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Chess and You

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Before boiling off into the usual gasses of idiocy, there were some interesting comments to a recent thread about chess as hobby, sport, profession, and waste of time. There are too many famous and pithy quotes in the "what is chess?" department to trot them all out here. They are widely available on the web and there is a fine compendium of them in the "Chess Addict" books by Fox and James (who, incidentally, must always be named together, like "Lennon and McCartney" and "wine and cheese").

For some reason many people like to play down their love of chess. Often, I suspect, this is because they aren't particularly good at it. Having hundreds of chess books and playing online 20+ hours per week is borderline lunacy for a master, so the logic might go, and acceptable for a GM, but must be a dangerous disease for a 1500, not to mention the many casual players who have never acquired an OTB rating at all. This, of course, is piffle. Many are obsessed with hobbies that have little or no objective measurement of success. People who assemble train sets and visit train museums and buy countless train books aren't worried about being good at it. They like it and that's enough, and it's also enough for chess.

I'll concede it's intriguing the way so many people are fascinated by a game they don't really understand in the same way as the people with whom they are fascinated. I don't agree, however, with the cynics who say a 1400 watching GM chess is like a monkey looking at a watch. It's more like a monkey looking at a television commercial for bananas. With diligence and outside commentary plus computer analysis, they can push their noses right up against the screen, although they don't really get any bananas. (The players, not the monkeys. It's a metaphor.) But they might understand that and learn to enjoy the image. No wait, it's a like a badger looking at a picture of rhubarb...

In the immortal words of EasyFish's sig in the message boards, "What if you just like buying chess books?" That most of them are ostensibly directed toward making you a better chessplayer doesn't mean you can't enjoy them without becoming one. Look at those space-age Nikes you're wearing. When is the last time they were used to run as fast as you could, or for anything other than walking to the fridge for another Coke? Then there are the myriad pleasures of fandom. The arguments, the history, the news and results, the statistics, and the players themselves. We love to follow the new prodigies and the old lions. A fraction of the visitors to the major chess sites and to event websites even bother to look at the games themselves. It's far more than a game. It's a sport and a culture with a rich history - and present - full of fascinating figures.

What part of life is chess for you? I have the blessing/curse of working in chess all the time, if not full-time (which would imply a greater income from it). I play less now than I ever have, but know far more from analysis and writing. I still derive a lot of pleasure from the game itself, playing and looking at games, though I don't buy many new books. There's a considerable list of things I would refuse to give up before chess, however, if you'd like to play a little game of What If...? Certainly reading for pleasure would have to stay. Hmm, wine or chess? Wine. Chocolate? Hmm, tougher there. Writing, designing, music, even photography would probably top chess on my list. Never look at another chessboard versus never take another photograph? Or never read another Rilke poem? Never ride my bike again? Sorry, chess. While it's probably my #1 hobby in terms of hours spent, it also strikes me as being one I could live without. (This is obviously made much easier by the fact I'll never have to make such a choice.) But I'm certainly not ashamed or concerned about the amount of time I spend on it.

Since there are a limited number of hours in the day it's fair to say we also make trade-offs with both baser and more noumenal things, such as sex and, say, mathematics or philosophy. That's getting a little too philosophical itself, and giving up chess for sex isn't an option chessplayers are supposed to have by definition, at least according to much of popular culture.

Chess is no waste of time at all, no more than anything else that brings us pleasure. As with most activities, this enjoyment comes not only from things directly related to the game, such as competition and beauty. There is also the social element, in person, online, and the feeling of being part of a global, and historical, community. You are here.


Chess history is a big part of CHESS for me. I read most of Winter's columns. I have a complete set of WASHINGTON CHESS LETTER/NORTHWEST CHESS LETTER/NORTHWEST CHESS starting in 1947. Chesscafe.com has a number of articles on chess in the past. One can play over games played many many years ago or one played today.
Chess is a common language all over the world not that I have traveled to any where other than USA and Canada. Postal chess has hooked me up with players in other countries.
Also if one wants to create chess events that can be done with out a lot of expense. The general public seems to like watching atleast of a little while chess events held in shopping malls.
Posted by: Russell Miller at June 22, 2006 20:08

I like this essay.

See if Newsweek will publish it in their "My Turn" column.
Posted by: jdmarino at June 22, 2006 20:39

Chess has certainly been a great source of entertainment for me. Luckily, it has always remained a game; it makes it much more pleasurable: the playing is freer, the wins sweeter and the inevitable losses are easier to digest.

