Way back when I first discovered the internet, one of the first things I did was start playing online chess. I’d been thinking about learning the game and I figured that could most easily be accomplished online. I found a great site, Caissa.com that offered both live and “correspondence” games as we
ll as all kinds of teaching tools. I bought some books, studied a couple of openings. I liked to use Ruy Lopez as white and the Sicilian Defense as black. I learned them out to about three moves (and all the permutations) but that really didn’t matter because playing at the level I was, no one stuck to the book, so you had to improvise. Those two do usually end up with a slight position advantage, if you don’t hose them up.
So it’s what, fifteen years later? And I haven’t learned squat. I was getting pounded on Caissa, but I think that the self limiting nature of the demographic that signs Â up for online chess results in some bogus ratings. Bunch of nerds, if you know what I mean. There’s a lot of good players and as time wore on there weren’t many people around who weren’t rated way above me. Plus guys I beat early on were thumping me regularly. I got frustrated and gave it up.
So I noticed that google was promoting a site called, appropriately enough, Chess.com. I checked it out and it’s free, simple to use and there are lots of players, even at the low ratings. So I’ve started playing again. I’m playing live games with 15 minute time limits for each player, plus you get some bonus time for making moves quickly. I’ve played with people from all over the world, but lots and lots of Indians. I’m ridiculously rusty, I can’t remember any of the standard openings, I’ve twice fallen for the lamest gambit in the game and all though I wasn’t victim to the infamous “fools mate” I was brutally victimized. I’ve played some very good games but I’ve also had seven game losing streaks playing people rated under 1000. That’s on a scale that starts a zero, 1200 is an average player and Bobby Fisher was something like 2700.
The last game I played I pulled the old revealed check on a guy, moved a bishop into checking position and leaving his Queen staring down a loaded Rook. So up a Q I wisely started exchanging pieces, in the process of which I had a brilliant flash of stupidity and blundered away my Q for no reason. We each had both our Rooks, I had a Knight and he had a Bishop. Which would give him a slim advantage, if he wasn’t 3 Pawns up. Which gave him a huge advantage.
He came out attacking but I managed to fend off his attack and when the smoke cleared we were even on Pawns at 5 each and we each had one Rook left. We exchanged two pawns and I offered him a draw. He declined, I don’t blame him because his Pawns were much more advanced then mine, although they were lined up directly in front of each other. I was pretty sure I could wear him down to a draw, although I’m not sure that Chess.com’s system recognizes the 50 moves with no pieces taken is a draw rule. But two moves later, he made a horrible move with his King and I check mated him. I almost said â€“ “I mated him” but that doesn’t sound right. I’m sure good players would chuckle on the monumental display of stupidity from both players on that one.
I’ve lost on time, I’ve blundered into stalemates in games that I was absolutely winning. I’ve blundered away Rooks and Queens right and left, I’ve been beaten by a 15 year old girl from the Phillipines, I’ve been checkmated on the fifth move, in other words I suck. But I’ve got a little better attitude about the game now, not quite so competitive and I figure it’s a good way to keep the synapses limber. And it’s really fun to smack that mate on somebody when you know they didn’t see it coming.