Learning Project Wrap Up

In a blink of the eye our semester is concluding and so is my journey in developing myself as a chess protege. Throughout the semester I have both grown in self skill in the area of chess as well as better appreciating the professionals of the game. To begin I’ll recap my journey thus far before closing on my current remarks.

Week 1: Tackling Chess

Getting my bearings in chess and understanding basic concepts, not much of a definitive goal at this point just wanted to be able to vastly improve from the bottom of the knowledge barrel. Also got set up with my chess.com account where a majority of my learning would come from.

Week 2: Diving Deeper into Chess

This week I dove deeper into the actually strategies in chess, in this case through openings and how to start the game. I found Youtube to be a valuable resource to have some actual in game examples of openings in play. Also moved into playing bot games on the chess.com site.

Week 3: Education Tools and Live Streaming

For my joint post in week three, I used a program called OBS which was a great tool for live streaming or creating overlays for recordings. It worked well for me to include a webcam on to my puzzle session on the chess.com site.

Week 4: Chess is just math, or so it seems…

For week four, I furthered my understanding of calculations during the game and deducing if certain trades were overall profitable for me. I used various articles online and then used these ideas in games against opponents online.

Week 5: Pro chess players aren’t no jokes ..

For week five, I entertained myself with some professional matches to see the actual skill difference. (Definitely an eye opener) I then moved into some more puzzle play to grow my decision making skills and continued with my ladder climb.

Week 6: Pawns that Hang?

This week I did some research on the concept of pawn hanging and how it effected my strategies moving into games down the road. I’m also starting to see visual differences in players skill calibre to the computers I’ve gone up against thus far.

Week 7: Free trials and foxes that play chess

This week I signed up for the free trial of chess.com and was able to fully get my use out of the best online chess resource. This lead to larger array of puzzles and quizzes at my disposal to better my instincts in the game. I also checked into some different articles for space concepts which I could integrate into my game.

Week 8: Revisiting the pros

This week I revisited some pro gameplay and was better able to follow the strategy and thought processes that went through the game. (To an extent) I also went back to Youtube to try to get a better grasp of what thought processes were needed to grow past my ladder position that I currently found myself in.

Week 9: A full circle moment

This week I found myself finding the most growth in my online ranking with chess.com and found myself back watching the same Youtube channel for growth tips that I began my journey with. I was diving into counter plays trying to strengthen the concept in my own game.

To finish off the semester I found myself growing far further than I thought I would have going in. I think it shows how far you can get in something if you just put the effort in and try to improve. I would also say it highlights the power of technology and how much you can teacher yourself with only resources online and help from peers.

To start the semester I had a placement score of 400 on the chess.com site and here is my final progress and stat lines. Thanks for following along this semester!

A full circle moment

We find ourselves at my second to last post on chess. My brain has done more computations and thinking in this project than a lot of my math classes that I’ve taken thus far in university. I think a lot of my progress and confidence gained thus far can be attributed to the lessons and computer matches that chess.com offers. Being able to improve without the stress of regressing in rank takes a lot of the stress load off where you can focus on learning which is the most important factor into gaining chess confidence.

For this week in chess research I looked into counter-play techniques, which consists of knowing the difference between a mistake and a bait at the higher levels. Ironically I found myself back on the GothamChess youtube page which was the first video that I watched in chess regarding the King’s Indian opening from post one. It almost felt like a full circle as I moved forward with my chess strategy.



To finish off this week I tried out a chess.com feature that I haven’t toyed around too much with this semester. This being puzzle battles which breaks down into a puzzle race against other people online. It seems like a great way to add pressure to the decision making process in a fun way. I ran into some great minds tho and seemed to lose most of the battles. I really was there for the learning process and not to have only the goal of winning the battles as they were in the learning process.



Here is to another week in learning too much information for my brain to process!




Revisiting the pros

With only a couple more weeks left for my project this semester, I wanted to revisit the professional game and see if my perspective on the matter has shifted at all from when I last watched a professional match. I can say with certainty that it has, not in the way that I can call every move to be made or to correct the pros in any way. I can now say though I follow the game much clearer and am better at recognizing blunders as they are punished by the other pros. I’ve seem to move past the feeling of overwhelmingness that filled me as I reacted to pro games in the past.

Feeling like I’ve tackled most of the basic strategy principles this semester, I found myself browsing youtube for different ideas on mistakes people around my skill bracket make, and both how to solve them as well as taking advantage of your opponent when he makes them. I stumbles across a couple videos on the chess vibes channel on youtube with a couple videos targeting my bracket and appealing the feeling of where to go next which I was faced with this week.


