Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fufilling a Pledge, Part II

As a BCC member, I've also been asked to post on the blog more often.

Last week my home computer displayed the blue screen of death, and the budding digital opening database I had been working on for a month as well as my entire IPod .mp3 catalog were wiped out. Strangely, I don't miss either that much. I had listened to all the songs in the IPod several times over, and they were becoming stale. (I've already re-established half of my previous collection, having purged the songs I liked the least.)

As for the opening database, I'm trying to find a compelling reason to create another one. What's the point unless you're playing correspondence chess? The tools are there for maintaining opening lines up to move 30 and beyond, but how can non-professionals possibly expect to remember all the variations, much less recite the main lines? Maintenance always seems to clog memorization, much like going to a museum and keeping track of the captions instead of looking at the pictures. Also, the computer purchase cliche applies to opening theory as well -- the moment any analysis is published, it becomes obsolete. I personally have learned more about openings by playing over entire games, where the opening is organically attached to the middlegame and ending, than by entering and saving excerpts.

I've long struggled with opening theory, a necessary evil because I have to play professionals in the open sections. Outside my current full-time job, I'll never play more than 50 serious tournament games a year. I still haven't found the optimal medium between studying the principles and memorizing forced sequences; the only answer I've found is making more time for both. Any thoughts from BCC members on this?

- Alex Cherniack

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