Written by guest author Greg Delaney for Wholesale Chess.
It’s really not enough to simply know that a problem of any sort exists in any aspect of our lives. Awareness by itself will not solve a problem. This being said, a problem cannot be solved without it. Because of our “blind areas” as chess players, we may lack awareness of personality traits that cause our skills at chess to be less than they might otherwise be. Everyone has denial mechanisms – psychological methods by which we avoid painful thoughts and feelings – and this denial plays a role in being “unaware” of personality factors that hinder our chess development. Chess at any level is a very personal game. We place ourselves “on the line” during each game. Our knowledge, skills, stamina, intellect, and even our self-esteem are there for our opponents to see. Think about it: how many times have you made a weak move and then had your opponent look at you with a pitying smile before capturing an unprotected piece or setting up an unavoidable mate? How does that feel?
In order to preserve some dignity, we normally will find some reason “why” a mistake was made and “why” we lost the game. Of course, it wasn’t our “fault.” We didn’t sleep well the night before or we got frustrated by our opponent’s slow moves or there was a distracting noise in the club room or tournament hall. Most chess players I have met possess an arsenal of rationalizations for errors, blunders, and losses. We might have a hard time identifying the true source of the problem because it is hard to admit our weaknesses to ourselves, let alone to our opponents, other players, and chess coaches. This denial and rationalizing might provide us with some psychological and/or emotional comfort, but they constitute to a large extent the “blind areas” in our chess-playing.
I hope that I have made a strong case for how our own denial process and our “blind areas” serve to keep us “stuck” in our chess development. If we lack awareness of our problems at the chess board, it is doubtful that we will change them. After all, it is only after we find out there is a problem in our non-chess lives that we may be motivated to make some sort of change. I believe that honesty is truly the only real solution in these circumstances. We need to be able to acknowledge and accept the flaws, traits, and tendencies that recur in our games. And recur they do. As mentioned in previous articles, our unique personality traits emerge as we play a game of chess. If these traits are part of us, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that patterns of play – how we each individually play chess – can be recognized, examined, and changed. The resulting awareness becomes the first step to this change.
One of the themes I want to communicate is that how we approach the game of chess is likely quite similar to how we approach life in general. After all, the same personality traits, defense mechanisms, and problem-solving templates exist within us, whether we are playing chess or trying to decide on a financial plan for our retirement. If this is the case, and I believe it is, then closely examining our personality traits and tendencies whether we are playing chess or living life will be helpful in both areas. We can work to change these traits while studying chess, but we can also work on them in everyday life and expect some carry over to our chess playing as well. In the next article I will try to provide specific examples and to share change steps beyond our initial efforts at gaining awareness.
Greg Delaney is Life Member of USCF who returned to chess in 2005 after a three decade hiatus from the game he loves. He is an educator, club player, and student of IM Yelena Dembo. For fun, he blogs about chess and his work to improve as a player.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Wholesale Chess.
YOUR CHESS CHILD
Well, it's happened. You've got a child who enjoys learning and playing chess, and even though sometimes that might feel daunting to you, you should encourage it as much as is healthy. Chess has great social and intellectual benefits that can affect other aspects of their life. But remember that chess is a part of life, not the purpose of life. You might find a few fun chess items for kids for them to enjoy.
GET CONSTANT FEEDBACK
Make sure you know how your child is feeling about chess. If they are feeling burned out then pressuring them may just turn them off more. If they are hungry for chess and you are not feeding that, they make get frustrated.
ALWAYS SHOW LOVE AND SUPPORT
Always make sure that your child knows how much you love them regardless of whether they are winning or losing their chess games. Never show disappointment at their performance - they are most likely frustrated enough on their own!
We're coming up on the holiday season pretty quickly, and some of you may be wondering what to get your favorite chess enthusiast. In addition to our usual gift ideas, we know that wooden chess sets are always a good idea. Because there are a lot of options available, we are going to once again briefly explain the differences in wood types you can get pieces, boards, and boxes for chess sets.
Wood Chess Pieces are available in sheesham, ebonized hardwood, rosewood, ebony, or bud rosewood for the dark pieces. All sets come with boxwood for the light pieces.
Rosewood is a deep, reddish-brown wood with dark grain. It is elegant for chess pieces and also becoming increasingly rare as time goes by. In some lighting, these pieces can look extremely dark, but they always have a reddish hue.
Bud rosewood is the most rare of the chess piece woods, and it's worth every penny! This gorgeous wood is even more deeply grained and red-tinted than regular rosewood because it is taken from a specific part of a rosewood tree.
