31 March 2012

Chess Carnival "Best Of" - End of the Trilogy

The third and final installment of the Chess Carnival's "Best Of" series is now up at Robert Pearson's blog.  As usual, I'll post some thoughts on the Carnival content, which you can access via the link.

With this installment, I'd previously run across much of the content and have commented on my favorites elsewhere.  Nevertheless, a standout for me was Blue Devil Knight's post on "Lessons from blitz" which is both entertaining and thought-provoking, including its 30 comments.  The subject of blitz chess tends to raise a lot of passion in the chess improvement community, with some hardcore folks in both the pro- and anti-blitz contingents. 

I expect the level of passion and occasional rancor in the debate reflects the common desire for people to publicly justify their pursuits and opinions.  With some, it goes further, as they seem to want to impose their own views and practices on others at every opportunity.

Personally, I now avoid blitz completely.  Since this will probably be the only post I ever do on the topic, I'll mention the main reasons why:
  • My primary improvement needs are my thought process and endgame skills.  Blitz will assist poorly or not at all with these areas of my game.
  • Playing internet blitz normally involves lots of games with random people.  Inevitably, a certain, not-insignificant percentage of them will be jerks.  I have no need to meet more of them in my life, my blood pressure is borderline as it is.
  • Blitz easily becomes obsessive and a time suck.  I need to budget my time more effectively for chess improvement and enjoyment.
  • I simply enjoy other aspects of playing and studying more.
That said, I'm not one of those people who thinks blitz is completely useless and will rot your brain.  It's a fact that people have different approaches to learning and for some blitz may fit the bill as an aspect of their chess improvement program.  Some people also like blitz for pure enjoyment.  So I was able to enjoy reading BDK's post and watching some sparks fly afterwards.

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