What an event the 19th Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open in New York this weekend was!
IM John Bartholomew and I attended as a duo on Saturday to do a little promo stuff and spread the word about Chessable – and we were both blown away by it.
Chess-in-the-Park is a tournament held every year at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park that heralds the start of the city’s chess season. It is casual and fun but, at the same time, it is hugely-inspiring.
The final count was 775 competitors playing – with a wide range of ages and backgrounds. All sorts play in Chess-in-the-Park and – as we found out – rather a lot of fellow Chessable members, many of whom who came over to say hello.
For example, John and I spent time talking to alexshirovbh3 (an Encyclopedic member with 1.8m points), who suggested some improvements to the site and got a Chessable polo shirt to say thanks. We also signed up the winner of the Open Championship (1700+), WFM Bahar Hallaeva.
As a little fun sideshow before it started, John had two blitz games with GM Maxim Dlugy – and you’ll be pleased to know he played well. Both games ended in draws but John should have won the first one.
I didn’t see the second one – he’ll have to tell you what happened!
As I kept saying all day there is absolutely no chance anyone would ever get this many chess players in one place for a tournament from where I’m from, London.
For a start, it was outdoors – and it just rains way too much in the UK! But the main reason is we just don’t have the people needed to put on something like this.
It’s always sunny at Chess-in-the-Park!
The Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open has always been run by Chess in the Schools and the NYC Parks Department. Ed Feldman from the Parks Dept. came up with the idea and partnered with Chess in the Schools.
Chess-in-the-Park has now been running for 19 years and Chess in the Schools have got it down to a fine art.
Everyone who enters is given plenty of water made available by Poland Spring plus fruit to keep them going. All the boards are provided, so you don’t need to bring your own.
The setting at the heart of Central Park is, of course, stunning and despite being in mid-September the organizers say they are always blessed with good weather. If it happened in London, that wouldn’t be the case…
As I said, there was a fantastic mix of players (which is something I don’t always see at home) and it was especially impressive to see so many female players cheered on by Sophia Rohde and Kimberley Doo from the US Chess Women’s Committee.
WFM Hallaeva told us afterward: “I wish it was not just once a year. I never played in such an amazing place. It is really good to involve people into chess. I wish good luck to Chess in the Schools.”
And if you have any chance of getting to New York to play at Chess-in-the-Park next year, we highly recommend doing so.
Dear Chessable members, today is simply unbelievable! We are delighted to announce that Chessable has become part of the Play Magnus & chess24 family.
That’s right, The World Champion himself, Magnus Carlsen, is now part of our Chessable family! It’s been an exciting and incredible journey, and we wanted to thank you for being part of it.
We are on a mission to make learning and improving your chess as easy, efficient and fun as possible. When I told the team, I compared this milestone to climbing a tall mountain. What happened when the first adventurers reached such peaks? Other than the sheer joy and excitement they must have felt, I imagine they immediately saw taller and exciting mountains behind it.
Play Magnus and chess24 believe in us!
We’ve reached the first summit, and it has been incredibly rewarding and simply amazing. The team is filled with joy, but we all also know a lot of work remains to be done. We’ve challenged ourselves to continue to make Chessable better and better. We have big dreams and are working hard to realise them. We are working on Android and iOS apps, as well as a new web-app. We are working on a redesign of the site. We are launching amazing courses and continually improving their user-friendliness.
Having joined PlayMagnus and chess24, we are now part of an industry leader who is able to contribute significant resources to help us achieve our ambitions. While we see many synergies and benefits, we would highlight that they are providing £500,000 additional funding to accelerate further development, adding to the £200,000 we previously raised. Additionally, Chessable will have access to their highly regarded content creators so that we can continue to build out our growing library of titles. More importantly, they are also extremely passionate about our mission and will help us push hard to realise it.
While extra funding is instrumental, there are some things money can’t buy. Your support has been a crucial part in helping us get here. Each recommendation to a friend, each piece of feedback, all of it helps us create the perfect learning environment for you. We are forever indebted to each one of you who believes in the Chessable mission, from authors to students, from coaches to parents, every single one of you. Thank you.
