An interest rekindled

There was a time during school days when chess was a pastime I frequently indulged in. A rivalry that instantly comes to mind is the one I had with Sai, a friend who beat me convincingly most times and yet left me each time with the feeling that the result could have been otherwise; it made me go back and try again and again. After school we went our ways and my active interest in the game dwindled, surfacing now and then during sporadic encounters with classmates or colleagues.

These days it has come into favor again.

It all began a few weeks back when I took part in a fascinating simultaneous event organized by a local club. After that, I joined the local chess club. The club meets on Friday evenings, when most people informally play against each other and some – who have a tournament match on that day – play official games. The five weeks so far have been full of fun and learning. Some of the members have an ELO rating of around 2100, and playing against players of such strength is a humbling experience for hobbyists like me who think of themselves as ‘above-average’ in their own category.

I also recently bought Fritz 8. One way to describe this piece of chess software would be to mention that it has an ELO rating of over 2600 and that it can beat 99.9 % of chess players on this planet. But that would miss the point. Fritz contains an array of features to help players at different levels improve their game, and it is this feature-set – and not the Herculean strength it boasts of – that would prove most useful to players like me intending to improve their skills. I hope to discuss some of these features in this space sometime in the near future.

On the recommendation of a player in the chess club I bought the book ‘Chess Master Vs Chess Amateur‘ by Max Euwe. I’ve read a few chess books in the past, but none of those went to the depth this book delves into while explaining the basics for amateurs. The approach is novel and effective : by highlighting the contrast between the thinking of the Master and Amateur, Euwe presents a path an amateur could take to bridge that gap. There are twenty five games discussed in the book; I’m currently into the fifth game, and I find that the games are presented in increasing order of complexity and amateur skill, so each new games takes longer to complete ( and the variations discussed also increase ).

I intend to start – as soon as I can make time for it – a chess journal : a section where I could discuss happenings in the club, talk a bit about Fritz and also log some of the games I play ( in the club and with Fritz ). Adding some algebraic notation might bring some variety into these pages.

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