Goal Setting

 

On request I will talk a bit about goal setting this week. In the general style of this blog, it will not be a to-do-list or in any other way clear advice that will work for everyone. It will be my own reflections and experience with goal setting, which probably will be more interesting for the older readers, while the really young and restless, might find the lack of commitment to any position frustrating. But I will try to give advice to them as well.

In what is known as “coaching” the most famous goal-setting acronym is SMART goals. The idea is that your goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-dependent.

The idea behind this is rather obvious. The goal will be easy to track when you are on course to its completion. The famous metaphor used in relation to this kind of goal setting is an aeroplane, which will be off course 95% of the time, but will always arrive at the right destination more or less on time. (The oldest source I have heard this from is Tony Robbins in the 1980s, but many have repeated it as if it was their own since then, so maybe it is even older? I think it is a Robbins original, because a lot of people repeat his ideas in book length as if they were their own.)

This kind of thinking will definitely appeal to some, specifically those with no second thoughts. You set your goal, you do the work, you arrive at your destination after some problems on the way, but still more or less as you expected.

But obviously this brings us back to the basic question I like to ask about more or less anything: what is the function of setting a goal?

To me this is a very important question; because if you do not know the answer, you will not know what sort of goal setting will work for you. As an example: when we produced San Luis 2005, written by Alik Gershon and Igor Nor, I had two goals.

The first was to produce the best chess book ever and the second was to win the ECF Book of the Year award. I think we achieved both, but it is important to discuss how setting these specific goals affected our company.

The original manuscript was of course outstanding; otherwise there was no reason to even set these goals. I had already written a lot about the San Luis 2005 tournament and now set out to compare all my own analysis with those of the authors, as well as to find new ideas. At the same time John edited the language with great care and Ari spent a lot of time typesetting the book.

One of the decisions that was most controversial regarding this book was the decision to do the book in full colour on 115 gram paper. The printing price for this book is about three times the usual cost and the final weight is outstanding at 1.1 kg.

The reason we decided to go with colour photographs was that I had read the nominations for a previous ECF Book of the Year and discovered that one book had been nominated with more or less a single comment: “has nice photographs”. As this was indeed the only quality of that particular book, I decided that good photographs would add a lot in the eyes of the judges. And indeed, at the celebration dinner, they told me that they would probably have given the award to the book anyway, but that the quality of the print made it a slam dunk.

So, we set a goal, we worked hard and we achieved it. In 2009 Julian Hodgson told me that San Luis 2005 is his favourite chess book and many others with great insight into chess literature have told me the same.

But let us look at the downsides: The book took maybe 2000 working hours to produce. It exhausted us as a company and was maybe a contributing factor to Ari Ziegler leaving in 2007. Financially it has been moderately successful, but it is clear that this was not a business project and we should not repeat such a ‘mistake’ (do I hear anyone saying ‘The King’s Gambit’ at this point?) – at least not without understanding the hidden costs.

As Michael Neill correctly points out: “whatever it takes” might sound appealing in the mouth of your favourite motivational speaker; but put the same words under a photo of your least favourite dictator and they will come across differently.

This brings us back to the function of goals, which must be to motivate us and help us lead happier lives (if this is not the function of your goal, you are in trouble). But as soon as you put in the word “realistic” you do to some extent kill your dream. There is a nice quote (I cannot recall who said it) pointing to exactly this:

“You want what you want, whether or not you think you can have it or not.”

To me it is important to nurture the dreams I have, to have that touch of innocence. But it is also important to include the costs in my goal setting.

Take for example the Grandmaster Preparation series. Those who have opened these books will know that this is not something written in a weekend. I have worked a lot with the ideas and material over the last decade, but especially over the last few years. But I want to be completely honest with the fact that I have to a great extent been working with two goals:

a) to produce the best possible book

b) to do so to a deadline

The reason is simple: I want to do some things over the next few years that might lead me to do a bit less for Quality Chess and to be able to do so without letting John down, I first need to create a lot of value.

