Saturday, February 2

Practice Slow Chess on ICC

Shankypanky before he became a GM.
One big advantage that young chess players have today over their counterparts 15 or 20 years ago is the internet. In the old days, a parent had to drive to chess club one evening each week. Now children log into an online play site from home and can train as much as they want. Most people find that the more time you devote to study and practice, the faster you will improve. As an extreme example, GM Sam Shankland played over 5000 standard games on ICC in a year and a half. While averaging 10 slow games a day is a bit too much, no doubt the effort contributed to his accelerated improvement from 1500 to 2200 and beyond.

To play standard games on ICC, I recommend several several options.
  • The fastest and most popular standard time control on the internet is 15 0, commonly denoted G/15.  People argue that this rapid pace is too fast for serious practice, but I disagree.  G/15 serves for opening and tactics practice, but allows enough time for a handful of extended calculations.  I recommend joining the 15-minute pool on ICC (automatic pairings, no computers, no adjournments) by clicking on the 15 pool ball.  Take your time! 
  • The Tuesday night STtourney runs four rounds monthly at 60 0 time control (aka G/60). California players will prefer the 8pm and 11pm sections (ICC uses EST). To play, log in before the round and add channel 32 (type: /tell 32 hello!). Join Pear robot (type: /tell Pear join), or if U1500, join Automato robot (type: /tell Automato join).  Ask questions and watch for announcements in channel 32.

  • The best organized standard club is the Team 45 45 League.  Volunteers run four tournaments a year, with six rounds followed by 2-3 rounds of playoffs.  The next tournament starts on February 19, but teams must register by February 12.  Each round players contact their opponent to schedule the game at a mutually convenient time and day.  This is approximately a 2-3 hour commitment each week (but a long endgame could exceed 4 hours).  The league, which began nearly 15 years ago, has sections at 200 point intervals from 2200 on down, based on the average rating of top 4 players on each team.  Before joining, carefully read the Quick Guide and Player Handbook. The league enforces strict rules requiring personal responsibility and parental/family support. I enjoy playing and know more than a dozen Bay Area players who are active in this league.
Questions?  Do not hesitate to send an ICC message to "fpawn" or email to michael(at) (no spam). Good luck in your standard games!