Sunday, May 29, 2011

Love & Hatred for Chess - Welcome to the official website of Natalia Pogonina!

Love & Hatred for Chess - Welcome to the official website of Natalia Pogonina!

Written by Administrator
Суббота, 28 Май 2011
Zhdanov Peter
Candidate master Peter Zhdanov's column at

I tried quitting chess a couple of times, but it is harder than it sounds. After all, I love the game. Especially attractive to me is the analytical aspect - evaluating the position and finding the optimal move. A park player's joy of setting up a clever trap or swindling is not what appeals to me. Meanwhile, it is sad to realize that modern technologies leave us less and less space for creativity. I remember the times when PCs were no match for top humans. Now we are not even in contention. Correspondence chess is still alive though, as a smart operator using a chess engine is stronger than the engine itself. However, taking into account the trend, quite soon there would be no need in humans at all, and a win in correspondence chess will be achieved by the player who has the better PC.

What do I hate in chess? A very low ROI. You invest a lot and get virtually nothing in return. Natalia is often contacted by naive adults who ask something like: "I have recently learnt how to play chess and like your website and career a lot. Maybe I will also become a professional chess player. How do I make the first step?". What they miss out is that after like 10 years of toils they will hardly make it above a regular master. The tragedy is that there are many people in the world who are not able to set their priorities straight. As a result, they have no family, no job, don't go to college, lack serious hobbies, but keep playing chess day after day. I am not referring to people who have chosen a career in chess since being kids and became grandmasters before 20 y.o. The story is about "hostages of the game" - grown-up people who got stuck between amateur and professional level (2300-2500 for men, 2100-2300 for women). Alas, most of them have spent tonnes of time to achieve basically nothing. No real social respect and privileges, no money, no fame. Returning to my personal example: if I want to become an FM/IM, I will have to compete on par with the guys mentioned above. Ok, someone who is WAY more talented will be able to do it without wrecking his/her life entirely. However, if you are only somewhat more gifted, you will have to spare 2 or 3 hours daily for each 5 hours spent by them on chess. And what for?

Therefore, there are two reasonable ways -

a) very risky - aim for becoming a chess pro since very early age

b) treat chess as an exciting game, a hobby.

The in-between scenario is by far not the golden middle, as it creates huge risks of ending up being a nobody both in chess and in life.

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