Chess Learning is a life-long process.
Chess Learning is a life-long process.

Chess Learning is a life-long process – so buckle up!

Chess Learning is a life-long process. It demands consistency and passion. Is your capacity for learning Chess fixed or adjustable? Can you improve your Chess intelligence and skills through hard work and diligent practice, or are you stuck with the intelligence you’ve got? Many of us have dabbled in Chess and given it up citing various excuses most importantly being the demanding nature of our scholastic or graduation exams or the pressures of our office jobs. But to be involved in the learning process throughout life against all odds is the true test of a Chess player. It will determine what we are about to do with our mind after life settles down and you are comfortable to a certain level, atleast.

Psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success says most of us have either a “fixed” or “evolving” mindset when it comes to learning.

For the sake of sixteen years of schooling, any mindset is OK, for us to to pull through, but when it comes to a lifelong learning (which Chess demands), learning for the sake of learning, without outside pressure–then – only a growth-oriented evolving and fluid mindset will be able to do it.

Lifelong learning is in fact one of the most important core competencies a person can possess. But even if we strive to earnestly possess it ourselves, it can be acquired and retained, only if we approach it in a proper way.


Firstly – we always have the innate ability and potential to change, evolve and grow through application and experience.

But some of us resign to the fact that our capabilities are fixed and that is the reason why most goals appear to be insurmountable.

Secondly, in persons with an evolving mindset, they understand that their talents and skills can be developed through good teaching and dedicated learning. They have belief in their capacity to learn and surpass their existing strengths.

Thirdly, Nature gifted us this mindset by birth but we lost it somewhere while growing up as soon as we became conscious of ourselves – in other words our ‘ego’ spoiled it up for us.

Lifelong Chess learning requires embracing all opportunities to learn.

Believe that your true potential is unknown (and unknowable) and that it’s impossible to know beforehand what your limits are.


So how do you nurture a fluid evolving mindset if it is missing in you, and how do you keep it for life, if you’ve had it already?

Below are 25 recommendations to guide you in the right direction – and kill the distractions.

1. Begin with a goal.

Each learning experience as an investment rather than a one-time transaction towards your target goal. It will be the secret of your energy in pursuit of your Chess growth.

2. Be responsible. For your own conscious learning.

The amount of Chessic knowledge you attain is directly related to the effort you put into gaining it. Mediocre effort will result in greater time periods to acquire something that would otherwise take much lesser time. The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown by Daniel Coyle is one such book that will augment your case against self-defeating mindset. The author draws on cutting-edge research to reveal that, far from being some abstract mystical power fixed at birth, ability really can be created and nurtured.

3. Challenges are opportunities for growth.

Challenges are exciting because they are learning opportunities and, ultimately, a chance to increase our own competence and intelligence. Relish challenges and you are on your way to success.

4. Believe in your capacity to learn. Always.

Trust me – you are born with a capacity to learn at all times of your life. You may have had failures in School or College or even be bad at something. ‘Chessically’ speaking, you may have a poor understanding of Chess Strategy while you are good in Tactics in Chess. But if you put your entire sub-conscious mind towards the task you will be able to master and remove your weakness. That is the Power of Your Subconscious Mind. In this regard, never allow any doubts or confusion to creep in.

5. Create your own learning methods.

We all have  our personal Chess learning strategies. Some of us listen to Videos, write down notes, create mind maps, or repeat our stuff,like repertoire or thumb-rules etc., Identify the tools you use or can use to promote your own learning, and create new ones to add to your collection. Being aware of what works for you, is an important part of being an effective lifelong Chess learner.

6. Use technology. Be creative in your methods.

Technical aid in this era has never been more advanced. Use it! You will love the change and the efficiency will give you an edge over traditional learners.

7. Remember to teach. Teaching is the best way to learn properly.

If you can explain what you’ve learned to others in a way they can understand, then you really  understand it yourself. Sharing knowledge with others is an excellent way to gauge your own strengths and weaknesses and really check your understanding levels

8. Play often and analyze each game.

The logic is simple. Keep learning fun and it will remain interesting as well. Analyze your game as you will be the best person to know what exactly you thought during each move.

9. Look at the proofs.

Neurosciences and psychology have shown that our brains are ‘road-worthy’ well into old age, and it is possible to make new connections among neurons and assimilate new things even if you’re 80 years old. Recently there was a report that a 96 year old man applied for a Post-graduate course in economics, so what is your excuse?

10. Have courage to try new things.

Trying new things like a new opening repertoire or playing blitz if you haven’t played before, not only keeps our brains active and energized but also generates a evolving fluid mindset that revels in curiosity. When you broaden your view, you come to realize that there’s a lot to learn Chess than you ever imagined.

