Why not knowing your rating sucks! - Say Chess Newsletter





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Martin B. Justesen
Martin B. Justesen
Hi, I have now played with the zen-setting and no-rating settings on Lichess for a full week. Initially, it was fun, and I enjoyed being completely alone with the game. I imagined that I was becoming a Zen master. But..

A zen master..
A zen master..
I was not! First I won a good amount of games. I even won against a friendly reader of the newsletter, who is rated 2400+ in rapid on Lichess (I did not know the rating at the time). However, then I started to think about who I was playing. Especially if it was strong moves that were presented on the board. Was it a cheater?! Or maybe a titled player?
Finally it began to feel like I was playing an engine of sorts. I then took myself in playing a few blitz games on chess.com, which was a way to escape the whole experiment.
During the week I listened to an audiobook: ‘Notes From Underground’ by Dostoyevsky. I passed an interesting quote about chess (and life):
But yet mathematical certainty is, after all, something insufferable.Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
In some way, the process of playing chess in zen-mode is the pure rational way to play chess leaving all distractions out just like 2+2=4, but it is a bit bleak. It was like I was left shadow punching.
The experiment taught me that it is important for me to have a human element. It is not enough for me to play chess solitaire-style. It might be for you? And I will encourage you just to try out the no-rating setting to see what it does to you.
You might ask why didn’t you try it out for the full 1 month. And I can only say after one week that I will not enjoy it for 3 weeks more.
Mikhail Tal famously said (likely inspired by Dostoyevsky):
“You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.“.
This is surely impossible to do if you are the only one in the forest.
OTB News
I returned to OTB chess this week and played a 79 move game, that ended sadly with a loss. I felt like I played well throughout most of the game, but in the endgame, I blundered several times in time trouble.
Here is a GIF of the game (I was black):
I will take a look at the game on Twitch the next time I get the chance.
Have a nice weekend!
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Martin B. Justesen
Martin B. Justesen @saychess1

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