Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
The ancient game of chess enjoyed a resurgence in 2020 thanks to the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” about an orphan and chess prodigy who rises to the top of the chess world.
The series was so popular that it caused an 87 percent increase in chess set sales three weeks after its release, according to the Research firm NPD Group.
Though I’ve never seen the series, I also happened to take a renewed interest in chess during the pandemic. I play games on my phone with random strangers across the globe who are at my skill level (1100 if you’re curious, so in the beginner to intermediate range).
My good friend Alex, who lives in North Dakota, is a chess enthusiast, too, and we play whenever our free time overlaps, which unfortunately is not often since we are both busy. When Alex and his family lived in Chile in South America, we kept our friendship strong by playing computer games, often chess. Alex was always a little bit better than me growing up, and now he’s a lot better. In the past two years, my win-loss record against him is 6-29, and you better believed I enjoyed those six wins!
At chess.com where I play, as you win games, your rating improves, but that means you’re matched with tougher opponents. As you lose, your rating drops so you will be matched with weaker opponents. For about a year after I started playing regularly, I had not improved my rating, since I was winning about as much as I was losing.
Rather than getting discouraged, I started watching YouTube videos on chess tips for beginners, to help eliminate my simple mistakes. I love watching and analyzing the games of chess greats such as Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
I play games with a time limit of 10 minutes per person, so you can’t spend all day contemplating your move. Unfortunately, that’s how I was losing a lot of my games, because I always tried to find the perfect move as my clock ticked down to zero. Lately, I’ve gotten much faster, and it’s allowing me to win games I was losing just a few months ago.
I owe my interest in chess to my father, who taught me to play as a little boy. My dad claims that he potty trained me by offering to give me a traveling chess set, and it worked!
Though I was young and inexperienced, I didn’t take losing very well at this age. One time when I found myself in a difficult position, instead of resigning, I flipped the board over to show my disgust. Today, I’m mature and handle losing with grace. It’s a skill I wish I didn’t have to practice so often.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org