Sunday, December 8, 2013

Come See Me at

I have had a couple of people point out that this blog isn't very active.  That is true, but the main reason is that I write a daily piece for ChessIQ.  So please come see me at

I am not going to completely stop writing here, but I can't currently keep up with both and since both are essentially the same I am slowing down in this space for now.

I will most likely reserve this space for writing about things that don't necessarily fit in for ChessIQ, for example, my take on chess politics or anything else controversial.


  1. I saw your article in the January 2014 issue of Chess Life, and it had the URL for this blog, so I came here to leave a comment. My own personal story: I stopped playing chess in 1985 at the age of 15 with a final rating of 2057. I came back in 2005 and struggled a bit before deciding to completely reconstruct my game. I did so, expanding my chess knowledge by probably a factor of 50 (I knew hardly any opening theory as a kid, and just winged it all the way to Expert playing almost nothing but 1 b4 for White, for example, to avoid opening theory). I did well, and hit a peak of 2197 after intense study and playing in tournaments in 2005-2007, but never made Master. It was very frustrating. I had to take a break from chess for a while. I'm sort of back, but with some different ideas. Have you read Jonathan Rowson's books "The Seven Deadly Chess Sins" and especially "Chess for Zebras"? I recommend thinking about Rowson's ideas about why it is difficult for adults to improve. I am, and am curious whether I will see some results.

  2. Franklin,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I certainly appreciate you doing so.

    I do have The Seven Deadly Chess Sins. I picked it up over the summer on the recommendation of my friend FM Alex Betaneli. To be honest I haven't gotten to read too much of it yet, but I do intend to.

    Then again, we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions :)

    Although my own experience so far has been mostly positive, one thing that I have learned over the past few years, and that I touch on in my article, is that when I got cocky I went astray. At the time I thought it was good old fashioned hubris born of arrogance. Now I believe that the real issue was that I was focused too much on the end result and not enough on the path.

    Or to quote Aerosmith in a song that is now "amazingly" 21 years old..."Life's a journey, not a destination."

    The way I got myself back on the proper path after I plummeted to 1560 was to realize that my focus was completely on the wrong things. I was far too concerned with rating and not nearly enough with playing strength.

    When I went back to worrying about my approach to the game rather than the result of the game the results took care of themselves and that's what sparked the true gains.

  3. Chris,

    I also read the article in the latest issue of Chess Life (I haven't actually gone through the games yet). It appears to me that you and I are, to some extent, in the same boat. I am also in my 40's with a regular USCF rating in the 1700s and am looking for ways to significantly improve my understanding of the game and eventually attain the National Master title. As it happens, I am also originally from Wisconsin and have had some experience with the English opening. At present, I would consider myself 'dormant' to over-the-board play since I have only been playing online since 2008. I wish I could tell you that I had attained chess enlightenment and can now point you to a proven path but I can't. I think that having a reasonable study plan that you can easily adhere to with measurable goals is the first and probably the best way to improve. I have noticed great difficulty in my own ability to focus and stay with any plan at all. Many times I have thought that I know what the minimum things I should be doing are, for instance, play x number of G15 or longer games and then analyze / annotate them (especially the losses) in detail or even one more 'bite-size' like doing x number of tactical exercises daily. I KNOW this process will eventually have a positive effect on my understanding of the positions I tend to see in all phases of the game, even if that improvement does not manifest in an immediate increase in rating. However, as I am sure you are aware, there are many excuses for not following through on this plan... work, family, other interests and hobbies... diversions are everywhere! Anyway, I wish you the best of luck on your journey.