Your ongoing support will be vital for the challenges that lay ahead. Let’s climb these new peaks together. But first, let’s rejoice and enjoy this moment. The future is bright, and Chessable will become all it was dreamt up to be. Hurrah!
Does this mean I will now have to communicate with chess24/Play Magnus instead of Chessable?
Everything about Chessable will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Except that, our design, UX/UI are getting a touch up to make your experience with Chessable even better.
When will you finally release those apps?
Certain things in the past few months have been slowing down our progress. However, with the new funding, we are now moving faster than ever before. We’ve already added three new developers to the team in just a week (!). We expect early versions of the apps to be available in just a few months.
Love Chessable but think you can improve it? If the answer is yes, and if you share our core values of making learning chess easy, fun and efficient, you could join our team!
We are a small, dynamic company that’s growing fast and that means every team member can make a real difference.
There is plenty of scope for showing initiative, developing new skills and shaping the future of the team and the product.
We are flexible as to when and how much you work, and whether you need a full or part-time position. If you need to work around family responsibilities, it’s no problem – we can work around that.
We want to get better!
Not only will you be working with a game-changing product, but you’ll also be working with a diverse, friendly and chess obsessed team. It’s a dream job.
Just like the royal game our team transcends all borders and boundaries. We have team members working remotely in Brazil, Siberia, and London. So it really doesn’t matter where you live, what matters is that you can make a positive contribution.
So what are we looking for? Well, if you love chess and you love code, then you will be interested in the following three vacancies:
a) Fullstack Web Developer
If you relish taking web applications to the next level and delighting users, you’ll want to work on our groundbreaking MoveTrainer technology and other important features of the site.
We use PHP, MySQL, jQuery, HTML & CSS but if you are a talented coder who knows a different server side technology don’t count yourself out.
b) React Native Developer
If you know React Native then you’ll no doubt want to be part of the next big thing for Chessable – our upcoming mobile App!
c) Frontend Developer
Experience with React will be a big bonus as we build the next generation interface.
If you want to know what it’s like working for Chessable, just read what some of our team members had to say:
Working at Chessable is great! The project our team is currently on uses the latest tech, and is highly rewarding. We work together effectively, and everyone has a say in what’s going on.
Chessable allows me to combine my passions of software, learning & chess. Working on a product you use and love is so rewarding. The company is dynamic and growing which affords so many opportunities for learning, collaboration and using your initiative.
Upgrade your Chessable membership to the highest level and join our team! For all users, we want you to know we are planning and working on great and exciting things, watch this space!
More vacancies may become available in the future so if you don’t quite fit what we are looking for right now don’t worry, send us your resume anyway – we are ready to hear your case! Also, if you know someone who would love this kind of opportunity, please spread the word.
So if you’re interested drop jobsATchessableDOTcom an email with your resume and we’ll take a look.
In the Positional Line with 6. Be2 there haven’t been any major developments that could jeopardise our conclusions.
In the Sozin the recent game Golubev-Bogdanovich followed the line with 8. Bg5 Nc5 9. 0-0 Be7 10. Re1 0-0 11. f4, but here Bogdanovich deviated with 11… Bd7 12. Qf3 Qb6 and after 13. Rad1 I cannot say that he was successful in solving his problems. I am still convinced that our proposed way to deal with this line is the best one.
In the English Attack, more players have started employing our approach of first developing and then pushing …h5 and I take this as a confirmation of quality!
Theory from Norway and Moscow
In the latest games played in July, Black scored two important victories: Paravyan beat Khanin and Vidit beat Inarkiev!
In the aggressive 6. Bg5, the major development is Vachier’s change from the improved Poisoned Pawn that we analyze. In the Norway Chess tournament he played the “pure” Poisoned Pawn against Caruana but ran into some extremely deep preparation and lost.
It is understandable for elite players to switch lines and openings – in spite of their deep preparation they still don’t want to be sitting ducks playing the same lines over and over again.
