Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chess is a high-maintenance relationship

Once you finish the Circles, will you forever be a tactical wizard? No. You will need to work fairly hard to maintain the skill set gained. But even then, to improve past superficial chess, you will then need to work on strategy, endgames, and eventually openings. All these things also require active maintenance. It doesn't get easier as you get better, it gets harder, as you have all the more skills to maintain.

I am at a crossroad, having to decide if I want this marriage, or whether it is time for a divorce. Hence, a separation is in order. I'll be phasing back my chess for a spell, to examine my priorities in life: work, chess, exercise, family, and the like. My hunch is I'll play infrequently and for fun. I've already bowed out of both of my ICC teams, as those tournaments take up way too much time.

So, having finished the circles and worked tactics into my thought process (the real final step of the Circles), it is time for me to take a break and re-equilibrate and recharge. I'm not going to say I'm going to stop posting during this time, but I'm sure I'll scale way back. Two plus years of intense daily chess. I've earned a break!


Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

You will need to work fairly hard to maintain the skill set gained.

I believe that you will find that even after a long layoff from chess you can come back and, with just a little refresher, be back at the level you were at when you left.

I know that has been my experience with occasional lapses of years between any chess activity. In fact, in my case, after long layoffs I have sometimes returned stronger than when I left.

Enjoy your break!

12/21/2007 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Have a break. But let it not become too quiet in the blogosphere!

12/21/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now is the time to ponder the philosophy of it all:

We should talk over the lessons of the day, or lose them in Music, Chess, or the merriments of our family companions. The heart thus lightened, our pillows would be soft, and health and long life would attend the happy scene. – Thomas Jefferson

But then again- we have :

How hard it is to understand a man who, through using a new opening, moving the knight instead of the pawn, achieves a feat, and his tiny little scrap of immortality tucked away in a chess book reference – a man, an intelligent man, who without losing his reason, for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, concentrates all his mental energy over and over again on the ludicrous exercise of maneuvering into a corner a wooden king on a wooden board! – Stefan Zweig

12/21/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing.

Taking chess training in too systematic and regimented a way seems to me counter-productive for non-professionals ( 99.9% of all chess players).

I follow no chess regimen. That's why I don't "burn out" anymore.

I play when I am "hungry" to play.
I play live sometimes - sometimes over the web.

Sometimes I would rather play through a master game, or do some tactics excercises, or do some solitaire chess, or watch a video lecture. Or read an openings book.
Or practice openings against an engine. Or annotate one of my own games. Or read a blog.

There is so much variety - one can positively REVEL in being unsystematic.

And my game is SLOWLY improving. But I am in no rush.

12/21/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Not sure you did this intentionally, but in your list of priorities... Work was first, then Chess... then exercise...then Family.

Why don't you try putting that all in reverse order if it was not intentional.

I feel your pain. My tactics are not as sharp as they were when i first completed the circles... but hten again... they are still MUCH better than before. I have a better appreciation for positional and strategical ideas. I am more cautious about the openings i want to explore. I am finding new ways to look at the game in all aspects.

Like anonymoous above, I am finding that when i do take time for chess these days. It's quality time and I am ok with doing any of these activies for fun. I took the pressure off of achieving higher ratings and I cna have fun again.

I wish you well in taming this demanding mistress.

Maybe I will still see you at teh World open in July.

12/21/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Glenn and BP and anon: yes, I overstated it. It's not like you go back to precircles levels of skills (right away).

My problem is unless I'm being systematic in my approach to something I'm usually not happy :) That's probably why I am in science. That's why I liked the Circles so much, and want to work on Silman's book.

BP, disorder of those priorities was on purpose. They are backwards right now! :) Chess should be last in that list, and it will be for a while.

12/21/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Some great quotes anonymous. Thanks. I like the one about bending all your energy toward shuffling little pieces of wood around on a square.

12/21/2007 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

perhaps also useful to separate the blog from the chess.

12/21/2007 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: yes. Probably the time I spend on chess blogging I could still have a fun chess life. Obviously, if I had to choose I'd choose the blog to lop off. Even though it has been almost as rewarding as chess itself.

12/21/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting your priorities straight is immensely important, of course. I still don't quite agree with the idea that significant improvement is only possible if you dedicate yourself to chess daily (but I admit that might be low-level player naïveté).

I hope you won't leave (chess-)blogging for good; yours has definitely been among the most well-written and interesting blogs around, not the least because your posts often touched on topics applicable to areas other than chess, e.g. on thinking processes or jiggly eyes. All the best!

12/22/2007 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Christian, thanks. Probably not daily is required. But consistent maintenance.

Maybe I just need to shift my baseline from what it was to something more reasonable. Like a few times a week :) The separation will help me get a feel for how much or little I really want to do.

12/22/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Polly said...

Like everything else in life, moderation is the key to keeping things in balance. Too much of one thing takes away from something else that may be equally important if not more important.

You talk to anyone who is passionate about his hobby, and you will hear him express concerns over how the hobby has taken up so much time, and distracts him from other things that are more important like family and work. I'm sure there is a group of "fill in the blank" hobbiests who blog as much as we do, if not more.

I struggle with the balance all the time. I tend to get onto something, and it consumes me for a while until I either get bored or figure out how to control it.

My chess blog has taken on a life of it's own, and has taken away from my triathlon blog that I had started well before the chess one. But perhaps part of that is I'm doing more chess then triathlon, but there are other things related to triathlon and my sports that I've been meaning to get to. I'll get my crap together sooner or later. :-)

12/22/2007 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger XY said...

Whether you keep playing or not I hope you keep blogging. About something, anything. Get a new interest (or continue an old one), perhaps something that will aid you more in real life than chess does. Philosophy? Philosophy of math? Writing? Scientific methodology? Musings on the human condition?

12/24/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

XY: new post coming on where you can find me.

12/24/2007 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an experienced chess player myself I can understand the considerations you have been making. The advantage is and I have seen it so often that you can return to the game even after ten years or longer.

"Chess is a pool in which an elephant can drown and a gnat may bathe." - Indian proverb

12/28/2007 03:47:00 PM  

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