Sunday, December 9, 2018

Chess and Aquaman

There was a nice article in the 12/9/2018 Sunday New York Times, page ST-8, Aquaman’s Nemesis gets a Chess Lesson by Max Berlinger.  The actor who plays Mantra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, likes chess.  Besides being an actor, he has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.  He worked as a city planner in San Francisco until he got laid off. 

Now that he is a successful actor, and has time and money to spare, he is taking chess lessons from Douglas Miller in Manhattan.  When he asked the chess teacher how he could improve faster, the chess teacher was reported telling hem he needed to study chess theory.  “Most theory is endgame, and that’s the deepest part of chess. You can easily get a piece to any position on the board, but you have to know how to use it and exploit it.”  The teacher then recommended My System by Aron Nimzowitsch.  I have to disagree a bit here. 

My System is jumping into the deep end of the pool.  It is not the first book a beginner reads.  Better as a first book is The Game of Chess by Siegbert Tarrasch because it has chapters on the opening, the middle-game and the end-game.  Both My System and The Game of Chess have chapters of representative games, however, for beginners the best collection of games to study is The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy by Irving Chernev.  The games actually are selected as examples to show some of the points from My System, that is why the games are called masterpieces of chess strategy.  My System is about chess strategy.

New Ideas in Chess by Larry Evans conceptualizes chess goals as time, space, force, and pawn structure.  He uses about 200 chess positions as teaching examples.  An older player at my high school chess club lent me his copy of this book and reading it improved my play.  It helped me to improve and it will help other beginners to improve.  A beginner needs theory and examples.

Chess offers a life time of enjoyment if you are willing to spend some time in learning the game.  Chess also has the benefit of improving scholastic achievement in young people.  The Canadians have been promoting chess in their schools for a long time.  Here in Plano the Ed Gurukul school, which offers educational enrichment, promotes chess for improved academic achievement.  The Ed Gurukul school offers chess lessons and sponsors the Plano Chess Club, which holds chess tournaments.  How wonderful we have a resource like Ed Gurukul in Plano. 


PS:  I mentioned Ed Gurukul in a previous article, The Secret to Success in the Suburbs, January 2011.  I am glad this school is continuing to serve our community.