In the 2nd installment of our series, Rook's Rudimentary Resources, we look at score sheets. Yes, the humble chess score sheet.
Earlier I mentioned (Advice for the Chess Novice - Improve Your Game for Free! ) that in order to improve your chess it is essential to record all your games. If you're playing at your computer or over the Internet it's likely your moves are already being recorded - if not make sure you turn on that feature. When playing Internet chess at the ICC for example, you can configure both the Blitzin and the Dasher software to log all your games to a PGN file or even have them e-mailed to you after each game.
But if you really want form a good habit, and improve your chess at the same time, try recording your games using paper-and-pencil even though you are at the computer. There are several good reason for this because it will help you:
- Learn notation better (or faster if a beginner)
- Re-enforce good habits for over-the-board (OTB) play
- Force you to play just a little bit slower (which is a good thing)
- Allow you to remember and learn from your game better.
Studies show the more of your senses you involve in an activity the better you learn - there's a whole book written about this which you can read about in my blog entry entitled Keep Your Brain Alive
As for actual over-the-board play, with all the technology today, you'd think there'd be alternative methods developed for recording our moves -- and you'd be right. The problem is, unless you've recently won the lottery, you're not going to be able to afford the MonRoi Personal Chess Manager at $360, or even more extravagantly, never worry about recording a game ever again with the $700 DGT Projects - DGT Electronic Chessboard. BTW, Santa, if you ever win the lottery and you are feeling generous, Rook will gladly take one of these for playing his games on the ICC ;-)
In the meantime, you'll need to record your games the old-fashioned way - using paper and pencil. You can purchase bound score sheet pads (Google "Chess Supplies" or "Chess Tournament Supplies") or find plenty of free ones for downloading (Google "Chess Score Sheets"). If you have trouble finding one, here's a simple paper-saving one from ChessAssistance.com you can download as a PDF format and print out (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader required).
There was a time when you could buy chess score notebooks with refillable pages. These were great - you could rearrange the pages or insert dividers to help organize your games. Sadly I'm not aware of anyone making them anymore.
I've saved the best option for last - and the one I think offers the best benefit all-around: individual 5" x 8" carbonless copies score sheets. You can find them at The United States Chess Federation store at a reasonable price of $11.95 for 200 sheets.
OK, these are used for tournaments, why would I use them to record my own personal games? Here, I think, are two very compelling reasons.
First, since they are individual pages you can rearrange them anyway you like. Buy yourself a 5' x 8" three-ringer binder and a hole-punch and your set to go.
It's the second reason, though, that makes it really compelling - the carbonless copy. The second copy can be very valuable - not necessarily to you but to your opponent. Here's why:
- If you are playing somebody who is into chess (like you) they are probably recording there games too. However, since we all seem to be prone to making score sheet mistakes it's great if you can compare your score sheet with that of your opponent. That's where that carbonless copy comes in - just hand it to them and they are set.
- If you are playing someone new to chess, chances are they are not recording the moves of their game. Chances are too that you are also trying to sell them on the fun and benefits of chess. So when the game is over you hand them the carbonless copy. Of course, it might look like Greek to them, but you've given them something that just might spark an interest in chess. Sure they might throw it away, they might hang on to for awhile and then throw it away, or they might actually keep it, and maybe someday, be curious enough about the game of chess and that mysterious piece of paper you gave them to actually learn the game and to eventually decipher that mysterious score sheet. If they do ever do that and take up chess that score sheet might even be something they treasure.