Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages
Status: Chess (2016 - September)
(Text as at 14/10/2016 22:14:53)
(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)
Rationale for this Project
- I occasionally think of returning to chess after a very long lay-off. I’ve hardly played since I left school, where I showed some aptitude – especially in my first season when, in the 3rd year at Grammar school, I won the North Gloucestershire under-15s championship1, but things never really took off. For instance, I performed very badly in the West of England under-15s and only ever came runner-up in the North Gloucestershire under-18s. I played in the local adult league while at school and my grade meandered up to 158, if I remember correctly. While at school, I played on a low board for Gloucestershire seniors and captained the Gloucestershire juniors, though not from top board. I played in a number of congresses at school and immediately after university, with mixed results.
- Anyway, I effectively gave the game up and switched to bridge at Cambridge, playing chess on only three occasions for the King’s2 team.
- My trouble with chess was, I think, that I had a natural ability to calculate variations which stood me in good stead against players who knew next to no theory – but against stronger players I never got into positions where calculation did more than tell me I was losing. I only ever used to play matches, never practice games, and have never actually read a chess book beyond the first few pages.
- So, I don't want a repetition of any of that. If I return to the game, I'd like to learn to play properly. The question is how? I have a collection of (mostly old) books, but I've never been a keen reader of chess books – I can't easily envisage what's going on without either a lot of effort or setting the position up on the board.
- I suspected some chess software might be the best way forward – what I need is something that's fairly interactive and which will get me to learn both the principles of positional play and some opening theory, as well as play some practise games, in as painless a manner as possible. After advice from The London Chess Centre (follow Web Link), I purchased some software, as below. Unfortunately, the plan to make use of it hasn’t come to much.
- A recent idea was to learn to play blindfold chess, and I started reading a book3, but that hasn’t come to much either.
- The incentive to return to the game is that my brother-in-law runs a team in the Middlesex and London Leagues.
- also, one of my bridge partners is also thinking of returning to Chess, having been of a similar standard to me, though having played more recently.
- The chess scene in Billericay seems somewhat unexciting4.
- See Web Link for the Essex Chess site.
Status as at End September 2016
- I planned to spend an hour a week in 4Q15 and nothing at all in 2016. In practice, on average, I did even less: 6 hours in total during the past academic year.
- "Reading - Chess - Magazines" (Read, 5 hours)
- Admin: 3Q15 Status Report, investigating purchase of a garden chess set5 (1 hour)
Plans for Near Future
- To provide focus for higher priority projects, I do not plan to spend any time on this project in the near future.
- When I do anything related to this project, actions will feature on the Summary_Task_List6. I don’t intend to produce another of these reports until this time next year.
- These are the items I’ll look at if time and enthusiasm allow:-
- Play the occasional training game against my Monte Carlo Mephisto.
- Get to grips with Chessmaster – Grandmaster Edition.
- Undertake a quick third run through of "Martin (Andrew) - The Basics of Winning Chess", and write brief notes.
- Complete a first run-through of "Aagaard (Jacob) - Basic Positional Ideas".
- Continue reading "Hearst (Eliot) & Knott (John) - Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World Records and Important Games", and try to learn how to play blindfold7 chess.
- Start a serious study of "van der Sterren (Paul) - FCO - Fundamental Chess Openings".
- Read new copies of, and review old copies8 of, "Chess - Chess Magazine", and engage more seriously with some of the material therein – in particular, work through the “How Good Is Your Chess” articles.
Summary of Progress to Date
- Catalogued and categorised my Chess Book Collection.
- Started reading sundry of the above, and investigated various on-line material (Fritz, Rybka, Chess Mentor, etc) before contacting The London Chess Centre.
- Completed two runs through of "Martin (Andrew) - The Basics of Winning Chess".
- Installed "Aagaard (Jacob) - Basic Positional Ideas". Study commenced.
- Installed Chessmaster – Grandmaster Edition, but haven’t really got to grips with it yet.
- Subscribed to "Chess - Chess Magazine", and skimmed the March 2009 – September 2013 editions.
- Visited Billericay Chess Club on 6th April 2011 There was a club match, so I couldn’t play any of the better players, but played a rather sad young man who hadn’t make the cut. It was interesting to see how rusty I was, though I won all four games. I had a chat with one of the committee-members afterwards, and left my email address. I’ve not heard back, or been back. I don’t think I’ll pursue the club further, at least not in the near future.
In-Page Footnotes:Footnote 1:
- And drew with the former British Champion – C.H. O’D Alexander (see Web Link) – in the 4-board simul at the prize-giving.
- He sacrificed the exchange to force a draw. It seemed unnecessary – maybe he was trying to be encouraging, or simply wanted to go home!
- The other “champions” lost.
Footnote 3: See "Hearst (Eliot) & Knott (John) - Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World Records and Important Games".
- On board 6 - averaging 50%.
- We had a strong team – the second strongest in Cambridge – with a couple of overseas Grandmasters on the top two boards and the British under-21 Champion on board 3.
- But this was a feeble team compared to Trinity, which had the then British Champion (Jonathan Mestel) allegedly on board 6.
- The Billericay Club has an excellent website: see Web Link.
- They meet on Wednesdays at 19:30, now at Anisha Grange.
- The website describes the club as “thriving” with about 14 members (though only 12 are listed) with teams in 3 divisions.
- The club is not very strong, but one player is (as of October 2016) rated 175 – the other 11 being under 150, with 4 under 100.
- At one time there was an IM (Richard Pert; main club Wood Green) rather loosely connected to the club by the look of things – but he’s no longer listed.
- An excellent set discovered on StreetLife (see Web Link) and being sold locally for £560.
- Unfortunately, building a suitable “board” – a multi-coloured patio – would be considerably more expensive and the whole idea was laughed to scorn by the house finance committee. A shame, but sensible.
Footnote 8: My subscription expires at the end of 2016, and I may not renew it.
- This is supposed to improve your sighted play.
- Additionally, it’ll make reading chess magazines easier as – presumably – you’d no longer need a board in order to play through the games.
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Text Colour Conventions
- Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017