Archive for the ‘Jacob Aagaard’s training tips’ Category

The fourth Type of Decision

May 18th, 2018 11 comments

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A few tips from other disciplines

February 13th, 2018 27 comments

I am no longer studying chess to learn the basics in the way I did once, but I am going through that process with improving my technique on the guitar. As with many chess players, I have picked up this and that over the years from others, but not really been through a systematic programme to learn the chops. Tiger Hillarp Persson is learning to play Go, among others because learning a new game from the beginning (he is no longer a beginner though), has made him a better teacher. I work hard on improving as a musician and as a tennis player, because doing something I really like well is a pleasurable experience for me and because I really like to improve my skills. Learning is simply fun.

There are a few tips I have picked up from the highly skilled teachers I have been working with, which I might as well share with your guys.

Train every day. Working a bit every day is better than working twice as much on the weekend. We need our subconscious to keep working in the background or something. I will not claim any type of scientific insight, but I am experiencing a great leap in my technique.

Take a small break to consider what you have just learned. We are all too keen to move on from a potential transformational insight to the next thing, the next exercise. Stopping up to look at what we have just worked on and give our brains a chance to catch up on the various sensations before we demand it to confront a new challenge is paramount. Also, our energy and our attention span increases. You can only sprint for a minute or two, no matter what type of athlete you are, but there are people running 100 km races. And yes, sometimes they walk…

Play with confidence. Actually, this is a chess insight, just happy to see it replicated elsewhere. You cannot second guess yourself all the time. You have to accept that you are limited in ability and should try to execute the stroke, chord, positional decision, whatever it is, in the correct way. When you fail (learning is failing and reflecting, mainly), you will be able to look at what you did wrong and how you can do it right. Second guessing yourself does not work. It may win the point, the song may not sound entirely stupid and you may not blunder something. But not attempting to do things right, means that you will do them wrong for longer. This is a main reason why practice is so glorious; it gives us a chance to fail on purpose, so we can reflect.

The best way to learn to do something right is by doing it right. This is known especially from music, but I find it useful in tennis too. And other things. In chess, when you are learning to apply a proper candidate search to each move, you should allow it to take minutes. By doing the technique (“of just looking for options and ideas” – very simple, but any technique you really want to use should be simple) slowly means that you stay in control and can fend off impulses to just guess or just do something and similar. I know of World Class players that have not implemented the techniques they need to compete at the level they could. And the main problem seems always to be impulse control. So, slow down.



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Motivated by your ambitions or someone else’s? Not so obvious…

February 10th, 2018 7 comments

One of my observations in my thirty plus years in chess is that you can divide people into groups of those who get motivated by their own successes and ambitions and those that get excited by the prospects of others. This is one of the reasons why many grandmasters write bad books or are lousy trainers, while some less strong players are excellent coaches and write fantastic books.

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Chances will come – they always do

January 25th, 2018 9 comments

I was playing tennis Monday with three friends. Two good players and a great talent, the 12-year-old son of one of them. He is a small kid, but easily has the best forehand of us all. His downside is that when he makes a mistake, he is not letting go of them easily. We played together and were up 5-4 and 15-0 in the second set. The kid’s serve. After a bit back and forth, he hit his forehand straight in the net. These things happen. He did what many kids with ambition do, shout at themselves and with their body show frustration. Basically, they have watched too much tennis on TV and have not fully realised there is no camera, and no one cares…

I kept saying to him, something I have learned from chess and which applies to almost all of sports. Chances will come. The question is if you will be ready for them. He generally wasn’t and we lost. He is young and will quickly learn, I hope. I will partner with him in the league and keep saying this to him every time he misbehaves.

In chess we have a much smaller margin for error. When Federer makes his biggest mistake ever, he is down 15-0. When I blunder a piece, I usually resign. I am not Magnus Carlsen after all. But still, when you look at grandmaster games, you will see that things almost always go wrong. Chances arise out of nothing. Those that instinctively knows this and are ready for the moment do better than those who do not.

I will show a few examples, but literally, this is 80-90% of all grandmaster games.

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The element of surprise

January 21st, 2018 45 comments

We have had a nice debate between the blog readers about various lines and how to approach playing for a win for Black deep in the comments section of the looking into 2018 post. I doubt everyone makes it to comment #297, so I will make my own little point here as an independent post.

Our main strategy is to be honest with our readers, and one of these aspects include debating things freely and without thinking if it is in line with people’s perception of our company. We propose main lines in our repertoire books, because you do not want to continuously play something that is bad and because you do not need to read a full book to play something dodgy once with the element of surprise.

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A little training game to solve a common problem

January 8th, 2018 4 comments

Here is an idea for players who have a tendency to give up on solving (Critical Moment thinking – view it like a math problem, you cannot guess, you have to work it out) and just make a move. I did this with Sam Shankland over the holidays and we found it quite entertaining. (Especially in the beginning, before he tired out entirely!)

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Jacob in India

December 15th, 2017 3 comments

Jacob is on a coaching trip in India, and ChessBase India have published an article by our friend Sagar Shah with many photos, including the one below. You can click on the image to get a bigger view.




Question from QC Reader

November 22nd, 2017 23 comments

Hi all,

I will continue my tradition of answering questions put in private on the blog, without giving the source of the question to cause no embarrassment. I do this because I know that a lot of people will find the question and answer interesting. Read more…

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