And finally hanging up my gloves (or knocking over the king and resigning)
19d 11h 26m 0s spent on lichess.org
This figure does not include time spent on tactics, OTB games, the mobile app, niche YouTube channels, and the 6 hours I spent watching and then further analyzing each game during the World Chess Championship in London in 2018. This was purely the raw information stored on my time-logging apps for one single website I primarily use for playing chess online. So sick.
I honestly don’t regret any of the time I spent learning — well, blitzing — chess. But I have reached a point in my life where the benefit-cost ratio of playing the board game isn’t economically feasible.
My progress since December 2016 has truly been a sight of sore eyes. Numerous tilted games and salty losses, but mostly an upwards trajectory from a miserly 1200 to peaking at ~2100 ELO. Of course, online ratings are massively inflated, but there is a silver lining here - I’m more analytical and attempt to do a breadth-first tree search whenever I have a challenging decision to make. I do spend more time being indecisive, but on average, I’m happier with the outcomes because they come from hopefully well thought out scenarios.
Back to chess — I’m going to have to dump in thousands of hours to move up another 100 rating points: the plateau effect is in full force. As Wikipedia so aptly and hurtfully describes this philosophy —
I’m entering into a period where there is no ‘improvement or a decrease in performance.’
There should also be a prologue in regards to how chess entered into my life and then became an addiction. I’m competitive by nature, and even though I had previous experience, I remember the turning point clearer than ever. I was playing a casual game against a friend of mine in New Delhi, and he started as white.
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Nf6?? 4. Qxf7#
And that was all she wrote. I was Scholar’s Mated on the board and didn’t expect it at all. My strategy was simple - Asian players usually fianchetto their bishop and go into a King’s Indian attack (ha), but I never even had the chance to perform the castling maneuver. Completely demoralized, this propelled me into practice, and by the time I got back to NYU for the Spring semester, I had obliterated my opponent and friend. I hopefully never had to encounter Two-Move Checkmate, more commonly known as Fool's Mate, ever again.
I’ve had the most fun playing with the chess hustlers in Washington Square Park and Union Square - they provide excellent commentary and banter, which is definitely worth the few bucks they end up charging at the end of a session. Finding out about their past lives and previous experiences shines a whole new light on the chess game -- and also gives perspective on their playing style - aggressive, defensive, or positional.
ID #16442661 for the US Chess Federation has officially expired, and this player has officially retired.*
*I’m still down for a game, but I would rather keep the websites blacklisted on my laptop for my supposed productivity.