(Written in 2003)
I first started to play chess when I was seventeen. Chess is the most popular board game on this planet. The rules are very simple and anyone can learn how to play chess within ten minutes. But to be able to play chess well will take forever. The fun thing about chess is that you need to study every part of the game (opening, middle game and end game) and use your superior understanding or knowledge over the board to try to beat your opponent. These days people can learn chess a lot faster than the old days, since there are computer programs to tell you what is the best move in each particular position. I am really hooked to this game. But over the last five years, I don't play as seriously as I used to. Sometimes I think that the game is hard and there is no point to play it if you are not playing it seriously.
There are only two things I really like to do -- one is to study math, the other is playing chess. I like math a lot more than chess actually. Math has a wide variety of stuff that you can study. More importantly, you can make a career out of it. While chess is a deep game, at the end of the day it is still just the combination of pieces on the board. And there is no way you can make a living out of chess unless you are in the top 100 in the world. Also most of the time, it can be quite stressful playing chess.
My favorite chess players:
Garry Kasparov : He is the greatest player of all time.
Bobby Fischer : I think he is the second best player of all time. His games are beautiful, not so complicated to understand. I love to read his game. I like his book, "My 60 memorable games", a lot. Now he has a problem about getting deported from Japan.
Alexy Shirov : He has an ultra-agressive style. His book Fire on Board is one of most wonderful chess books I have read.
Nigel Short : The first chess book I had is a collection of his games. In the early nineties, he used to have a very wild attacking style. These days, it's harder to play in that style, because people use computers to analyze the opening. I also have a little concern about his choice of opening as black againt d4. I feel like it is very hard to play Tartakower defense as black.
Antoneta Stefanova : She is now the women's world chess champion. But I have been a big fan of her for several years. I like her style because she plays aggressively, unlike other women chess players. I think she had a hard time defense using Slav opening. By the way, I love the fact (?) that she always hangs out in some bar the night before the game starts in the next morning.
Irina Krush : Krush is a wonderful chess player. She hit the headlines after her moves were picked 40 times in a row in the Kasparov against the World match. She is the highest rated woman chess player in the United States ever.( Note that Susan Polgar who now live in New york has a way higher rate than Krush but she did not grow up in the US.)
Hikaru Nakamura : He is the only hope of the young generation US chess player. He is more or less in the top 50 of the world already. To be honest, when he was younger, I never believed he will ever stay in the top 100 of the world. His approach to chess is really really unique (strange). He like to play "unknown opening line" that soemtimes put him in an inferior position. He is also famous online(InternetChessClub) with his "starwars" account.
Alexander Morozevich: He kept saying he quit playing chess. Chess is not his life. He want to do something else. He stop practicing chess. But he kept coming back with good results. He also has a nonstandard approach to the game. It is fun to watch him play. People call him "Weird Moro".