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The Yusupov Challenge

February 27th, 2017 301 comments

I have personally taken up a challenge after reading an interesting article. It is my goal to read 100 books this year. 50 novels and 50 non-fiction books. I used to be an avid reader, but lately I have been caught up in too many things and maybe watched a few too many TV-shows on Netflix. Every second novel must be what we call a “serious” novel. At least!

In that connection, I propose a reading challenge for those who wants to improve their chess, but have never really gotten around to it. The Yusupov challenge.

Artur Yusupov has written 10 volumes in his series of training material for those starting at 1200-1800, wanting to get to 2200+. They cover more or less everything and received the first ever Boleslavsky medal from FIDE, when they started handing them out. And not without competition. Kasparov was in second place and Dvoretsky in third.

Your goal should be to read one book per month. There are 25 chapters in each book, making it a total of 250 chapters. They take maybe 10-20 minutes to read, after which there are 12 exercises, which should take you 20-40 minutes to go through. Some of you might want to spend more time per chapter, but the point stands. You can do six of them a week and make it easily. In a year, you will have learned an immense amount about chess.

Which order you should read the books in

When we acquired the books, we originally only planned to publish one from each series. We all make mistakes. For this reason, the order which the books are intended to be read is not entirely obvious. The order is:

Build up Your Chess 1, Boost Your Chess 1, Chess Evolution 1 – the orange books (Fundamentals series)

Build up Your Chess 2, Boost Your Chess 2, Chess Evolution 2 – the blue books (Beyond the Basics series)

Build up Your Chess 3, Boost Your Chess 3, Chess Evolution 3 – the green books (Mastery series)

The newest book, Revision & Exam 1 should probably be read last.

So, the order to which I suggest you read the books is:

Spring – The Fundamentals series

March: Build up Your Chess 1

Boost Your Chess 1

Chess Evolution 1

Summer – Beyond the Basics series

Build up Your Chess 2

Boost Your Chess 2

Chess Evolution 2

Autumn – Mastery series

Build up Your Chess 3

Boost Your Chess 3

Chess Evolution 3

Winter – Revision time

Revision & Exam 1

If you are up for it, sign up below.

How to train without a coach? – By GM Adhiban

February 16th, 2017 25 comments

The answer to the above questions is surely books and DVDs. However, with this huge wealth of material out there, it is easy to be completely confused. It is difficult to pinpoint on only one book, because different people at different levels have different requirements. However, I would like to tell you the story that happened with me yesterday:

Read more…

The cat is out of the bag

February 7th, 2017 No comments

Hi guys, what are you planning to do this spring. Here is my plans…

 

Doing something difficult

December 13th, 2016 9 comments

I put this on Facebook before realising that it also belongs here.

When you are trying to do something really difficult, it is important to use all of the resources and techniques you have available. Here are a few:
 
1) Have a plan to follow. It does not have to be too tight, for most people it is better if it is not. But something that tells you what the next step is at all possible moments. A simple daily or weekly routine is ideal.
 
2) Allow it to take the time it takes. As long as you are following your plan, you are succeeding. Putting an arbitrary deadline on your goal will make you a failure until you make it and be dispiriting when you get there.
 
3) Keep a track of your progress. Where there is a way, there is will. Once you see progress happening, you will get energized.
 
4) Find ways to improve your habits; use substitutions to change them. If you are fighting yourself, you will have much less time and energy to overcome the challenge of your goal.
 
5) Make things easy. Find whatever pattern and technique you can to make things easier.
 
6) You will lose your way. Get back on track quickly. Smokers on average try 8 times before they manage to quit. Overcoming your own bad habits will be hard.
 
7) Make yourself accountable for others. Ideally, get into a situation where others will gain from your success and lose out in case of your failure. An intelligent bet can solve this.
 
8) Don’t go it alone. Find someone who can support you. A gently push when you are losing momentum can be the difference between success and failure. Knowing that someone cares is often everyone.
 
