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Chess Training & Improvement

Hello CoolchessGM – Please advise me. I am aged 24 and a late beginner in chess. I know how to play at a very basic level like moving the pieces and the objective of the game as such, but have no understanding of the importance of chess strategy at all. I want to know How to learn chess fast. The reason I ask is – of late I have been playing a few games in my new residential colony where I shifted a few months ago, and there is this ‘nasty’ li’l kid who consistently keeps beating me at chess – so much so, that it is getting on my nerves and all this ego-bashing is a bit of a pain. that is when I decided to do some serious study and then play with him after I have seen some improvements in my approach. Recently I bought a video cd on the Guico Piano opening in chess and am wondering if this is a good entry point in improving my chess. So my question is: How to learn chess fast? Should I study this openings book (and will it be useful)? If not, what do you recommend I look at first? Thanks in advance – Gaurav C, Chennai.

P.S – I may not be able to spare much time daily (at most 1 hour) so please advise accordingly.


Hello Gaurav,

I am from Chennai too and I am happy you asked! Firstly – STOP buying books just because the cover looked attractive! Many people do things wrongly for a long time and then wonder why they failed in the end after having spent a lot of time and money.

Have you ever wondered why you are not able to beat chess players who are much younger than you? The reason is because they have been following a structured program of chess coaching and training either from childhood or by attending a chess academy.

While I do not advise adults to undertake such a tedious journey, as we are occupied with umpteen distractions like job and family and personal health constraints, what I would like to suggest is to spend time going through some of the essential – the basics so to say – resources listed below (in the order preferably).

book-190034_1280Revising the basics is the foremost condition for success in chess.

Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge by Averbakh

Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca

My System by Nimzowitsch

50 Chess Tips: Strategy & Tactics for Beginners

For grown ups (especially), the best way to learning chess, is to learn it backwards – starting from ending, middle game and then opening.

Endings always gives scope for a lot of training techniques such as visualization and calculation. Hence I recommend this approach for adults – start from there and you will have exponential growth. You will enjoy the high you get when you solve these endgame puzzles and then you will be equipped with the necessary tools to up the ante.

During the entire training time your mind will be sub-consciously absorbing all the techniques and then you will have an idea of what to do in the middle and opening stages of the game when you sit down to face that ‘nasty’ kid!

To stay in form I recommend solving chess tactics (minimum 30minutes daily), playing and analyzing training games (30min for player minimum), almost anything that makes you actively involved in chess. That’s the key.

Remember that progress will be slow and you must persever in your training to achieve something worthwhile.


 

  • supercharge-logo-261x300In case you have access to a PC at office and home I suggest you to enroll in this program 21 DAYS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR CHESS. I have heard good reviews and I believe it is a good effort by Yuri Markushin. I am very impressed with the way the training package has been structured. Let me know if you do like it.
  • Also, you can try out a new chess software called Lucas Chess. 
  • If you are stagnating in your chess I suggest you read this article.

Do let me know after you have gone through these resources and whether you faced any difficulty in anyway. Wishing you all the best.

 

 


Golden Chess CentreOh and one more thing – STOP working hard. Work smarter and do drop in to Golden Chess Academy when time permits, to get a direct counseling from a passionate and dedicated chess coach. It is in Chennai and I am sure you will have a good idea when you meet a chess coach in person.


The author is a Chess coach and a passionate selfie lover 🙂 If you are in Facebook do drop in and press like!

Note: The links in this page are affiliate links.

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

 

 

How to Choose a Chess Move

How to Choose a Chess Move

 

Today I shall review Soltis’ book – How to Choose a Chess Move. Selecting a good chess move is a remarkably complex task. By the time we begin to take the game seriously, by reading books or playing in tournament, we’ve forgotten how extraordinarily difficult the process is.

We’ve forgotten because we take for granted various time – saving steps. Without those shortcuts, selecting one move from the dozens of possibilities would seem impossible.

