Written by on 5 September, 2013 in Chess

First Attempt with Free Membership

 I’d been on the chess team at school, and my kids have a chess team so I wanted to see how good I was. I signed up to the free package mainly to see what my rating was like. After a few weeks of playing about 200 speed games (not the best way to learn) and learning all the opening traps on youtube, I realised I wasn’t improving and my rating hovered around 1300. I found some free videos and the 20 free mentor lessons and knew I had to sign up to improve. It was close to Christmas and my cousin couldn’t decide what to get me, so I asked for  membership, which I upgraded to the premium level giving me access to the full library of chess videos, all the chess mentor lessons and the unlimited chess tactics puzzles. The app is great for practicing a few of these when you have a few minutes. I complemented my chess training with Scid on the go and downloaded free pgn files of puzzles and games.

Diamond membership of

Within a few weeks my rating improved consistently up to 1500. I learnt positions and techniques I never would have figured out by myself, king pawn endings, Lucina positions, how to pounce on opening errors, colour complexes. I think the mentor and video format of learning beats any book if only for speed.

I played “over the board” (a human in front of me) for the first time in a year at the local chess club and after getting used to not looking at the board from above and playing like a complete novice (probably nerves) I quickly found my feet; all the openings, tactics and strategy came together and I won against a much stronger player albeit with a 10 minute advantage on the clock. But I could tell it had worked; I forgot I was playing a human and remembered the mantra “play the position not the player”.

Beat the Teacher!

I played the school chess teacher at the school fete. “£1 a go, £10 if you win”. This wasn’t to win money but to make a name for myself with him and the headmaster. He was rated over 2000 and played everyone rook down; he never lost. The first game was a disaster; I tried a cheap opening trap in the Italian game; it paid off but he threw everything at my king which couldn’t castle. His experience meant my two piece “advantage”  couldn’t compensate for my terrible position. The next game he tested me in a longer line in the Queen’s Gambit which I happened to know. My nerves had settled and I played solidly. What was supposed to be a fun game in a school fair turned into a marathon; other dads came to support me, a mum did my stint on the raffle tickets. Over an hour later knowing I just had to play the board and his play was impacted by trying to avoid exchanges I got into a very slow locked up ending, me with a bishop and pawns vs his pawns. After some very precise moves he resigned when he couldn’t stop a pawn promotion. I didn’t get my £10! apparently this had been just for fun and we’d been chatting to much (despite me not taking any of his advice and paying £1 to play). In any case, my winnings would have gone on raffle tickets (for the after school clubs). So I played again, this time he said he’d play properly, another 45 minutes later and I was clearly winning, still a piece up in the end game but tired and looking for a mate in 4 I left my queen en pris and it was game over. The chess teacher said “That was the only mistake you made in the whole game”.

My daughter observed as much as she could bare without being distracted with bouncy castles and face painting but said “Daddy, I’m joining the chess club and the teacher who beat you will be teaching me, so I will beat you”; mission accomplished.

All the links are my “refer a friend” links which will give me extra membership, if I’ve convinced you, please sign up if you want to see me blog about demolishing the chess teacher!

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