Our wood boards generally use maple or bird’s eye maple for light squares. Bird’s eye maple is a light wood with swirling grain spots that resemble eyes. The particular board shown below has alternating bird’s eye maple and ash burl squares for a very unique look. Ash burl has a distinctive and unusual grain.
Simply put, treat your nice wood chess pieces as you would fine furniture. First, and above all, avoid leaving them in direct sunlight and keep them away from extreme levels of humidity. A nice chess box or bag will help keep the humidity away. Second, many fine wood chess pieces are finished with a nature wax polish that requires careful attention. Do not use harsh detergents to clean them – the wax doesn’t play well with solvent based cleaners. For a longer, polished look – keep your pieces away from dusty environments and use a clean dry cloth to wipe them clean after use.
With the school year well underway, school chess clubs are in full swing! Students in after-school chess clubs often look for more opportunities to play chess outside the club. Almost all local scholastic chess communities provide interested students the opportunity to play rated chess tournaments, mainly on the weekends.
Is my child ready for chess tournaments?
This is a very important question! It is important to emphasize the experience: team spirit and making new friends over the winning and losing. That said, the student should be able to play a legal game of chess from start to finish, know all of the rules, be able to identify check and checkmate, and play with good sportsmanship.
What to expect at a chess tournament:
1. Touch-move rule! All participants must play by the touch-move rule, which has three parts: a.) If you touch a piece, you must move that piece as long as it is a legal move. b.) If you touch your opponent's piece and can capture that piece, you must capture. c.) Once you let go of the chess piece your turn is over -- no takebacks in chess!
2.) No talking! All players are expected to play quietly so that they do not disturb their opponent or others around them who are trying to concentrate. If you have any questions during the game raise your hand and a tournament director in the room will be happy to help.
3.) Chess notation! Players who play rated chess games will be expected to write down their moves. Some K-3 sections might not enforce this rule. The reason to write down your moves is in case there is a dispute during the game.
4.) Chess clocks! When one player presses the clock button, the opponent's time will start running. If one player runs out of time, even if winning, they will lose the game.
5.) Registered players play all rounds! Most scholastic tournament are anywhere from three to five rounds. Registered players are expected to complete all of the rounds unless you notify the tournament director before hand that you have to leave. Never just leave a tournament without telling someone as that means some other player will not get to play.
6.) Tournaments can last three to five hours! Be sure to bring some healthy snacks, books, etc...I have even seen some parents bring lawn chairs to make sure they will be comfortable while their children are playing!
Most important: have fun and enjoy the opportunity to play!
So you want to buy a chess set? That is a smart decision for three reasons:
You have probably started some basic research on the internet or even talked to that smart looking friend who has a chess set but you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the choices and options. Maybe the set is not for you but a gift for your favorite grandchild or niece. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you have a favorite) Either way, we hope this guide will be of help to you. If you don’t find what you are looking for, give us a call or email us and we will be happy to answer any questions you have. We love chess and live chess, so we can probably help with any questions you might have. Our phone number and email are listed at the bottom of this article as well as the “Contact Us” page on our website. There are thousands of chess sets in the world today and we try to carry several hundred of the most popular. To help narrow down the selection, let’s start with three questions:
Let’s dig a little deeper into these questions.