What is the difference between a GM who selects the best candidate moves more often than not and players like you and me who seem to struggle in this aspect?

GM Andre Soltis has written a wonderful book – How to Choose a Chess Move that fills a void which seems to be neglected apart from Silman’s herculean efforts titled How to Reassess your Chess, The Amateur’s Mind, and Reassess your Chess Workbook.

Long ago, the Russian author Alexei Seutin wrote a book called Three Steps to Chess Mastery, that was somewhat ambiguous for me in my early stages of chess learning and training.

Soltis’ book is aimed at club level players who have mastered the basics of chess principles and are adept at solving simple chess tactics and mates.

It is organized into 11 Chapters offering incredibly nice insights on how GM’s think. This resource offers an incredible wealth of information and each chapter is worth its weight in gold!

If you have to have just one book for the next few months to read, I would  recommend How to Choose a Chess Move (Clicking this link would add this book to your Amazon cart. My only grouse is that it has only 240 pages, for a work of this importance in the field of chess literature.

 

 

 

 

Creative training session with Lucas Chess.

Lucas Chess Training - Breaking new ground

Lucas Chess Training – Breaking new ground. This was what I thought when I saw the new training feature of Lucas Chess. “Be the change”. Life is a journey. Every thing in life is transitory and yet important to be crossed. Each incident and every person teaches us something. Some experiences can be difficult and demanding and some can be happy and rewarding. You will learn many lessons in life if you believe in doing good and improvising everyday both morally and practically. In case you think I am going off-topic – don’t worry. I am jumping back on track (pun intended)!

The latest version of Lucas Chess involves a train journey. I have a feeling that this feature will be a trendsetter in changing the way we train in chess.



In case you did not know about Lucas Chess program it is the brain child of Lucas Monge – a very humble and good-natured person who likes to try out interesting features and who has been driving the Lucas Chess software for years. He listens to all his users and all you need to do is to comment in his blog to get in touch with him.

Lucas Chess Training - Breaking new ground


The idea is that Chess is 99% tactics and chess training is like a Train which stops at different stations (some important and some necessary for a break). Trans-Siberian Chess train is the name given to a long running train journey which involves solving thematic Chess positions and playing Chess as an excuse to pass time.

After installing Lucas Chess from here – you can access this training option as seen in the pic below.

Lucas Chess Training - Breaking new ground
How to access the Trans-Siberian Chess Train

For the train to advance, it is necessary to solve tactics. Each tactic solved correctly, leads you forward in your journey. This is an innovative idea to stretch your chess training and mind you, the tactics are interesting! They will sometimes be easy for you and sometimes will make you sit and calculate. I found that some tactics are very difficult for an amateur and that is where the fun begins – you get hooked. You will be rewarded for a correctly solved tactic and if you fail to solve any position you will not be able to progress. This way you can say that you Train has had a breakdown delay and you need to work on it.

Lucas Chess Training - Breaking new ground 

To arrive to stations one needs to solve basic endings. As in real chess games you need to master basic chess endings here too. Without a grasp of some of these your game results will stumble.

To pass the railway stations one needs to play against an internal very basic engine. A unique concept wherein your journey is made interesting with mock sparring sessions.

The overall scheme and direction of Lucas Chess Trans-Siberian Train is very creative and if I am right this is the first time we are seeing this sort of an innovation in Chess software training 

It engages the player in a fun way and motivates him to work hard. Don’t worry if the positions are too hard. You will eventually understand them and your chess games will see new insights while you move ahead in the journey. Very innovative and original approach.

It reaffirms what I already wrote – that anyone can learn chess!

Wishing you

Lucas Chess Training - Breaking new ground

Stagnation in Chess

Stagnation in Chess – Difference between trying and doing

Stagnation in Chess

The inspiration for this article came from one of my friends who asked his coach at Goldenchess the reason for his Stagnation in Chess and the reply he received was amazing! He said that there is a vast difference between trying and doing something. In trying we tend to put 99% at the most, while in doing we put 100% effort. That 1% may appear small but it makes a huge difference.


