Monday, May 17, 2010

Reassembler's $200 Chess Budget Challenge

Reassembler poses an excellent and thought provoking question:

You sold all your books and all your memberships have expired except for USCF. Everything else – state, club, ICC, Playchess, MCO, Fritz, Chessbase – you have none of that. You’re starting from scratch.
You’ve decided not only to get back into the game, but also to raise your rating to the next class level.
But you only have $200 to invest this year.

How do you spend the money?

Which books, DVDs, lessons, memberships, software…? Be specific to your own improvement requirements — as opposed to saying “every chessplayer should have a copy of My System” —  and stay within budget.

There are already a number of interesting answers in the comments there, including the remarkable variety of free online resources available:  FICS for playing, ChessBase Lite, Wikipedia openings articles (as pointed out by the excellent Blunderprone) etc., etc.  

Here is my rather radical take on the subject:  Get Andrew Soltis's new book Studying Chess Made Easy (for why, see Farbror the Guru's review).  That's $16, and add $20 for a spanking-new copy of 500 Master Games of Chess and now you've got your free shipping, and a lifetime of games to study when away from the computer.  I originally didn't think tournament entry fees were part of the budget, but most responses included them.  So, the remaining $164--join weekly club ($30-60) and the rest, enter tournaments!  Study with friends over the board (free!).  Play some longer time control games at FICS (free!).

For me, at this stage of life, the problem isn't a chess budget, it's time.  Just like so many of us Adult Chess Improvers, I have a demanding job, and worse, a five-year-old KID.  There goes the study time, right down he sink!  The good thing is that the kid is already playing chess, and with any luck he'll be rated higher than me by the time he's 10.  Then, I can play him for high quality practice.  FREE!

That's the secret long-term plan.  Until then, like you, I'm just holding on to serious chess by my fingernails.


Derek Slater said...

Breeding your own army of tiny chessmaster robots. Brilliant!

Thanks for the link. Hope your post will bring it to the attention of some new folks.

I gotta post my own answer shortly (which will in fact be different from most of what I've heard so far...)

LinuxGuy said...

Tournament fees, Crafty is free to use, and a book by or about some past Master. Given a choice, mine would be a book by Karpov.

Anonymous said...

You have a 5 year old King's Indian Defense? Why is this holding back your chess ;-P

Liquid Egg Product said...

A possible solution is to travel back in time 6 years, and convince yourself to either a vasectomy or quit your job and "work" as a chess hustler in NYC parks. Although it's not clear whether this would be within the $200 budget.

Wahrheit said...

@Derek--yes, and I will teach him to switch styles form "positional" to "tactical" for extra valuable practice.

@LinuxGuy--it seems that the key is to study master games, perhaps it doesn't even matter by who, but Karpov is one of the greatest.

@Anon--ha, I switched to the Tarrasch Defense lately.

@LEP--even better, go back 20 years to when I was rated 1800 and living in a town with lots of strong players, take a janitor job, not move away, and play and study daily. If I had done that I probably would have made it to 1950 USCF :):):)

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