We are now quite experienced and for this reason we managed to finish Calculation and Positional Play in time for the agreed internal deadlines (they always move of course, but not necessarily the time involved in producing a book; other things just pop up requiring more immediate attention – like a 800 page manuscript on the fianchetto King’s Indian for example!). However, when it came to Strategic Play, it became obvious to me that writing this book to the required standard would mean overstepping the deadline. So we discussed it in an editorial meeting and found the right balance. The goal for this book was by no means “whatever it takes”, but we weighed the costs of the extra time against the value of the book being as I had envisaged it. And as you can guess (by the fact that I am discussing it openly), we decided that the cost was reasonable. So I took an extra month and a bit to finish this book and I am quite happy with the end result.

But let us get a bit more abstract again:

The work of David McLelland, a Havard psychologist who has studied achievements for decades, has determined that those who were most successful in the long term, tended to set themselves moderately challenging goals. Setting your goals to low is obviously self-defeating. Setting your goals too far outside your ability will simply be too stressful in one way or another. Either it will be self-defeating or it will slowly wear you down as you “over-train” (here wearing down not your muscles, but your nervous system). At least this is my interpretation.

When I was younger I would make grand plans for what I would do, working out each day of the week (carefully remembering to put in time off, to seem realistic). At the end of it, I would arrive at my goal.

The older readers will probably smile at this. Some of you will recognise your own naivety; others will have been intuitively smarter from the beginning.

I am not a Harvard professor, but I still have good means of observation. And what I see is that the most successful individuals I know are driven by passion. They usually have no big plans, but they absolutely know what they want to do for the next month. Usually they take the things they learned doing one thing with them to the next thing: like the PhD in maths I knew, who became a successful banker (before this was a bad thing), or the engineer who peddled through the ranks of a big company, until eventually declining being the overall boss, when his and five other departments were joined together, in order to work with foreign aid projects in first Bangladesh, then Ghana. If he was to ask me what to do in order to further his career, I would probably tell him not to be so stupid to think that he needed advice!

Pre-conclusion section:

Having taken different positions, I want to offer some advice. But first I want to finally debunk the “make it a must” school of goal setting.

There is an often cited psychology study about a college graduating class one year where the 3% who had written down their career goals ended up earning more than the remaining 97% combined. Like the politicians’ stories about three generations of the same family who have never had a job, it might sound convincing to some, but it has been entirely impossible to locate the story in real life.

The story is not true and neither is the lesson drawn from it.

Conclusion:

Motivational systems that have great certainty, and give you a program for what to do, have failure built right into them. Because if you are following someone else’s intelligence, you are not following your own. Only follow a system if you have questioned it, continue to question it, and are happy to modify it as you go to fit your needs along the way.

The function of goals is to motivate you. If they don’t in their current form, change them.

Write them down if it makes your happier.

I don’t like to have goals that give strangers too great an influence on my happiness. I try to have goals that are what I can do.

I distinguish between:

Dreams – are my guiding stars, what motivates me to work with something. I actually do not worry too much if I get there; they are more an inherent part of me. Some I have achieved, some I never will. But to think that this is crucial for them is silly. They are called dreams for a reason; like those we have at night, we cannot control them and the more we are at peace with them, the happier we are.

Long term goals – are general directions of travel. I try not to be too specific, because unlike an airplane, my landing strips are generally quite wide. Once I wanted to be the Danish Champion, but when I finally competed with a real shot (2010-2012), it no longer mattered. I had already won the British Championship and thus was the national champion; only I had moved country! (To mess up the airline analogy: I think there is a Glasgow Airport both in the US and UK!).

My current long-term goals are personal, but are all within my control. We are talking up to two years into the future. The ones I am happy to share here are three:

1) Writing the last three volumes of Grandmaster Preparation.

2) Writing the four volumes of Grandmaster Repertoire 1.e4.

3) Improving my health by re-setting my body’s set point and thus losing those extra 30-40 lbs I carry.

How people receive my books is not part of my goals. This does not mean that I do not care (evidence of the opposite exists), but that I do not include that as part of the goal.

Short-term goals – are what really matters. This is where you should have a clear idea about what the next step (or steps) is in the direction of your long-term goal. Do you need to write them down? Not really, but I find that it helps. I keep a sort of diary, which is never about what actually happens in my life, but is about maintaining focus with what I do. To some extent this is building motivation and to some extent it is stress relief, I think.

