Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dr. is out and the Shaman is in.

Looks like I get a couple days of "vacation" due to the doctors long weekend. He don't work, I don't work. So I can finish this TAG post that BDK has been subtly nagging about. Did I say subtly because blatantly is a little more apt.

Here you go dear readers. On the QT and strictly Hush-Hush....

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

Ive been playing somewhat regularly since late circa 1999 if my memory serves me right. So thats about eight years. The age of a small child. Thats creepy. I did learn it early as a child from my father and brother but didnt take it at all seriously until '99.

Consistently? Yes and No. Ive been involved in it with one aspect or another since then. But playing OTB and online gets boring, as does studying, so Ive wobbled back and forth between the two. This blog ties in too. As a way to keep near the game during the times when Im not interested in playing but dont want to lose the edge.

Lulls you ask? Of course thier are lulls. Anyone who doesnt have these glorious pauses is some sort of machine. The lulling effect? Its added a lot of diversity to my game. Forcing artistic play from a swiss cheese memory and filling in the blanks on vaguely remembered gambits. Yes, its probably the biggest crutch for all of us. If we studied it eight hours a day seven days a week we would all be grandios masters. But hey, we are human and its a game of pleasure not of pain that should be treated so.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

Primary? studying from books. Secondary? Talking out games and ideas with my bro. Playing out masters games and puzzles. Watching annotated games. Doing endgame and knight drills. Blogging about the game and letting new ideas flow.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

This one is easy. Talking out games while playing OTB. Discussing ideas and tactics, why I made this move and you this move, all while playing, digging deeper and deeper into the game. My biggest strides have all arrived from this sort of analysis.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

I don't really have favorites anymore. Whatever is best for the mood and the opposing player really. But if I had to choose it would be the Danish Gambit, French Defence (Go get'em Sarkozy) and the reverse Botvinnik Formation.

5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?

Mikhail Botvinnik. When I first started playing I used his formation and the French Defence as a basis for my game. Later I did a little reading, learning that he also preferred the French and that our styles of play were not all that different despite our differences in mastery of the game. Today I focus on endgame studies much as he did and its paying out in spades.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

I like Pawn Power. Its dry and it sucks to read but every time I pick it up I learn something new and useful. That one will last a lifetime.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

From the book review post:

The Complete Book of Chess Strategy by Jeremy Silman. This was my first book about chess. It covers numerous aspects of chess from opening, middlegame, endgame and practical matters. It is very well written unlike most chess books and is very easy to understand. It is a perfect book for beginners and like all chess books look for it used and you will probably find it for two dollars.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

I played in one. I took fifth out of twenty some at a UW Milwaukee tournament. I shouldve taken second but I didn't. It was four hours long which is frankly too long for me to play chess. I stopped caring into the third hour and blew what should have been a win. Later I redeemed myself by trouncing the second place winner repeatedly at the chess club. I learned a lot at that tournament though. About the diversity of people that play and how the tournies are run. This year I will gun them down with relative ease.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

Well since I don't spend much time on them these days... Ive memorized six or seven good openings/defences and can play another five by ear. I'm not a master of them but can play three openings through to mate if given the opportunity. So to answer the question: at my level someone should study openings as much as they desire, without getting bored and without spending more than 25% of your allotted study time.

Has Let me tell you about my best friend been tagged yet? Well he has now.


Blue Devil Knight said...

I'll leave it to others to nag you about who you are tagging.

chessloser said...

talking about with the opponent while we play is my alltime favorite thing, i learn so much and get new ideas and such. i wish i could do it more often...

now, on behalf of BDK, who's next?

oh, and good answers, all of em...

Blue Devil Knight said...

That's one thing I really have lacking: people to talk about chess with. I went to an informal club here but as is understandable it's all about playing, not talking about positions, and when a game is done they just usually want to play someone else (or, if they lost, the person waiting to play winner wants to play right away).

I need a chess bud. That's part of the reason I got a coach I guess. It's hard to find people at my crappy level who are actually as interested in the game as I am.

Samuraipawn said...

BDK, I know what you mean. I'm literally trying to drag a friend of mine to the Club Championship this year. He seems willing at times but...I've been considering chloroform...