So these changes do not mean that there is a problem with the line, but it is rather an attempt at a little less predictability. An important game was played in the mainline, Kasimdzhanov-Abdusattorov, where Black immediately pushed …d5 (without the previous …Nc5) but he could have landed into trouble, hence indirectly proving that the line with …Nc5, as we analyzed, is still the way to go.
In the 6. f4 line there haven’t been many games played generally, as it is perhaps the least popular line against the Najdorf nowadays, so everything we have analyzed still stands.
The Fianchetto 6. g3 is still a popular option, but none of our lines have been challenged. The blitz game Andreikin-Wang Hao from May confirmed our textual comment on White’s 9th move in the 7. Nf3 line.
The Modern 6. h3 remains very popular and in the game, Vallejo-Andersen from April, Black obtained a good position with our line of quick …d5, even though he played somewhat differently later on.
In the Odds and Ends chapter, there are many moves, but not all of them have been played. One of the positional considerations in the 6. Nb3 line, i.e. that White should prevent Black from getting …b4 in was confirmed in the game Alekseenko-Sjugirov, played in July, where White played 8. a3, even before developing the bishop on g2.
The biggest developments here have been in the line 6 Bd3. Our suggested line against it successfully proved its worth in more than one game. In fact, in the rapid game Karjakin-Giri from the ongoing Grand Prix tournament in Riga, Giri introduced the new idea of 9… Bg4 (instead of the common 9…Be6) and got a good game out of the opening, even though he later lost.
In May, at the Moscow Grand Prix, Nepomniachtchi tested Wojtaszek in exactly our line, deviating with 14. Rc1, a move also played by Anand, but Wojtaszek showed the potential of Black’s position and equalised without major problems.
To conclude, our lines are healthy and are withstanding the test of time!
Hi everyone, our all-American hero IM John Bartholomew is off to a 4th July parade today and will then spend the rest of it “grilling out”, whatever that means.
But first, he’s launched a very special Independence Day sale for you today.
We’re pleased to say a stack of our US-based authors have got on board to make it happen and in total there are no fewer than 24 courses on sale.
Here’s John with his take on our line-up of courses:
As you may know, on Chessable the authors or publishers generally benefit most from the proceeds of their work – as they should – and decide the prices.
Up to 50% off selected courses
So we have to say thank you to the authors/publishers for agreeing to knock off up to 50% on some of the titles. I’m fairly sure I’m right in saying this our the biggest sale ever.
Among the courses on sale include Small Steps To Giant Improvement by GM Sam Shankland, who memorably won the US Championship last year. This is all about pawn play and is for intermediate to advanced players. Highly recommended.
There are two types of endgames, theoretical and practical and the way to study them is different.
I remember when I was a kid and was about to learn the theoretical endgames. The best manual at the time was Fine’s monumental work Basic Chess Endgames. I had it in two volumes, a 1951 edition in Croatian from Sahovska Naklada. Even though Averbakh’s tomes on endgames were also out by then, I didn’t have them so Fine it was.
My way was the pedestrian way. I simply played over all the examples in both books. I would set up the position and then I would play over the moves. I would pause and try to understand the principles that were explained in words. Then make the moves on the board, often repeating the process. After finishing the work (which lasted for what seemed an infinite amount of time) I noticed a marked improvement in my endgame play. As if some inner pieces of the puzzle fell in place and I was just playing better.
After some period I would repeat the process. It was a very long and not too interesting process, going through all the theoretical endgames, but I knew it was a useful one, so I did it. That is how I acquired my theoretical knowledge of endgames.
For the practical endgames, I am greatly indebted to Shereshevsky’s Endgame Strategy (Konturi Endshpilja in Russian). The book was full of general principles and good examples. Even though nowadays with the help of computers I discover many mistakes in the book, the main teachers were the players who played those endgames – Capablanca, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Fischer… By playing over their (end)games it seems that the subconscious picks up the invisible threads that are required to produce good endgame moves.
Apart from Shereshevsky, there were also other books and games of the great players. Three of them, in particular, were very impressive: Capablanca, Botvinnik, and Smyslov. Botvinnik’s three tomes (1923-1941, 1942-1956 and 1957-1970) were amazing as was Smyslov’s Letopis Shakhmatnogo Tvorchestva (Annals of Chess Creativity). (All of these are in Russian, as I studied them in the original). It was the recommended method back then – you study the (end)games of the great players and after a while, your general game improves.