That 1% comes with the name ‘FLOW’.


When we attempt to solve positions, we are ‘here’ and ‘now’. What he meant by ‘here’ and ‘now’ was in the context of passing the positions without a second thought.

When we start solving positions with an idea of relevance to our past games and more importantly when we start applying or searching or try to create a similar scenario in the chess games we play whether online or OTB, then we are said to be in the ‘FLOW’. That is when we start overcoming the so called Stagnation in Chess

The reason why my friend stagnated is because his attention was wayward on two counts. Firstly, he concentrated and solved most of the positions correctly BUT he switched off his mind’s intensity immediately after this training process. Secondly, his focus on chess was diluted when he was at home wiling away his time watching TV. A little amount of that time could have been well spent playing online either blitz or rapid time games with the idea of reinforcing what he had learnt on that day.

The problem with chess is that it is neither bound by strict scientific and mathematical definitions nor purely abstract artistic endeavor. It is an individual process that is different for each individual and therefore highly dependent on the way a player wields the information that he has acquired and stored.


So the progress of a chess player starts with Stagnation in Chess

  • Acquiring new knowledge.
  • Familiarizing with the lay of the land, wherein that knowledge comes to play.
  • Understanding the events as a FLOW or FLUX rather than single individual events that are not connected.
  • Achieving mastery in creating favorable conditions on the board based on familiarity.
  • Building confidence by repeatedly following the above steps.

Stagnation in ChessThe last point is what propels and fuels chess growth. It is the paramount key to a chess player’s individuality in the black and white jungle.

So the next time you find yourself in a rut, stop trying superficially.

Do your training keeping the above points in mind and when you start playing online games without pressure, you are reinforcing new neural path ways. These neural pathways are what help you intuiting your way around a complex position.

Don’t stress yourself with ‘here’ and ‘now’ of chess positions but place them in context of your learning in your mind.

Overcome your Stagnation in Chess. by adopting creative training methods like Lucas Chess Trans-Siberian Chess Training.

In closing watch this motivational video from a different discipline but applicable for chess.

how to conduct online chess class

How to conduct an online chess class

(Part 1)

That is the question that I get asked often when I talk with my friends who are coaches but not tech savvy. And the most surprising thing is that I did not find any solution when I ‘googled’ this topic! So here is (hopefully) a exhaustive discussion on the tools and methods that coaches may use to conduct online classes. Some are free while some are partially free depending on the level of the student.

Difficulty – 4/5

(which means you must either be tech-savvy or hire a friend/technical engineer to get the know-how. No one is born an expert. I learnt many
things by trial and error so there is no escape from this…)

I will be re-touching this article in due course as and when I get updated on anything specific. Most of the suggestions are from my personal experience and therefore I will be able to solve any pertinent questions you may have. 

In this first article I will be discussing the most important technical requirements that are essential before starting an online class (also known as a ‘net session’).

IntroPart 1 – How to conduct an online chess class – Checklist before beginning an online chess class.

1. Stable Internet connection either by Optical Fibre cable or fixed line broadband or 3G/4G dongles. (For coaches it must be fast)

2. Decent performance PC or Laptop (preferably newer ones).

3. Webcam.

4. Microphone (Coaches must have a professional one, while students can do with decent headphone+mic).

5. Decent quality Keyboard and mouse.

6. Decent sized single (for students) or Dual monitor setup (for coaches) to increase the productivity.

Software Requirements
legal-software

1. Skype + membership (free).

2. Teamviewer for both student and coach.

3. Membership in online chess sites like Chesscube (VIP for coaches is a must), Playchess (some issues to get sorted but great overall), Chess.com, ICC and FICS.

4. [For Coaches] Chess Programs like Fritz, Chessbase, Chess King, SCID and some more which are based on specific requirements.

5. [For Students] Firefox or chrome (updated),

Personal/expertise requirements – Coaches 

require1. Room free from noise or distractions.