11. Benefit with the company of those who are ahead of you.

Surround yourself with people who are constantly learning, reading, sharing, discovering and enjoying. It will inspire you to do the same for yourself. And forming a group that meets once in a while creates a reservoir of chess energy that sustains and helps others whose spirits are sagging, I have personally felt that upliftment whenever I plunged in these group discussions, coming out with a sense of having recharged my internal ‘batteries’. I know that some of you may be averse to this. The fact is, learning with others is often more fulfilling than solitary learning. The best and biggest advantage, you get to see how other people interpret and react to the same information in different ways, which is priceless by itself.

12. Set personal learning agenda.

It always helps to make a plan. The best thing about self- learning is that you’re free to explore any topic of interest, at any time or pace that you want. But mastery demands a plan of action and therefore stick to one. That’s why some of us decide to master Rook endgames in six weeks or memorize all the lines in the Sicilian Najdorf. Identifying and visualizing end goals, help us become persistent and effective students of life, for life.

13. Accept defeats graciously.

This one becomes increasingly important as you will meet failures and they will prove to be your biggest adversary to overcome. We all want to win and prove better than others, and in our lifelong learning journey we must always ensure that we will not be bogged down by losses. Be sure to bounce back immediately.

14. Keep reading new stuff.

It can be a series of chess articles, a short games collection, a magazine, an autobiography of a master. Anything, as long as you’re fired up and willing to learn.

15. Make a list of stuff that you need to work on.

It can consist of entire openings or just Endgames, as long as it’s your call. There’s something powerful and magical – about writing something down – try it, and you’ll see the big difference it makes.

16. Ask questions and research them or take help.

When you ask questions it’s a sign of maturity, not ignorance. Develop your intelligence and confidence to speak up when you need to clarify something in that King’s Indian Defense and you’ll become a lifelong Chess learner–and you’ll know more than you would know if you’d been too hesitant in asking questions.

17. Meditate.

Simply studying books isn’t enough, you have to think and find ideas yourself. Spend time meditating on a real chess board and contemplating over all those ideas you have learned. Albert Einstein once said, “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

18. Practice, practice, practice.

Knowing and doing are two different things. Reading a book on Chess openings isn’t the same thing as playing it. Studying swimming isn’t the same as doing real energetic backstrokes in a swimming pool. If your chess knowledge can be applied, start practicing it.

19. Filter your incoming data – avoid data overload.

Spend time on learning stuff that is really relevant and avoid going off-tangent. Lifelong Chess learners know when to pay attention and when to say no to stuff however interesting it may seem. In my case I avoid solving the compositions that are not of practical use for chess players.

20. Follow the greats.

If you really like a Chess GM for his style look up at his games and ask yourself whether you can emulate him. I know that it will be impossible to play like him (or her) but keeping someone in the ‘idol’ list will pull you upwards towards doing something big for yourself. Like crossing a milestone in chess.

21. Open up and free your mind.

Chess Learning is a life-long process and we need to be open to all the possibilities whether it pertains to openings or even changing our style of play. The Chess world changes rapidly each year, month, day and hour–can you keep up? So look out for trying anything that helps in your learning.

22. Choose a career that encourages intellectual pursuits.

Choose a career that encourages constant learning and pushes you to squeeze your free time towards that endeavor. If you are in a job that doesn’t provide free time to learn or encourage intellectual freedom, consider switching to another that does. Don’t be stuck in a job that doesn’t challenge you intellectually.

23. Have hobbies.

I am sure you can skip mindless soaps and serials in the idiot box in favor of reading a good book or collecting information about a player or even trying out a new software. Any hobby that helps you spend time in a quality way is good for our purpose.

24. Learn something new every day.

Jeremy Gleick
Jeremy Gleick

Meet Jeremy Gleick, who for two and a half years, while a sophomore majoring in bio-engineering at the University of California, has devoted an hour a day to learning something new. His rule: It can’t be related to office work, or merely reading a novel. Even if he’s sleeping at a friend’s house or elsewhere, he tries to put in his hour. “At some point in the evening, I just excuse myself and go do it.”

He recently passed his 1,000th hour of self-study, most of it done online. Now does that inspire you? Go start doing it from today, starting now.

There is so much to learn in Chess that you will find that one hour every day can still be short. Chess Learning is a life-long process so buckle up!

25. Improve your memory.

Memory bookThere are many books and programs that help you improve your memory. One such app that is designed to work on many fronts such as memory and understanding is an app called Elevate. I am finding it very addictive and at the same time challenging.

Another great resource is a book – The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play by Harry Lorayne.


Lifelong Chess learning requires patience, maturity and dedication. Meeting this challenge head on will require radical phase-change in the way coaches train and players learn, as coaches take on a more guiding role play finding appropriate resources for learning and players take more personal responsibility in setting goals and reflecting on and evaluating their progress by way of online rating and OTB play.

Follow these 25 recommendations and you’ll be surprised at your capacity to learn but remember… that Chess mastery is a lifelong process


Feel free to share this article if it helped you. And comment if you want to add something to the above list. Even otherwise comments are welcome!

Kishore Kumar

Golden Chess Centre

 

 

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