Like many folks my interest in chess we re-kindled when I saw the Netflix mini series Queens Gambit . The fictional account of a chess prodigy Beth Harmon (loosely based on real life chess prodigy Bobby Fischer) and her rise in the cold war era chess tournaments. So I decided to re-learn the basics and found how much easier and more fun learning and playing chess today is.
Of course there are many computer chess programs that can thoroughly trounce both beginners and grandmasters alike, but the most fun is when you play on-line. And there is a rich online community of players… Most players play on ne of the big social chess sites such as:
- Chess.com : Play for Free and has some of the best Lessons and Puzzles sections. Highly recommended. They also have a Chesskid section tailored for youngsters.
- Lichess.org : A popular free online site with variety of chess games
- Chess24: chess24.com is an Internet chess server in English, Spanish and German established in 2014 by German grandmaster .
There’s also a large community of chess pros on Youtube and Twitch that stream , teach and review chess matches from around the world.
8 Things I learned as a beginner…
- Chess is a lot like golf, you can make a hundred frustrating bad moves, then coincidently make one brilliant move and everything is right again, it keeps you coming back, thinking you got it figured out.
- ELO rating is a handy way to rank players of different levels, and its pretty much going to tell you who you can and cant be competitive against. Generally speaking any player above a 1500 is a strong player, Chess professionals are at the 2500 level and above, these folks after winning a certain number of tournament games are called master or grand masters. I’m a lowly 600 , but chugging along.
- Chess is an old game , with lots of rich history, this TedEd video does a nice job of encapsulating its history.
- There’s lots of variations of timed games. Although classical chess allows up to 90minuts, most of the fun games are time controlled. I typically play 10-minute rapid games, which is a nice balance between a fast moving game and one that give you some time to thing. There’s also 3-minute and 1-minute variations called blitz and bullet Chess. Also another variation is Chess960 where the back rank row of pieces is randomly ordered.
- Because Chess is an old game and rich history it has a interesting variety of moves, and strategies, with names like the Sicilian, the London System, the Kings Indian Defense, Italian Game, and many many more (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chess_gambits)
- Chess professionals such as grandmasters think many moves deep and view the Chess board more from a point of view of patterns and instinctively know weak and strong positions , as well as knowing how to avoid blunders. Most chess games at the highest levels end in draws or resignations , few in check mate
- Chess matches are usually won or lost because of one or two key moves throughout the game. You can play a game very cautiously but if you make one blunder, or your pieces are out of positions it could cost you the match.
- Chess is a game that can end in a variety of ways, its not always the classic check-mate where the opposing king is captured and you win. , there’s also resignation (when the player with the weaker and inevitably losing position resigns,),stalemate when no more valid moves exist and the game ends in a sort of tie, draw (tie) when both players agree to end the game as a tie.https://youtu.be/RH-67doTLU0
So there it is Chess , perhaps the most classical strategic game around, frustratingly fun and entertaining.