Thursday, 21 December 2017

Five Tips For Surviving Christmas

So 2017 is almost done and the League takes a break for the festive season. A chess free two weeks of wine, song, and er, the in-laws beckons for most. Whilst a break from travelling on dark nights to Rugby, Solihull and Nuneaton is to be welcomed, what to do if the urge for some chess becomes too much? OK - this might just be me - but here are five survival tips if at some point over the holiday you would prefer being with chess nuts to roasting chestnuts. [Best pun I could think of, I know it's terrible. Alright, I did not try very hard.]

1. Brush up on your tactics

I've come across a piece of free software called Chess Tempo - you can just google it and work your way through an infinite number of tactical problems. It definitely beats Sudoku!

2. Play online

The ICC is my site of choice, but there are plenty of others. A years subscription costs about £20 a year and you then have Chess online 24/7 at the click of a button. It should be noted that this has the potential to make you very unpopular if your playing time is not somewhat rationed. My rule of thumb is when you are becoming more familiar with some Russian blokes daily routine than your nearest and dearest, it is probably time for a (brief) pause.

3. Read a book about Chess

Christmas is a time for reflection after all. Why not give the wood-pushing a break and read about Chess instead? My top three tips in reverse order are: (3) Searching for Bobby Fisher by Fred Watzikin (2) The Chess Artist: Genius, Obsession and the world's oldest game by J.C.Hallman and my all time favourite, the book I would definitely take to a desert island before any other (1) Kings Gambit. A Son, a Father and the World's Most Dangerous Game by Paul Hoffman.  (If there is another Chess player in your life, buy them this!)

4. Study your games from the first half of the season

When it is time to put the book down and head back to the Board, there could be a lot of learning to be had from studying your recent games and assimilating vital lessons to help you in the New Year. I won't be doing this. It is Christmas after all, not Halloween. But there could be something in this one.

5. Remind yourself Shropshire is not far away!

Always good to have a weekend tournament in early January to kick the new year off - and to look forward to when on your ninth plate of cold Turkey. I would thoroughly recommend Shropshire for those who have not been before. Then of course after that, it's back to Rugby, Solihull and Nuneaton!

Happy Christmas Everyone. Here's to 2018!

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