How did I get good at chess? On hand, the answer is obvious: I took it seriously, I studied hard, I put in many hours and now I’m pretty good, rated over 2000 in online chess. That’s true and all, but it’s also missing something. I was stuck at 1800 for years and years … and yet many people never get above 1500 elo, let alone 1800.
The question, then, shouldn’t be how I got over my 1800 elo hump, but rather, how did I get to 1800 in the first place?
1800 puts you above 70% of chess players, which is pretty good when you think about it.
When I think back to my early chess development, I can identify a few key things I did that seemed to boost my skill higher than average. I’ll share those here now.
I mentioned in the past the strange notion of completionism, where you finish something you may dislike or even actively hate just for the sake of completing it. At the time I was mainly concerned with videogames, because I had just devoted 15 hours of my life playing a game I absolutely couldn’t stand, but I couldn’t stop. I needed to finish it. I couldn’t give up halfway.
For the record, don’t buy Punch Club. It’s terrible. A good idea, but still terrible.
I’ve been engaged in a very similar struggle, but it’s been weeks instead of hours. I read every night before going to bed, and throughout June I’ve read one book. That’s it, only one. It was huge, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was I’d read a few pages and then yawn, close it and go to bed. For the last week I had maybe 30 pages left and it took me all seven days to finish it off.
I had long ago lost interest, but here I was, reading it anyway, seemingly to spite myself. Why do we do this? Why do we read bad books all the way to completion? Continue reading →
If you approach chess even slightly seriously, you know the incredible appeal of chess books. They are magic, pure and symbol, offering secrets and insights into the greatest game. If you want to get better at chess, they are your ticket, and each one promises so much.
How to win? Only ten rules to follow? Man, this book will make me a grandmaster in no time, right?
You read your first book, and you are addicted. Here it is, chess knowledge, so much that you didn’t know before. Now you have it! Your game improves, perhaps by a lot. Why, if one chess books can create such fantastic results, imagine what two or three more will do!
And then two or three become one hundred, and that’s when you realize maybe you’ve taken this a little too far. Continue reading →
I apologize if what follows sounds like a steaming hot take. That’s not my intention. This is a legitimate thought I had last night, right before going to bed. I was reading a book, as I normally do. It was a thriller, something I don’t normally do. Thrillers and mysteries are fun, certainly, but they aren’t my default reading genre. This particular one, though, was quite good.
It wasn’t literature-level, but it was definitely entertaining.
For the third straight night I read past midnight, which is a mixed blessing. I’m almost done, only one night to go, and all the events are racing to their final conclusion. How will it all unfold? Which of the main characters will survive? Is there another twist waiting in the final few chapters? What will happen next? Let me tell you, it took extreme strength of will to put the book down last night instead of spending another 30min or so finishing it.
And it was then, as I turned off the light and crawled firmly under my sheets, that I wondered if reading like this was better than watching television. And I honestly didn’t know the answer to that. Continue reading →
I love reading, always have, always will. It helps that I’m really good at it. My mom taught me how to read before I went to school, at least at a basic level. She also read to me every night until I could do it on my own, and even then we often shared a book, taking turns reading paragraphs or chapters as the case may be. Those early years sparked an intense love of books, and I devoured them.
That’s a good thing. Nobody will ever say that reading is bad, but there cans till be consequences. I read so much that I started collecting more and more books, to the point my shelves were practically overflowing. How many of these books will I read again? Honestly, not many. I have a few favourites, but once is enough for most.
Seriously, this is impressive …. but it’s also almost a certainty these books won’t be read twice.
I realized this last month as I did some spring cleaning around my house. I looked at my book shelf, taking up an entire wall of my basement, 95% of it covered with dust, most of which I’ll never read again. I thought then that there has to be a better way, and that’s what prompted me to get a Kindle eReader. Continue reading →
Do you believe in feng shui? It’s the idea that the physical layout of a room can affect you in subtle yet profound ways. In fact, feng shui literally concerns the flow of energy through a dwelling. Good feng shui allows you to feel better, happier, even healthier, while poor feng shui can lead to the exact opposite effects.
I have none of these in my room, though a bamboo fountain would be pretty awesome.
I don’t think I can swallow this literal definition, but there’s no doubt that interior design can have far-reaching consequences. If you’ve ever resigned a room, you know this feeling. You rearrange the furniture, maybe change the paint, add some things while taking away others and, voila, it feels like a completely different room. It has a different feeling, a different sensation. When you take a step back and admire all your work, you really do feel happy … assuming you did a good job.
I’m experiencing this right now, as I’ve completely rearranged my room. Continue reading →
I apologize for the following redundant definition, but a completionist is someone who needs to complete a given task. If something begins, it needs to be completed. There are different varieties and degrees of this, and I imagine most people have felt it in some sense, at least in passing.
Here’s a common example: you purchased tickets to a terrible movie. You didn’t know it was terrible until you sat through the first mind-numbing hour. There’s 45min left. Do you sit through the rest or do you walk out? I mean, you already invested time and money, why not see it through? Maybe it will get better. If you can think like that, then you are a completionist, at least in some way.
When you saw this scene, you should have left. If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil the movie for you. Just know, if you watch an old film and this scene appears, know that the movie never gets better.
If you can walk out, then I admire you greatly. I do not have this ability. Continue reading →
I’m very upset right now. I have turned my room upside down looking for a misplaced item. This is very rare. I never misplace things, and if I do, I find it again immediately. It’s been 12 hours, though, and I’m starting to fear that I will never see my bookmark again.
Owl always miss my bookmark.
Yes, a bookmark. I’m upset and I turned my room upside down in search of a bookmark. Let me explain. Continue reading →