Monday, February 27, 2006

Tactics, tactics, tactics, ...

Pretty much every article I've read states that studying tactics is the most important thing for novices. Looking at the blunders I am making at every single game (even the few I've won so far), I can only agree with this. So, how does one learn tactics?

I simply love books, so I started with a book on chess tactics: "Learn Chess Tactics" by John Nunn. However, the exercises in this particular book were a bit too hard for me. Back to the internet, I've found the "How to get to 1900" webpages by John Coffey. The tactics chart gives many problems ranging from easy mates in one to quite tricky combinations. At the beginning, it took me a long time to figure even the simple ones out, but after solving all the one move prolems at least once I am getting better. As for now, solving "win in 2 moves" problems still takes a lot of time.

That doesn't keep me from committing the wildest blunders, though. I somehow have to find a technique to avoid giving away pieces for free, but how? Dan Heisman published his view on this problem in this article on "real" chess. I also found an interesting exercise idea on learning to avoid blunders in another chess blog. Guess I should give it a try.

The beginning

This blog is about my journey into the world of chess. It is a rather long trip, although I am a total beginner (I guess it is called "novice"). The journey started more than 20 years ago - I was a teenager then. A friend talked me into going to the local chess club where he played competitively. I was interested in the game so I went along and ended up playing against a 7 or 8 year old kid. We were both clueless but not being able to beat a much younger player is embarrassing for teenagers. At some point, the kid's father came to watch, as did my friend, and of course the game ended with them playing against each other. From this experience, I decided that chess is interesting, but not "my thing".

10 years later, I discovered a beautiful hand-crafted limestone chess set on a vacation in Italy. I simply had to have it, and my interest in chess showed a (rather short lived) peak. However, once again I gave up playing - this time after two or three quick losses against a computer.

Early this year, I got interested in chess again. I don't even know why exactly. In any case it seems to keep my mind off some work-related problems that hound me lately. This time, however, I took the time to find out how to actually improve my miserable play. Fortunately, there are many good websites about chess. To my surprise, after nearly two months I am still trying to improve my play and I am more fascinated by the game than ever. Therefore, I started this blog to keep notes on my chess journey. Comments and hints on how to do things better are always welcome!