I have been playing—and, mostly, enjoying—chess on a casual basis for long enough that I have no idea when I was first introduced to it. I have several memories, albeit vague, of playing in a small club at my elementary school, and at home before that.
Later, in high school, I carried a pocket-sized magnetic chess set which I would bring out at lunch (alternating with Magic: The Gathering and various traditional card games); I learned the Ruy Lopez, and I usually won. I would also challenge my band director on exam days (read: no playing instruments); I always lost. This was also around the time I started presenting a legitimate challenge for my dad.
In college, I attended a few meetings of the Go & Chess Club (previously there had been two clubs, but they were forced to combine due to dwindling membership). However, the remaining members were much more interested in Go than chess, and I fell away from the game.
Then—to be a cliché—I watched The Queen’s Gambit, and decided I ought to get into competitive chess just as soon as the global pandemic was under control.
The remainder of this page, and the entire
section of this website, chronicles my journey into USCF-rated
chess. I am presently in rating class F, around the 62nd
- November: Watched The Queen's Gambit on Netflix.
- November 16: Joined Chess.com (rdnlsmith).
- November 29: Joined Lichess (rdnlsmith).
- December 29: Purchased a tournament chess set.
- February 27th: Purchased nicer, weighted pieces for my tournament chess set.
- March 14: Joined the USCF.
- July 6: Purchased a fancy wood chess set.
- July 20 (International Chess Day): Joined the Grand Rapids Chess Center and attended my first meeting.
- August 4–31: Played in my first tournament.
- August 6: Purchased a chess clock (DGT North American).
- April 30: Tied for 2nd place (out of 15 participants) in a U1000-rated rapid tournament; my first time on the proverbial podium. This event also marked my graduation from a “provisional” rating to an “established” one, thought it occurred too late to become official in May’s rating lists.
- June 1: My first non-provisional rating (954; class F) became official with the publication of June’s rating lists.
- July 29–August 6: Played in the 123rd US Open Championship.
- September 30: Tied for 1st place (out of 6 participants) in a U1200-rated action tournament. This marked my first time “winning” a tournament, and my first time earning prize money (a whopping $35! Of course, I also paid $35 to register for the tournament, but that’s not really the point).