2. Patience to deal with technical irritants (have a pain balm in hand or have a green tea)

3. Healthy body and a healthy mind.

4. All relevant topics (that will be discussed and asked) must be noted in advance.

5. Any database that needs to be accessed must be kept ready.

6. Be prepared for relevant chess homework assignments to students.

7. Having a good command of the language of instruction is essential.

8. Focus on one or two topics, and let the student absorb at his pace.

9. Don’t restrict your class by time controls. Instead focus on completing something tangible.

10. Never do it solely for money. That is a sure shot way to demoralize and move someone away from chess.

Personal Requirements – Students studentrequirements

Register for online classes only if you are free and completely focused.

Ask questions when you do not understand anything, else it will be a waste of time and money.

Make a note of the points covered in a session and if you have time review them before the session is over.

Always try to finish your homework in time. Homework must be done with proper attitude.

Part 2 will continue next week. As usual comments and suggestions are welcome!

Visit Goldenchess.in for dedicated online classes.

I have been asked often times by many beginners as how to increase their FIDE rating and some of them are curious to increase their online chess rating in sites like Chesscube.com, Chess.com, Playchess.com and other online chess playing sites. I would like to share a few pointers that are essential to keep in mind, to ensure a healthy rating. There is nothing wrong in desiring something, but when the act of desiring itself creates bottlenecks, then it becomes a cause for concern. In this context, a constant worry about ELO ratings will only add friction to your forward progressive motion. The trick is in balancing desires with practical understanding. Let’s start with our basic checklists of the essential points to remember while climbing the ELO ladder. Read 8 Secrets to boost your Chess ELO rating.

Secret #1 – Ratings are like shadows, they follow you!

Shadow Following

My primary advice is not to get fixated on these rating goals. Ratings are like shadows, they follow you like that ad for a cellular network, and when you attempt to catch them you will fail miserably. I managed to climb the ELO ladder only when I dropped the fixation to increasing my rating and instead concentrated on improving my abilities and skills in chess. And this is one bit of advice that stands the test of time.

 

Secret #2 – Ratings are a measure of your consistency, not your strength!

Consistency is the keyLet me make it clear using a numerical example. If you are a 2000 rated player then it means you are able to consistently beat the players who are lesser than 1900 and draw with players from 2000 to 2200. Did you see that I emphasized on the word “consistently”? I am not talking about that one loss to a lower rated opponent in a tournament but overall tournament performance (aka rating performance) where these numerical averages tend to hold water. So, the secret is in constant maintenance and upgradation in your chess abilities by routinely solving chess puzzles or playing slow timed games with a slightly higher rated player.

Secret #3 –  Remember to stretch your limits!

Stretch your limitsSounds clichéd right? Growth is a natural process but if you want to have a finely chiseled physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger, you must slog it out real bad. I think my point would be pretty obvious to you by now. If you are comfortable solving 10 positions try solving 20. If you are consistently able to beat 1500 players online then try your luck with 1600 and 1700 players. But do remember to keep it interesting… Or you will stop one day.

Secret #4 – Building confidence!

Building ConfidenceChess is a mind game and if you are feeling physically and mentally weak, your brain will reflect that in its output. All limitations start from the mind, and you’d be surprised at what damage your self-limiting beliefs do to your efficacy. Before you start any endeavor, whether it is Chess or otherwise, you need to start with the seeds of self-confidence. Nurture the seed, protect it in its infancy, and once it takes root, it will serve you well.

How does this apply to Chess? Let’s say if you are rated 1400 and are constantly losing to the 1500 guys in online sites, try this. Start playing against the 1600 and 1700 guys. I won’t mislead you by saying you will be beating them easily, but the way you lose will be different and sharper than you losses against the 1500 guys. Now you will start seeing the ugliness of the gameplay of these 1500 monsters of that was pulling you down. Now you will have obtained an understanding of what’s good chess strategy and this is where your seeds of confidence will have found its ideal nourishment. So, go ahead, take risks, and skip your syllabus when you feel you are stagnating.