To come back to Michael Neill, who has thought better thoughts about these things than most others: when he was starting out as an actor, he was overpowered with the goal of getting an agent. But when he realised that all he needed to do was to mail out some photographs, the simplicity of the task stood in contrast.

So if you want to become an IM, you might look at your 2010 rating (the number, not the year!) and feel that this is deflating to think of. Instead have this as your dream or long-term goal, and make the goal you have to achieve be “reading From Amateur to IM by Jonathan Hawkins”. I am sure you can do that (and the book is really good too)!

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  1. April 8th, 2013 at 20:04 | #1

    “You want what you want, whether or not you think you can have it.”
    Isn’t it a bit different version like (I am just asking, because your version is too difficult to understand to me):
    You HAVE what you want, whether or not you think you can have it.
    Do you think it is better version or should I think much deeper?

    “What is the function of setting a goal?”
    “…the function of goals must be to motivate us and help us lead happier lives (if this is not the function of your goal, you are in trouble). The function of goals is to motivate you. If they don’t in their current form, change them”.
    Simply SUPERB! Great approach for problems with (setting) the goals! Very clever and deep indeed! I rarely see such an approach – most chess authors just say “without setting the goals you will not be able to fullfil your dreams (plans, goals).

    “…those who were most successful in the long term, tended to set themselves moderately challenging goals”
    Maybe it is the key for obtaining high level goals! Who knows? Maybe just “long term goals” should give us a power (encouragement) to follow the path – and “stars” the energy for completion the task!

    “…what I see is that the most successful individuals I know are driven by passion. They usually have no big plans, but they absolutely know what they want to do for the next month”.
    I would necessary add (fill in) – “…they absolutely know what they want to do for the next month and they ALWAYS realize (do) it!”.

    “I distinguish between: Dreams, Long term goals, Short-term goals”.
    Very nice (a bit too short to me) introduction to goals and their comparison

    I hope last paragraph is the encouragment to next post! Otherwise it is really confusing to me. One side you are telling NOT to take “so high goals” to realize, but from (not only my) experience and observations I have noticed that “just reading books” do not guarantee obtaining any chess TITLE (starting with CM = Candidate Master).

    I am looking forward to your next posts! HUGE Thank You Jacob for providing such a great and beneficial remarks, pieces of advice and your own (huge) personal experience, knowledge and recommendations to US! I appreciate it VERY MUCH!

  2. GM Rob
    April 8th, 2013 at 22:09 | #2

    Great article Jacob but I am worried you are spending to much time on the blog and not enough in producing the great series of books you are working on!!
    I purchased Jonathan Hawkins book just after it was released and can confirm it’s a great read because of this book I finally think I am working on my game rather than whatever the hell I was doing before. Oh it makes me want to cry the amount of valuable training time I have wasted and will never get back.
    My only consolidation is after 10 years being the same grade I will be the equivalent of 130 ELO points higher maybe even more if I can continue the great form I currently in till the end of the season. Whatever my final grade it really doesn’t matter to me I know I am a better player now than this time last year and that is what gives me great pride and satisfaction at the end of the day and will drive me on to keep improving in the future.
    It’s vital we set ourselves goals in life. My goal for chess was very simple, to improve and unlock some of the potential I knew was there. A humble but realistic goal I think you will agree. I think that is the key to the success of goals don’t aim too high too soon. The majority of us who play chess dream of being a GM. It’s a dream I have and may never come true but this year by working hard and being disciplined I did make one step forward towards fulfilling the dream.

  3. asterion
    April 9th, 2013 at 07:44 | #3

    I wouldn’t mind paying 70-80€ for a book on the London Candidates of the same quality than the San Luis (outstanding) book.

    This is chess history you’re writing in those books…

  4. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 08:40 | #4

    @asterion
    I fully understand that point of view. Unfortunately not enough bought the San Luis book to make it workable business :-(.

  5. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 08:46 | #5

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    Apparently this quote is wrong. I am too lazy to go back to my draft to see if it was my fault, but it is corrected now, with the “or not” at the end.

    It means that what you dream about in your heart of hearts, you dream about. You want it, even if it cannot happen. It is a part of the human condition. To fight this by wishing it was different would be nonsense. Rather accept this as a part of who you truly are. It does not mean you have to act on it, and it does not mean that you have to despair if it does not happen.

