Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages
Status: Chess (2018 - September)
(Text as at 10/10/2018 16:43:41)
(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)
Rationale for this Project1
- I have occasionally thought of returning to chess after a very long lay-off. Now, it seems, I’ve actually done so, though have yet to play a competitive game.
- As just noted, 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 Championship2, also winning the brilliancy prize3, but things never really took off, though I was runner-up in the Under-18 section of the inaugural Cotswold Congress4 the following summer. 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 (North Gloucestershire Chess League) while at school and my grade meandered up to 158, if I remember correctly. The school (Crypt GS, Gloucester) then had a strong team and we got to the latter stages of the Sunday Times competition most years, losing to big hitters such as Winchester College, King Edwards Birmingham5 and a long telephone match against Methodist College Belfast.
- While at school, I played on a low board for Gloucestershire seniors6 and captained the Gloucestershire juniors, though not from top board7. I played in a number of congresses at school and immediately after university8, with mixed results.
- I mention all this – not because it is the least bit impressive – but because it was important for the development of my confidence and self-esteem, as it all happened so quickly and without effort. Which, of course, was the problem. To succeed in any popular endeavour you need not just a bit of talent, but the will and focus to let that talent reach its full potential.
- Anyway, I effectively gave the game up and switched to Bridge9 at Cambridge, playing chess on only three occasions for the King’s10 team.
- Since then I’ve played in the occasional rapid play11 at the behest of my brother-in-law12, who used to organise them. I also played against Ray Keene in a simul organised by HSBC13.
- 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 Centre14, I purchased some software, as below. Unfortunately, the plan to make use of it didn’t come to much, and the CDs are now either dud or incompatible with Windows 10.
- A recent idea was to learn to play blindfold chess, and I started reading a book15, but that hasn’t come to much either.
- An incentive to return to the game is that my brother-in-law16=12 runs a team in the Middlesex and London Leagues and he’s keen for me to play, though doing so would involve rather a slog in travelling back and forth.
- Also, one of my former Bridge partners is also thinking of returning to Chess, having been of a similar standard to me, though having played more recently.
- I have to admit that the chess scene in Billericay initially seemed somewhat unexciting17. However, I’ve now joined the Billericay Chess Club, which I’ve found very welcoming, and also the ECF, so I can get graded18. I intend to play – as and when selected – in the NECL Division 319 for the Billericay B team, for the Billericy I Team in Southend & District Chess League and in the BCC Club Championship.
- Follow these links for various websites associated with the national & local chess scene:-
→ ECF: English Chess Federation,
→ Essex Chess,
→ North Essex Chess League,
→ Southend & District Chess League and
→ Billericay Chess Club.
Summary of Progress during 17Q4 - 18Q3
- I have spent 59 hours YTD on this Project, or related work, where for "YTD" - Year to Date - I mean the (academic) year that commenced in October 2017). That's 453% of the planned effort. Overall, 2% of my Project effort YTD has been directed towards this project.
- As can be seen, I massively exceeded the amount of time scheduled for this project. This was because I’ve decided to start playing chess again.
- Most of my time was spent investigating the chess scene in Billericay, and otherwise studying the game. I found Chess.com particularly useful, and have taken out Diamond Membership for the year, which gives me full features. More detail appears below.
- YTD Activity20
Chess (Total Hours = 58.75)
- Chess - Reading / Writing
- Chess - Admin (Total Hours = 18)
- 17Q3 Status Reports (0.75 hours)
- 18Q2 Status Reports (0.5 hours)
- 18Q3 Status Reports (4.25 hours)
- "Chess - Becoming a Chess Master" (0.5 hours)
- Chess - Chess Dot Com - Investigation (0.75 hours)
- Chess - Discussions with Chris (1.75 hours)
- Chess - Investigating on-line sites (0.5 hours)
- Chess - Investigation & Joining of Billericay Chess Club (3.75 hours)
- Chess - Review of old material from Chris (0.25 hours)
- Chess - Reviewing NECL Website & information (2.5 hours)
- Chess - Score-sheet book / forms / training (1 hour)
- Chess - Soup up Training / Play record spreadsheet (1 hour)
- "Chess - The Chess Website" (0.5 hours)
- Chess - Play
- Chess - Study (Total Hours = 10.5)
- Chess - Training (Total Hours = 16.25)
- Chess - Chess Dot Com - Games vs Computer (2.5 hours)
- Chess - Training - Mephisto Monte Carlo (8.75 hours)
- Chess - Training - Mephisto Monte Carlo - Review games (1.25 hours)
- Chess - Training - Review Club games (3.75 hours)
→ See "Chess - Chess - Training"
- Progress (if any) in the last quarter can be obtained from the relevant section of my Summary Task List21.