Bottomline is that you become what you think, so watch your thoughts!

Secret #5 – Consider all training as a tournament/match game!

Fischer training seriouslyWhat if I told you that this was a best kept secret or at least not a commonly known fact of aspiring players? And why is this not known to the majority? It is because it has been only understood at a subconscious level and happens at that level without being consciously prodded. It is like the Pavlovian conditioned reflex that gets ingrained in one’s psyche as a part of serious training.

Let me demystify this for you; have you ever observed, when given a tough chess position to solve that in most of the correct replies given by you, the answers have come from a deeply meditative state of mind.

Okay, fine. You may be thinking what does this have to do with raising my performance levels?

The answer is very simple.

The ability to generate these meditative states of mind at will when the situation demands, like a switch that has been suddenly given into your hands, is what will power you during your serious Chess OTB games. And how do you get that switch in your hand? You get it by consciously entering this peaceful state of mind and exiting it at will, during your training sessions. In other words, when you subjugate your mind, you are able to penetrate the depths of intuition.

Bottomline – Your willpower will power you.

Secret #6 – Focused study schedule is important!

Focused StudyFor anyone who aspires to discover his/her North Star (noble aim in chess), he/she needs to focus on mastering the individual elements of Chessic understanding. The Goddess Caissa surely favors the dedicated aspirant. Anything related to chess must be studiously cloud into subconscious mind and every moment when such a opportunity must be utilized fully; be it playing against a strong player or analyzing with one. Once your purpose is fixed the mind will create opportunities for learning. Keep on the lookout for any tangible time period available to broaden one’s chess horizon. So, go ahead, make a training schedule and stick to it.

Secret #7 – Have fun and take time out once in a while!

TimeoutThe point I wish to make here is to recharge your physiological battery once in a while. It can be in the form of a movie, a good musical piece or going on a holiday trip to rejuvenate your soul. And why is this important, you may ask. The simplest reason is that many chess players who do not take break once in a while suffer from burnouts. My idea of a good break (You can also call it an escapade) is staying away from Chess related activities for atleast 5 days in a month and during those 5 days, try to increase your lung capacity by doing regular breathing exercises and having good nourishing food when you are hungry. These periods of abstinence will supercharge your inner battery and propel you forward. It will also give the mind, time to regurgitate the assimilated data at a subconscious level. It’ll allow the mind to harmoniously integrate the individual dots of your training sessions into one full picture. You will understand that tactics is like your daily exercise in financial routines (Where opportunities are meant to be seized) and strategy is like the overall direction of your life. You will understand that macro vision is much more important than micro vision, and a Chess game will now appear to be a threaded sequence of events than merely a random set of moves.

Secret #8 – Identifying your weaknesses and blank spots.

Knowing your weaknessesThis is a technical point and there is no need to elucidate on what is a simple statement. Basically, you need to earmark or jot down any points of importance that appear as completely new perspectives and that which adds something of value to your already existing riverbed of knowledge. Let’s put things in proper perspective so as to reap the benefits of proper guidance. Guidance can come from anywhere or anyone. But how we mold it in our Chess journey is what makes the Journey mystically appealing.

I hope that that the 8 Secrets to boost your Chess ELO rating will go a long way to push you up there in the Rating stats. Do pass me a comment when you can. I love to hear from you guys and girls as to how this article improved your game from the inside out and also about your thoughts on this article. So, if you found this post helpful, just pass the word around, so that the journey becomes a pleasurable one for all like-minded friends.

 

How to increase positional chess knowledge?

Secrets of Positional Chess Training – 1

positional-chess-trainingFor those of you who have not read my article – An excellent positional sacrifice. I strongly recommend you to read it before proceeding further.

Harvesting the positional weaknesses present in the opponent’s position requires deep strategic understanding. This strategic understanding comprises an awareness of positional factors (such as effective peace placements, quality of pawn structure and safety of the king), and generation of ideas or plans to make use of these factors.

