Training Update (Sort of) and proof that I'm getting old...

Aug 9, 2010, 1:38 AM |

I have been looking through the forgotten others in my extensive chess library, which consists of books that I bought that were out of my range at the time, other books that I felt were about to go or were out of print or hard to find; and the occasional "what the hell was I thinking purchase".

Then I happened upon a copy of Reuben Fine's The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings. For whatever reason I bought this book and never read it, I think I meant to read it, but I was getting ready for a tournament so I couldn't "waste" time by reading a general opening book I had to do work on my repertoire, especially my previously futile attempts to play against the Sicilian.

It then occurred to me that I have gotten around to an opening repertoire quite haphazardly.  When my uncle taught me chess so many years ago he taught me that 1.e4 is a good if not the best first move.  So I have continued to play it well into adulthood.

I play Alekhine's Defense to 1.e4 because I like it, and I do well with it, although to this day I still don't know more than 5 maybe 6 moves of theory in any given line.  This thing just fits me like a glove.  Unfortunately it hasn't been that easy with my other opening choices.

Against 1.d4 I have tried the Semi-Slav which I have scored ok with, but you can't really use it against the Colle, which some of my opponents used when I started playing competitive chess seriously back in 2007.  I tried the Dutch but the ideas are completely foreign to me, I never had success with it.

So I thought that I would try reading this classic and look at my white repertoire and my response to 1.d4 with fresh eyes and see what jumps out at me.  the book isn't very big and not crammed with too many variations, so I should be able to finish it by the end of next week. 

We'll see how it goes.  I performed a similar reboot on my chess play as a whole back in Hawaii.  After a truly miserable showing in my first tournament I thought maybe I had learned chess incorrectly the first time around, so I went out and bought the Comprehensive Chess Course Vols. 1 and 2 by Alburt.  It opened my eyes to how truly bad I was at chess, and gave me a better foundation than the one I had.

I studied some basic strategy books and tactics books and even elementary end game books, but I never read an elementary opening book.  I mean I did read Mastering the Opening by Byron Jacobs, but I didn't find it to be a cover to cover read.  I used it as a basic reference manual for my repertoire or to explore some basic openings.

The ironic thing is I didn't study openings because I was following good advice, or so I thought.  Conventional wisdom stated that I was a patzer and I didn't need to spend much time on openings.  But I was a dumbass and spent no time on openings, so after some painful and crushing minatures, I thought that the conventional wisdom and logic of noted chess players and coaches was wrong.  These well meaning souls obviously didn't know how terrible I was.

So I started "working" on a repertoire, meaning I bought books of specific openings and a few repertoire books, some good, some so bad as to be epic, but mostly I wasted a lot of time.  I naturally chose to stick to 1.e4 but I never even explored the possibility of playing 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 or 1.c4.  I never thought to examine these options because I never approached it with an blank slate mentality, I just assumed I was an e4 player. 

My neglect of opening study (note I'm talking about actually studying the opening not attempting to get a repertoire) probably explains why I have struggled against 1.d4.  I don't see it as often and I don't really understand what is going on. 

Some time invested early on in a general opening book in an attempt to create an opening repertoire from scratch probably would have prevented me from my current opening repertoire quagmire.  Maybe its not too late.  At any rate I'm going to give this small rather unassuming book a go, I mean how much worse can it get?


As for me getting old...

Mrs. Wang and I went out to a movie yesterday afternoon, we saw the Other Guys.  Overall pretty good, I laughed and was entertained for 90 minutes, the movie accomplished its mission in my eyes. 

Afterward, Mrs. Wang and I decided to get a bite to eat.  Now as we have gotten older and both gotten better in the kitchen eating out has become more a convenience thing rather than a treat thing.  Most of our dining out experiences occur as a need to satisfy biology (It's Tuesday night and neither of us feel like cooking so we get a quick bite to eat).  So most of the time it's Chinese take out or one of two national delivery pizza chains, with an occasional trip to Denny's.

Yesterday was a bit different I was feeling a little crazy, and there was a national chain restaurant whose title extols some day of the week.  We hadn't been since we moved to Arizona, no kidding in 5 years!  So we decide what the heck and go on in.

Ok kids maybe I'm just out of touch with what shit costs nowadays but when did these cookie cutter chain restaurants become $22 a plate places?  I mean for God's sake, it's a step, maybe two up from a freaking McDonalds!  Yes you have waiters, slightly better restrooms, and a bar, but c'mon!

Now don't get me wrong I'm not a cheap bastard, I'm really not.  I've spent $300 on a dinner for me and the Mrs. and been happy to pay it, I've spent $20 bucks and felt ripped off.  I just felt that the quality food that we received and price we paid were simply disproportionate to one another.

We should have gone to the Denny's a block away.  I would have spent half as much and been happy to pay it.  These folks are at least in touch with where they sit on the food chain of restaurants so to speak.  You want a T-Bone steak?  It will only cost you $13.  Of course it will be a $13 dollar T-Bone so don't expect the steak experience of your life, it's still just a cheap steak.  I think it just speaks to honesty and knowing what and who you are.

Have a good week folks.