29 June 2011

Fear and loathing behind the chessboard

Fear and loathing behind the chessboard

Last month, upon submitting "my stuff" to the RLP carnival (and it being ignored/rejected, haha), I realized that this blog may very well be more incoherent and superficial than I imagined. This blog is more of an ego document than that it really entertains the reader, or at least gives the reader some things to evaluate his own (chess) thinking. Note that this blog was not started with intentions of improvement, though. (Yesterday, Mr. Wahrheit made a nice follow-up post about my submission, by the way)
Heinz de Graphic Novel
I also realized that all things I want to say about chess/life probably have been said before by others who have thought better about it - I still need to find the places where those things are said, though, and to which extent I agree with what is said. I've got to keep on searching! My last try to find out more of these contemplations was successful, as in the political satire/children's film (take your pick) Gulliver's Travels (1995), the following is said (maybe I should have read the book version instead):
"Over the next few nights, I bore witness to the resurrection of the greatest heroes of history. But I must confess I was astounded to see how many villains had been raised to the highest places of trust, power, dignity, and profit, and how many revolutions in the world were due to the most contemptible accidents."

Or in my own words, how much of day-to-day life is influenced as well by an incomplete, hidden and/or mistold truth. It is another matter how important this small fact is, though... (it is important in chess games, if only somebody would tell you in advance because of what exactly you are going to lose your next game!)
Other episodes in the book/movie show the complete uselessness of an academy full of supposed intelligentsia, the stupidity of wanting to avoid death, the strange human concept of telling lies and some more of such wise things... All in all, I liked the film and the insights it offered.

Recently, maybe a few months ago, I set myself a new concrete aim in the world of chess: to reach a 2200 rating within the next ten years. Even if the goal is solely a number and given the time-frame, a very relaxed one, I'm telling myself that it's a declaration that I am intending to play more rated chess, and that I am intending to put in more serious effort to learn more about and understand more of what I am supposed to be doing in The Royal Game. At the same time, I am wondering why I can't just leave the higher ratings to those guys who can actually play some chess, and just be contented with the occasional checkmate I reach by the crappy moves I am currently capable of playing.

To elaborate a little bit on this last statement: last week, I showed some of my games to an IM, and he commented on some of my pointless moves - we were just playing through games and he just would ask me "why did you make this particular move?". This made me realize that I am playing such ugly and unharmonious chess, which is only ever justified when the other guy becomes optimistic, and allows me to mate him! He didn't notice this last part either... I only realized it some time after we had split up. Of course, this scenario is a little bit of an exaggeration, as of course it is not the only way in which I manage to "win" games of chess... but at the same time, there is quite some truth in it. If there are one hundred ways of winning a chess game, I only use 2 or 3 of them - the other 97 I only exclusively use to lose. If my opponent plays a decent opening, keeps his king safe, avoids the few tricks on the road and does nothing else, he can watch me squirm and randomly drop material (while I'm hoping that my opponent will become careless and let me do my thing with his king). I play many ugly and weak games like that. Luckily this secret is not known to anybody (nor will I tell anyone, oh oops :p), nor is every opponent of mine always patient and classy enough to play chess in this way. Discovering such a weakness is strange, as at the same time I have found out my greatest strength. It's just the small fact that it is my only strength that makes it my weakness.

Also, I discovered my great dislike for my own king to be checked. Many times, it means the difference between winning and losing. Threaten to check my king twice in a row, and I'd rather cry and resign, than play on with calmness and objectivity. 8-)

Around all this chess doubt, last month I reached my highest Internet rating ever, reaching a top-50 place in the server's bullet rankings at the summit, which also awarded me the "GM-rank" on the server (which looks quite nice for such a weakie - it had been a minor goal of mine too). I also played two "real" tournaments in June, I scored individually a shared 1st place (with an IM), and in the other tournament, quite a strong team tournament, together we scored a 2nd place (I sat on board 4). Combined income: a little bit over €150. Soon, I will be able to make a living playing chess! (well OK, at least it's more than nothing)

A positive point for myself in these tournaments: I appeared to be quite calm, a lot less of a nervous wreck than I think I am. However, in the individual tournament, I more or less had an overload of nervousness in my last round of the final group, when I played against the guy with 0.5/6 and appeared to be losing some pieces. Fortunately though, I held up my poker face, he didn't take any of my pieces, and instead allowed me to mate him three moves later. Good.

Here are some games I won last month. Notice I only win because I get some activity against the other guy's king going. (or those are the only games I like enough to be willing to show them)

Play chess online

Play chess online

Play chess online


  1. Hey those were some awesome games! I enjoyed going through them!

  2. AnonymousJuly 06, 2011

    This made me realize that I am playing such ugly and unharmonious chess, which is only ever justified when the other guy becomes optimistic, and allows me to mate him.

    I wonder if GMs feel the same way. I like what AAgaard says about chess being a very hard game and one should be happy just to play a decent game.

    Nice to see you have dusted off the Evans Gambit.


  3. I think all grandmasters, without exception, play more beautiful chess than me, quite logical.