Coming back to chess? Thinking about it

FM thinkdifferent
Aug 29, 2008, 3:29 AM |

Hi to all,

with this post I just want to share my thoughts about coming back to play chess again.

I don't know why, but in these days I'm feeling the old passion for chess again.

In the last four years I played very very little chess, and always with a strange feeling compared to my "competitive days"

I want to try to write the problems a totally out of shape player encounter trying to play at his old level.

First of all let's talk about the only advantage I have now compared to my former self:  I'm older and (hope) wiser.

So I'm much less nervous during and before games, and nervousness was my problem number one back in my teen days.

There is also another advantage: now there is more material (internet, software, but also books in english and italian) to improve as a chess player providing one has time to dedicate to chess (see the last part of this post).

Some years ago it was much harder to improve, at least for an italian player.

It was like in martial arts, you had to work with a GrandMaster to really improve, and in Italy there were none available!

Now let's look at the bad news (and there are many):

1) Openings.

I almost totally forgot my opening repertoire, really. Openings are not everything, but if I want to get my third IM norm and play at a 2400 level, I can't ignore them. That's a fact.

2) Motivation.

This is a really important issue. Yes, I'm not longer nervous, but I think now I have taken things too far: I really don't care about the result and the game!

When I was younger I was incredibly motivated to win, to improve, to better my rating, to win youth national competitions, to go to youth international competitions and so on...

Motivation (without exceding it and becoming nervous) is a conditio sine qua non, I have to find one ( it can be simple the pleasure to play good quality chess).

3) Time.

I have a job, I have other interests, I try go to the gym ( I'm a hopeless skynny guy ) I want to go out and relax.  You can't have back the free time and dedication of a 13 year old kid.

4) Competitive shape.

In the few games I tried, mostly with limited time control (5 or 15 minutes), I immediately noticed how the quality of my play has got worse.

Of course the first thing is the tactical eye, but I never believed chess is a game you can easily divide in separeted parts (strategy, tactics, endgame, openings...).

The tactical ability influence the position evaluation, and so your strategical plan. Knowing the opening well means also knowing deeply the resulting kind of positions and their strategic peculiarities, and also the typical resulting endgames.

When one stop playing, he loses tactical ability, opening knowledge, but also the intuition and sensibility to strategically evaluate a position.


I think problem number 4 can solve itself in a couple of months of playing.

Number 2 is maybe the most critical.

Number 3 is also a serious issue, and in some way impacts number 1.

Conclusion: After this long analisys I still don't know what to do :)

I'll let my feelings guide me (as always do).