    But it can help you prioritise.

  6. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 08:48 | #6

    @GM Rob
    I will write something about Jonathan’s book in a future blog, I think. Mainly because it got slaughtered in a review on ChessCafe, while it is actually a quite good book. I have my reservations with it, but probably they are too technical and not something I will get into in my review, as 99.9% of all readers will not care one dime!

  7. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 08:59 | #7

    @GM Rob
    John is very happy with me doing these blogs, it creates traffic; and then I will probably canabalise them to some extent for Thinking Inside the Box…

  8. GM Rob
    April 9th, 2013 at 10:40 | #8

    @Jacob
    The reason I liked Jonathon Hawkins book so much was because it got me thinking on how I should study the beautiful game of chess in the future. I wouldn’t known about any technical issues I’m obviously not at the same level as yourself so will be very interested to read your views on the book and hope you actually do discuss your reservations about the book. I’m sure Jonathon wouldn’t mind any constructive criticism. To someone like myself who as never had a chess coach in my life it opened my eyes to the hard work required if I wanted to improve.

  9. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 11:45 | #9

    @GM Rob
    I will get into a chess thing or two that I found interesting. There are book-technical things that I will not bore people with.

  10. TonyRo
    April 9th, 2013 at 13:47 | #10

    Great post – and as an aside, 800 pages on the Fianchetto KID doesn’t sound fun for either color/person. Even if you really, really love putting bishops on g2/g7. Kotronias is a machine.

  11. Jacob Aagaard
    April 9th, 2013 at 14:10 | #11

    @TonyRo
    The word drafts are always bigger of course.

  12. Paul
    April 9th, 2013 at 22:59 | #12

    Hi Jacob,

    I really like your article about goal setting. As I’m happy when the Playing 1.e4 books will be released, I was glad to see, that you’re planning a four-book volume about e4!
    When do you think the first volume will be released!? I’d guess, the Playing 1.e4 books are more positional, solid and not so much theory, while the four book volume is more like the real critical lines like the Anand-Book-Series of Khalifman? What do you think will be the main difference between the planned four-book-Volume and the Anand-Books except design, author and publisher?:-)
    Sorry Jacob, I’m really curious about your e4-books…;-)

    Thanks a lot,
    Paul

  13. Jacob Aagaard
    April 10th, 2013 at 07:32 | #13

    @Paul
    A big difference between a GM Guide and a GM Repertoire is that the first is very practical in its application, while the other is very theoretical. The lines chosen for a Guide should not require as much knowledge to be played (you can forget the theory and not sink like an axe immediately), while for the GM Repertoire, you are to some extent taking bigger risks and are therefore required to know more.

    John will do the Scotch, French Tarrasch, Open Sicilian (but not 6.Bg5 against Najdorf…), 3.Nd2 against the Caro-Kann and so on. Open, solid, trying to add an enduring pressure on your opponent.

    In the GM Repertoire we will try to kill our opponents. Plain and simple. 3.e5 in the Caro, 3.Nc3 against the French, Ruy lopez and so on. Also, we will explain less and give more plain analysis.

  14. Jacob Aagaard
    April 10th, 2013 at 07:32 | #14

    John’s books will be out over the summer. Our first volume in GM Rep 1.e4 might be out at the end of the year, but more likely at the beginning of the next.

  15. Paul
    April 10th, 2013 at 13:26 | #15

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Thanks Jacob, great answer, I’m looking forward to the contents of all books. Good luck for everything!

    Cheers,
    Paul

  16. Jonathan
    April 10th, 2013 at 13:29 | #16

    Hi Jacob,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts on goals. In what you write I see some similarities with a Dutch author (Marinus Knoope) that I’m reading at the moment. I’m not sure his books were translated into English.

    On a personnal note, my main mistake when it comes to goal-setting has been to confuse my dream (becoming an International Master) with a goal. Becoming IM should, in my case, be considered to be a dream or a wish (to use Knoope’s terminology) because I’m not completely sure I’ll ever achieve it and because it’s too ‘long-term’ and vague to keep me motivated on a daily basis.

