Sunday, January 29, 2023 09:37

Goals and Balance

I didn’t get by the club Saturday morning – too busy with other tasks for Chess.

For some people (of the few who will read this,) you might be asking, “What???!!?!” I hope I’m humble enough to believe that most people wouldn’t care so much. But it brings up a rather sensitive topic in the chess-playing world: How much is enough?

It’s not impossible to eat, sleep, drink, and breathe chess. One can devote one’s every waking moment to it. It gets under your skin, in your blood, and can control you – if one lets it. There is, even for Grandmasters, one more thing to be learned – a new opening variation, a new puzzle, or one more book to read. (For a chess blogger, one more thing to write about…)

And it’s hard, because if you truly want to become a Grandmaster… you have to strive for allowing of chess to be *the* dominant and defining factor in your life. I’ve read interesting things about the Grandmaster process, and heard many stories. Among them is the notion that, to become a Master, expect to study chess for two to three hours a day. Every day. No exceptions, until you make it to FIDE Master. You must have at least some talent to get there, though others have suggested that pure dedication can get you to Master play.

Then you still study two to three hours a day to push up to International Master – and that’s if you have talent. Then you study at least two to three hours a day to make GM. Then…. it’s claimed your soul, so you keep studying at least two hours a day – for the rest of your life. The joke is: My estimate here is conservative. ;) The topmost ranks of GMs make a profession of it. And I haven’t even begun to talk about lessons with stronger players, paying for tournament play, and how much to invest in books/magazines/etc.

I don’t want to be a Grandmaster. There. I’ve said it.

It’s just not part of my goals. Even though I’ve been bitten by the chess bug hard. But I know that I will also forever be what is (sometimes disparagingly) referred to as a, “Club player.” Me, I revel in it – because it meets my goals.

Chess is a lot of fun, and one can actually be social and make friends. If making friends is as important as winning. (Not more important, mind you. You play your best and play to win – because that’s the game. But as important.) That’s a goal of mine: Making friends through chess.

I have found running tournaments (and helping to run them) to be fun, too. I do want to advance to the next level of tournament direction. (And that can both complement and conflict with my first goal.) But wanting to be a Local TD places other goals for me – among them, to become a rated player and go through my provisional period into an established rating.

And I do want to improve. But being unrated, it’s hard to judge if I’m getting stronger or not – another reason to get my rating and test it periodically by tournament play. And I have to wait on that, to set an actual goal as to how much I want to improve.

But, like anyone else in life, I’ve got responsibilities. Wife. Cat. Bills. Job. A belief system.

It is *very* easy to let chess dominate all that, too. The book “Searching for Bobby Fisher” is a slice of how chess and other responsibilities affects a scholastic parent’s life. And it nibbled around the edges of what I’m writing about very well.

So, I’ve talked about me enough. What are your goals in chess? To pass the hours? To compete in tournaments? A pastime to share with loved ones? Or are you going for the big enchilada, the “G” word? Make money from it (good luck! Very few people ever actually make money at it – and to some of us, that’s part of the beauty of it.)

And how do you strike a balance between your chess goals and your other responsibilities in life?

If you start setting goals for what you are looking to get out of chess, the odds are you will reach them. And setting goals and striking a healthy balance between those goals and your other goals in life is a great way to

Enjoy your chess!

Postscript: If you’re wondering, yes I still do have a deep and abiding faith. On Sundays (my Sabbath,) I only do the things in chess – and life – that help replenish my soul… This post was drafted Saturday night to fill a scheduling hole – and now you know why my regular recent posts all show up at “6 A.M.” – I’m not up at 5 A.M. writing this stuff, either! ;)

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One Response to “Goals and Balance”

  1. Anthony Montalbano says:

    I really enjoyed your blog. Added it to my favs…so I will check back regularly. Take care,