Chess is the typical good mistress: sweet, elusive and capricious; utterly enjoyable, readily available, but ultimately very unproductive. Enjoy it while you can, but don't take it too seriously...
Posted by: tgg at June 22, 2006 20:47

Here's a question inspired by Mig's essay: At what point is someone "good" at chess? It could be argued that if you can break 100 at golf, then you are a good golfer, as only approximately 10% of golfers ever break 100 (which obivously includes the very large numer of players who only play golf once, or a few times a year or what have you). A 1400 at chess would very likely defeat 99% of the players on the planet 99% of the time, which again includes those huge number of people who simply know the rules (en passant notwithstanding *wink*). On chess.fm GM John Fedorowicz said that when players hit 1900 that they started causing him a few problems (or words to that effect).

Also note that abilty to play, and understanding of the game, are not one in the same thing. There is nothing really to understand about tactics or calculation (unlike positional play or strategy or planning), which must represent the lions share of the GMs advantage over the rank and file (no pun intended). Simply the ability to concentrate well might also be a big determining factor of success in chess.
Posted by: rockrobinoff at June 22, 2006 21:58

I'm an under 1200 player who just doesn't have the good sense to give up the game. I love it in the way people love playing golf on the weekend: they know they will never make the PGA tour, but it's fun to drink beer and hit some balls. It's my excuse to leave the house for a weekend swiss, my weekly club meetings and to sit at the local coffee shop and study. It's my one "academic" interest and my one outlet for deep study. It's also social for me. I've met a lot of great people playing chess.

I guess my point is this: I like bananas.
Posted by: Evan Shelton at June 22, 2006 22:01

For me, chess is a diversion from all the sex, drugs and rock n' roll. On TV I mean!

No, really it is an obsession. Getting better and better at it everyday and still sucking - that must look weird from the outside.
Posted by: RingLord at June 22, 2006 22:29

For me, chess has a powerful aesthetic element. In fact that is the dominant factor in my interest. Both as a spectator, and even more so when I play, I am overwhelmed by the search for beauty at the board. Beauty and truth.

I find those aspects far more important than the competitive side. I guess that's why I'll play over games from the big-league events when I have time, but I don't care much about which GM comes out on top, which World Champion was better than which other World Champion, etc.

And although I play blitz games online and with park hustlers, I don't really enjoy that. I only enjoy playing when it's serious -- rated, and with the time control as slow as possible, to maximize quality. That's where I can dream of creating an object of beauty myself ... and that is what keeps me coming back again and again.

It's a myth that only a professional-strength player can execute an original and beautiful conception over the board ... just as it's a myth that only a professor of literature can write a brilliant and inspiring poem or short story.

And you don't even need Fritz. I grew up reading month after month in Larry Evans' Q&A column, ideas sent in by people of just about every rating class, that improved upon recent or historic GM games, established opening theory, or even long-accepted endgame reference works. All this came way before engines were born.

A sacrificial combination (especially the "true" rather than "sham" sacrifice) is awe-inspiring because it’s a practical demonstration of mind over matter. At its best, chess embodies the triumph of spirit over crass materialism. Sacrificing your pieces to achieve checkmate represents the triumph of visual imagination, of creative foresight, over brute force.

In that sense, chess players are like magicians, or circus acrobats -- we can make the 32 pieces do tricks that mere mortals can barely imagine.
Posted by: Jon Jacobs at June 22, 2006 22:58

To paraphrase an old joke:

The doctor told me I had to give up half my chess life. I can't decide whether to stop talking about it or thinking about it...
Posted by: RedIvan at June 22, 2006 23:25

I must not be the only person here who has a hundred books and never completed one. And reading them like a novel is not really enough to get much out of them... one has to do that solitare thing or at least think seriously about what one is reading. All in all, despite the fact that I am pretty sure I could reach a good level by devoting myself seriously to the game(to the tune of 20+ hours, probably not playing online), I don't see the reward in doing so. I have done what is easy enough for me in chess and reached the limit of "my cruise potential". Nakamura's is 2660 FIDE. Mine is 2280. What to do? There are so many things that make a much bigger difference in the world. If chess brings no money and makes no difference(it is just a game) then what is the reason to really spend time ? Out of a feeling of inadequacy for not being good enough? To me there should be some positive motivations to invest a lot of effort.
Posted by: DP at June 22, 2006 23:55

Chess utterly transformed my life. I was going along through high school as a sports jock (soccer, baseball, and basketball), minding my own business, when one day a friend of mine talked me into visiting the chess club. I saw some guys playing blitz chess and I was hooked. The idea of relying solely on myself rather than upon a team was part of it.

