Mr. Crabby Old Chess Player #9


I’d like to quit chess.

And I have tried several times. But I always miss it and always come back.

Whenever I mention my desire to quit, my chess-playing friends launch into a tirade about how I’m just discouraged, or how they were planning to split a room with me at the US Open, or how I’d be having more fun if I just went back to playing the Hennig-Schara Gambit. The fact that I have several children, a demanding job, outrageous school loans, a usurious mortgage and various other obligations does not seem to phase these friends. And truth be told, it doesn’t make me want to quit, it just makes me play badly and feel frustrated.

Given your cynical and generally unpleasant attitude, you are probably my best shot for advice on how to abandon chess once and for all. Ideas appreciated.

– Antonio in Akron

Dear Tony:

This question is the best I’ve ever gotten. Brings a small tear to my eye to encounter someone with even a shred of common sense (if no backbone) in this community of loud-talking social misfits.

Here’s your problem. When you simply stop going to tournaments, or let your ICC membership lapse, that isn’t the same as quitting chess. It’s like putting on socks over a big patch of ringworm. On the surface there’s no activity, but underneath the itch is still there.

You need to kill the itch. The best way to do this is with a systematic but gradual process of changing HOW you play.

  • First phase, start playing the following specific openings. Against the French, 3.exd5. Against the Caro Kann, 3.exd5. Against the Sicilian, 2.c3. Against the Alekhine, 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3.
  • Second phase, start avoiding tactics and whine about your pairings, typically because you think you were incorrectly allocated the black pieces because your alternation should trump your opponents’ equalization. And/or because you hate playing little kids.
  • Third phase, swap out your first-phase openings and instead play the Trompowsky, then the London.
  • Fourth phase, stop doing any analysis of your own games or others, and instead just stare at Fritz’s blinking windows and + 1.0023 evalulations if you do have the urge to analyze.

See what you’re doing? Instead of trying to go cold-turkey, or flaming out with a board-sweeping resignatory tantrum and storming out of a tourney hall, or trying to convince yourself  that you’re too busy for all this chess  nonsense, you’re actually KILLING THE ITCH by taking all the fun out of the game.

Pretty soon you won’t have any chess jones left at all. Lucky you!


p.s. Sorry you live in Akron.


5 thoughts on “Mr. Crabby Old Chess Player #9

  1. My advice: Go into chess politics, at any level. Dealing with those people will rid you of any desire to be associated with the game.


    P.S. Derek, when are you coming back? I have some lines in the Slav Exchange I want to show you.


  2. This article is gold. I second the advice to “whine about your pairings”.
    As long as you can blame your losses on something else, you can continue to not work on your game and explain away your occasional bad play.
    Also, play 3. cxd5 vs both slav and QGD and you on your path to not having to know any theory whatsoever!!!

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