My Week In Chess: Analog Adventures

After last week’s realization that I need to go more analog and tactile, I went all in this week.

Study Schedule

Last week, my coach and I mapped out what one hour of studying should look like.

My study books

40 minutes should be tactics puzzles (1001 Chess Exercises For Beginners). I write all over the inside of the book — draw lines on the board, write questions, leave myself reminders, etc.

20 minutes should be studying master games (300 Most Important Chess Positions). I use the notebook in the picture to take notes on the text. I started a lichess study on this book for each position, and annotate every move.

Push goal (Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess). I work on it while I wait for a meeting to start, if I’m stuck in line at the store, etc, instead of goofing off on my phone. On some days, when I’m not motivated to study at all, this is the bare minimum. I have to at least do a few exercises in this book.

The first study day was just trying it, let’s see how it went. I got my small travel set out and started 1001 Chess Exercises.

chess set and book for studying
Day 1 of analog studying

It was an initial habit to keep looking at the book only, but once I switched to the board, it was like I could see in high def for the first time. I could move around the board to see things differently! Test out my ideas without a computer yelling at me!

Because I have access to the full board, I pretty quickly realized what I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure where to move pieces because I wasn’t sure what the puzzle wanted me to do. It really helped me see where my weaknesses are. It also forced me to look at the board in full scope instead of getting hung up on a small part of it.

Wow! What a huge difference!! I can’t hide from my issues by clicking ‘next’ and moving on, or not knowing why I got something wrong. I have to spend the time to figure it out. Or, at least it’s easier to figure out why something is wrong.

I started looking at the board in quadrants, and analyzing each one. This seems like such a minor thing, but on my phone or the computer, I really can’t see it this way. It makes it A LOT easier for me to see everything across the board. It also makes it much less intimidating. I found a good method to sweep the board and find my checks, captures, threats, etc, and prioritize those mental components. Eventually this will become second nature.

That day, I cancelled my chess app subscriptions (for now). One day I’ll come back to it.

Everything Comes Back To Chess

Having added this more time consuming study structure, I’ve been working on trying to reorganize my day. This week was definitely a big challenge with my ADHD.

This week I stuck with a work out schedule that works for me. Hooray! But also, managing my time has become really difficult. I’m really good at focusing on one or two things for a while, but trying to widen my scope to make sure I hit everything I want to do each day and prioritize which things need to get done — that’s hard.

Ex: I was trying to get a client proposal done on deadline, I didn’t do much else. No clean laundry, the apartment was a wreck. But that proposal was just the way I wanted it. Once it was submitted, I felt like I had my brain back and could tidy the place and do laundry, think about other things.

I stuck with my work out schedule, kept at it with analog study, managed to get work done, but it comes at a cost somewhere else. It’s also really tiring because it’s not in my nature to focus on multiple things, so like anything else, it’s relearning how to do things at a pace that works for me.

I’m sure you can see the chess analogy here. I’m learning how to juggle all the components that will make for a good chess player (tactics, strategy, recognizing plays/patterns and responding to it, time management, etc). Figuring out my life off the board will be helpful for on the board as well, with the help of some mindfulness.

That’s been this week!

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