Because of chess I changed my major in college; ended up in the career that I am in (international diplomacy), and married my wonderful wife and had two great kids. I am strictly an amateur and can't play much, but I have still had fantastic moments, such as winning the US Amateur West, or playing simuls against Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov, Short, etc. I am frustrated as can be at how terribly the world of chess is run, but I could not give up chess for anything- it is in my blood. And, every rare once in awhile I manage to play a game that I can never forget....
Posted by: knight_tour at June 23, 2006 00:51

No different than watching golf; you don't have to be good at it to enjoy it. It can be alot of things: sport/hobby/passion/entertainment/recreation/passion or whatever - which reminds me of a favorite quote of mine - "to those that understand no explanation is necessary, and to those that don't understand, no explanation is possible."
Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2006 00:56

Great essay Mig.

Someone posed the direct question: "IF you knew now that you would never get better at winning chess games, would you quit chess now?".

It made people think, but the consensus answer was "I would Not quit". I feel the same way.

As you essay points out, there a numerous ways to enjoy chess.

A strong argument can be made that in at least one important sense, chess is the greatest spectator sport of all time.

We have all replayed games from decades ago. We have enjoyed their clever ideas, their elegant executions, and their intangible beauty.

In contrast, I would have no interest in watching a fine football from 32 years ago. I would watch today's game live, but not an old football game, not even an old Super Bowl (would be boring).

Chess is currently suffering from Poker Envy, and chess wishes it could be on ESPN2 TV every week. Until someone produces a demo video of a properly designed chess TV show, we chess players may have to content ourselves in the knowledge that nobody buys Poker books to replay great matches held years ago just for the beauty and enjoyment of it.

Gene Milener
Posted by: Gene_M at June 23, 2006 01:06

I started playing seriously in high school, but when I realized at around ~1700 that I wouldn't improve without spending more free time than I had, I gradually gave up playing--and went over to directing.

How did that work out? Well, it's been over ten years, and I'm still flying three thousand miles several times a year to direct tournaments.

In a way, the chess community's become a form of bizarre, extended family--the odd relatives one only sees during the holidays...
Posted by: cynical at June 23, 2006 04:40

how many concert goers understand how a fugue works? nevertheless they leave the concert hall with a mental erection.
Posted by: pliscon at June 23, 2006 05:33

Chess seemed to save my life when I was a kid. I was a total misfit at school, but got along well at tournaments. I gave up the game for 23 years while focusing on playing live obnoxius rock and roll and recording a tall stack of obscure records and cd's that will outlast my chess games but are still in the "amateur" category which never bothered me. I never wanted to be a professional musician and was never capable of being a chess professional. My 3rd passion is for professional wrestling. I didn't have the contacts to get into the biz. I regret that a bit. A hobby is a hobby. I know lots of chess players who never read a book on the game who seem to get more fun out of it than lots of jaded tournament players. Likewise plenty of fans of wrestling seem to appreciate it's charms even more than some of the non-fan body builders who use it as a means of making a buck. Amateur musicians seem better adjusted for the most part than "signed" recording artists who face lots of pressures to shape their "art" according to the whims of the label bosses. I pity people who feel like their hobby isn't working if it's not earning them a living. Hey, if you love boats and the water..DON'T take a job as a sailor or a boat salesman.
Posted by: whiskeyrebel at June 23, 2006 06:33

Back in the 1950s, Jazz took off in New York. The reason it did was that musicians could get a card, and actually get gigs and get paid for their work. I think the same thing goes for chess. There's a horrible 'effort/cash return' ratio in chess. The competition is one nice, the history is interesting, but unless chess players get a better and more consitent source of income, it will never get out of the backwaters an into prime time. It'll always be at the mercy of political hawks running things and lining their own pockets. Chessplayers will always get the raw and muddy end of the stick, unless they can make a living at it. That's my 2 cents.
Posted by: BAG at June 23, 2006 07:26

"noumenal"? You've probably been reading too many of Nigel Short's columns.
Posted by: David Long at June 23, 2006 07:28

My two hobbies have one thing in common: I am better than most, but nowhere near good.
My chess rating is 1800. My softball leagues that I play in are C/D class (which is about the equivalent of an 1800 chess rating).
I categorize myself as 'slightly better than average' in both games. I have a library of chess books and equipment and a nice collection of softball videos and DVDs to try and get better.

