Saturday, August 06, 2005

Progress with TCT and chess in general

Well, I am finally 1/3 through Tasc Chess Tutor (25/75 lessons finished). I blasted through 10 tests yesterday and today to finish section 25 (discovered attack). In this fourth minicircle through the section, I clearly had memorized almost all of the problems and could solve them very quickly at well over 90%. It almost felt like cheating.

I am now really enjoying most of my games. I must be a masochist, because it took me about four months to get to that point. I could have stuck with backgammon, but that game pisses me off. Games with stochastic elements are just not my cup of tea: I like games where the only viable excuse for losing is "I screwed up", not "My opponent rolled double 6s four times in a row". To anyone out there like me who sucks at chess and hates it, I recommend just sticking with it for a while. People online tend to be very good (not compared with OTB, but compared with random family member at Thanksgiving), so it will take a while before you can start feeling like you know what the heck is going on. I doubt I'll ever be a chess master, or even a class C player for that matter, but I now am confident chess will be a relaxing pasttime for the rest of my life. If I ever have kids, and they show the interest, I think I will try to get them to this point.

Paradoxically, I have noticed that I am literally thinking less during my games. At first, I had so little idea how to evaluate positions, I would evaluate all sorts of stupid moves. Now I don't waste energy on obvious blunders so I can channel my energy into thinking through fewer variations.

One more observation: I need to play lots of games, as I am getting experience with some of the more common traps and learning to avoid them. In particular, playing as black with 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 used to really scare the hell out of me. Their queen would always end up wreaking havoc. Today I finally figured that 2 ... Nf6 was a good response. My responses in my previous two encounters (2 .... g6 and 2 .... Qe7) got me into serious trouble. Anyway, I have decided to try to not worry about my rating. I am too new to be worried about it, and I really need to build up basic experience. Most of these variations aren't in opening books and the like, because Qh5 is considered so bad that they don't even consider it. I wish they had a chess opening book for crappy players, with variations on those blustering queen attacks that beginners like to play and kill other beginners with!


Blogger Friend of Plato said...

Nonsense that you'll never become a C-player. Anyone can become a C-player, to a person who is one degree above an idiot to the most talented and all those in between. any who knows how the pieces move, who can examine all the threats and bring up more unused force will inevitably become a C-player. Learn some basic principles of opening play, middlgame, and endgame play; learn a few standard tactical and mating patterns, and you'll be a C-player. that book I recomended, A FIRST BOOK OF MORPHY, if followed, will make you a C-player just as a matter of accident. You should have no worries, man. You'll be a C-player, even if you think you are the most untalented chessplayer out there (which I doubt you're that bad), you'll become a C-player. It doesn't take talent to be a C-player, (hell, it doesn't take talent to become an A-player), just a little bit of knowledge and it's application. You'll easily become a C-player. I don't know if you've ever been to OTB tournaments, but chessplayers in general, C-players in particular, arn't geniuses. Sure, you get all kinds, but for the most part, chessplayers are just regular people, not PhD's. Now there is no reason why a smart guy like you (I've looked at your neuroscience stuff) shouldn't be able to rise through the class ranks. For all you know, you have immense talent for chess that is still latent; in the near future you may find just that one thing that finally makes a bunch of stuff click, and then your rating will make leaps and bounds.

8/07/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I certainly appreciate the vote of confidence.

I look at chess a lot like I look at science: to be good involves some smarts, a lot of motivation, and a lot of time spent getting better. When I say I don't think I'll be a C-class player, I am just trying to be realistic: most of my time is in science, and I now see that to be good at chess would require a time committment I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put in. But we'll see: I would certainly LIKE to be a C or better player. When I first started playing chess I thought smarts would be sufficient, that after a couple of months of thinking about and playing chess, I would at least be up to 1400 or so. To my chagrin, I have found that this isn't so, even after almost 6 months. But as I said in my post, at least now I love and appreciate the game!

8/07/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

look, I spend all my time doing philosophy and greek and Latin; all it takes is just a good hour a day, man. Of course, you want to be studying the right sort of stuff and and you want to be studying that stuff as effeciently as possible. But you should have no problems doing this, since you do science. But to be a C-player, even the least effecient study methods yield what it takes to become a class C player. You are already a head of the game if you are doing De La Maza.

8/07/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

One thing that helped me with playing the overly agressive player playing sucker moves like 1.e4 e5 2. h5 was a game in Chess Master vs Chess Amateur. Where Euwe blew the doors off of a fellow playing Scholar mate types traps. It is game 7 in the Dover Edition. ( note the first edition which I also own has 6 different games than the later edition such as Dover). Should be available at library but worth owning one for yourself.

8/07/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

Indeed, backgammon totally blows. What you refer to as activities with "stochastic elements" I have simply dubbed "roguish games of chance." I can barely handle one round of scrabble before I'm steaming. Anything involving dice or cards is simply taboo for me. My girlfriend is trying to get me into Go but I'm a little resistant.

8/07/2005 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

If you love chess, don't get into go. It's even more advanced than chess. It's harder than chess, and there is alot more to learn than there is for chess. Don't do it. Go is a great game, but chess is enough for one lifetime. But then again, if it improves the quality of your time with the girlfriend, it might be worth it for that reason alone.

8/08/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Takchess, I have that book but haven't read it yet. Thanks for the tip!

8/08/2005 11:27:00 AM  

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