Welcome to Chessmaster in one year! My name is Bob Bishoen, and my goal for this year is clear and simple. I want to see if it’s possible to reach chessmaster level (2200+) within one year. So let me tell you a little bit about myself so you can decide if this goal is at all doable ;-). I have played chess on and of from my youth through my teenage years, student years, and occasionally during work weeks. My rating has slowly increased from a decent 1400-player in the mid-90s to a solid 1800-player nowadays. Back then I never really gave it an effort to make the most out of my chess career (no proper chess coaching at the club I played, no real stimulae to improve further).
However, as many of you know, Caïssa is patient. I went on to college and university, and afterwards worked for a decade or so, meanwhile forgetting to play chess in favor of other sports (squash, for a long time, was my preffered sports). But since 2015 it has been nagging at me, to once give it my best shot before I fully submerge in working as a manager/consultant. So I started playing some more at chess clubs, posing the idea of becoming chessmaster in one year, while having a drink and a laugh about it. Obviously I was laughed out of many rooms 😉 So again I forgot about it, and for a while my wife and I travelled through South America. While we were travelling, a friend asked me if I could teach him to play chess. I agreed, and he has become a decent player in just two years. I started training more students online, and so the fun of chess reentered my life in a different manner, this time as a trainer instead of a player. That was fun as well!
After our travels were done, we started our own consultancy, and we were doing just fine. I started playing at two local clubs, which was nice. I managed the website for one of them, and eventually went on to join the board of the SBO, the chess federation of our province. There I decided to focus on helping our smaller associations with their websites, as well as preparing online training for senior chess players (1200-1750 rating), and finding new ideas to make the chess clubs more interesting for online players. Good stuff, but obviously not focussed on becoming a stronger chess player myself.
Tata Steel, January 2019. I enrolled for the Weekend Tournament, which meant 3 rounds over 3 days in the always friendly and cosy (yet cold) Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. When I drove through the village, I saw a man with a thick coat, hoodie, scarf, barely recogizable… and I knew instantly this was Viswanathan Anand, perhaps the greatest chess player of our lifetime. How cool was that! Super GMs just walking around us normal persons. The venue has the Masters (highest rated group), the Challengers (strong group of newcomers), and many groups for amateurs. Next to Grenke Open and Gibraltar, it is probably of of the tournaments chess players just want to play once!
When I look at my chess performance the tournament itself was not that special. I scored 1,5 out of 3, about what could be expected of someone with my rating. But it was what happened during the Masters Tournament afterwards what struck a chord with me. During the tournament there was a daily broadcast, with game analyses, interviews, and musings of the commentators. As you might have seen on the homepage, it was a mere 25 seconds in a daily 8-hour recording that lasted for the whole tournament (13 rounds) that got my attention. Take a look at the video yourself and see what you make of it.
It was this pondering of IM Lawrence Trent that got me back to my original idea, and combined with the passion I once had for the game, I will pick up the gauntlet and aim high! Starting Sunday, June 9th 2019, I will play, train, practice, and think about chess for 2000 hours to see where it will take me. I do not want to have missed out on this chance, and regret not having done this. As a quote that has lingered with me for decades goes “a funny thing about regret is, that it’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t.” So we will just see how this challenge roles out! Stay tuned for updates on the News page…