A year of chess: Where I am now

To mark any progress we need to know where we are to see any improvement.

what is my history in chess?

I started chess when I was 12-ish. I got a board thanks to my dad, who during my life, was supportive of things I did, as long as he approved of it. A boyfriend of my sister taught me the rules, and I learned to move the pieces. That is how far I have had teaching.

I have a friend, who on chess.com is a 1000+ ELO, and although we have several matches under our belt against each other, he never got training, as is apparent and he never taught me stuff either (you can not each what you do not know). I beat him only 2 or 3 times from the 10 matches we played I think. My most beautiful one was in september this year, after which he beat me mercifully by bringing out his queen early, and picking apart my pieces.

I got into chess more seriously, as I notice that it helps me with depression, by letting me focus on something where I need to think, instead of feel. In my history on chess.com I see that I am drawn to the game when I am at low points in my life and naturally float back to it.

In 2021, I lost a colleague to his own demons and it hit me quite hard, to be honest. I can not bring into words what it did to me, as I don’t think I have fully been over it yet, even after all these months.

That occurrence, only made me more steadfast in my decision to learn chess properly, at the age of 34 (at the time of writing: december 2021)

What will I be using as my very first step to get better? Coincidentally I will be using the Dutch stappenmethode (steps method). I have bought several books over the years, but none take you properly from step one, all the way to a proper level of chess amateurship, than this course. It literally identifies your mistakes as you make them, as the course was in development 2 years before my birthyear and was published in my birth year, they have a lot of experience with it.

Anyone that is at my level, should go through it, even if it’s alone, with all the material that is available. They give you the instruction manuals (and I highly recommend them) and give you games to play solo or with someone else. As an adult, it can be useful to draw your kids into the game, as it will teach them critical skills for later on, like patiently waiting to make better moves and not try to win quickly by sacrificing pieces and doing dumb moves overall.

My goal that I set out here, might have been to optimistic, trying to reach 1500 in a year. 1500 is the level of step 6 in the steps method (stappenmethode), and each step should take about a year to do. Step one is the absolute basics of chess, and I started with it, because I am still at the basic level. I know how the pieces move and that is about it. I know a fork and a pin, but I can not see them every single time. The steps method helps you with board vision as well, helps you see things you don’t see at this moment, so it really is like adjusting your chess glasses. Chess is a very easy game to pick up, but very, very hard to master.

In the beginning of step one they tell you the phases of learning chess: the material phase and the others, and I am still at the material phase to be completely honest. I have no sense of tempo or tempi yet, although I know they exist now. I am consciously incompetent at this point, to put it into psychological terms. Gaining time is not something I am aware of how to do, although I know it exists, but it will be something I will be learning, by playing games, by studying.

This blog, my blog, will be where I mark my progress, together on chess.com, on my profile there, you can follow me there as well. If you want to keep up with how well I am doing.

Every post is written first in scrivener 3, which you can get a 30 day free trial of here at literature and latte.

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