One more thing added to my long list …

I didn’t know that this was from an actual musical about chess — or that there actually was a musical about chess — until I did some googling around about it and discovered that. Before that, it was just a song I liked. (I’ve also tried doing embedding for the first time. I hope it works properly!).

Anyway, I’m trying to pick up and maybe even do some semi-formal training in chess. I learned to play as a kid because there was a chess tournament for the entire area when I was in grade school, and with the size of the classes pretty much any actual tournament meant that anyone in the upper two grades was pretty much automatically on the team. I was probably about average as a chess player.

I ended up joining the chess club in high school as well, as was about average there or a little above average: there were two players that could consistently beat me, but I could consistently beat everyone else in the club (which was about four more people or so; again, not a very big school). Anyway, we actually also had a tournament, and due to various circumstances we were the only other high school to show up, which meant that we had two teams of three players from each school and we were fighting it out to see who was the best team and had the best player. I was essentially the third on our top team, which also had those two people who consistently beat me (and the funny thing about it is that there were links from both of them to where my father worked, as the one ended up running it and the other’s father ran a machine that I actually worked on for a while when I worked there in the summers).

The other school’s team was weaker. They had one really good player — as good as or better than our top player — and one player who was at about my level, and the rest were relatively weak. To put it in perspective, I beat two of them with ye olde four move checkmate. One I think was a better player than that, but just didn’t expect anyone to try it, but the other one had no idea how it worked and we played a number of games until he figured it out. I always tried it just in case it would work and because I tended to be an aggressive player, and it let me get my pieces out and onto the attack which worked out fine for me.

At any rate, their top player beat the second best player on the team and was looking to run the table and take the top player spot, and we played each other in the second-last round with both of us having won all of our games. He was also a pretty aggressive player, and he had me hemmed in early in the game. I made an off-hand comment, though, that I should probably play for a tie. He replied that that would mean that my other teammate, who was also undefeated, could win the top player spot, to which I replied with essentially “So?”. I think this helped me, since it probably made him be even more aggressive and eventually after swarming me I managed to pull off the win.

This left everything to the last round. If I lost the last round to the player who was about my equal and he managed to beat our best player, he still had a shot at at least a tie for the best player (I’m not sure how they would settle ties). And at the end that player had me in some trouble and was pressing hard. However, he had left his king buried behind cover while he attacked, which left me an opening. I kept defending and defending and defending hoping for a chance to make that one move. Eventually, he had to make a move for positioning and I pounced, moving my queen to the back row where he was hemmed in and winning the game. Their best player was sitting beside me and made an exclamation in disgust, and eventually just settled for a draw with our best player.

And so despite being the third best player on my team and a worse player than at least three other players, I managed to win the best player award at the tournament by winning every single game I played. That was the highlight of my chess career and, sadly, about the point where I stopped playing.

So, I’m going to pick it up again. Right now, I have a book on the subject and am looking around for chess programs — or online chess sites — where I can play against the computer. Right now, I only have Battle Chess and Combat Chess on my system, which would be okay to start — and kinda fun to watch — but I’d like something more formal or that could teach a little. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to get the Chessmaster series anywhere, although I admit that I didn’t look that hard.

5 Responses to “One more thing added to my long list …”

  1. malcolmthecynic Says:

    On chess.com I am about a 900 level player – decidedly below average. I know basic opening and endgame theory (control the center, how to mate with only a rook, square of the pawn, etc.) and basic tactics (fork, pin, discovered check and things like that) but that’s really it.

    The problem is yoy improve most games by playing more and more, but in chess you hit a wall. At this point I will never improve until I start memorizing openings.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I’m at about that level as well, and agree that you really do need to learn more theory about chess to improve as a chess player. I stopped off a month or so ago at a local store that pretty much does chess — they sell various games and donate much of the profits to promoting chess — and looked for a book to get the general theories down, and bought one the owner recommended. I haven’t read it yet and so can’t say if it works or not.

  2. Controversy at the Women’s World Cup | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] I went 6 – 0 and won the best player award at my high school chess tournament. Therefore, I should be paid the same as a chess grandmaster for playing chess. Where do I sign up? […]

  3. Watching … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] and priorities starts to loom large, I’m reminded that one of the things that I want to do is start playing chess again with an eye to actually learning the strategies as opposed to the ad hoc e… I’ve also been pondering the advice/admonishment of an old professor of mine (Jim Davies) and […]

  4. Reacting … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] even, a chance to win the game. In the last game of my undefeated tournament run (and, yes, I’m going to milk this for content in my chess posts because it’s the most […]

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