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Psychology

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.

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.

 

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