Are chess improvement and chess enjoyment mutually exclusive? Improving one's ability at any game of skill takes dedication, study, practice and application. Where's the fun in that? I'm half joking here of course - I recognize that if I enjoy chess (which I do) then learning to play it better should also be enjoyable and motivation shouldn't be a problem.
So why is it a problem?
I believe that improving your chess ability requires much harder work than most patzers (myself included) realise, and are prepared to undertake. I don't think I'm lazy (not more than average, anyway) and I'm prepared to work hard at something if I feel it is worthwhile. The question is - is studying chess worthwhile? It is after all just a game - a beautiful, beguiling, compelling frustrating, uplifting game. Life is short and chess study takes a lot of time.
If the aim of life is to be happy, is there really any point in spending so much time on a game which can produce as much frustration and disappointment as happiness?
It may sound like I'm writing this on the back of a bad loss, but I'm on a winning streak at the moment (I'm playing correspondence games at chess.com). No, this post has been prompted by the impending new year and thoughts of resolutions.
I've decided not to make any resolutions, about chess or anything else. I will continue to try to balance enjoyment and study of chess in my leisure time and hope to end 2008 understanding chess a bit better than I do now.
My blogging friend Dan Scoones has suggested I finish reading 'The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played' by Chernev (one of the many books I haven't finished). So that's what I'm going to do - and continue playing as much as possible - given the time available!