Foundation of positional chess training

Here, the first step is to build a base of understanding. That is where the coach comes in and where a good coach can be identified. The base of understanding has to be built from the basics. Starting with King and pawn endings, rook endings, minor piece endings, queen endings, and then the meet of the middle game, which comprises of mobility, activity, and strength of the pieces. Winning configurations and thematic attacks are what an aspiring player needs to be given. I am referring to a player who has mastered the basic tactical motifs like pin, skewer, fork etc. and at this stage he is akin to a aspiring chef who has just learnt the magic of making a tasty recipe and his true test would come when he is able to juggle with the resources present in the refrigerator that too with a sudden unexpected onset of guests to his home.

Here confidence also plays a vital role in bridging the gap between rote-knowledge and skill-knowledge. The trick here is to convert rote-knowledge into skill-knowledge by constant practical applications.

Merely knowing how to bake a cake doesn’t make one a good baker. Doing it properly when time demands makes one an expert and doing it consistently properly makes one a GM.

In later articles I will be expanding on many techniques to accentuate this bridging of knowledge. So I request you to follow me on regular basis.

Pillars of positional chess training

The next step is to build familiarity by constant revision and repetition of information. This is the most hallowed part of chess training regimen.

  • [button url=”http://goldenchess.in/2015/04/03/from-the-chess-coachs-perspective/” size=”small” style=”blue”]  From the Chess Coach’s Perspective [/button]

It is here where many people stumble, fall or stop altogether. Some players skip this entire process due to wrong assumptions and false guidance. I cannot stress enough the importance of this revision process and there are many ways it can be done. For example, take the case of tabiya’s, when we first learn a new plan of attacking the castled king we tend to look at a few model games. The trick is not only about remembering this plan but also being able to execute when favorable configurations arises on the board. And doing so also requires a confidence which needs to be built slowly over time.

Ready for the test drive?

The final stage is executing a move taking into consideration the above discussed factors under test conditions such as time pressure situations or high-stake scenario. This is the true test of actual understanding that gets locked into the subconscious mind and is available for us to access it anytime. Obviously, the initial routine are difficult and tests our dedication. And this is what separates the masters from the amateurs.

Keeping yourself motivated – Separating the wood from the trees!

More to come.. Stay tuned!

Reprogram your brain

Reprogram your brainThe common misconception is that blunders are just tactical errors. Tactics are involved, and better tactical vision will certainly help reduce the number of these blunders, but studying tactics is treating the symptoms and not the disease. Consider the errors you make in a game. How many of the critical errors (those that change the expected result of the game–win, lose or draw) were immediately obvious to you, and how many required some serious thought or computer assistance? If you had to think about why your move was bad, or why your opponent’s move worked, then the problem is related to some other facet of your game. However, if your error provokes an immediate “Oh No!”, then it wasn’t your tactics that were faulty but your thinking. So… Reprogram your brain – find what is the problem with your blunders.

If:

  • shortly after you make your move you suddenly realize it was a blunder, or
  • your opponent makes an unexpected move whose strength is immediately obvious, or
  • your opponent makes a move that you didn’t consider, but it’s immediately obvious that you should have,

then your thinking process failed you, not your tactics.

So What’s the Solution?

How do I train this skill of near perfect thinking?

Ask yourself before moving – what your opponent can do and whether you can handle his threat. Many of us make a superficial attempt and select a move without going the full line.

As an example, consider bowling or basketball. One thing you train is to be able to consistently pull off a certain stroke or a push, such as hitting all 9 balls or putting the ball inside the basket 7-10 feet away from the basket. After practicing again, and again, and again, the “right” way to do it becomes programmed in your “sub-conscious memory” and you can just execute it with least thought.

The solution would appear to be to play more games at slow time controls and to really force yourself to play serious chess like a tournament, even when you play online.

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76,132 Studies by Harold van der Heijden - A mind-boggling effort by the author that took him 3 years of hard work (in perfecting...