Theoretical first, practical second
Nowadays there are new books. I usually recommend Jesus De la Villa’s 100 Endgames You Must Know. It is the most basic knowledge a chess player must have.
And then there is, of course, the Endgame Bible – Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. Dvoretsky is the ultimate guide to the theoretical endgames, it is what Fine and Averbakh used to be in pre-computer times, only this time the variations are error-free. Some time ago I did with Dvoretsky what I did with Fine many years ago, only this time it was tougher with all the computer lines involved. I have read that The Manual was Kasparov’s favorite book.
I would say that the order of studying endgames should be theoretical first, practical second. The rationale here is that you must know what you’re going for, what your end-position is, with a clear understanding and knowledge of its evaluation and method of play. These end-positions are the theoretical endgames and you must be able to rely on them without a shadow of a doubt. The actual memorization of these theoretical endgames is similar to learning the multiplication table. It is problematic at first, it requires effort, but they must be memorized and after that life is much easier! (Understanding the principles etc. goes without saying.) As with all things requiring memorization, repetition is something that you will need to do from time to time.
For practical endgames, the most important thing here is to develop a feeling for them. You get that feeling by playing over countless games by the great players. I’d recommend the players from the past (notably my favorites Capablanca, Botvinnik, and Smyslov) because their play is somehow easier to understand and assimilate. Today’s chess is just way too burdened by computer variations and is too complex.
I would like to finish with a modern method for getting better at endgames. It consists of trying to win a technically winning position against an engine. I remember I read somewhere that this was the method Topalov used before his stellar period in the mid-00s. I tried it myself and what I can say is that it is even more frustrating than solving Dvoretsky’s puzzles. In other words, I rarely, if ever, managed to win a game.
Now all that remains is to get down to work. Good luck!
It’s been a busy but absolutely fantastic start to the year for us! We’ve had legends of chess film at our studios for you, like GM Harikrishna, GM Aagaard, and GM Shankland. And guess what, we’ve released more courses in the first four months of 2019 than in the entirety of 2018!
While that was going on, the team has also grown from four full-timers and seven part-timers in 2018, to eight full-timers and probably 14+ part-timers. Big thanks to the team and big thanks to you for helping us continue to achieve ever greater heights. With your continued support, in just three months we’ve ballooned from 17 million positions learned by you to a staggering 28 million! Wow.
Before I go on, It’s time for a little hip hip hooray and a special sale on our courses, and of course, a PRO sale. Enjoy!
Lately, when you write to us, a recurring question we get asked is about the news of MoveTrainer 2.0. We announced it at the beginning of the year and it’s now been a few months. Therefore, I thought I’d give you a little bit of an update on what’s going on at Chessable HQ.
We’ve had two developers working on MoveTrainer 2.0 for you since February when we kicked off the project. One more has joined in May to give us more speed. We expect yet another one to start contributing in a month or two once we’ve cleared some other top priorities. We still fully expect to release the shiny new software sometime later this year, perhaps Autumn (Fall? 🙂 )
A side effect of this allocation of resources to MoveTrainer 2.0 is that currently, progress is a tad slower, but fret not, as always, we are still all ears and making things happen to the existing site! For instance, we recently brought you Cyclical Review and a revamp of our most popular course on the site. We never stop listening to our users, we never stop building, so please, keep that feedback coming!
And remember, when we are finally done with the MoveTrainer 2.0 update, not only will we be able to release apps on iOS and Android, but we are building the groundwork so that we can implement highly requested features like dark mode, resizeable boards, offline mode!
So if you have taken a peek at Chessable lately and did not notice anything new going on (other than new awesome courses), now you know why. We are hard at work behind the scenes, making sure we bring MoveTrainer 2.0 to you as soon as possible.
We’ll try to update you again soon, meanwhile, wishing you a great rest of the month.
One of the most important aspects of self-control during a game of chess is the ability to stay calm under pressure.