    Goals could be, as you said, reading a certain book, studying a particular opening variation, mastering a given endgame, playing a certain number of games, solving tactical puzzles on a daily basis… We’re on the same page when you say that these goals should motivate you and that you should enjoy them. Because we all know that, at the end of the day, reaching the summit is not the most fullfilling step (it’s only a short-lived enjoyment), what matters is the way leading to the summit. If you don’t enjoy the path, you will quickly feel frustrated after having reached the summit.

  17. Jacob Aagaard
    April 10th, 2013 at 14:46 | #17

    @Jonathan
    You are right; his work is not translated into English. I think my definition is so obvious that it makes little sense to call it original; it is a logical continuation of the results of contemporary psychology.

  18. Jeff Dixon
    April 10th, 2013 at 19:40 | #18

    What is the function of setting a goal for the publication date of The King’s Gambit by John Shaw? =P

    • Jacob Aagaard
      April 10th, 2013 at 19:43 | #19

      Actually, the function is to get it done. There are so many other things that are tempting: like finish the edit of Axel Smith’s book in two to three straight weeks, but John really needs to keep his eye on the ball; he is so close to the end. And then Nessie will be off his back :-).

  19. April 11th, 2013 at 05:02 | #20

    I would like to ask you Jacob one thing. It is hard to believe but I ALWAYS appreciated the process of learning chess and understanding it more and more… than having high rating or try to make it much bigger and bigger. Is that correct approach to chess? I just want to stress out (empasize) that I am going to learn and understand chess much more… to the end of my life. To be fully honest – I do not care about my rating as long as playing my games gives me pleasure and I feel I struggle with myself (when trying to solve and create problems at the chessboard).

    I would like to know what do you think about such approach. Is it proper or not? Is it possible to develop with the help of chess… together with accepting that your rating might not be progressing as fast (as stable?!) as you wish? Looking forward to your reply!

  20. Jacob Aagaard
    April 11th, 2013 at 09:58 | #21

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    Of course it is proper. If you are in a process of personal enrichment you are doing everything right. Rating is a result of your playing strength, not the other way around.

    The key question is of course if there are aspects of the game you shy away from; things you could improve but choose not to. I don’t know you, but with your attitude, I could fear they would be competitive aspects? Maybe memorising openings or endgames, which is not about understanding, but about being able to remember it.

  21. Gilchrist is a Legend
    April 11th, 2013 at 19:45 | #22

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I am not sure if anyone else was in such a silly situation as I was, but when I was 2299 on the FIDE rating list in 2005 and instead dropped almost 80 points instead of surpassing a simple point to 2300+, I lost total confidence. It took me years to start going to 2250 and regain confidence and then go past such a goal. It seems as if only I can do something stupid like that.

  22. Jacob Aagaard
    April 11th, 2013 at 20:40 | #23

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    It is called the winner effect. When we have won a game, we are more likely to win the next game; no matter who we played and who we are going to play. It is about dorpamine released in the brain.

    If you are going through a rough patch, try to find some patzers to play with :-).

  23. Gilchrist is a Legend
    April 11th, 2013 at 21:28 | #24

    @Jacob Aagaard
    That could veyr possibly explain my often inconsistent results: in 2006 I gained an IM norm with a 2500 performance then the tournament after lost 15 FIDE points with a 2100 performance..

  24. April 12th, 2013 at 00:34 | #25

    Yes, you hit the ground Jacob! I hate (!) memorising openings and I was running way of them for 14 years. Nowadays I have discovered (with the help of some authors!) that openings should be understood, not memorized mechanically (I hate doing artificial things – those that do not require thinking).

    My hate for openings has changes (the process started about half year ago) and now I try to learn some openings and build chess repertoire. It might be a bit weird (some people might not believe it), but I achieved 1900 rating without learning openings and without having chess repertoire. I was just playing whatever (and whenever) I liked, but after I “hit the wall” (my progress stopped) I understood I HAVE TO learn openings, because playing bad positions (most often just after 10-12-15 moves) is not good way for improving my skills and understanding. In the process I have learnt how to defend very hard (for someone – hopeless?) positions.

    I am very curious what it would be if I have known (and accepted that fact) openings might (or should!) be understood and they are the basics when you have achieved the “blunder-free” level of play 😉 :).

