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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Study or Play?

       There was an interesting post on Chessdotcom where somebody asked the question, “Would you rather study or play.”  One person posted: “Study is classwork and homework. Play is the test. I hate tests.”
       The question got me to thinking about which I prefer.  Years ago when I played in tournaments somebody expressed my sentiments on OTB tournaments when he said, “It’s no fun playing, but it’s fun having played.”  Eventually I gave up tournament play because it got to the point the no fun part outweighed the having had fun part.  Then there is the old saying, “Those that can...do, those that can’t…teach.”  For chess purposes I guess you could say, “Those that can, play OTB, those that can’t just study…or do puzzles, or play over master games…or play correspondence chess.”
       As one player so aptly put it, “A chessplayer is easy to spot. Whenever there is a chessboard out with a position on it, whether it is in a coffehouse, a library, a bookstore, a chessclub, etc., the chessplayer is drawn to studying that position. Most people just walk by, but not the chessplayer. She/he is mesmerized. Like a moth to a flame. It is an obsession that is fun whether you are studying chess or playing chess, because in either case you are engaged in your obsession.”
       He went on to say, “It may be that chess is more of an art to (non-tournament players). And learning technique is not art. Poets don't concern themselves iambic pentameter, rhyme or anything else. They just write poetry. Authors don't concern themselves with the techniques to craft metaphors…Authors just write and rewrite until it feels right.
       In other words, artists don't concern themselves with technique. They just create art. It is the critics and art theorists that concern themselves with analyzing art, because many of them cannot create art themselves.”
       I think that is exactly how I feel.  There came a time when I was no longer concerned with improving; I was content to just play and enjoy reading about chess and chessplayers and playing over their games.  I suppose it would be comparable to saying I’m not a painter, but I like viewing great paintings or I am not a musician, but I like listening to music.
       When it comes to what has always been my favorite form of chess, correspondence play, there are a lot of viewpoints on it.  Some like to use it to try out different opening lines for their tournament games, and for some, like me, it’s just their preferred way to play.
       As for online play some are content to play hundreds of blitz games where sometimes it seems like thinking about their moves isn’t even a consideration and for others online play regardless of the time limit is just their preferred method.  That’s the great thing about chess…we can enjoy it in many forms.  So, while some people may criticize by saying things like, “Correspondence isn’t real chess” or “Problem solving isn’t real chess” or “Online play isn’t real chess” it doesn’t matter as long as one is enjoying what they are doing.

1 comment:

  1. This may be the best job of capturing the main divide (or difference, if you prefer) of chessplaying preferences. I fall on the OTB tournament side, as nothing quite compares for me to getting in the ring and competing, but I also very much understand the artistic and pure enjoyment perspective on the game. I think it would be hard to find anyone who plays seriously who doesn't enjoy the aesthetics. It's more a question of what aspects of play you want to emphasize during the course of your chess career.