Learner Series #19 With Geert

Geert at the chess board

How old are you and how long have you been playing chess?

My name is Geert. I am a 21 year old student living in the Netherlands. I’ve been playing chess since I was about eight or nine. My uncle taught me and my brother the Sicilian defense and gave us a book about the Italian Game. My brother’s friend introduced us to the local chess club. As a child I won many tournaments (and many cups 😉). Yes, I have good memories of those times. After primary school I stopped playing because I felt burned out (12 years).

As boredom struck in middle school. Young 17 y/o Geert downloaded Lichess on his phone. And so the journey began. I quickly regained my chess insight, and with the online rating system I was more motivated than ever to play chess (1 November 2017: 1600 rating, 1 October 2018: 1850). I’ve always loved blitz games. Online chess is perfect for me. There is always an opponent who wants to play another quick game. Something I wasn’t used to in my club.

4 years later I’m still playing chess. Watched a lot of YouTube videos and played even more games. (I’ll talk about that later)

So, two weeks ago my uncle invited me to a tournament at his club. I finished 2nd place, and was proud as ever! 
That same week I gave my first chess lesson. Now I can call myself a chess teacher! I help out at my old club’s classes to get some coaching experience. I’ll learn twice as much, since I have to research a topic and explain it to a younger audience.

What motivates me to keep playing chess are the fun tactics in the game and the people I can surprise with my self-taught kamikaze playstyle!

How many hours a week do you spend playing chess?

That differs per period. At the moment I am in an active period and I spend about 10-20 hours a week. Playing Blitz and Rapid (5-10h), YouTube (5-10h) and practicing openings via Chessable (2-5h).

There’s also periods where I’m not active at all. For months..

I don’t have the kind of motivation to consistently devote my time to something. My style is more like: delving almost obsessively deep into something I’m interested in. To completely drop the same subject about 2 weeks later. Like ChessGoals’s Caro-Kann Course. And when I reach a rating plateau I move on to another hobby.

It is remarkable that I always fall back on chess during busy periods. The personal bests on Lichess are often achieved in test periods. I guess it’s really addicting, and a great distraction as well.

Chess website usernames?

Geert_Stradmeijer on both Chess.com and Lichess.

What is your current skill level or rating?

Rating is around 1800.

To be exact for Chess.com: 1905 bullet, 1789 blitz, 1807 rapid and 2834 in puzzles. 

Where do you play?

OTB: Rarely. 2 weeks ago I finished 2nd in a local tournament with the time control of 10+0m

Online: I’ve always played 5+0 on Lichess. For a month I switched to Chess.com, because the rating corresponds better with the actual rating. On Chess.com I play 3+0 and 10+0.

How do you study?

Game Analysis

Thanks to ChessGoals, I spend more time analyzing my games and re-trying mistakes. I’ve noticed that active thinking is a better way of improving than passive consumption via videos. Although I dislike deep calculations in chess, it’s very useful for improvement.

Tactics

I am not very active at the moment. My puzzle rating is 2800 on Chess.com. The puzzles are hard, and I don’t want to put a lot of effort into the puzzles. And at the same time I don’t want to drop.

On Lichess I’ve played my fair share of puzzles… Over 7000 puzzles. Geez.

Openings

Previously played tricky openings that I had seen in YouTube-videos. I learnt them with a lot of practice. The Halloween Gambit for example.
I now play Caro-Kann and the Scotch of ChessGoals.

I’ve bought the Gothamchess e4 and Caro courses. Those were handy, but the ChessGoals courses are on another level. Especially with the practical PGN file and detailed explanation videos. Ever since I discovered ChessGoals in March, I’ve been using Chessable to stamp the openings in my head. These courses are a must for everyone!

Endgames

I don’t really get into that. I still have an ‘alright’ foundation because of the chess club.

Daniel Naroditsky is currently making an endgame course. He does the world a big favor by making a series containing 60 endgame videos. Content creators don’t like making videos on endgames because they don’t do well with the current YouTube algorithm.

Strategy

I’m still very behind on this. Due to a lot of blitz and little rapid / classical I am a pretty impatient player.

Other Tips

What I can recommend to other players is to enjoy the game in your own way. For me that’s going with the flow. When I’m pumped to play, I’ll play. When I’m not, I won’t force it.

When I learn a new variation or I’m about to reach a certain milestone I’m pumped to play.

I prefer watching videos over reading a book. Reading the sidelines of certain variations takes too long for me. Plus, the YouTube videos are really good these days.

Content creators I watch are: GothamChess. And extras are: Hikaru, Chessbrah and Anna Cramling.