Chess improvement blogging is a complete waste of time

…he said with a sly wink.

Last night at the chess club, a friend went into a gentle rant about the time spent blogging instead of studying chess. He also observed with amusement that many chess improvement bloggers have periods of feverish activity followed by an eventual dropout.

And his final shot was to note that making grand pronouncements about progress (or regression) on a game-to-game basis is like watching the stock market every day. Most of the ups and downs are just noise. In chess, there’s no value in being a day trader.

I’m not going to defend chess blogging, certainly not in terms of its benefits to your game. By the same token, you could argue that driving to the club wastes an extra hour of time that could be more profitably spent in a slow game on the Internet Chess Club. And some people do that. My view of chess blogging is that, like playing at a club, it’s largely a social activity around a common interest. (Of course my opinion might be worthless because I am only marginally a chess blogger.)

But the bit about day trading, I think he’s completely right there. Good players seem to spend their brain cycles thinking about positions and tactics and themes, not about results and ratings so much.

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12 thoughts on “Chess improvement blogging is a complete waste of time

  1. i blog about chess for a few reasons. 1: i like to write. B: it gives me a kind of progression journal, keeps me focused, gives me a place to rant or rave about whatever i’m doing “chessicaly” and lastly, um, i like to blog about stuff and get other people’s opinions and feedback and hints and tips and such. i don’t consider blogging as any way to help me improve chess, directly, it’s just what i do when i’m not studying, and when people comment with “look at this, read this book, etc” then i maybe learn something that i can use.
    oh, i also do it for the chicks. chicks dig bloggers. so i hear, i don’t know this as cold hard fact, i just have to find them….

  2. Yes, and your writeups are quite hilarious, so don’t stop.

    Actually now that you say that, it also calls to mind that you collect some pretty decent advice in response to your posts. That’s a potential benefit of blogging – free advice from readers.

  3. I think it’s interesting if we substitute the phrase “keeping a journal” for “blogging” it sounds a lot better–many great players have kept chess journals and recommended the practice. I must say some of my posts are nothing to do with improvement, but after I committed to posting every tournament game on the blog I started doing more and better analysis of my own games than I had ever done previously, so the public aspect of it has forced some good habits on me to avoid embarrassment.

    Still, you’re right on that the social aspects of both blogging and OTB chess are the important parts that give one pleasure (speaking for myself, anyway). Keeping secret journals and playing computers might get my rating higher in the long run but it sure doesn’t sound like much fun.

  4. What a great title.

    And your opinion may or may not be worthless, but what you mention about the social aspect is so true. Chess is a great game by itself, but the people part is what makes for so many great (and maybe not-so-great) memories.

    @chessloser: I’m sure your wife must be happy to read that.

  5. Face it… blogging is just a great way to avoid actually having to talk to people. :)

    Remings me of a joke, from fellow chess blogger Steve Eddings, who in real life is a Professional Math Weenie:

    How can you tell an extroverted mathematician from an introverted mathematician?

    The extroverted mathematician looks at *your* shoes when he talks to you.

    -Matt

  6. Alright, so beside you adn globular and myelf who were at the club and given Matt’s response above… who was the other Chess improvement blogger complaining? There were two others…one who doubles as a TD and the other who plays when not traveling.

    I guess I have to check thier blogs for rants.

  7. I think blogging about chess is unique because it is not like football where you can be pretty much anywhere and strike up a conversation about the playoffs or even super bowls from years past. If you went to the bar and tried to bring up Corus I don’t think anyone would know what you’re talking about and then when they figure out it was chess they would be like “Does Bobby Fischer still play?”

    There is not an abundance of people who follow and study chess so I’m glad that we can use an online community as a forum to discuss this game.

    As far as the day trading analogy, aside from Wahrheit’s excellent point, I think the majority of us are still concerned with our overall game more than our ratings. What’s important to all of us is that we can find the move. I’m playing more to make myself the best player I can be than to achieve some rating goal. Rating is however the aggregate of every game (that counts) you have ever played, so it can never be ignored.

  8. I’m like chessloser, I blog because I like to write. My first blog was about triathlons and bike racing. I had started that one because it was an alternative to writing things down in a notebook. I have tons of notebooks filled with race journals. That blog is inactive at the moment, but as I start racing again, I’ll get back to it.

    I’ve enjoyed the feedback and other comments that I’ve gotten when I’ve put up games or have shared embarressing moments about various tournaments. I can talk about this stuff at the chess club, but if I’m at home I have nobody to share it with. When I start talking about how I got my ass kicked by some little kid my husband’s eyes glaze over, and he quickly changes the subject. In the blogosphere I can put my thoughts down, and my fellow blogging chess players can enjoy a good laugh, or give me some good advice.

    I don’t see blogging as a way to improve, but I enjoy reading about what others are doing in their quest to reach their rating goal of X. Could I use my blogging time to study more? Yes, but chances are if I wasn’t in the mood to study, I’d find something else to distract me. At least blogging about chess is chess related. Also annotating my games in Chessbase before posting them has been helpful.

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