Imagine a situation when on move 30, in a highly complex position you have a few promising options at your disposal but you have only 10 minutes to reach move 40.
To make it worse, your opponent also has a few options against each of your promising options, so things can easily get out of control and you slowly start to feel overwhelmed.
It is easy to panic in such situations. It is not so much the depth of the variations that will scare you, it is the breadth – the Kotovian variation tree branches out so quickly that you cannot seem to be able to control it.
This is the exact moment when the above-mentioned self-control should kick in. The first thing is to remember it under those conditions, as it is easy to lose yourself in the variations. Stop and step back. Realize that panic is taking over and calm yourself down.
Only a calm player can navigate complications successfully. The second step is to take each option one by one. Without panic, calmly start calculating each opponent’s option one by one.
Learn self-control – it’s important!
When you finish the first, go to the second. It is not that difficult once you’ve calmed down. If there are time constraints like time-trouble you may have to cut short some of your calculations and make preliminary evaluations, but that is still better than not looking at the variation at all.
As an example, I will show you a very simple position.
White moves here in the finale of Bianchetti’s study from 1924.
At first sight, you may be overwhelmed by the emptiness of the board and the many options Black has after White attacks the rook by 1 Kg7. This fear of having too many options to deal with may even paralyze you and your mind may not want to continue forward. In a self-defense mechanism, the brain may just shut down.
This is a critical moment. First, you must become aware of it happening and then you must override that subconscious self-defending mechanism by consciously making your mind continue where you want it to.
The rewards for your increased awareness and self-control may be beyond your expectation. Take another look at the position above. Calmly check every single move the rook can make and you will see what I mean. As so often in life, the goal is the closest at the moment when we consider giving up.
A final note to the Douglas Adams fans out there. It may help if you imagine Don’t Panic in large friendly letters. It helped me.
Castling is one of those special rules where to be a strong player you don’t just need to know how to castle in chess, you need to master how to castle in chess!
Thankfully, castling is not too hard to get to grips with but once you know the basic rules there are a few pointers you need to be aware of.
In this quick guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about castling, answer all the questions that often crop up and give you some exciting examples of games where castling made the difference. And there’s even a quick puzzle to solve to check you’re paying attention.
What is castling in chess?
Castling is one of those special moves in chess that you need to know to play properly. It is the only time you get to move two pieces at the same time and each player is only allowed to castle once, under certain conditions.
The move is crucial, but it is also simple to learn. There are two types:
King-side castling – where the White king goes two spaces to his right, and on the other side of the board the Black king can go two spaces to his left. See this diagram with the kings moving along the red line and the rooks along the green line:
Queen-side castling – similar in that the king moves two spaces but this time the White king goes left and the Black king goes right. See here:
In both cases, the rook jumps over the king and settles next to him. One thing to remember is that if you want to castle you need to pick up the king first – not the rook. This is very important!
The final positions should look like this if White castled queen-side and Black castled king-side:
But in short, if someone asks you how to castle in chess just say it is when the king moves two spaces to his left or to his right and the rook jumps over him and ends up on the other side.
However, as always there are a number of conditions that must be met to make it a legal move or it won’t be allowed and your opponent will say “hang on a minute!” But we will get onto the nitty-gritty a bit later on and answer a few questions first.
Why castle in chess?
Castling is primarily all about getting your king safe because, usually, the move takes your most important piece out of the center of the board and tucks him away behind a wall of pawns.
Games are won and lost by players deciding if and when a player to castle. In fact, when it comes to beginners a very high proportion of games are lost simply because a novice player doesn’t get their king protected. So it pays to castle.
But beware, the timing is crucial – sometimes castling may actually put your king in danger. So, as with everything in chess, be careful.
It is for this reason that while beginners are often taught to castle as soon as they can, you often see experts put off castling until much further into the games.
Let me repeat the point: timing is crucial.
What does castling achieve in chess?
Castling does two things: 1. it creates a safe haven for your king (or should, if you do play it at the right time) and, 2. it develops your rook, bringing it out nearer to the center of the board where it can get into the game.
