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Chess as a sport?
TONY Blair thinks Chess is a sport. Old argument "Sport or Game?" It doesn't matter what your particular skill is. It could be chess, long distance running, high-board diving, even the triple jump for crying out loud ... nobody likes to see their chosen field of endeavor downgraded to the status of a mere game by anyone with half decent debating skills.
Oxford University has some funny old ideas on this. You may know that you can win the famous "Blue" for paddling a canoe up The Thames but were you aware you can win a Half-Blue for Tiddlywinks? and that there is not even a Quarter-Blue for chess. But Tony, Parliamentary time allowing, will be getting the Queen (no pun intended) to announce in October 2001 that chess is a sport! And for starters that means that chess can benefit from Lottery funding and apply for Olympic status. As he said recently in that most fearsome of debating chambers and I quote "We're good at chess!"
Tony's extra-systemic solution for chess is good news, but I believe it palls into insignificance if we analyse the contribution the Internet has made. I would compare the boost the Internet has given chess to that given to snooker by Colour Television. Consider the facts. Michael Adams our chessboard equivalent of Rocket Ronnie O'Sullivan brought back $142,400 from his recent 2 week shift at the FIDE world chess championships in Las Vegas. And he was knocked out in the Semi Finals! And millions watched the event live on the net. WebCams pivoted everywhere in the neon lit gambling capital of the world. If you got bored with watching people lose their money in the thousands of Flashing Fruit machines you could watch any of the 100s of live duels on instantly updating chess boards right there on your computer. Every grimace, every triumph! So maybe you want to learn the game, or return to past glories? Remember the thrill of winning that cup? The pride it gave you the glory the £5 book token OK so the school swat was away at a Poetry Recital at the time but it still had to be won. The following information below will hopefully help you in your quest.
Finding a Club
The British Chess Federation's site is a good place to start. If you email them, they will give you recommendations in your area.
Acknowledged by many as the best homepage on the net is Exeter Chess club Its written in classical hypertext, lots of default colour hyperlinks within well-written text. The content is fantastic too! If you're a beginner you'll find lots of extremely well written training articles, if you're an expert you'll find lots of valuable information. The largest list of clubs that Ive found is Brit Web. this has a list of well over 100 chess clubs in B Britain. There is also a clickable map of Britain so you can easily find one near you.
Brush up on the news
If you're joining a club you'll need to keep up with the news. Keep up to date with the first and still the best "The week in chess". By Mark Crowther. TWIC is the acknowledged King (no pun intended) of Chess Sites. Its updated on a daily basis and its links alone could be argued to make this article redundant! Again its virtually pure hypertext with the occasional graphic where needed.
Then you might want to try out your game first. If you go to The Internet Chess Club or ICC you will be able to play a game straight away, just by clicking on the play now link. You will be playing another guest at 10 minutes for all your moves. If you download the software and join up you'll be able to use more features and you'll even get a grading. Beware of this one though it's highly addictive! One of their fun statistical features is a percentage of your life spent on the ICC. Make sure it doesn't go too high!
If you don't want to pay then Yahoo has a large section of games available including chess, just click on games at the top of Yahoo. They also have a grading system so again you can see how you're doing.
If you want to improve your game then try "Chess Today". I have to declare an interest as I am one of the technical editors. Editing it has done my own game (I'm an average club player standard) a lot of good. GM Alex Baburin is the mastermind behind Chess Today as well as Grandmaster Square which is the official webhome of a number of grandmasters including GM Morozevich, GM Baburin, and GM Psakhis. He is the author of "Coffeebreak Chess" an intermittent free newsletter of URLs, notes and tournament adventures. He is also the author of the acclaimed book Winning Pawn Structures. On the Chess Today site you can also sign up for a free trial. Another way to test out Chess Today is to go to Mini Chess-Test which is a daily chess puzzle. Solve it correctly and you can win a copy of Chess Today.
At the ChessBase site you can download Chess Base light for free. Its a powerful database program to store your games. Then you can download pgn files. You will see this option on a lot of the sites I've mentioned so far. If you need any advice on this just go to the Exeter Chess Club pages (mentioned above).
The internet is a great way to search for and to buy books. However it is essential to shop around. Amazon cannot be ignored but a lot of the time you will find books cheaper elsewhere. Pricerunner have a great page where you can check across the whole of the internet for the cheapest site for any given book. Simply click the "Books" link top right of the "Compare Products and Services" area and type the name of the book and/or the author before you make a purchase and you will be amazed at the variation in price.
Search for games
One you know what pgn is or if you already know you can use my final tip. If you are looking for information on your favourite opening and its proving difficult type into Yahoo the moves in pgn notation with quotation marks on each end e.g. "1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 d5 3.h3". This will bring up only pages that mention these exact moves. They will almost certainly contain games with these moves in.
Of course I haven't even scratched the surface here. If you type in "chess" to your favourite search engine you'll get millions of pages, drink in the information, play a game or two, join a club, search and find but beware don't surf all Knight (pun intended).
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