Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Insanity?

Samurai's post made me reflect on my current habits. It's really a little crazy how much time I spend on chess compared to other stuff. First off, I have so many chess books that I could probably spend every single minute of the next 10 years reading and studying them and still not finish. Whether it's tactics puzzles, game collections, strategy stuff, openings - if I'm going somewhere and I know I'll have a few minutes of spare time, a chess book goes with me. Then there's ICC - blitz, long games, tournaments. Lots of time spent on all that. And let's not forget the time spent on bloggin and reading blogs. Add to that time spent at my local chess club and on study sessions with buddies, plus OTB tournaments. Oh, and lately, I’ve killed way too much time with Chessbase and related software. I could easily sit in front of Chessbase all day long exploring stuff; the amount of information at your fingertips is just mind-boggling. I also just received my first copy of the Chessbase Magazine (which comes on a disc). It has tons of fun stuff in CB format (tactics training, opening analysis, endgame videos by GM Karsten Mueller, a video analysis by Shirov of one of his games, a couple of recent tournaments, and much more). Then I am going through a couple Chessbase Training DVD’s like Daniel King’s PowerPlay series and Andrew Martin on the Benko and the Trompowsky.

Ok, so tell me that doesn’t sound crazy? I mean, if I didn’t have to work for a living, I could literally do nothing but chess all day. I really love spending time like that, and probably will continue to do so. But honestly, if looked at from 30,000 feet, it’s kinda ridiculous. Chess is one heck of a vortex. Chess is crack. [ Thanks BDK. That assessment is a lot more accurate :) ]

7 comments:

Blue Devil Knight said...

I hear ya' man. I hear ya. Looking back, now that I'm not in the vortex, I think I must have been insane: I actually considered leaving my job to do chess full time.


I think there must be something adaptive in the addiction. For instance, it may be the only way to make a really big jump in improvement as an adult. And perhaps it helps us avoid other problems in life. Not necessarily the latter, though, only a potential...and that is true of any sport or complex game (e.g., Quake).

Chessaholic said...

You thought of leaving your job? Man, I think crack is weak stuff compared to chess :)

You make an interesting point about an adaptive element in the chess addiction. Personally, a small part of why I am hesitant about trying to leave the chess vortex is precisely because I have already spent so much money, time, and effort on it, and what if it was all for nothing? For the most part though, I don’t want to do less chess simply because I enjoy it too much. Ok, I realize that a crack addict could make the same statement …. Heh. The good thing though is, I do not obsess about ratings, and I don’t have any particular goals except to get incrementally better. I really just enjoy the “path” (=studying) as opposed to hoping to reach a destination (=a certain rating). Does that make sense?

Blue Devil Knight said...

I think that is key. Otherwise it would truly be madness. Rating concerns ebb and flow for me: after a string of wins, when near a rating high, I tend to focus on it more, and then play worse (like a tennis player focusing on her back swing during a game tends to screw up her back swing). Diffuse attention to 'playing well' is sort of counterproductive for me, I do better when I think about the game itself ('Ok, how can I increase the activity of my black bishop?').

I loved doing the circles. Tactical puzzles are like fun little logic or math problems. OTOH, near the end it started to feel like work, and I was just slogging through so I could finish. But before that it was a lot of fun.

Chessaholic said...

I love tactical puzzles too, but you raise an important point: it should never feel like work. Which is why I started going a little easier on the PCT exercises. I started out solving like a madman, but soon I found that it started to feel like work. Which is completely contrary to what I want out of chess – enjoyment. So now I solve PCT tactics on a regular basis, but not so much that it takes away the fun factor. I might not get the most out of it that way, but there are worse things to worry about.

Wahrheit said...

Good discussion--I figure that as long as chess isn't negatively affecting your work or family life there's nothing wrong with spending most of your free time on it. A lot of average folks go to work and take care of their kids okay and spend 80 percent of the rest of their time watching "reality" TV. I figure spending most of your free time on chess is morally equivalent to that, only when you're old your brain will be in much better condition...

Chessaholic said...

Wahrheit: True. I think one way you can tell a true addiction is if it negatively impacts your life in some way - family, work, etc. However, one aspect to think about is what economists call "opportunity costs": While a chess obsession may not directly impact your life in a negative way, there might be other endeavors that would pay a larger dividend (be it monetary, in terms of happiness, personal improvement etc).

liquideggproduct said...

Wahrheit's point is really good...what DO other people do with their spare time?

I used to feel awkward about being a computer gamer (back when it was not so mainstream). It's not worse than the aforementioned watching TV or partying, which were higher on the social totem pole for some reason.