Castling, therefore, is a very nifty maneuver. But like every move in chess, you have to judge when the right time to play it is.
Here’s a good example of a classic game where castling at the right time was crucial. Scroll through it and see how powerful White’s castling proved:
A quick puzzle – what happens if Black castles here?
In order to be allowed to castle, neither the king nor the rook (on a8) could have moved at any time earlier in the game.
This rarely happens in a regular game as it is generally advisable to castle in the early part of the game. Black checkmates by castling queenside (king to c8 and rook jumps over it to d8).
Here is another example of a real-life game played in London, 1912, in which checkmate by castling could have occurred, but the winner decided to play Kd2 instead:
How to castle in chess – the rules
Remember what we said before about the king moving two spaces to the left or right and the rook jumping over? That is how you make the move on a basic level, but we also said there are a number of rules that apply to make it legal.
Castling can only happen if all of the following conditions are met in a game:
The king has not previously moved;
Your chosen rook has not previously moved;
There must be no pieces between the king and the chosen rook;
The king is not currently in check;
Your king must not pass through a square that is under attack by enemy pieces;
The king must not end up in check.
But the idea of castling – or not, as the case may be – should be on your mind right from the first move. Don’t wait for those conditions to arise out of the opening – work to make them happen if you want to castle. And most of the time you probably will.
Remember for most players at beginner/intermediate levels there are three basic aims you should be trying to achieve in the opening. They are:
Occupy the center
Develop your pieces
Get your king safe/castle
So you can see that understanding castling and when to effect it should be a fundamental part of your training.
OK, I know how to castle in chess – but not when?
Now you know how to castle in chess, your king’s safety should always be on your mind. You should always consider castling if you want a safe king and are able to. However, there are points where it may be a bad idea.
One example of when castling may be a bad idea is if your king is already safe and it is a waste of time and put it off.
The reason for this is that at the start of the game, during the opening, developing your pieces is equally if not more important. It is hard for the opposition to directly threaten your king’s safety early on and if they don’t play any threatening moves then you may feel getting your pieces out and launching your own attack is more important.
In many ways, chess is like a race where you have to get your big guns out quickly if you want to hurt the opposition. Attack is sometimes the best form of defense.
The other consideration to make is whether, as we discussed before, you are putting your king in jeopardy. Opposite-side castling, that’s when one player castles king-side and the other goes queen-side, can often be a bit dodgy. Positions, where that has happened, tend to be very double-edged and benefit one player over the other. If that is you, then great, if not – be wary.
What is the code for castling on the king’s side in standard chess game notation?
A quick and easy answer here: 0-0 is the code for castling on the king’s side in standard chess game notation. And 0-0-0 is the code for castling on the queen’s side in standard chess notation.
When the castle comes crashing down! A famous game to enjoy
In this brilliant game from way back in 1862, the great Adolf Anderssen playing Black shows how to punish White for castling queen-side. White, played by Jakob Rosanes, failed to castle early and then got into trouble as Black’s pieces launched an attack.
On move 14 he castled queen-side (0-0-0 in chess notation) as a way to get his king safe and protect White’s double threat against the b2 pawn and the knight on g1. It didn’t help, scroll through this to see what happens:
Castling FAQs answered
What are the four rules for castling in chess?
We’ve tried to give a fuller explanation above, but the rules of castling are often boiled down to four points so they are easy to remember. Here they are:
The king and the rook may not have moved from their starting squares if you want to castle.
All spaces between the king and the rook must be empty.
The king cannot be in check.
The squares that the king passes over must not be under attack, nor the square where it lands on.
Is castling a good move in chess?
In the right circumstances, yes. Thankfully, those circumstances occur quite often so generally, it is a good move. But watch out! It can be a shocker!
Can you castle out of Checkmate?
No. Remember the golden rules above: you can’t castle through a line of check. Besides, it wouldn’t be checkmate if you could castle out of it, checkmate only occurs when it is the end of the game.
What is the advantage of castling in chess?
King-safety and developing your rook, which gets to pop out into the open and affect the game.
How many times castling can be done in chess?
Each side only gets to castle once in a game.
