Oh, boy! I have brought myself up to start this journal, after all. The nagging desire for improvement has finally gathered enough strength to push me in this direction. This should have happened much earlier. Whatever reasons I may justify the delay with (of course, some are very valid), the fact remains that I have wasted much time and, thereby, thrown away several opportunities for improvement. Never mind, better late than never.
A brief introduction is in order. I was casually introduced to the game about twenty years ago, and had immediately fallen in love with it. Love, by itself, does not give deeper insights; nevertheless, it did inspire me to learn. After understanding the ultimate objective of the game, and learning how pawns and pieces are legally allowed to move, I was pretty much on my own. Those days, I played oblivious to tactical concepts and strategical concerns, and lost game after casual game with absolutely no clue about how to get better. The first few losses were very bitter; each loss would nibble off a bit of my self-esteem, and as many as four losses in a row would leave me utterly disheartened and unwilling to play again. However, after a brief pause, a fresh wave of inspiration would carry me back to the board with a revived desire to improve.
I have come a long way since. As I write these lines, I am already 37. I consider my current playing strength to be (subjectively) 1350. While I think that is fair reward for the time life had allowed me to spare for chess, and for the efforts I had been able to put in, I know that I can do much better. I can use all the constructive criticism/help/advice in this direction from better players. Hence this journal.
First of all, I must summarize where I stand. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible in my self-evaluation:
1. Opening Theory:
Not my immediate concern. There was a time when I had tried memorizing a few moves of certain openings. That was when I had entertained the mistaken belief that doing so would help me improve. That ended, in one word, badly. I shall not waste another moment studying opening lines, but shall simply respect the basic opening principles.
My positional understanding is better today than it was twenty years ago, and I believe it will only improve with time if I keep playing slow games with higher rated opponents (humans and computer personalities). Have read "How to reassess..." by Silman once. Currently not actively working on this.
My immediate concern. Am currently working on this. Have started out with the book "303 Tactical Puzzles" by Fred Wilson and Albert Robinson. Finished the first 100 puzzles meant for beginners. Scored a decent 90. I shall work on the next 100 puzzles meant for intermediate players, and return to rework on both sets before I go to the last 100 puzzles meant for tournament players. I shall then work through the last set again. Currently Flipkart does not have "5334 Problems, Combinations and Games". Shall order it as soon as I receive the intimation mail from them. In the mean time, I plan to complete my work with the book I currently own.
Have read some bits about basic end games somewhere on the Internet. Currently not actively working on this.
Shall utilize this space to share my games, to ask questions, and to learn. Shall post games regardless of the result, because I believe I will have as much to learn from the games I won as from those I lost. Hope better players will be able to find some time aid my improvement. All constructive criticism/help/advice regarding the games is welcome.