The article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2012 - It is 2012, and everyone has a resolution or two. I recommend playing more chess!
Improving your chess game is a great resolution because it is beneficial for your mind, and it can be a lot of fun as well. Here are a few steps to help you along your path to chess success in 2012:
1. Play, play, play! The best way to improve your game is to play more often. You can play friends, relatives, online, or at the chess club! The Chess Club and Scholastic Center has a tournament for beginners and unrated players once a month, usually the last Sunday. There also are a number of great classes at the club each week including adult beginner classes on Tuesdays, classes for kids on Sundays and ladies' beginner classes on Thursdays. Also, there are many places to play chess online, so being too busy is no excuse.
2. Study and improve with books and a coach. It is easy to buy chess books online. If you don't know what you are looking for, once again, you can come down to the chess club and ask one of our employees. I usually recommend puzzle/tactics books for beginning/intermediate players. If you really want to take your game to the next level, you can seek out private lessons for more personalized instruction.
3. Buy a pocket-size chess set. It is very convenient to have a small (usually magnetic) chess set with you. These are great for analysis or just to play a friendly game on the go. Some chess sets are small enough to fit in your front shirt pocket.
4. See a movie to get in the chess mood. The classic "Searching for Bobby Fischer" is good for the whole family. Recent films such as "Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" all have chess themes as well.
5. Go watch a chess tournament. The two most prestigious tournaments in the entire country will take place in May at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End. The U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship feature the top players in the nation, and watching the country's best play and analyze (along with live grandmaster commentary) is a sure way to improve your understanding and love for the game.
All of the above will get you in the chess mood, and the road to chess improvement will be easier than you think!
Ben Finegold is the GM in residence at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.