2024 03 24

I started playing Chess when I was 6 years old. I didn't start on the board. I am not sure I would have persisted playing chess had I started playing over the board.

My first experience with chess was on a computer. Back in early 1990s, my dad got a DOS based computer. It had four games on it: Prince of Persia, Dave, Gorilla (a game for two players to throw banana over some sky scrappers that deeply got me interested in geometry) and then Chess.

Since there weren't many choices to play on the computer, but there was a deep desire to be on the computer, I ended up playing Chess a lot.

I never learned Chess formally and hated theory until high school. From 9th grade to 12th grade I almost played Chess regularly over the board with a bunch of intellectual friends discussing random math/science/philosophy topics. It was a regular affair. Everyday after school I would bike down 5km to go to my friend's place which was by the sea, play an hour or 2 of beach football, then go up his apartment's terrace and play chess and discuss math/physics etc.

The friend whose place we played at used to go for chess classes. The other friend was a nerd who strongly believes in training and learning. I was the lazy one. I neither took classes, nor did I bother putting in the hard work of research and studying openings. I resorted more to trash talking and making my opponents feel they missed something and cause them to make unforced errors in their meticulous play which I would then go on to exploit.

As my strategy/theory was weak, I preferred to exchange off all the pieces and bring it end game. And I was pretty strong in end games. So even without training, without practice my scores against my friends were pretty good.

In college I got into Go. I played Go a lot. first with friends. When finding people who could spare 2-3 hours to play a game got tough, I started playing against the computer. One can't trash talk to a computer. I had to really think strategy. This is when I got deeply interested in theory and later when I got back to Chess (during the chess.com and lichess.org boom), I focused a lot on theory. My openings were solid. My end games were top notch. But I started to platue. I would play likes 10-15 games a day and yet my chess never improved.

So I have finally stopped playing games and now I focus on just solving chess puzzles. When I get a few minutes free time I just play survival or 5 minute puzzle rush on Chess Cup. I know even chess.com and lichess.org has puzzles, but then I get distracted and play games or tournaments or some other things on them. Chess Cup keeps it simple.

Right now my highest puzzle run in 36. It is not bad. I usually come up in top 10-15 in daily rankings. I want to continue this for at least a few months, till I consistently hit 40+ scores in the puzzle rushes.