Developing a Hobby: Chess

Learning how to program can be a daunting task, especially on its own. It requires a lot of perseverance and an ability to accept being wrong. If you’re trying to embark on that path it helps to have a hobby that keeps your mind active. Full disclosure, I hate Chess, but I learned how to play on own when recess was taken away from me for fighting too much. I’m also bad at it and my ELO is nothing to brag about. An ex of mine once pointed out I possibly have Aphantasia, which means I cannot conjure images in my head. That’s a pretty important skill for Chess, but you can sorta work out logical, natural positions too.

To help anyone out I put together a small little youtube playlist for learning Chess. All of the content comes from people who were at least at some point rated 2,000 ELO or higher. The playlist covers openings that have worked for me, popular ones in general, endgame tips, and World Championship game analyses. Chess Fundamentals by Jose Capablanca is also legally free, and proof why he’s a top 5 GM of all time. He focuses on analyzing middle game and endgame positions, which is a great place to start. However, I do recommend eventually learning a few solid openings which is kind of easy nowadays with Stockfish.

Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to analyze games with Stockfish, and Lichess.org has a free chess board you can set up to explore positions if you’re a visual thinker like me, and you do not even need an account. You can even copy and paste positions instead of going through all the moves by hand. Furthermore, you can also have the board set up in many different opening positions, so you do not need to hope your opponent makes the right moves. While it may sound like a lot of work, it is kind of worth the effort even if you are a casual player. It will keep your mind active which can help prevent diseases like Dementia, and help you think through problems. Lastly, growth mindset is an important skill you can develop by taking on challenges like improving at Chess.

However, I am not recommending memorizing old games or even interacting with a toxic community. The online chess community has a lot of problems with cheating, alt accounts, and toxicity in general. Luckily bots have come a long way and you can use Lichess without an account. Furthermore, the ELO ratings that Chess.com or Lichess.org provide are not meant to mimic USCF or FIDE. If you’re like me you can get all you need without getting too deep into the weeds nowadays, which is nice because this isn’t my scene either.

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