Final ChessLecture Posted; Closure

by admin on July 17, 2015

Today my 157th and last ChessLecture went online, and I am now officially “retired” from CL. I already explained my reasons for leaving in an earlier post, so let me just say a couple things about the last lecture.

First, I want to apologize for the slightly less than perfect sound quality. I was recording with the microphone on my laptop instead of a headset (as I had done in the past), and I didn’t realize how limited the range of the laptop’s microphone was. There was a steep drop-off in volume when I moved out of range. It’s not a big deal, though, because 95 percent of the words that you can’t hear in the lecture are words that don’t matter anyway. “So I played this move” becomes “I played this move,” with no loss of information. I’m sure that if the actual content of the lecture had been affected by the sound quality, they would have let me know.

Although I’m the first ChessLecturer to officially retire, I’m not the first ChessLecturer to depart. I didn’t want to depart in the same way that Jesse Kraai did, giving no explanation and leaving subscribers to wonder, “Will he come back or won’t he?” for months and months. He had good reasons for doing what he did; he was genuinely undecided for a long time about whether he would come back.

I started mulling over the possibility of retiring as long ago as last fall, and Hal Bogner (who runs ChessLecture) talked me out of it. Why burn your bridges if there is no need to? was his basic argument.

But after recording this lecture, I realized that there were two compelling reasons that Closure is Good. First, it’s good for the customers. Even though they may be disappointed that I’m leaving, at least they know that I won’t be recording lectures any more. Second, saying goodbye also gave me a chance to say thank you. You don’t get that opportunity if you just walk away.

So in the last minute of the lecture, I thanked the following people. At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to thank them here, too.

  • Jesse Kraai, for inviting me to give one lecture… probably never suspecting that I would stick around and give 156 more!
  • Marty Hirsch and Tony (aka Robert) Heinz, who founded ChessLecture.
  • Hal, who as I said in my lecture, came on board at a time when ChessLecture was struggling and righted the ship.
  • Dawn Novarina and Susan Manley, who handle a lot of the work involved in keeping the site going; Susan also kick-started the conversion of lectures to DVDs.
  • Rich Pearl, who recorded all of my lectures for a couple years and entertained me with his anecdotes, which were usually better than my lectures.

I put “retired” in quotes up there in the first paragraph, but perhaps I shouldn’t have. Although it was very, very part-time, nevertheless ChessLecture did pay me and it could be considered a job. I should add it to my resume! Anyway, as a freelancer I don’t expect to ever have a “normal” job again, so this is probably the closest thing I will ever have to a retirement.

But will I ever retire from chess? Never!


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul B. July 17, 2015 at 11:45 am

My sadness at your retirement is due to knowing that you are an exceptionally gifted teacher who would have been open to discovering new chess teaching paradigms. Your “Learn from your fellow amateurs” is an example. Most of us sub-1800 players don’t get a lot out of watching two GM’s play out a near-perfect game.

Well, at least I got one final gem from your last lecture. Now, as I play every game, I ask myself “How am I going to win this game?”


Dan Schmidt July 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for everything! Learn From Your Fellow Amateurs has always been my favorite feature on ChessLecture.


Matt July 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Like Dan, I always liked the Learn From Your Fellow Amateurs series. Partly because the lectures were, as always, brilliantly explained but also because the games were more representative of tournament play. Looking at Grandmaster games is great but most amateurs don’t play like that, certainly not once they are out of book in the opening. I was honored to have you lecture on one of my games (Episode XXII: “Another Tragic Resignation”) and, I have to admit, I also bought the DVD of that episode purely because of ego!

In your final lecture, thank you for sharing some tips on getting (back) to 2200. Getting to Master is still a goal of mine and, when I got to 2136 a few months ago, I thought I was well on my way. Alas, I had two terrible tournaments in a row and dropped to 2100 and was quite despondent about my chess for a number of weeks afterwards. Even in games I subsequently won, I was just going through the motions and not enjoying myself. Your lecture has inspired me to get studying again and, more importantly, try to enjoy my games and let the rating be what it will be.


Mike Splane July 18, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Paul B wrote
” Well, at least I got one final gem from your last lecture. Now, as I play every game, I ask myself ‘How am I going to win this game?’ ”

I had to smile at that. Dana picked up that question from me and often refers to it as “the Mike Splane question.” Here’s a blog post he wrote about it


Paul B. July 19, 2015 at 5:40 am

Here’s an idea: Mike Splane to replace Mike McKenzie on Chesslecture. He’s a chess teacher and he appears to have an approach to chess that is very similar in spirit, so it’s a natural fit.


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