“While we’re all very dependent on technology, it doesn’t always work”
I had a busy prior week and weekend. My next article was in a preliminary stage, waiting for a window of free time when I could take it from there and finish it. I woke up on Sunday morning, got ready and turned on the laptop. The operating system would not start; tried it a few times with no luck. I had to use a different computer to google for computer repair shops in our area and there were not many places open on Sunday. Drove to a couple listed as open and found them closed. I dropped by a big electronics store with a Geek Squad: they would take it in, but could not look at it today; their expectation was they would hold onto it for at least 2-3 days. That is unacceptable these days. It puzzles me how in a big city like Vancouver one cannot find computer services on Sunday unless you know someone personally. We are all dependent on our computers and other devices yet when they don’t work, there’s always a reason why they can’t be fixed in time. What is more upsetting is when the reasons for not being able to fix them in time do not even begin to involve if or what is wrong with the said device.
This experience has forced me to adapt. It is the first time when my newer laptop has done something like this and a lot of information I have on it is not accessible right now. Writing another article all of a sudden is not exactly an easy thing to do. I got the idea to make a connection between my situation, chess, engines and internet, resulting it these thoughts. A vast majority of chess lovers are increasingly dependent on technology. If today there’s an internet glitch or ideally we won’t be able to get engine help, how many could actually play the game at the same level with the one when everything is normal? Can you do that? If you can, you are in good shape. This means the game has helped you reach a point where you have developed habits and skills you can use at anytime and in many aspects of your life.
I remember in my childhood the moment when my father decided I should start learning/ doing chess on a daily basis to get used to having an intellectual activity. It is possible I might not have a definite answer when I say using the technology today is not the same thing. We cannot have an app for every life challenge we encounter. We need to be able to use our brain as the best app we have and technology could be a very useful tool in optimizing this process. A tool will never be able to think and decide for us no matter how advanced it is. Years ago the main challenge was to find the written information (if there was any) and the process was long and arduous. Would those used to google for anything today believe those days existed? There is an ocean of information out there and countless databases with millions of games at our fingertips. Does this mean they are of more use to us in times of need? I say choosing the right information is at least as long and arduous of a process as we experienced in the past; moreover there’s a risk of being shallow and never find it firstly because it feels too simple to dip into the ocean and secondly because we might have not developed the habit of doing it properly.
Chess has been seriously influenced by engines and databases. Gambits have fallen first, defending is so much better than it ever was, while attacking at the right time is devastating; still there is enough to learn from this game for everyone. We can still improve and play the game without any of the technology around us when it decides not to work. This is not happening at the speed of a mouse click for sure, nor in a month of studying chess like some have tried. We need to make a conscious effort time and time again for it to work; one way to do it is to start playing one game a week without any engine help, then maybe one game a day and when all is ripe, play without any engines and enjoy it. It is like a detox cure. I have started my cure a while ago and I can tell you it feels better and better. Would you join me? You won’t regret it!
Valer Eugen Demian