Bryce Gallo

My Road to 1600 #1

Bryce Gallo   ·   Updated: May 19, 2021   ·   7 min read

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Want to reach 1600 in Rapid chess online? This blog explains what I did in order to reach this "Beginner's Dream" rating. Prepare yourself as we dive into my games that took my play from weak beginner to a strong club player. Let's go!

    When I began my journey in chess to get as good as I possibly could, I had no idea where it would take me. Over my time playing chess I have done so many things, met so many new people and countless doors were opened for me. However, the journey was far from easy, and far from quick. I say this not to discourage any people new to the game, but just to be realistic and honest with you. Trust me, the path towards chess greatness is fun, and in my opinion, never ends. There is always a new goal, new challenges, new opportunities, and an endless possibility to get better.

Let's start from the beginning.

My First Introduction to Chess

When I was around 6 years old, I was rummaging through a closet of games at home and found a very old-looking checkered board with checkers pieces and funny shaped pieces, one of which looked a lot like a horse! It was a wooden box, and with a drawer of game pieces and other wooden boards that slid out from one side. 

A very similar set to the one that I found in my game closet.

As I looked through the games inside, I found an interest in the chess pieces and used them as soldiers to knock each other over in little battles on the checkered squares. Soon after I asked my dad what game this was and he replied, "Oh, this game is called 'Chess' and each piece moves in a different way". He then showed me how the pieces moved and I was hooked. After some persuasion as any 6 yr old can do, I played three games against him. As expected, I lost all three in flames of glory as my dad picked up one piece of mine after another until he trapped my King, declaring "Checkmate".

After losing each game so decisively, I didn't play again for 4 years. By then my interest in the game was renewed and I would play one game a week against my dad on the coffee table in our living room. Again I took on several losses but every once in a while I would draw a game... firing me up to keep playing.

This continued for 3 months before my dad began taking so long with his moves that I would get bored out of my mind! We didn't use a timer and eventually, I quit chess because "It was too long of a game... and boring", as I recall saying.

English Class

Again I took a long hiatus from the game before my interest began once again (of all possible places) in the middle of an English class! I was sitting there learning about some part of the U.S. Government when I saw a bookshelf of games, one of which was holding a fancy blue chess set. The blue chess set belonged to a friend of mine... let's call him George. 

This is the exact board that I played my first 'real' games of chess on.

After class at his house, I asked him if he wanted to play a game. He said sure, and we duked it out over the board. Being a little more experienced than I was and with a bit of luck, George won the game. A rematch resulted in an unsatisfactory draw for me in which I escaped losing by the skin of my teeth. Our games quickly became a staple of each week's class and both of us worked hard to improve on our own over the week by playing against family members and then meeting after class to play a game. Around this time I've estimated that our playing skill was between 400 - 600 ELO.

This continued for a few months and both I and George began improving quite quickly. It wasn't long before neither of our family members would accept a game challenge from us since we were far too advanced for them.

Our weekly chess matches really got me into the game and I began challenging everyone I knew to a game. Friends, classmates, and cousins were among my first opponents. I was winning most games, but not all, so I pushed on and kept playing. 

A month into my game challenges I began beating George pretty consistently and moved on to find stronger opponents. I heard that one guy from my school played in a chess club when he was younger and I scheduled a match against him. By now most of my classmates knew that I really enjoyed chess and heard about my challenge to Sheldon (Not his real name) and so a small crowd gathered around our two games. Our games were played on the night of my school's spring formal. 

In both games, I gave my all.... but it wasn't enough. It seemed as though nothing I did could even briefly halt his attacks. His pieces smashed through my positions in both games like a ripe pumpkin hit by a truck. Sheldon received other challenges from onlookers and won each and every game! I was impressed, to say the least.

"The public must come to see that chess is a violent sport!" - GM Garry Kasparov

I continued playing a few games a week from then on after finding and saw decent improvement in my play. I gave up pieces less often and I started to see the board more clearly. 

My Own Chess Club

Shortly thereafter, an idea popped into my head, the idea to start up a chess club of my own!

The benefits were clear. Games free of charge, countless chess players to face each week, a flexible schedule, tournaments organized however I wanted, and an opportunity to meet new people. 

Chess clubs are great ways to find other chess enthusiasts!

On May 11th, 2019, I set up a few chess boards from around my house and installed a chess timer app on my phone. I invited a number of people I knew that played chess to my first chess club meeting at my house. Our 10 AM start time rolled around and the doorbell rang. It was George! It turned out that George was the only person whom I had invited that actually showed up that day, and he became our first club member. (Thanks for showing up George! :} ). Just like that, I had my own chess club!

Over the next few weeks, 10 more people joined the club, and today we have 35+ active club members who play both in-person at club meetings and online.

I'd be happy to go into more detail on how I started, grew, and continue to maintain a chess club in a later blog post. If you have anything else that you would like me to cover in my upcoming blog posts, be sure to comment your suggestions them below this post or reach out to me via email, my YouTube channel, Twitter, or through Instagram. 

In the near future, I plan to write blog posts on topics such as chess psychology, how to handle tough losses, how to start a chess YouTube channel, how to start a chess club, and what you should look for in a chess coach. I'll also share my methods for practicing, studying, and learning chess that has helped me improve very quickly.

In my next installment of the 'My Road to 1600' blog, I will share some of my earliest recorded chess games and work my way up to my current games by sharing my matches at a variety of different rating levels. I'll share my tips, tricks, and secrets to defeating 1700 - 1800 ELO chess opponents and explain how as a 1400 player, I took down a chess expert with a rating of over 2100.

Thank you so much for reading this post! If you want more chess content to hold you over until my next blog post, check out my ebook or take a look at my YouTube channel, Chess-U-See.

Posted May 19, 2021 by Bryce Gallo

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