Monday, March 18, 2013

You Can't Hide From the Truth

So last week I wrote a post talking about how I wasn't doing the work on tactics that I knew I needed to.

I then committed myself to doing 15-30 minutes a day every day.

Since then I have made that goal perhaps half the time.  Certainly not every day, however.

On the one hand that's really not that big of a deal.  I'm still doing *some* tactical work every day after all.  On the other hand, this is a huge issue.  Because when you distill things down to their essence it becomes more difficult to achieve a goal when you don't do the work that needs to be done to get there.

I remember my first chess coach telling me that his coach wanted him to work on basic tactics for an hour a day "just to stay sharp."  He told me that he wasn't going to do it because he felt that his tactics were good enough as is.

At the time I was thinking to myself "What's the point of having a coach if you're not going to listen?"  And yet here I am not listening.

Now it's true, I can't guarantee that doing this tactical work will make me a master.  I don't know what it will take because I'm not there.  But I do know that my tactics need work because I am overlooking simple tactics.

So I guess this week will be about self reflection to determine how committed I am right now.


  1. I've given a fair amount of thought to improvement as an adult novice. It's not easy. Here are a few non-traditional ideas that might be worth considering.

    1. You do not have control full control over your chess form. How productive is study after a long, stressful day of work, or when you are sleep deprived? Productive study demands full engagement. Studying or expecting strong play from yourself under these circumstances is a recipe for frustration.

    2. Chess is governed by objective rules and principals, but don't let that thought dominate your conscious mind. Approach the game like a fighter. Your opponents will blunder when they are worn down, whatever the objective merits of their position. Wear them out.

    In short, try to recapture the mindset of a beginner ("I go there, he goes there...") but with the backing of your theoretical knowledge. Chess isn't math. It's rarely art.

  2. One thing that I think makes me more fortunate than many people trying to improve is that I don't sleep as much as most people. So I can come home after a long day at work and still get in some time before I am too tired.

    Also, I am lucky in that I start work at 11:30am on Monday and Tuesday so I am able to wake up and study quite a bit.

    However, that won't necessarily translate into good form at the board. By the time I sit down at 7:00pm on a Wednesday or Thursday night I am just starting to unwind. I once feel asleep twice against Coons on the same move, then quickly made a move, then fell asleep again and woke up realizing the move I played was a terrible blunder that dropped a piece.

    While that is an extreme example it does illustrate the point I suppose.

    Also, I generally remind myself that my opponent has also had a long day at work as well. Clearly this isn't the case when playing kids in the Summer or when playing one of the retirees.

    The good news is that both yesterday and today I put in a bunch of work on tactics. Now I'm getting ready to go play over some annotated games for a bit.