Getting Started

My brother, once upon a time, was quite good at chess.  Being brothers we've always been quite competitive.  Generally his strength was athletics and mine the intellect, so both of us have tried repeatedly to conquer the other on his turf.  (None of this is spoken, of course.)  While I lift weights, ride my bike, and so on, my brother got quite good at chess.  I have considered for years to study the game and see if I can beat him at it; I am now going to try again.

I have no doubt that I am smarter, generally, than most chess players.  (Yes I am aware of how obnoxious that will sound to anyone reading this--I'm not being obnoxious, I'm being provocative!)  The question is, what is chess all about?  One thing my brother told me one time that stuck with me is that the better you get, the better the game is.  It's just kind of frustrating when you are not very good, and can get annoying.  The question is, how good do I have to get to really SEE the game properly?

Right now I am terrible.  I am better than a beginner, but not significantly.  I have read exactly 0.25 chess books.  Any reasonably good player, and any computer, can crush me readily.  Still, I feel that I am beginning to gain a little traction; I seem to be getting a little better.  Indeed, my first (and only) game so far on this site, I won!  And my rating is now 1344.  Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.

I'm curious not necessarily about becoming great at chess, but what is involved in becoming great at chess.  When I read descriptions of "the game" today it sounds like memory has a whole lot to do with it.  And that, perhaps, is my primary thesis:  computers and training can make anyone great.  My interest is not in becoming a grand master, but in becoming a grand master QUICKLY.  I think I should be able to do it by the end of the summer.

Also, you know how Fischer made several suggestions to improve the game, in particular Fischer Random Chess (I refuse to call it chess960--it's absurd to have a movement to refuse to honor the man who invented/championed it!).  Here is my own suggestion, a suggestion to solve the same problem Fischer saw.  Why don't we eliminate the opening game altogether?  What's the point?  Both players could just negotiate an opening position ahead of time, and then the game could start "already in progress."  It would save everyone a ton of time and a ton of boredom.  I know that studying openings is useful to learn the general concepts of chess, but all this analysis of each possible move is, to me, one more indication that chess affords players the opportunity to pretend to be really good without being.

Having said that, I've been playing the tactics trainer on this site (actually on my iPhone).  Man am I bad.  Right now I am finding about 60% of the solutions, my rating is around 825.  I must say, however, that that is a quantum leap forward for me.  There was a time when I could not begin to comprehend what I was even supposed to look for in a chess problem.  Now I can get them right over half the time.

All righty then, let's see how it goes.


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