    And about competitive aspects – I hate to defend being a piece (mostly bishop or knight) down after 12-15 moves 😉 :). I do not need to compete (I do not feel the pressure to do it), but I like to struggle against myself – having some opponents giving me a chance to do so :).

    Thanks a lot for your answer! Let me ask you if you would agree to publish your great “Jacob Aagaard’s training tips” on my blog – with some of my commentaries (I want to ask you about permission). If you agree – I am going to translate them and encourage people to read your future book – (I mean – “inside the box” – your last book from the Grandmaster Preparation series). I would be very grateful If you agree – many people could read your great tips and think them out! I hope you know how much I appreciate your experience and independence of thinking (expressing your ideas), don’t you Jacob? 🙂

  25. Jacob Aagaard
    April 12th, 2013 at 10:04 | #26

    @Gilchrist is a Legend
    We have a tendency to think that our best results are our real level. It is not. So, when we play below this level, we can become depressed with our play and suddenly we can play very poorly.

    It is a good thing to start lookng at the next move only and try to solve the real problems it poses us, rather than looking back or forward to past or future results.

  26. Jacob Aagaard
    April 12th, 2013 at 10:06 | #27

    @Tomasz Chessthinker
    Thank you.

    Please do not translate the blog or put it elsewhere. The financial value of it is of course that it brings more people to the site and that they in the process discover all the nice books are we publishing!

  27. Nikos Ntirlis
    April 13th, 2013 at 06:25 | #28

    He can always write his comments and put a link to this blog so that everyone who reads his blog will have to visit this one in order to make sense of Tomasz’s comments 🙂

  28. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    April 13th, 2013 at 13:42 | #29

    @Nikos Ntirlis

    # 🙂 # 20 minute-chess training # 🙁

    Dear Jacob and my beloved chess friends here on the blog,

    Please note that with 20 mins of chess training daily you shall not improve at steady pace. On the contrary, you shall be in mediocre shape but nothing better.

    My Elo is around 2100. Currently I’m working on Attacking Manual 1. For each chapter I spent cca 1 hour for solving chapter exercises prior delving into text, and I get only 30% of points. I value each exercise 3 points, and only for full solution with all foreseen nuances I’m awarding myself all 3 points. Afterwards, I need cca 1,5 hours for finishing reading chapter text using chess board.

    When I finish the chapter, then I’m solving 9 exercises from the book “Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations, 4th ed.”, which has 3001 example. Even for 9 ones, I have to spent cca 30-40 mins, solving them without using the board. I have a notebook by my side where I write the solution, which then I check with the book solution.

    You see, such training day can easily last cca 3 hours. And where is the opening? Endgame? Strategy/positional chess?

    Training 20 mins per day is good step forward, but not in meters, but rather in centimeters.

    Sorry if I have disappointed you, it wasn’t intended.

  29. Daniel Peter
    April 13th, 2013 at 18:54 | #30

    Wants to be created a Grandmaster Repertoire with 1.e4 containing All main lines with new improvement. Three volumes
    -Against 1…e5
    -Against 1…c5
    -Against minor lines such scandinavian defence, caro-kann,modern pirc and others
    A complete repertoire for attacking players.

    • Jacob Aagaard
      April 13th, 2013 at 20:36 | #31

      It is planned and is expected to be four volumes, not three.

  30. Jacob Aagaard
    April 13th, 2013 at 19:42 | #32

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    I am happy to explain the 20 minutes of SOLVING again. The idea is that 20 minutes every day, six days a week, will give over 25 hours of active solving over three months. After this, starting to solve for longer periods of time will be much easier; you have developed a habit and can build on this.

    My post clearly explained that the point of this was that making it happen continuously is the first step. It also said that this approach was not for everyone.

    To many 20 minutes a day is a liberation. To others it does not make sense. If something does not work for you, don’t use it. But if your marathon sessions come to an end, and two months down the road you find that you have stopped doing any solving, maybe it was the right idea after all.

    Reading a book should not be considered as part of the 20 minutes. Neither should analysing with or without a computer, learning/memorising opening lines or working on the endgame.

    But as I said, this is something I offer as a possibility for many, not something that works for all…

    Never disappointed in you though 🙂

  31. Ray
    April 14th, 2013 at 15:51 | #33

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I guess it’s also a matter of making the best use of one’s limited amount of time – most amateurs probably won’t have hours per day available for studying chess… Which brings us back to the topic of this blog, i.e., setting realistic goals which are attainable within this limited amount of time.

