No Chess To Study Chess

Playing chess can really be addictive and especially now that online chess has become more popular. This addiction leads to long hours of playing which can cause your brain to be too active before going to bed, eventually causing sleep deprivation. I also experienced that staring at a PC or phone screen too long is not good for my eyes. My chess rating also seemed to be stuck. So, a little while ago I decided to stop playing online chess for three months and find a way to improve my game.  I wanted to find a way to still enjoy the game without spending hours and hours in front of a screen with little progress. All of that led me to challenge myself to study the game at my own pace away from online chess for a bit.

I went online and ordered one of the first chess books I found which was “Kasparov’s winning chess tactics” written by Bruce Pandolfini. In this book, Bruce takes you through Kasparov’s life story from when he was born until the time he was world champion at age 22. In between his stories, the text stops at photos with a game position on the board. All the board positions in this book come from actual games that Kasparov played at the age that he was as his story proceeds. Each game includes his opponent’s name, the sides, where the game was played, and which side to move next. The analysis is also included after the photo. The challenge is then to find the best move without looking at the analysis.

“A cool word this book taught me that I wasn’t familiar with is the word stratagem.”

So far I’ve enjoyed reading about Kasparov’s history and also the interesting chess tactics that he applied in his games from a very young age. A cool word this book taught me that I wasn’t familiar with is the word stratagem. The meaning: “A plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end.” In all Kasparov’s games in this book, there is a brilliant hidden stratagem. On a side note, a question I’ve wondered about, what is the correlation between finding stratagems in chess vs finding stratagems in human society. In a human society where your opponents are world or personal problems instead of a single person. This book also triggered my curiosity to dig deeper into Kasparov’s history and chess in Russia. As I proceed with understanding and learning the history of Kasparov and chess in Russia I would like to share some of it here.

Gary was born on 13 April 1963 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. He was introduced to chess when he was 7 years old after someone invited him to a chess club. He soon made an impression with his strong memory ability by learning world champion games by heart. In 1973 when he was 10 he was invited to the Botvinnik school after a brilliant performance in a youth championship. This school, owned by Mikhail Botvinnik, the sixth world champion, was a school where there was focus placed specifically on developing the strong abilities of each student. Gary attended this school for five years. At age 12 he won the 1976 USSR junior championship in Tbilisi. When he was 14 he won the Sokolsky Memorial Tournament in Minsk. In December 1978 he participated in the 46th USSR championship where there were 16 grandmasters that also played. He finished in 9th place. This was his big entry to senior chess at the age of 15.

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