Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.
In my first Hobbies and Homework post, I talked about several hobbies of mine and how my progress with each of them was coming along. In that post, I mentioned playing chess as one of my favourite pastimes.
Chess is, to me, a fantastic game. It is one of the purest forms of fighting using only your brains and wits, in a brutal struggle to defeat your opponent on a 64 square board. It is truly the ultimate way to prove just how much superior you are to your opponent/s.
While I’m certainly aware of how much chess has been popularised recently due to the Pogchamps events and the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, my interest in the game actually started a few months before the release of the Netflix series, and for the cringiest and corniest of reasons as well. In short, I was impressed by a fictional character’s intelligence, found out it was mostly because of chess, wanted to emulate them, and started my journey from there. Ugh.
Like language learning, my interest in the game first originated from some of the worst possible reasons, only to later develop into a genuine hobby. These days, there are so, so much free resources out there that can help improve your chess skills, that it was honestly such a pleasure to constantly be playing and honing your skills.
For those who don’t know, chess skill is mostly measured using a point system, commonly referred to as the Elo system. The more players you defeat, the more Elo points you earn and thus the higher you soar through the chess ranks. There are many different point systems out there, such as the chess.com and Lichess point systems, but the more official one is the FIDE point system (FIDE is the kind of international authority of chess). Most players usually start out at a 1000 rating (rating just means the amount of points one has), and can go up and down from there. The amount of points you win/lose in each match usually depends on your opponent’s rating as well, but can vary from 5-15 each game. For reference as to how hard it is to climb the point system, most master level players have a FIDE rating of 2200+. One going from 1200 to 1400 points is also a completely different challenge from getting 2000-2200. The level of difficulty almost exponentially increases, as you advance through the point systems and proceed to battle against more and more talented players.
With that in mind, I decided I still wanted to embark on this journey anyway. I’ve had this idea for a series in mind for a while now, and I’m happy to finally be able to talk about it and start it. The purpose of this series will be to hold me accountable for my progress, and push me to continue improving my chess. Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s first review and summarise my current progress with chess, and my ‘roadmap’ for how I’m going to achieve the 2000 rating points goal.
So right now, my rating on chess.com is 1500. Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten an actual FIDE rating yet, as there haven’t been any official tournaments since the pandemic started here in Ireland. While I know a chess.com rating isn’t a very accurate gauge to measure skill, it’s the best I currently have so I think I’ll just have to made do with it for now.
Now let’s move onto some of the more interesting stuff.
My opening repertoire for white really only consists of e4. Honestly, I don’t remember ever playing d4 in my life. My favourite openings right now are the Evans Gambit, Nakhmanson Gambit, and the occasional Danish Gambit. I’m contemplating on whether to add something more solid to the repertoire, such as the Catalan or the Spanish/Ruy Lopez. I don’t think it’s the best idea to only have gambits in your repertoire, but they’re working out quite well with most of my current opponents.
If I’m being honest, I now much rather prefer playing with Black, as I love my opening repertoire for it, consisting of the Leningrad Dutch Defence, the French Defence, and the e6b6 system. I really like mixing it up once in a while between playing the French and the e6b6 system. If I’m getting pummelled with both, I sometimes also play a King’s Indian Defence. My current plan of attack here is to polish and fine tune my French and Leningrad Dutch Defence and e6b6 system, as I find I’m having significant success with these openings.
Strategy & Tactics
My current goal is to solve at least 25 tactics everyday, no exceptions, to improve pattern recognition and calculation. I’m using the chess.com puzzles, as I bought the platinum upgrade, and want to focus more on finding mating nets and solving more complicating mating patterns. This is due to me sometimes still missing easy checkmates in games, something which has frustrated me quite a lot. I want to spend a maximum of 5 minutes on each puzzle as well, but the general advice I’m getting is to spend as long as I need on solving them, which I will also take into consideration. My puzzle rating is nearing 2000, at 1970 as of writing this, so I’d say a reasonable goal for this front would be to get to 2200?
Overall, I definitely want to place a huge emphasis on tactics and puzzle solving.
Books, Videos, and Studying
Currently paying close attention to GM Daniel Naroditsky’s speed run videos, Gothamchess’ instructional videos, and IM Andreas Roth’s teachings.
As for books, I would ideally want to complete complete all of the recommended books in r/chess’ resource section. Still contemplating on a study schedule as well right now.
These plans are definitely still a work in progress, and I’d say a reasonable timeframe to achieve this goal would be 2 years, I.e before the end of 2022. This year is one of the most important due to college entry exams, so as regrettable as it is, they must remain a higher priority than chess. With that being said, I will be no way excluding chess nor any other hobbies from my life. Enjoying yourself in your favourite pastimes is one of the keys to getting a good result in exams, by providing balance in your life.
I’m extremely grateful I can post one of these hobbies posts once in a while, and mostly whenever I want. I find them to be a liberating change of pace from my regular type of posts on the blog, and it’s nice to write about stuff I can passionately talk about for hours at a time.
If there is a WordPress chess community, I’d love to be included in it and try interacting with the fellow WordPress chess players and maybe even play a few games once in a while. Of course, feel free to add me on chess.com, username: RiseFalcon.
Okay, that’ll be it for this post. Have fun, stay safe!