  32. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    April 14th, 2013 at 17:36 | #34

    @Jacob Aagaard

    I spent a lot of money on books, and even after strict examination I’m left with 70 of them. Also, I train more than usual amteur, and my rersults suck.

    More I train, the better I play. Something is wrong, or it’s time to sell all books and quit chess 🙁

  33. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    April 14th, 2013 at 17:36 | #35

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    I meant #the worse I play”.

  34. Jacob Aagaard
    April 14th, 2013 at 20:26 | #36

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    The question is not only about the time put into training, but also about the quality of the training and whether or not real progress is made.

    Chess is really really hard and progress rarely comes evenly or when we want it.

    Add to this a phenomenon I have noticed in my own life, which seems to be the case for many other people as well: Progress always happen slower than I thought it should.

  35. April 14th, 2013 at 22:48 | #37

    After reading, studying and solving about 60 books (and 12-14 chess puzzles ones) I have discovered that READING books does not quarantee progress. However getting rid of our mistakes and their causes (!) really do the job! Without proper training we can practice and read chess books with solving puzzles… even 20 hours a day – it is not the amount of time devoted to chess, but the quality of training. I can confirm it on my own person. Playing zillions of games or solving megazillions of games does NOT give progress. Improvement is a specific process and it requires HIGH QUALITY work, not just random ones.

    My present results (rating and level) should be obtained about 8-10 years ago 😉 :). However I do not quite chess as I love it – no matter if I have my expected rating (level) or not.

  36. Go!
    April 15th, 2013 at 11:02 | #38

    ¿Why only three factors?

    a) Weakness
    b)Pieces
    c)Prophylaxis

    Why not more factors?

    I think that if there are many factors then the probability to calculate better it´s best.

  37. Mac
    April 15th, 2013 at 12:22 | #39

    The publishing schedule is 13 months out of date. A goal might be to update twice a year 🙂

  38. Daniel Peter
    April 15th, 2013 at 15:10 | #40

    Hi, Jacob!
    Thanks for your response! But I am very courious about the 1.e4 volumes. ONE question, this volumes are one part from GRANDMASTER REPERTOIRE?

  39. AirChess
    April 15th, 2013 at 19:53 | #41

    @Mac
    I can see a schedule from February 25th, 2013. In my calendar that’s something between one and two months.
    But I support the idea of an updated version 🙂

  40. Mac
    April 15th, 2013 at 21:02 | #42

    @ AirChess – thanks I see the February 25th post now. I was, mistakenly, clicking on the tab at the top!

  41. Jim
    April 16th, 2013 at 06:37 | #43

    @Jacob with regards to the fianchetto King’s Indian book, will this be a repertoire book or something else? It looks like GM rep book but doesn’t have the “Grandmaster Repertoire” above the title so I wasn’t sure. Thanks.

  42. Jacob Aagaard
    April 16th, 2013 at 07:01 | #44

    @Go!
    Absolutely. But this is not a scientific algorythm for decision making in the tournament hall. This is a training method for improving positional intuition. It can be used at times in a game, if you are stuck.

    The main purpose of it is to notice immediately things of great importance and to train your subconscious (intuition) to look for these factors at all times without you asking for it.

    My experience is that these three work best it activating our focus. Obviously it does not in any way replace calculation, it is merily a possible tool for making sure the “ladder is up the right wall, before you climb it”.

  43. Jacob Aagaard
    April 16th, 2013 at 07:02 | #45

    @Mac
    The publishing schedule will be updated very soon. Actually John was going to do it Friday, but then stuff happened.

  44. Jacob Aagaard
    April 16th, 2013 at 07:04 | #46

    @Daniel Peter
    There will be a double volume by John on 1.e4, proposing 3.Nd2 against the French and Caro-Kann, the Scotch and other maily positional approaches. This will be in the GM Guide series and in 2 volumes.

    I am working on a 1.e4 repertoire in the GM Repertoire series, which will be more aggressive and complicated and in four volumes. If volume one will be out this year, I don’t know. Probably not, as I am finishing the Grandmaster Preparation series first.

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