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I try to become a chess grandmaster in a week

I try to become a chess grandmaster in a week
byNathaniel Underwood Reporter
I try to become a chess grandmaster in a week
byNathaniel Underwood Reporter

When I was younger, chess always seemed like the coolest board game. Whether it was the life-size wizard chess scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or the opening cinematic of Age of Empires II, the imaginary medieval ‘battle’ that the game represented was far more intriguing than anything Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders could inspire. A set that my grandparents owned with more detailed depictions of queens and knights furthered that illusion and a sleek wooden set gifted to me by my parents solidified my interest. And while I’ve never lost that interest, I haven’t really played much in recent years.

However, over the past week or so, it’s been my go-to game in my free time. After downloading a chess app on a whim, I found myself sucked back into the hobby, and I discovered something in the past week.

I think I suck at chess. I did not come to that conclusion immediately. In fact, my first few days back in the fray were actually quite encouraging. Not wanting to throw myself up against humans right away, I played a good number of games going up against’s various computer opponents and was pretty successful against the AI.

Starting with their lowest bot, I tried out the classic three-move checkmate strategy that my dad taught me, but it was easily foiled. It seemed that even the lowest bot was smarter than your average eight year old that I took on in the mornings before school in my peak elementary playing days. However, it very quickly fumbled a few pieces without much to gain from the moves and I was able to defeat it with relative ease.

I worked my way through the ladder of computer players and I could feel myself improving with each game. gives you a run down of the game afterwards, noting good moves and potential mistakes that you can review afterwards to improve your game. It’s an extremely helpful feature, especially for someone like myself who was just trying to get back into the game.

Eventually, I was getting to the point where I was defeating the intermediate level AI with regularity and scoring an accuracy between 80 to 85 percent, so I thought it was time to jump into playing against other human players. I queued into my first game, feeling fairly confident given that I hadn’t been rated yet, so it was probably going to start me off against some lower-level players.

The next fifteen minutes were nothing but pain for my poor pieces. Wanting to take advantage of a new strategy where I try to fork the king and queen-side rook, I opened with a typical knight and pawn defense before charging forward with my knight and black-square bishop. Everything was setting up perfectly; my opponent would not know what hit him and I would be up material.

Only…I made a complete blunder. Somehow, the fact that my opponent’s knight was covering the spot where I moved my bishop had escaped my attention and the poor holy man was taken for nothing. Dumbfounded by the move and without momentum, I fell back in defense mode. We traded even value pieces, but that just meant I was behind. I needed to do something. My opponent castled with the king-side rook and I saw my opportunity. I was going to pull this game back from the edges of defeat. An attack with my queen covered by my rook meant there was nowhere for the king to go; checkmate.

Except it very much wasn’t, because my opponent had moved their knight to cover the pawn I took with my queen the move before. I was too excited that I had somehow pulled this out despite my initial blunder that I didn’t see it. Well, until I wasn’t immediately greeted by the sound of victory and instead watched as the black knight took my queen. Oof. I lost the game a few minutes later and then promptly lost the rematch. My accuracy had dipped from 80 percent to 60 percent in the two games, something that continued through my other games that I played against human players (even though I somehow pulled out wins in those).

My current Elo rating is a pitiful 426, but I guess that only really means that there is only one way for me to go. Thanks for the reality check, vorader969. You were a truly impressive opponent, but next time, I’ll come out on top.

A C ertain Point of V iew