I have a nice Italian Alabaster table at home and wanted some nice wooden pieces to compliment the table. This was an expensive set and I knew it would primarily be used as a piece of furniture so I selected the Florentine Series – Bud Rosewood pieces to complement the table. The set looks beautiful and I do play games with my kids on occasion with this set, however, when we are going to play some serious chess I pull out my Heavy Tournament Chess Set Combo. If you want a set that is primarily for display purposes, a stone or metal set is probably the way to go. We sell a variety of stone themed chess sets and a few metal pieces as well. There are a lot of cheaply made stone and metal sets but we don’t carry them as they are difficult to repair or get replacement pieces. If you want a set that looks great but can be played as well, I would recommend a nice wood chess set. We have a wide selection of wood sets that include the board and pieces. Prices vary based on size, wood type, etc. If you prefer to buy your pieces and board separately, start with the pieces and then go from there. There are several types of wood used in the production of chess pieces and the cost and quality can differ significantly from wood to wood. Here is a brief explanation of the more popular wood types. Bud Rosewood – A dark, rich grain with lots of mahogany or red in the piece. I think these pieces are have the best color but also are generally the most expensive. You will also see the terms Blood Rosewood and Red Sandal wood used to describe these pieces. Rosewood – Like Bud Rosewood, these pieces are dark and have a rich grain, but are more brown in color. The color of these pieces is very versatile and easy to match with a board. Golden Rosewood – As the name suggests, these pieces are in the same Rosewood family but are golden or honey in color. Ebony (not to be confused with Ebonized) – Ebony is a very dark or black hard wood. These pieces are beautiful pieces on the right board. The downside to ebony is they tend to crack easier than the other wood types. Keeping these pieces at the right humidity level will help. Ebony is an expensive wood as well. Ebonized – Because Ebony is so expensive, many sets are also sold as “Ebonized” sets, which really means they are boxwood pieces that have been stained black to look like Ebony pieces. When done properly a good ebonized set is difficult to distinguish from a true Ebony set and is a fraction of the cost. Sheesham – Sheesham wood is an expensive medium brown wood. In some Sheesham pieces you can see the grain to it but not like the Rosewood sets. Most entry level wood sets will have Sheesham for the dark pieces. Boxwood or Whitewood – The light pieces on most sets are made from Boxwood or Whitewood. It is a very light colored wood, generally with no visible grain. After you have picked your pieces you will want to pair those pieces with a board. Use the following guidelines: 3.75” is the standard king height in tournament play. A 20” board is the standard board size. Depending on where you want to play and store your set, you might want to go up or down from there. Most of the higher end wood pieces have a 3.75” to 4.5” king height but we sell wooden pieces as small as 2.5” king height. More important than king height, is the width of the base of the king. The king is traditionally the tallest and widest piece on the board and the rest of the pieces are proportional to the king. When you buy a board you want to fit it to your king to the square size and then you know the rest of the pieces will fit well. The total dimensions of the chess board are good to know but the square size is even more important. As a general rule you want the base of the king to be about 75% of the square size. So if your king has a base that is 1.75” wide, you would want a board with squares that are about 2.3”. Of course you can go up or down from that number a little but don’t go too far or the pieces either get too crowded on the board or look too small. If you will be using the set in a USCF tournament, be sure to check with your tournament director or the USCF rule book to make sure your board and pieces meet all regulations. You can see more sizing suggestions at the bottom of this guide.* It can be a little confusing so give us a call if you have any questions. We can help you make sure your pieces and board fit well together. If you like the look of wood but want to be able to travel or easily store the set, you might consider a folding wood set. They come in sizes from 7” to 20” in a variety of wood types. If you decide that you want a set intended for the rigors of regular play, I would suggest a good plastic tournament set. There is a wide range of pieces, boards and bags in these sets to fit all budgets.
Do you remember the nice set I have at home that I mentioned above? What I did not tell you is that it is not as nice as it used to be. When my youngest child was starting to toddle around the house he often found himself at the chess table. While I daydreamed about raising the next chess prodigy, he was actually putting the tips of the pawns in his mouth and sucking off all of the lacquer. As best as I can tell there was no adverse health effects to him but it was not good for the set. Since then I have lost an ear or bridal on each of the knights. This was not a good set for the kids to pay with. For a young player I would suggest you start with an un-weighted or lightly weighted club or starter chess set. These things are almost indestructible and easy to carry and store. Also, on most of these sets we offer a lifetime missing pieces replacement which comes in handy if your young one misplaces things like mine does. These sets come in a lot of fun colors, are inexpensive and you can always upgrade to a nicer set down the road. Lastly, if you have no friends to play with or want something to help you learn the game, chess software is a great alternative. You can study openings, play a game, study tactics, work on your endgames, etc. Most chess software plays at beginner and master levels, and everything in between.
This is the million dollar question. Well, maybe not literally, but it is an important question. Like most everything else in life, generally, the more you pay, the nicer the set. However, there is no reason to pay a lot for a set you don’t need. We want you to buy the best set for you…..not the best set for us. We carry thousands of chess sets and supplies and you will receive our same great service when you buy a $10 set as you would if you bought a $1,000 set. Most of our club and tournament sets average between $10 and $40. Generally, the heavier and larger the piece, the higher the price. Also, the bag makes a big difference. Our tournament bags have many extras including separate pockets for each color of pieces, a padded clock pocket, room for the board inside the bag, etc. Our wood sets range in price from $20 to several thousand dollars. To get a nice entry level wood set (board and pieces) you should plan to pay $80 to $200. Of course you can find some for less than that and you can quickly get much higher as well. Since we are discussing price, let me let you in on an insider secret about wood chess sets. Almost all of the nice wood pieces you find available for sale on any site are made in the same city in India. There are several companies there that all they do is make chess pieces to ship to the rest of the world. The same companies that make the $29 wood sets make the $1,000 wood sets as well. So why the difference in retail price? There are three primary reasons:
Well, if you have stuck with me thus far I am impressed. There is a lot that goes into selecting the right chess set and we have only begun to scratch the surface. We could go on but I think both of us would rather be playing chess than reading or writing about it. If we didn’t answer your question, give us a call at 1-888-582-4377 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help make the selection process as easy as possible.
