Chess resolutions for 2023

Kingston members outline what they plan to do differently next year

David Rowson: I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Why spoil the fun of New Year’s Eve by thinking of all the tasks before you? Instead, I make lists of things I need to do at random times throughout the year. The chess ones begin with “Learn how to play some openings properly”. So my resolution list for 2023 is:

  1. Learn a decent defence to 1. d4, instead of, when faced by this at the board, spending a couple of minutes regretting I still haven’t done this, thinking I no longer believe in the Old Indian Defence, and then playing it anyway.
  2. Learn how to defend against the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation and the Scotch etc, etc, instead of improvising half the time.
  3. Study the endgame (rather vague, and an old chestnut, but I’m sure it’s true).
  4. Greatly reduce the number of five-minute Lichess games I play and find something online that improves my play instead.
  5. As captain of Kingston’s first team, help our excellent squad to fulfil their potential by winning everything we can (ie the Surrey League and Thames Valley division 1 – it’s going to be tough, but we have the players to do it).
First-team captain David Rowson: Plans to work on his openings, study the endgame and play less online blitz

Peter Lalić: I will quit 1. h3. I will play faster. I will continue to study zero endgames. I will win more games in the opening. I will become a Fide master.

David Maycock: Play faster and improve in calculation.

Peter Andrews: Bit late in my career to make many changes, but after seeing some scary tracking exploits I plan to use different openings when playing online – to put those wishing to prepare for games with me off the scent.

Stephen Moss: Naturally I will stop playing the hopelessly passive Nf6 Scandinavian. I started playing it about a decade ago and got hooked because some of my opponents tried to hold on to the d-pawn with c5. I found gambiting a pawn on c6 then gave Black a very nice attacking game and chalked up some easy wins. Unfortunately, very few players do try to defend the d-pawn. Most sensibly choose to build up a space advantage and enjoy a very pleasant game while I grovel. Peter Lalić tells me I play it wrong and should never put the knight, when chased from d5, on b6, where it can get marooned. He recommends the Portuguese Gambit, and I might give that a go, but I’m tempted to junk the Scandinavian and learn the Sicilian. Nigel Short once put me off trying to digest all the theory in the Sicilian, calling it “an ocean” and implying I would drown. But, given how tedious and grovelly my Scandinavian games are, I feel it’s either that or give up chess completely.

Julian Way: My resolution is to build an all-purpose repertoire against the Sicilian Defence. I’m even thinking of writing a little book about it.

Julian Way: Aiming to develop an all-purpose repertoire against the Sicilian and pass on the secrets in a book

John Foley: I don’t have New Year resolutions. Alone amongst chess players I am not interested in improving my rating. I am content to put up a decent struggle against strong players and occasionally win a nice game. My chess ambitions are focused on chess education.

Gregor Smith: As a seasoned member of the Failed by Third Week in January Club, I am no stranger to setting unrealistic goals, and here are my usual three annual intentions, which are no doubt destined for failure again:

  1. Lose weight: I need to trim the fat. Not only from around the waistline, but I need to trim the fat from my opening repertoire. Calorific delights such as the Danish and Scotch gambits need to be banished, and replaced by lean efficiencies of the Italian and Spanish variety. I think I’ll still allow myself to indulge in some Smith-Morra on a cheat day however. 
  2. Read more books: Far from a bookworm, this is always a challenging one, and I must admit I’m still stuck on chapter 6 of Stephen Moss’s The Rookie having started last January – not a slight on the author, but a reader incapable of swapping his phone for a paperback. Next year, I think I’ll try a Chessable course.
  3. Get more sleep: This involves not playing endless hours of 3+2 into the early hours. I want to channel that time before sleep into something that isn’t sending my mind into overdrive. I’ll maybe try 10+2 instead. 

Mike Healey: As brain cells swiftly disappear, to find some openings which try to mask the decline.

Mike Healey: Ever self-deprecating, Mike says he will look for openings that allow for his disappearing brain cells

Nick Grey: Play more Fide-rated games. Move quickly in known-to-me theory. Slow down when necessary and rely on tactics. Learn two new Black openings. Learn one new White opening. Volunteer to be reserve for Kingston teams. Allow plenty of time and arrive early. When not playing chess, talk more.

Jaden Mistry (aged 11): My chess resolution in 2023 is to improve my focus in the longer format of the game. My father, who taught me chess, always reminds me that I play as if I might miss my bus. That also means he gets little time to enjoy his Guinness at the Willoughby Arms. I therefore aim to develop my patience and focus more on the classical format, instead of the rapid and blitz that I started off with as a newbie. Since the league matches often end late in the evening, I also intend to work on my mental stamina to remain alert, and to improve my endgames. I am eager to get my first win for the club in January 2023, and subsequently perform consistently in order to improve our club’s record in third-team fixtures.

Stephen Daines: I’d like to get to 1700 by the end of 2023. I’ve come back to competitive chess after a 44-year break, and feel I’m getting back to my old form.

Mark Sheridan: I intend to study some endgames and learn more about them, because I currently know zilch. My plan is to read the highly recommended books by Averbakh and Silman.

Will Taylor: My main resolution for 2023 is to get into time trouble less, though I do make the same resolution every year. I’m also going to pretend I’m rated 200 points higher than I really am to make my approach more ambitious against players who are higher rated than I actually am.

Will Taylor: Vows to get into time trouble less in 2023, but admits he makes the same resolution every year

Max Mikardo-Greaves: I’m hoping to boost my rating by a hundred points – it’s about 1300 at the moment – by analysing games, learning Queen’s Gambit as White and the French Defence as Black.

Ian Mason: I need to do my chess homework more regularly for the Killer Chess Academy. The aim is always to improve, even though getting up to 2000 is now well above my expectations.

Sean Tay: Find time to study more chess openings and try to improve my middle- and endgames. Play more league games and achieve a rating of 1600. 

Vladimir Li: I will return to Fide-rated tournaments and hope to get the FM title.

Josh Lea: My resolution in 2023 is to take part in an actual, official chess game and get a rating. Once I’ve played 10 games I should have some idea of how strong I actually am.

Ohhun Kwon: I’ve returned to chess in my late twenties after a decade away, and I want to rediscover the passion for the game I had as a teenager. I’m wary of setting quantifiable goals because I know I just want to enjoy the game, but I would also like to start playing competitive games and climb up the ratings. I played at school and did well, but when I started university I lost touch with chess. Now I intend to start taking it seriously again and play some matches for the club.