Monday, 23 April 2007

How much time do you spend playing chess?

I got an email over the weekend from a Chess Tales' reader in Pune, India. Prashant, a medical student, asked "how much time do I spend playing chess, and against whom?"

I'm sharing it with you because, I thought it would be a great question to put to all you Chess Tales readers.

I tend to 'keep my eye in' by playing on the Internet; I use a couple of sites: Buho21 and more often nowadays on Chess Assistant. Both are free to join, check out my previous post about them. Buho21 is also a great place to practice my Spanish, unfortunately I don't have any Russian to use on Chess Assistant.

I only play blitz chess online (between 1 minute and 3 minutes each / game); it seems crazy, but I don't have the patience for anything longer in cyberspace. I had a spell where I was playing a tournament or two everyday online (and probably about 1-2 hours / day), but due to commitments of starting a new company (and writing a blog!) I've not been a regular visitor recently. You can check me out on either site under the handle 'rogercoathup'; please say "hi" and challenge me to a game.

I also play league chess (3 hour long games) for Tynemouth, where I captain one of the teams. I don't find time to get to many club nights though. Other than that, it's tournaments (usually 3 or 4 weekend swisses each year and the county championship). Looking ahead, I'm planning an International tournament in the summer, and a better organised training schedule in preparation. If that goes well, I'd like focus my energy on these higher level events.

Prashant explained that he gets to spend about 2 hours / day playing, and that is against Fritz or ChessMaster on a handeld.

I don't play against computers myself, but do use them when I'm analysing / playing through a game: an early version of the Fritz engine in ChessBase on my PC, or Hi-arcs / Sigma on my Mac. Buho21 used to have a free engine called Sherlock, but it's no longer available.

The handheld is interesting, I saw someone running Fritz on one the other night; she was analysing my game (against her father) whilst we played. In this case it was innocent, but I guess highlights how they could be used surreptitiously.

So what about you guys? Where do you play and how often? How much time do you spend studying game? And, perhaps more interestingly, how much time would you like to spend studying chess?

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.