Plans for the Near Future:
- I don’t want a repeat of the experience of my youth, so need to allocate a serious amount of effort to learn the theory of the game in order to play properly. So, I’ve allocated 6 hours / week. Not as much as is needed, but as much as I’ve got available.
- Training versus Mephisto Monte Carlo.
- Training using Chess.com.
- Read "van der Sterren (Paul) - FCO - Fundamental Chess Openings", with assistance from the above.
- Read "Chess - Chess Magazine"; work through the “How Good Is Your Chess” articles.
- Full participation in Billericay Chess Club:-
→ Club Nights
→ Club Championship
→ NECL matches
Summary of Progress to Date (since 2007)
- 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.
- Occasional practice on my ancient Mephisto Monte Carlo22.
- Subscribed to "Chess - Chess Magazine", and skimmed most editions from March 2009 onwards. I’ve tended to focus more on the news than on the chess!
- Took out Diamond Membership of Chess.com.
- Joined Billericay Chess Club.
In-Page Footnotes:Footnote 1:
- When I’ve got a moment, I’ll remove the opening ramble to another page.
- And drew with the former British Champion – C.H. O’D Alexander (see Wikipedia: Hugh Alexander) – in the 4-board simul at the prize-giving.
- He sacrificed the exchange to force a draw – or at least it turned into a draw when I correctly returned the exchange a few moves later. His sacrifice seemed unnecessary, though he said his position was uncomfortable – maybe he was trying to be encouraging, or simply wanted to go home!
- The other “champions” lost miserably.
- The game appeared in the local paper, but they both got my name wrong, and messed up the moves.
Footnote 5: Footnote 6:
- Now entering its 50th year: Cotswold Chess Congress.
- The following year, I entered the Open and was leading after 3 rounds, having won my first 3 games. Unfortunately, I then lost the last 3 against increasingly strong opposition.
- Ie. Adult, rather than 65+!
- I once captained a combined Gloucestershire & Somerset side against the Essex juniors at the Athaneum club. So, I didn’t get to play Jon Speelman (Wikipedia: Jon Speelman).
Footnote 10: Footnote 11: Footnotes 12, 16: Footnote 13:
- Including one – maybe Chelmsford – where I got drawn against a Grandmaster and former World Junior Champion (Bojan Kurajica: Wikipedia: Bojan Kurajica); my Sicilian was rapidly dismantled.
Footnote 14: Footnote 15: Footnote 17:
- But blundered away the exchange in a completely drawn position, when most of the others had already lost and I had to move quickly, then made quite a fight of it. While my attack was ultimately unsuccessful, he was quite impressed.
- I 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 didn’t hear back. However, I’ve recently (July 2018) made contact again and am now a fully signed-up and enthusiastic member.
- The Billericay Club has an excellent website: see Billericay Chess Club. It went into a hiatus November 2017 as its webmaster was busy, but now seems to have revived.
- The club meets on Wednesdays at 19:30, now at Anisha Grange, though not in the summer months.
- The website describes the club as having 11 active members with teams in the North Essex and Southend & District Leagues.
- The club is not very strong: see the link on the NECL site (NECL: Billericay).
- At one time there was an IM (Richard Pert – BCF: Richard Pert, FIDE: Richard Pert; twin brother of GM Nick Pert (Wikipedia: Nick Pert); main club Wood Green) rather loosely connected to the club by the look of things – but he’s no longer listed. The NECL site for 2017/8 listed a couple of Junior Perts; a family connection – as is confirmed by the BCF link above. However, they’ve shift allegiance to get more games.
- But I don’t intend to get obsessed with gradings, but just want to play well and enjoy the game.
- And possibly for the A Team in Division 2, but as the teams in the NECL are only 4 players, this may be a rare event.
- As this project was substantially inactive, I didn’t update the text between quarters other than at the end of the academic year.
- Hence, the YTD Activity was to make this task easier, and to give a clearer idea of what – if anything – had been going on in the interim.
- I can’t remember when I bought this, other than that it cost a lot of money (£400+) and that I had to collect it from some Grandmaster’s house up in London. I see from the Mephisto Wikipedia page (Wikipedia: Mephisto (chess computer)) that the price crashed in 1990, so it might have been before then.
- This is confirmed by Monte-Carlo Chess Computer, which has it coming out in 1987. I bought it when it was state of the art. The manual is at Monte-Carlo Manual, though maybe Monte-Carlo Manual (in German) is the exact one.
- It was rated about 185, so it beats me when I play it on a top setting.
Table of the Previous 12 Versions of this Note: (of 22)
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Text Colour Conventions
- Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018