I probably wont ever get any better at either game as I have been playing both for a long time now. But I still continue to play and love both games.
Posted by: Tony West (Detroit Area) at June 23, 2006 08:18

If people like buying chessbooks they can buy mine. :)

Just click on the link!!
Posted by: Mark Howitt at June 23, 2006 08:26

My pet peeve is being criticized for spending hours on my chess by the same people that spend hours in front of a television every day.
Posted by: Mike at June 23, 2006 08:27

Great expression by Mig.

Chess is the one sport/art/science that you can indulge in without having to spend alot of cash, especially with the internet around. In fact, I have never come across any other discipline where history, research, technology and human psychology have all rolled compactly into one whole and become extremely accesible to an ordinary person.
Posted by: Mehul at June 23, 2006 08:48

I started playing chess 5.5 years ago at the age of 34: I needed a hobby. I stopped watching TV, I played chess on the internet, I bought chess books, I became the president of my local club. (!)

Whenever my wife complains that I spend too much on books, I threaten to take up golf. (I think my entire library cost less than a modern driver and putter.)

Occasionally I have bouts of "why am I wasting my time on a game?" doubts. After all, I could be learning to play an insturment! But I like the fact that you can play and enjoy yourself even while you are still learning. I tried to learn to play the guitar as an adult, but it takes too long before I could make music, so I quit. If my chess game were a guitar, I'd be making terribly discordant sounds. But my opponent and I still have a good time, and, occasionally, we harmonize.
Posted by: jdmarino at June 23, 2006 08:59

My online chess rating is ~1200 on FICS and my golf handicap is ~20. I picked up both hobbies fairly recently and love them both enough to make the girlfriend somewhat dissatisfied :-)
Posted by: simsan at June 23, 2006 11:53

I love Chess because it gives so much of joy when you win a beautiful game and it can also arouse feelings of blackest melancholy when your position is lost. It tells us a lot about our life, our wishes, our hopes, and our dreams.....
Posted by: Ryan at June 23, 2006 12:21

Personally I have never won a game that I was satisfied with or one that gave me any creative satisfaction at all. Just the cheap thrill of a victory or the terrible pain of having played moronically(only occassionally do I feel like my opponent played really well and I did a decent job creating resistance). Perhaps this leads to my attitude towards chess. Very much addicted to and in love with the beauty of well played chess, but lukewarm towards tournament play.
Posted by: DP at June 23, 2006 12:44

My wife and daughter sometimes complain about the time I devote to chess. Apart from that, in the 34 years since finishing high school, my chess activities have brought only positive feedback from non-chess family, friends, acquaintances and work colleagues.

I can think of just one exception: a girlfriend who was atypically anti-intellectual and status-conscious in a naive, almost trailer-park sort of way. Her hostility to chess, which I wasn't involved in anyway during the period I was involved with her, was no greater than the complaints she voiced about other intellectual activities I tried with her, such as an academic seminar about the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall that I recall bringing her to circa 1990. She was as hot as the planet Mercury, but for obvious reasons, it didn't work out.

My experience is hardly unique. I know some people feel a powerful need to believe that chess achievement impresses no one outside the chess world, but they should first look up the official bios of Ken Rogoff, Alan Trefler, Max Zavanelli, and Andrew Kalotay -- just a few of the names that occur to me off the top of my head. Michael Rohde is another. His story might not be posted on the Web, but he once told me that his GM status helped when he was getting started as a lawyer: his employer offered clients a chance to play chess with him, as a perk of doing business with them.

So it turns out that, other than a junior-high schoolyard 40 years ago and New York Military Academy summer camp at about the same time, the only place where I can count on finding people (albeit just 1 or 2 of them) who try to make me feel guilty or inferior about choosing to make chess a significant part of my life, is ... a chess fan site!

Life is strange, ain't it?
Posted by: Jon Jacobs at June 23, 2006 12:46

I suppose I should only add (if only for personal satisfaction and I guess that it applies to many) that the only reason I continue to play in tournaments is the dream that it will one day just click(at least to some extent) and that I will start to play sensibly. So my answer to that question of would I continue to play chess if I knew (100% as opposed to 95% as it stands) that I would never improve is definitely an emphatic no.
Posted by: DP at June 23, 2006 12:53

So that's what happened to Alan Trefler!