I then took some ideas such as fork prevention into some more matches online, and found more success in later game decision making and I also found myself having to use less time in between moves. The whole game seems a bit more natural now which is something I’ve been aiming to achieve from when I started.

The main takeaway from this project so far has definitely to give extra credit to the professional players out there as it is mind-blowing how much works goes into making vast improvements in chess. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress this semester but looking at the worldwide matchmaking numbers I haven’t even started

Total Rank Growth: 400 -> 800





Free trials and foxes that play chess

For this week of my chess journey, I ended up signing up for the one month trial of chess.com. This basically opens the door for unlimited puzzles and lessons regarding chess. I have spent a lot of time looking around the internet for different medias and websites to learn from but always ending up back at chess.com as it is the best place to put concepts and strategies into a reality.

For my strategy concept that I wanted to dive deeper into, I chose king safety. With king safety the objective is to position your king and know movements revolving the king to ultimately set yourself up to have the highest chance of winning. After all the entire game surrounds who’s king falls first. Reading up from an article by chessfox.com I was able to better visualize a middle ground between king safety as well as putting the opposing king in a position to give up the game.

I moved into some king defence modules where I was really exposed to some poor king positioning and was taught where would be optimal movement to put myself back into the game.

After a couple more puzzle modules I found myself back at the table to play more online opponents. This week I had my friend Travis watch some of my games to get live feedback which was one thing I felt like I was lacking from just trying to analyze my own mistakes. He pointed out things I wouldn’t have even thought of and it was nice to get an outside perspective on certain matters.

Another great feature that I wanted to touch on is the chess.com game reviews. When you complete a game the application will break down every move you made and tell you how you played based on optimal outcomes. Its not only nice to break down my mistakes but to also get a feel for what I did right regarding positive moves.


For next week I really aim to keep at practice matches as I’m wanting to improve my player score as the semester moves towards a close in the coming weeks.




Pawns that Hang?

Moving into progress post six of the semester I wanted to get another level of strategy under the belt. I decided to read up on space, which is a simple concept but a deeper understanding really opens the door for strategy. Being not only adaptable to how the board plays out but to also know when to take advantage of space on the board as well as when to back up and play the passive angle. I first read up on chess-teacher.com where I was able to tackle the concept a little deeper. This mixed with a couple youtube videos one being by the Hanging Pawns channel on youtube.


I was really able to make a direct correlation between this concept and the game itself when I was able to analyze a game after my lesson. I was able to see that I had the space advantage on the board but really didn’t take advantage of it and my opponent came back and beat me in the end. From my chess exposure so far it has definitely been the game that I’ve learned the most through my losses and not my wins. That seems to be the one drawback from playing against computer opponents as well compared to real people. Computers sometimes allow your mistakes to go unpunished while the real people will really get on you for it.


I think moving into the coming week, I’m going to be doing more puzzles and lessons on the chess.com site as it seems to be the ultimate utility for furthering your game as a whole. I think for right now furthering my knowledge will prove to be more beneficial than trying to increase my rank among chess players.

Total Rank Growth: 400 -> 700





Pro chess players aren’t no jokes ..

This week in my journey in chess, I wanted to further my knowledge in another strategy that can implemented into my play. I read up on a recommended concept called piece activity. Simply put pieces have abstract values depending on their position on the board. Pieces that are behind pawns and trapped from play have less value than others that have the ability to move around the board. You can also play aggressive even with less pieces if you know where you stand regarding activity.

Out of pure curiosity I looked into some professional chess games just to get a feeling of how advanced high level players think. After watching some gameplay from Magnus Carlson (Arguably the world’s best player) my mind was blown with how advanced these players are. They are thinking 30 moves down the line while I’m maybe thinking one or two. It really furthered my appreciation for how much dedication it takes to get to the top.


I went over some lessons using the chess.com lesson page, here professional players go through situations and break down optimal moves. I chose a lesson based on activity to tie in with my reading this week and needed some tips along the way but made my way through the lesson.


I followed some practice by going into some more games against online opponents. I aimed to play some more games casually throughout the weeks to get some more casual practice in. Overall my rank hovered a bit as moving forward just means better opponents down the line but I definitely feel like I can put up a fight in every match played with my boosted confidence.

Total Rank Growth: 400 -> 650





Chess is just math, or so it seems…

This week to strengthen my sense of strategy and understanding I familiarized myself in a field that I excel in, math. I did some research into the concept of material counting in chess, which in short relates to each piece of the chess board having a value and being able to see who is leading. Knowing these values leads to understanding better trades and either playing passively or aggressively as the game moves forward.

rustic-chess.org had a great article on values, they valued each piece as follows: Queen: 9 points, Rook: 5 points, Bishop/Knights: 3 points, Pawns: 1 point. It seemed without some sort of system to base trades off of set me up for failure in the long run since I didn’t have any sense of value of the pieces. Integrating this idea with the openings idea I used from my second blog post I can go into a game with a sense of strategy and planning moves down the road.

