Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chess D-Day - An Improvement Plan

On June 6th of this year I played a game of chess. I can mark that as the day that Rook Van Winkle awoke from his 25-year chess slumber.

It is now fourteen weeks later. Since then I’ve played maybe a 150 or so games (mostly on the Internet), participated in one OTB beginner’s tournament and successfully competed in my first Internet chess tournament.
But now it is time for me to stop procrastinating and to begin in earnest a “chess improvement” plan.
Before I proceed, I need to mention the number one thing I have learned about improving at chess. Play chess. Play more chess. Play even more chess. In an earlier post I complained that chess was being played better today than it was 25 years ago (What Happened to the Woodpushers?). I still think that is true. The amazing thing though is how much better I am playing just by playing. I’ve not really done any serious reading or study or practice. Just through hard earned experience (winning and losing) I am getting better.

Sidebar - To be honest, I also have to give some credit here to Dan Heisman. He is the host of the ICC’s radio show “Ask the Renaissance Man”, writes the “Novice Nook” column at ChessCafe.com, and is the author of the remarkable book “Everyone’s 2nd Chess Book”. So far I have only perused his book (I’ll write a full review of it once I’ve read it all). By following the list of guidelines in his book I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in my game. Thank you, Dan Heisman. Take this advice: If you are a chess novice or a low rated experienced player you must really buy this book. You will not regret it.

As a former teacher, I know the importance of a curriculum. My very first step then is to design my personal chess curriculum. To begin, I need to complete some tasks. For now I will simply list these tasks. Later I will follow up on each of them with more detailed posts:
  1. Define my goals. What is it that I personally want to accomplish with my chess improvement plan? How will I measure my progress?

  2. List of the chess resources I already have and those I may wish to add:

    • Books I already own
    • Books I may wish to purchase
    • Software I already own
    • Software I might wish to purchase
    • Helpful Internet resources I can use
    • My chess history – what score sheets and PGN records of my games do I have?
  3. Plan an agenda using selected resources from my list.

  4. Implement a schedule for study and game playing.

  5. Follow through conscientiously with my plan and see what


Joe Erjavec said...


Congratulations for getting back into chess!

I had a similar experience with chess. I learned when I was six, played through high school, then put chess on hold for many years (about 15 of them). I had an opportunity because of a work volunteer activity to start teaching fourth and fifth graders, and that sparked my interest again in chess! I am very happy to have had the chance.

Good luck with your blog and your chess!

AnnA said...

I liked your blog very much.

Wish you all the best.