I remember Soltis' column on 'Expertise,' and his story of how Trefler went 8-1 and tied with Benko at the 1975 World Open--in his article, Andy only said that Alan had become a master, but no longer played competitive chess...
Posted by: cynical at June 23, 2006 13:17

Well put, DP.

Every sensible and well-balanced individual will reach a point where he questions the benefit of putting serious work into chess. I reached that point about 10 years ago, and since then, only play casual games and follow GM action online.

The game, without tournament play, is probably more enjoyable (for me, of course - other people may rightfully feel it is just the opposite) than ever.
Posted by: tgg at June 23, 2006 13:17

Your threshold of chess quality needed to generate creative satisfaction is clearly much higher than mine, DP. Sounds to me like it may be too high; an overabundance of perfectionism, perhaps?

I get plenty of creative satisfaction from my serious play, and have a nice long collection of games I am proud enough to publish (including some losses and lots of draws, along with the wins).

Granted, you're a stronger player than I am. When I looked up your tournament records awhile back I saw that you beat a couple of 2300s and/or 2400s in just about every recent event you played. Surely that must have produced at least one real nice game, no?

One game currently awaiting (re-)publication via one of my articles (not a game of mine) was a 19-move brilliancy where a guy rated 1828 annihilated a future IM, who was rated 2307 at the time. It was played in 1970 in a local weekend tournament in Chicago; yet I recently found it published on the Internet -- ON A FINNISH-LANGUAGE SITE! My guess is that the winner (Dave Oshana) probably feels that game alone justified all the effort he put into chess over the years.
Posted by: Jon Jacobs at June 23, 2006 13:31

I started out as a 1400 player. Remember playing through games of Fischer, Spassky and Larsen. I saw some logic. It gave me pleasure. Now I am a 1900 player, understands more of those games. Still I think the pleasure of seeing GM games is the same for a 1400 and 1900 player, you are just thinking at a different level.

Chess is an alternate world. Man is a hunter, warrior, fighter, competitor. Chess fulfils a basic instinct ... Chess is logic, strategy, inspiration. The joy of thinking and creation. The goal of mastery. Or simple. A beautiful mix of sport, science and art.

As I have turned 40, my chess is becoming more entertaiment and less ambiton. With internet live games chess is also becoming a serious time waster...
Posted by: Akselborg at June 23, 2006 13:39

He jugado ajedrez desde siempre. Empecé a entrenar cuando tenía que participar en torneos infantiles y lo que más me gustaba era viajar y conocer nuevas personas. Luego lo dejé, ya por motivos que cuando la gente crece empiezan a aparecer "cosas más importantes" en nuestra vida. Hace 2 años lo volví a tomar en serio. Ese bichito que siempre había estado dentro de mí salió y empecé a jugar torneos y me divertí mucho, pero entoces quería jugar cada vez mejor y siguió un entrenamiento duro y una presión de jugar siempre bien, no cometer errores, etc. Entonces me di cuenta de que en vez de disfrutarlo como debía ser, me preocupaba en demostrar que era mejor que otros. En conclusión si vamos a la metáfora del mono y el reloj o la banana, me he dado cuenta que siendo un mono de 1400, o un niño como prefiero llamarlo yo, se disfruta más cualquier cosa, por que juegas simplemente porque disfrutas haciéndolo y punto.
Posted by: poderchenko at June 23, 2006 14:53

I started off with a rating of 1600 when I was 18. I was confident that I could easily get to at least 2000. Twenty years later I am at a floored out 1800. I seem to have reached my limit (about 19 years ago), but I don't want to admit it. There were several times when I quit, since the lack of improvement was frustrating, but I keep coming back to it.

Maybe the reason we don't improve is that we don't know how to do it. Different things might work for different people. There is no easy way to figure out the best way.

I love the intensity of playing in tournaments. I think that If I can learn to concentrate and focus on the game at hand without letting the mind wander off, I have a chance to improve my results.
I also enjoy travelling to different place and making new friends.

If you have any comments on my chess at


please let me know
Posted by: iw at June 23, 2006 15:07

Chess-playing is enjoyable, because at its essence the game is a battle of ideas, conducted in a fair and objective manner. The ideas put forward can be mild, aggrressive, brilliant or stupid ... but they are your ideas, and win, lose or draw, you know that you achieved what you deserved. And the game has wrapped around it a diverse and rich culture that I have not found duplicated anywhere else. In what other endeavor would you find the #3 player on the men's team of a Muslim country to be a Chinese woman! (Qatar at the 2006 Turin Olympiad)
Posted by: RP at June 23, 2006 15:28

Chess is an excellent way for me to re-affirm my stupidity.
Posted by: John Fernandez at June 23, 2006 15:31

Off topic...