I first utilized the puzzles section of chess.com to practice some exchange sacrifices, their website does a great job to give feedback and reasoning to puzzle answers then simply saying if you are right or wrong.


I played a couple games against higher ranked computers to try to make better trading moves in the middle and late parts of the game. After a couple practice matches I moved back into playing against real people and got back to trying to improve my rank. After about an hour of playing I felt more comfortable actually making trades and decisions which factored into my overall confidence level.


I think confidence is going to be my biggest goal moving forward, I look forward to what my next step will be while becoming the one of the world’s best. (Definitely not one of the worlds best)

Total Rank Growth: 400 -> 590

Links: https://rustic-chess.org/evaluation/material.html


Education Tools and Live Streaming

The tool I decided to utilize for this weeks post is called OBS. OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software and is something I’ve heard of before in the field of video game streaming. Watching a YouTube break down linked at the bottom, shows the uses of OBS beyond just to livestream. It is a really easy recording software to use where you can overlay things such as text, images or webcams on top of a recording. I can see software like this great for prerecorded lectures for example to improve them beyond just a shared screen of lecture notes.

To tie into my learning project I found OBS as a great tool for documenting a game recording as well as to look back at the moves I made to reflect for improvement after the fact. Here I included a recording of a game I played to show off how easy it is to record a game with OBS. During this game I tried opening with the King’s Indian setup which was discussed in the last learning post. Here with OBS I can really analyze what decisions I made post setup and critique my moves as the game progresses.

I would recommend OBS to anyone wanting to record a video with numerous customization options to improve the video while recording rather then in the editing process.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/XtKUnw2bRdM




Diving Deeper into Chess

For my introduction into the chess scene I started my journey by signing up on chess.com which is the world’s leader in online chess and the site that will track my matchmaking rank as described in my first post. The platform was actually full of valuable information and teachings from puzzles to show optimized moves and even practice matches against bots of different skill calibers. After making my account I started with a matchmaking score of 400 which will be the baseline for my progress.

To start my learning process I moved to what I found to be the most valuable resource when learning any type of skill online, YouTube. I started discussing with my one friend who plays chess if he had any recommendations for channels that cater to beginner players. He told me to check out GothamChess on Youtube which is a rather large content creator that specializes in lessons such as openings and match critiquing. My friend also recommended a video on the topic of openings which is the starting point of chess strategy.



An opening simply put is a strategy of moves made from the start to set up the beginning of the game. Different openings are used to accomplish goals such as better protecting the king, creating space for later movements and making it easier to set up pawn captures as the games moves forward. I watch a video on the King’s Indian setup which I will link at the bottom. This setup provides a great starting defence for the king as well as room to make plays with the surrounding pieces.

After tackling the King’s Indian setup I moved into games against the generated computers provided on the chess.com website. I started against the lowest possible bot and transitioned into bots in the range of 200-400 matchmaking rank just to try to get a hold of the movements and trading concept. One of the biggest struggles in my introduction was understanding the different piece values and what was a good or poor trade. Being able to play against a computer that wouldn’t completely punish my mistakes made a great starting point to use the opening learned in the first YouTube video.



I think for my next moves this semester is try to utilize some of the puzzles and different learning methods accessible to me and move into playing games against real world opinions around my skill caliber.



Photos taken from the chess.com website and the GothamChess Youtube page via https://www.youtube.com/c/GothamChess

Tackling Chess

For my semester long learning journey, I’ve decided to try to tackle the game of chess. Chess is something that I have zero experience in other then exposure to its references in pop culture. With its resurgence of popularity due to online streamers taking an interest in the game I thought it would be an interesting skill to try to grasp a hold of. I’m a person that is very interested in games whether it be sudoku or different types of video games so I’m predicting that I’ll take a liking along my journey.

To start, my current knowledge is very limited in chess. I can recall some of the pieces movement and have played checkers in the past but have zero experience in strategy. From what I hear chess is a game that is not terribly difficult to learn but the ceiling for skill is very high. This is another reason the game interests me as I feel climbing the ladder in skill will be a great way to benchmark my journey.

This leads me into another interesting element that attracts me to chess specifically is the ladder system it introduces. In chess there is an assigned number to your perceived skill rating. Based on your wins and losses in online and in person games your number will increase or decrease. I think this is a great benchmark for my progress and looking at the bell curve of number distribution I can see how I compare to the rest of the community throughout the semester.

So my journey starts here and I am excited to see what it brings throughout the semester!

Photo via chess.com