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It’s been about a month that since my debacle at the 2022 Texas State and Amateur Chess Tournament. I licked my wounds, examined weaknesses, and changed my pattern.

I joined Chess.com a number of years ago, but been on it as much as I had our family treadmill. To fix that, I have become more active this month by playing at least one game a day. I wish I could play two games a day, but I’m self-employed with long work hours. My short term goals from online chess games include getting better at managing my clock time and becoming match tough.

Initially, I thought my process of chess opening training was sufficient enough. I went over the same five openings a day with an old version of MCO. I thought it would bring me good opening pattern recognition. Unfortunately, this revealed I hadn’t learned my openings well enough to make it a weapon.

I’m also a chess book collector with a minor size collection of books totaling somewhere over a hundred in number. I grabbed three books (Winning Chess Openings by Fred Reinfeld, The Middle Game in Chess by Reuben Fine and Pandolfini’s Endgame Course by Bruce Pandolfini) off one of my bookshelves and have been studying 10 pages a day from each book. I’m a day away from finishing Winning Chess Openings and will begin another chess openings book in July.

I have more advanced books but like Inigo Montoya said, “I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.” I’m going back to the beginning so my chess foundation is sound before I step into more advanced books. I should point out I’ve read more advanced chess books. I just don’t think I absorbed the lessons contained in them.

The other day I was playing a game online. I recognized we were in the Nimzo Indian opening. My opponent played out of book. This left me a choice: make a move out of book to counter or play the book move. I chose poorly making the book move. I had a devil of a time for most of the game as a result. Lesson learned.

Perhaps you would like to improve in chess but don’t have large chunks of time. I suggest you get creative. I wake up at 3:45am to study for an hour. Once I’ve covered a half hour each of tactics training and of opening study, I get ready for work. I place a couple of chess books in a backpack and catch the morning bus near my home. Once I reach the office, I study for another hour on both the middle game and end game then get my work day underway. At the end of my work day, I’ll play one game online before catching the evening bus a block from my office building. With a busy life, you need to get creative with time.

Happy Fourth of July!!!