When was castling added to chess?
Castling was a relatively late addition to this 1,500-year-old game. It was only introduced around the 14th or 15th century and did not develop into its present form until the 17th century.
Can you Castle your queen?
No, don’t be silly. We haven’t mentioned the queen at all in this guide.
Can you castle if you have been in check?
If you have previously been in check, but are no longer, then yes.
What is the advantage of castling in chess?
Usually, it’s getting your king into a nice, safe cubby-hole and getting the rook out to attack.
How many times castling can be done in chess?
In total, twice – once each for Black and White.
Can you castle if Rook is under attack?
Yes, it’s only the king you have to worry about.
When was castling added to chess?
Same answer as above – in the 14th or 15th century.
Why is Castle called Rook?
It is believed to come from the Persian word “rukh”, meaning chariot. There are many theories as to how the present version was arrived at, but one possible explanation is that when the game was imported to Italy, the Persian rokh became the Italian word rocca, meaning fortress.
Can you castle through a knight?
Through a knight’s check? No. Over a knight? No.f
Can you castle on the queen side in chess?
Yes the king can castle both sides. See above for how.
Being able to start playing chess online against another person after a couple of clicks has become a blessing that many of us take for granted nowadays.
Here I would like to discuss a few important aspects of playing chess online. I will start with my own experience and the first thing I will say is that it is addictive.
In the early 00s, I was spending the springs on the Cote d’Azur in France. A friend of mine lived there and I was staying with him between tournaments or waiting to play for my club over the weekend.
I wasn’t interested in tourism as I have seen most of the coast before, so there wasn’t much for me to do during the days (and nights). I started to play online.
I played a lot, and I mean a lot. Most of the days I would spend double-digit hours playing.
After a while, it became a problem. I didn’t want to move from the computer, neither to sleep or eat. Just endlessly clicking on the mouse and eager to start the next game.
Playing chess online: the pitfalls
If I won, I wanted to win more; if I lost, I wanted to get revenge. And the rating, of course, I wanted to get it to infinity. There was no stopping.
While there may have been some positive effects at the beginning, like practicing some openings and increasing tactical alertness, after a while, this became overshadowed by the negative effects.
The playing turned into clicking. A robotic finger movement with only minimal brain activity. I was no longer calculating lines, I played “on intuition”.
That’s what I was telling myself in order to justify the wasted time. It wasn’t intuition, it was me playing the first move I saw.
Intuition means you feel something, here there was no feeling. Just numb clicking. (In some cases this numbness can transfer to over-the-board play. Then it’s even worse. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me.)
I was lucky that after some time I had to leave for a tournament, or visit the Melody Amber, which I always did in those days. This forced me to stop the harmful activity.
The itch was still there, but other things took precedence (game preparation, the actual playing, real people). When looking at it from a distance I realized that I was, in fact, wasting my time and not improving at chess at all.
Eventually, I stopped and I was surprised to find how easily I did it. Not all is bad with online chess, of course. So I figured what should be done if one wants to take maximum advantage out of it.
Discipline is the key
You must control yourself. Before starting an online session you must set the exact amount of time you will play and when the last game finishes you stop. No excuses. I would recommend a session no longer than one hour (and probably less).
Determine for what exactly you will use the online session. It can be for practicing openings (you can choose to play only with White or Black and practice your lines), quick calculation (keeping maximum concentration throughout the session without interruptions – consider it a high-intense exercise), endgame play (try to exchange queens and pieces as early as possible, sometimes even at the cost of worsening your position), a match with a known opponent and so on. Stick to your plan!
These two instructions can easily be overlooked if you decide to play online “just for fun.” Then you can easily forget yourself and the session will expand to fill all your available time. “Just one game” is never “one.” And the fun will quickly be gone if you start losing. As Benjamin Franklin wrote in “The Way to Wealth,” “It’s easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow.”
Don’t do it every day
If you are serious about improving at chess, online chess should be used sparingly. Once a week should be enough. If you are to improve you must study much more than play. And the playing should be over the board, not online.
I hope this advice helps. That is, if you needed it in the first place.
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