* Additional Sizing Information The USCF ruling is the king’s base diameter should fall into this range: 0.78 x [SS – 0.125&91; <= KBD <= 0.78 x [SS&91; Where: SS = square size KBD = king base diameter Units are in inches Wow….I’ll bet you wish you had paid more attention to your high school algebra teacher now. Here is a little cheat sheet for some of the more common sizes. 2” chessboards, the king’s base diameter should fall into the range of 1.46” to 1.56” (3.71-3.96cm) 2.25” chessboards, the king’s base diameter should fall into the range of 1.66” to 1.75” (4.22-4.46cm) 2.50” chessboards, the king’s base diameter should fall into the range of 1.85” to 1.95” (4.70-4.95cm)
We always love to hear about the great things our customers are doing with the supplies they receive from Wholesale Chess. This past summer, we were excited to hear about a fun trip from Learner's Chess Academy, a non-profit organization in New Mexico dedicated to helping young people grow intellectually using skills they learn while playing chess. This organization, through donations from people across the country, was able to take a small group of people to El Salvador to teach children there.
As the local leaders felt unqualified to start their own chess clubs, but wanted students in the community to develop leadership skills, problem-solving skills, concentration, and motivation to stay locally, Learners Chess Academy partnered with Voices on the Border (another non-profit organization, this one dedicated to helping the people of El Salvador specifically) to head on down to help.
They took a small delegation of people as well as enough equipment to be able to teach the roughly 35 children waiting for them. A week and a half gave them time to teach, demonstrate, and help these beginning chess players learn basic rules and strategies. When they returned home, all equipment was left in El Salvador so this small community could continue to embrace chess. Interviews with the children gathered to play were excited, both about the opportunity to learn as well as the new skills they could develop from the game itself.
Even better, Voices on the Border has been able to report that a month later, students are still gathering regularly to learn and play chess!
This week's tournament tip is to set a goal!
Before the big game, set a goal that is not focused on your result.
Goals like "I am going to win my section," or "I am going to gain 50 rating points" can at times be motivating, but they can also add extra pressure that takes you away from your focus on the game.
Instead, pick a goal that helps you work on what you think you need to do in order to become a better player. This advice can come from yourself, from a parent, or from your coach.
Here are some examples:
Be creative and come up with your own! Focusing on your weaknesses will naturally improve your chess in the long run. That will lead to more success. Best of luck!
From time to time, Wholesale Chess customers have questions about the timing modes on their chess clock. In an effort to help everyone better understand how to get the most from their chess clocks, we've put together this list of popular chess clock timing modes and which chess clocks have these timing modes available.
Popular Timing Modes
Sudden death - players must make a predetermined number of moves in a certain amount of time or forfeit immediately. A particularly popular variant in informal play is blitz chess, in which each player is given five minutes on the chess clock for the entire game. The players may take more or less time over any individual move. The opening moves in chess are often played quickly due to their familiarity, which leaves the players more time to consider more complex and unfamiliar positions later.
Simple delay - when it becomes a player's turn to move, the clock waits for the delay period before starting to subtract from the player's remaining time. For example,
if the delay is five seconds, the clock waits for five seconds before counting down. The time is not accumulated. If the player moves within the delay period, no time is subtracted from his remaining time. This time control is similar to a Bronstein with time added before the move.
Fischer - before a player has made his move, a specified time increment is added to his clock. Time can be accumulated, so if the player moves within the delay period, his remaining time actually increases. For example, if the delay time is five seconds, and a player has four seconds left on his clock, as soon as his opponent moves, he receives the increment and has nine seconds to make a move. If he takes two seconds to move, on the start of his next move he has seven seconds. There is also a variant of this time control that adds the delay after a player makes his move (Fischer after), so the delay is added to the player's remaining time and is available for his next move. If however time runs out during his move, the game ends without the delay time being added. This variant prevents the player who is in time-trouble to take advantage of the extra-time.
