

Reading Silman

Mar 12, 2014, 5:34 PM |

It has been a while since I have written anything so to all my fans I wish to say.... Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Haunika, Happy Ramadan, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday (even though you forgot mine), Happy Valintines Day (and all the other fake holidays out there like Valintines Day Happy).... Oh and Happy St. Patrick's Day.  I know St. Patrick's Day is next monday, but figured I would get a good start.  So now that old business has been taken care of lets crack on shall we?

In this post I have a picture (artist Fischermylife) from Silman's "Readers' Games, Questions and Comments, part 2" that I think accuratel reflects my chess journey since last June. I will elaborate more in a bit, but first I want to make a comment that (I am sure many of us feel the same) about Silman. If Jeremy (yeah I called him by his first name my impression is he is not stuck up on formalities) had not become a chess pro he would have been a very good writer.  I am in the process of reading two of his books and several articles on here enjoying them all.  Its not just the subject, but its his writing style that I think we all enjoy.  Even if there are some (many?..morons) that disagree with him I bet they still find him easy and comfortable to read.  As someone who is almost finished with his first novel I can only hope I leave my readers the same enjoyment as I have found reading Silman.

Ok enough about Silman, let us talk about something of far more interesting topic (me).  While reading Silman's article (yes I do get paid a small for mentioning him....Silman) I found the enclosed picture thinking to myself how much it represents my past path to chess improvement.  Let me recap my chess history.

When I was 9 someone gave me a chess set, but did not teach me how to play.  From my first blog article I wrote about it "So really I just used these chess pieces as army men along with army men, star wars figures, and other stuff I found that my imagination could double as shoulders."  It would not be until years later in my early teens I believe that someone actually taught me how to play chess.  After that I played anyone I could until the age of 19 when it seemed no one wanted to play me.  Over the next several decades I only occasionaly played.  Yet I still yearned to play and prove myself on the chess board so when last year I saw on Craigs list an ad looking for local chess players I jumped at the chance to play again.  

Let me back up for a brief moment.  When I said I played in my teens I was honest, but I never studied the game.  Also I never played against anyone who studied the game.  The closest I came to someone who took it seriously was more of a thing, a electric chess game which I did play a lot.  In those years after I got the electric set I started cleaning up on the chess board.  I was even invited by my high school chess team to play with them after I had played against some of their memebers.  I didn't though for I was to busy playing football.  Back then anyone I did play though I was very confident that I beat them and usually I did.  Playing against oppenents that never studied the game I developed an over inflated ego which lasted up until last June after I answered that Craigs list ad.  That is when I found out just how little I knew about chess.

You can see where this is going can't you?  Someone out of the game for over 20 years who still carried that ego now faced oppenents that not only studied the game, but played chess in college...... Well I'm sure you know how it has been going.  Given how intense I am and how I hate to lose I have now taken to try and studied chess.  To learn what I should have learned oh so long ago.  First I was given a book "Winning Chess Tactics" by Yassar Seirawan with Jeremy Silmann (cha ching...waiting on those endorsement checks Jeremy), then I downloaded "Reasses Your Chess" by Jeremy Silman ($$$). and a book on Alekhine Defense.  I swear I didn't know he who I have named about a billion times in this blog that Alekhine is his chess hero.  I had come across Alekhine's defense by accident, heard it was difficult to play, that no one seemed to like it anymore, and jumped at the chance to play it.  Yeah I know everyone says its unwinnable, but I am like Han Solo, never tell me the odds.  

So what does all this have to do with the picture from he who I have named all ready a trillion times?  Thought you would never ask.  Like most new players (and yes I am counting myself as knew) I want to improve and stop getting my brains beat in every sunday when we play.  I got those previously mentioned books to help me improve, but as many of you have figured out two of those books beginers should not even be reading.  In other words I have been going every direction to X (or winning) that I could, but going no where fast.  Three weeks ago I lost 4 games in a row in which I lost progressively badly.  I had a melt down and stormed out of the coffee shop where we play.  By the time I got home I had calmed down enough to start some root cause analysis of why I was losing.  Not how I lost which is a different matter, but what where the root causes of my loses.

 I came up with four major factors in my analysis, 1rst being I was playing to fast, 2nd I was not being patient, and 3rd my tactics were bad.  Thats only 3 you say. " So John " you ask "What is the fourth?"  Good question the answer to which goes back to the picture.  I was not focusing in on the right direction, the basics, that straight line if you will.  Yes I know there is a lot more to chess than tactics, but from what I have learned is they are the building blocks upon which to build your game on.  I was going out reading everything I could, but not concentrating on learning the basic fundementals.  My conculsion was that I needed to slow down, be patient, and put away those other books except the tactics book.  Is this the straight line to winning?  For someone who is a beginer like me I think so.  Atleast its just one direction and not many to which is my point.  Perhaps you can learn from this example.  Not that you may need to relearn tactics, but if you are improving your game like you want to take a good hard look at why you are not.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you on that straight line to X?