ESPN makes CHESSBOXING its top feature!

Posted by: H L M at June 23, 2006 15:35

Two pieces which I feel have some relevance to the story:

Smyslov, getting old, once complained to Taimanov that it was getting harder and harder for him to calculate long variations. "You don't need to," said Taimanov. "You have the best analytical tool in your right hand." Thus Taimanov commented on Smyslov's great sense of intuition behind the board. When I play game after game without analyzing too much and especially when I watch great GMs games with each other, I feel that I am developing that sense of position, that ability to look at the board and say: "Hey, this looks bad," or "Hey that pawn line over there looks weak," or "There might be an opportunity for an exposure check here." We learn to recognize patterns in a chess game better.

The second story is a paraphrase of an old Japanese proverb. "No path for which destination is its only reward is worth walking." If I only wanted to get better at chess or even to win a game rather than actaully enjoy playing it would make the great game seem a petty pointless intellectual competition between men with too high an opinion of themselves. My dream is not to beat Kasparov. But I would love to play a game with Morozevich.
Posted by: Yuriy Kleyner at June 23, 2006 18:52

Heck I'd rather beat Kasparov than Morozevich. Then I can say I beat the best. No pain no gain. I enjoy the gain. Hence I endure the pain. Maybe I enjoy the pain because I enjoy the gain. Here is what Papoose had to say in his work "Born to Win":

"Winning is everything, let me explain what I think
Practice makes perfect, so when working I dont relax
I practice a lot, therefore I'm perfect and that's a fact

Been through some hard times while the burner was on my back
It was rough, but I was determined so I adapt
Gettin what Im deservin, holla back
Game over you lost like a person with outta map

You spend time hitting the endgame tables so you can unleash their full fury against your opponent.
Posted by: superfreaky at June 23, 2006 20:26

I feel that in chess practice doesn't have to be perfect or even good to be enjoyable. You could say I enjoy the pain, because to me, playing chess or studying chess is no pain at all. Occasionaly frustration, sure :)
Posted by: Yuriy Kleyner at June 23, 2006 21:57

Chess is an integral part of my life. It's part of who I am. In my own personal "periodic table", chess is a noble element. Or maybe it's more like oxygen - if I hold my breath for too long, I start turning blue, and I'm forced to breathe, to play a game, two games, ten games! Chess is my entire life rolled up into a 5-minute experience: the joy, the failure, the determination, the satisfaction. Chess! Chess!
Posted by: ComputoJon at June 23, 2006 22:49

I consider playing a tournament game equivalent to entering a jungle naked knowing in advance you may be attacked in the dark by unknown predators - winning a Chess game should be accompanied by a Tarzan yell. To me it is trying to make sense of the unknowable, setting sail on the Atlantic in a sailboat, basically an awesome and very humbling challenge. --Brian Wall
Posted by: greg koster at June 23, 2006 23:29

Chess is introspection. Each game we play tells us something new about our psychological makeup at that point in time.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at June 24, 2006 05:48

I enjoy reading endgame books and watching GM games on the ICC. I haven't *played* a game in some time. There are many ways to enjoy the hobby, as Mig points out.
Posted by: Russ Palmeri at June 24, 2006 18:29

On a chess forum I posed the question 'If you could see into the future and discovered you were never going to significantly improve your abilities as a chess player, would you quit playing chess?


I think that Gene Milener may have been refering to this question in his earlier post on this thread.

I think it is an interesting question because the desire to improve seems to be a strong motiviating force in many players. However, eventually most people seem to settle to a certain level of ability at the game and continue playing because they enjoy the game. However, the dream of improvement lingers and for some remains an essential reason why they play.

Personally, chess brings me so much enjoyment in so many ways (being part of the chess community that Mig so elegantly desribes) that it could never be a waste of my time.
Posted by: SonOfPearl at June 25, 2006 03:36

I like bughouse more than chess. Did not Sun Tzu say that plundering your opponent's supplies and recruiting your opponent's soldiers is worth 10 tens time your supplies and 10 times your soldiers? I look at the grandmaster games and it's all Ruy Lopez anti-Marshalls. Sometimes I'm upset that pawns can't move backwards. If it's not fun then I'll stop and not continue out of inertia. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to realize when to hang up your scoresheets.
Posted by: superfreaky at June 25, 2006 04:11

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 22, 2006 7:55 AM.

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