Bronstein - with the Bronstein timing method, the increment is always added after the move. But unlike Fischer, not always the maximum increment is added. If a player expends more than the specified increment, then the entire increment is added to the player's clock. But if a player has moved faster than the time increment, only the exact amount of time expended by the player is added. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the player has ten seconds left in his clock before his turn and during his turn he spends three seconds, after he presses the clock button to indicate the end of his turn, his clock increases by only three seconds (not five).
Word - it is a sudden death time control, without any increment or delay. The difference here is that when the time expires by dropping to zero, a flag is set, and the clock immediately starts counting up without limit. This time control applies to games where the amount of time used after the allowed time can be subtracted from the player's score as a penalty.
Hour glass - a player loses in this time control when he allows the difference between both clocks to reach the specified total amount. For example, if the total is defined as one minute, both players start their clocks at thirty seconds. Every second the first player uses to think in his moves is subtracted from his clock and added to his opponent's clock. If he uses thirty seconds to move, the difference between the clocks reaches one minute, and the time flag falls to indicate that he loses by time. If he has used twenty nine seconds and then pushes the clock's button, he has one second left on his clock and his opponent has fifty-nine seconds.
Simple Up-Count and Countdown
Sudden Death Only
Sudden Death & Simple Delay Only
Sudden Death, Delay & Bronstein/Fischer Modes**
** Various Fischer and Bronstein modes are available. Please review the product description for each item to determine which modes are available.
* All information listed above is believed to be accurate but since manufacturers make changes to their products regularly, please read the product description and online owner’s manual (where available) for each clock your are considering to ensure the clock supports the timing modes you require.
The bad news is that if you continue to play chess you will have to deal with many losses. The good news is that these losses are just stepping stones in your overall improvement as a chess player.
Here are three tips to handle tough losses:
1. Be a good sport.
No matter how tough the loss feels, shake your opponent's hand and say good game. Always take advantage of the chance to review the game with your opponent. This is the first step in the learning process.
2. Go for a walk.
If you have time between games, take a nice walk to clear your mind, calm down, and get some fresh air. Getting away from the exciting tournament area and skittles room can help you to relax and get ready for your next game.
3. Start over.
Forget about your loss and treat your next round like it's the beginning of a new tournament. Just imagine that the next round is the first round, and you just want to play good moves.
Do not forget after the tournament to review these losses and look at them as an opportunity to improve.
Time flies when you're having fun, and unfortunately, that means that summer vacation is nearly over! Those of you who have children, are teachers, or are coaches know that it's time to get ready to get back to school. Of course, you'll have backpacks, notebooks, textbooks, lunch boxes, and erasers, but we thought we'd remind you of far more important supplies - your chess gear!
Every good chess player needs two things: a board and some pieces. There are plenty of choices as to piece size, weight, and color, as well as board material. If you're in charge of a school club, the important thing to remember is that you need one board and one set of pieces for every two students. For beginners, you might be interested in our Basic Board and Pieces Sets, which are economically designed with unweighted plastic pieces and basic vinyl roll-up boards. They meet all tournament regulations. More intermediate to advanced players might want something a little more high-end and detailed, like a silicone board and some Traditional Staunton pieces.
Once you've got your board and pieces, it's time to think about all of the other helpful equipment you should probably have. It's much easier to carry your gear around in a bag - and we have a great selection to help you find what's most convenient for your situation. You might want something just for the pieces, such as a Perfect-Fit Bag, or you might want something that can hold all the gear you want to take to and from tournaments, such as a Carry-All Bag.
As you get better, you'll want to improve your game and prepare for tournaments with a chess clock. There are many different types of clocks, including both analog and digital. For clubs and those who don't need complicated timing methods, analog clocks as well as Chronos clocks, like the one pictured above, are very high-end clocks. Metal casing and either push button or touch switch controls make them well-known in the chess community.
If you're doing any teaching, Demo Boards make it a lot easier in classroom or club settings. Larger, vertical boards, complete with stars for showing moves, are easy for students to see, learn, and analyze. There are many options.
We have a great selection of other accessories you might want, including pencils, wristbands, keychains, scorebooks, and more. We even have plenty of books, workbooks, and wood sets to get you on your way.
□ Chess Pieces
□ Chess Board
□ Chess Bag
□ Chess Clock
□ Demo Set
□ Pencils, Keychains, Stickers, and Other Chess Accessories