My Week In Chess: An Analog Girl in a Digital World

This week has been interesting. I’ve been keeping up with #100daysofchess, that’s been really motivating (day 13!). It’s been slow going this week, but I’ve been adding exercise into my daily habits this week. Mindfulness has been a little bit of a challenge. That’s something I’m planning on adding more of for next week.

Chess Study Progress?

I’m entering the grey area of my chess studies where I’m not sure if what I’m doing is working because I haven’t seen any improvement. Of course, it wouldn’t show up right away anyways. I can’t really know until a month or so down the road when I’m playing a game and see the improvement in myself. It’s just difficult to know when I’m this new to chess if things are working, but the twitter hashtag has been keeping me accountable to at least just show up every day.

However, I feel a little lost, and unsure in myself. Especially when I hear from established folks who said that making improvements in leaps and bounds happens early on in the chess discovery. That has not been the case for me. I need repetition and reinforcement — two, three, four times over. My process is very slow but once I get things, it’s stuck in my brain for good.

What are my chess goals?

I’ve been driving a lot again, and the Perpetual Chess has been a lifesaver because LA traffic is back to normal. This week, Ben had WFM Maria Emeilanova on the show. Little did I know, I actually really needed her wisdom this week! Ben asked if she had advice for women who are new to chess.

She said that it’s good to first get a clear goal in mind — do you want to be a casual player? Play professionally? Be a titled player? These goals are going to dictate how much time you want to spend studying chess.

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m 32, I see a lot of adult improvers online talking about how they want to be an IM, maybe a GM. While sure, that’d be nice, I don’t think I have the time or the mental fortitude to do that.

While I am prepping to do a tournament at the end of the year, I do start to think about how serious I do want to get on the long term. Would I want to play the tournament circuit? Or maybe get good enough to join a league or something? I’m not sure. I already see how fun is it to play and win, that’s addictive, but I don’t win often. The work is worth the reward though. The puzzle aspect of chess really keeps me going as a new player who loses A LOT.

I guess the other piece comes down to how much do I want chess in my life? It’s been really surprising to see how this went from being a hobby blog to maybe I’ll get some good portfolio writing pieces about chess and UX to being invited to speak at conferences about chess and usability. It happened within the span of 3 months, which is crazy! There is now “chess study time” and “chess work time.”

I’m not sure I have an answer for it yet but time will tell.

Analog vs Digital

Last week, I talked a little about 2D vs 3D chess playing. I was really just kind of thinking out loud:

Today, I met with my chess coach and he had the exact same realization about me. I told him about this piece that I wrote and I had been thinking about it.

We agreed I need to go more analog in my chess studying. I need to be able to walk around the board, be able to see what the pieces can see, actually feel the pieces. I need the board more than the apps and online tools, at least to start. When I’m ready, I can add that back in. But for now, I have to be really selective about what online tools I’m using.

This is kind of a mixed feelings — on the one hand, the decision rules out a lot of stuff I don’t need to worry about right now. It gives me the mental space to just focus on the board. I am a tactile person, I need to experience the sensory components, do the things to understand it. But it also adds onto my already slow process of learning and repetition. Things are going to be slower because I need to take my time. I’m just working on reminding myself that this is why I gave myself 7 months to start working towards this goal.

He reminded me that my weaknesses can become my strengths. I get tunnel vision a lot, and I can be impulsive when I play, but making my chess skills stronger than either of those, I can use the tunnel vision to my advantage. I thought maybe once I get better, it’ll be easier to turn the impulsive instincts into playing more dynamically when the game might call for it?

We broke down this week’s goals, which is to build in 1 hour of studying at the same time every day, and set some time limits (x minutes doing y) for me to work towards. I am going to try adding this into my #100daysofchess.

That’s pretty much it for me! Hope you have a great week.

Jessi is a UX Designer at DIA Design Guild. She lives in Los Angeles and can be found on twitter @jessishakarian.