9) Almost forgot. This is probably the most important. When you are working on your goal, you need to work on it with focus and attention. Too many times we watch the clock and think of when we have “done enough”. It is important that you work hard when you work; you can always play hard afterwards. Work before play, baby.
 
I am 51% of the way to my goal. More than half way. I am very determined. I have a strong routine. I follow it, thus succeeding on a daily basis. I track everything and can see the progress clearly. I have changed a lot of bad habits, not always at the speed I wanted, and not all of them yet, but enough for it to make a difference. I found easy ways to commit and have made it hard to cancel. I don’t stop for a moment when I go in the wrong direction. I turn around and keep focus. I never get disappointed with myself; I know all big achievements come hard. I have found people to help me and as I progress, I tell more and more people about my goal. I have found a World class bet. One I cannot get out of with any dignity without winning it. And someone saw that I was trying hard and took me under the wing. All I had to do was accept the help offered.
 
The most important point is that it took me six-seven months to get through the first 25% of the goal and six weeks to get through the next 25%. As the routine is getting stronger, as the faith is growing, I am now on a path that will likely lead to success. And beyond.
 
When I am done, I shall gladly tell you all about it.
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Boris Gelfand Lecture at XtraCon Open

August 8th, 2016 11 comments

During XtraCon Open in Helsingor, Boris and I enjoyed a bit too much of the free buffet food (gosh I look fat; luckily the diet has already begun) and a two hour lecture about the writing of Positional Decision Making in Chess. No spoilers from the book though… All of it was original material.

The Boris Gelfand Q&A – The Answers

August 8th, 2016 22 comments

During XtraCon Open in Helsingor, Denmark, I got to spend some time together with Boris Gelfand, face to face, for the first time since the Tromso Olympiad. Since then we have written two books together.

The most important thing we did was of course to get around to answer all of your questions. It took a little longer than we expected (Boris refused to be effective, wanted to be generous with his time instead), but anyway, here are the two videos.

I was not sure if I should mention people by name. I decided against it, as it gave me the freedom to rephrase the questions at time. Hope getting them answered was the main thing!

Can a normal person become a titled player, even a GM?

May 17th, 2016 50 comments

I was asked this question (rephrased) on Facebook a few days ago. I felt that the right place to offer my opinion would be here. It will be an answer with a few points.

a) First of all, the answer is probably both yes and no. John and I are nothing special. I had “talent” for about 2200 and John maybe 1800. What I mean by this is that we got to these levels after playing chess for quite a number of years, but essentially just by playing. We did not study much before we hit the ceiling. This comes at different levels. For Luke McShane it came at 2600, while others face it at 1200 or 2100.

b) If you face the ceiling at 1200, I am honestly not so optimistic about you getting the GM title. I like to play music and I spend a lot of my time trying to improve, but I am not under the illusion that I will ever reach a professional level. This does not mean that it does not have tremendous value for me, it does. I love it.

c) The main issue with my musical ability is not that I do not have the talent of Prince or the educational possibilities of Mozart (home schooled by one of the greatest musicians of the time, his father). The real problem is more to do with the ‘10,000 hours rule’, as outlined by Malcolm Gladwell. (I know this is highly controversial, but let’s at least for the moment say that the idea of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is a good indicator of how difficult it is to learn something). I do not have five years of 2,000 hours to invest. I maybe practice 3-4 hours a week on average, 10+ hours on a good week and only 1 hour of fooling around the last few weeks. Progress is understandably slow.

The question of talent

We have debated this from time to time here on the blog. It seems clear that talent exists and Read more…

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The stress of moving house

April 22nd, 2016 10 comments

An adult has a resting heart rate between 60 and 80 usually. This is the normal range. If you are unfit, your heart rate is often higher. If you are very physically active, you get a lower rate. Below 57 is called “athlete” in some graphics I have seen, which I think is too optimistic. Let’s call it physically active.

Anyway, moving house is supposed to be stressful, up there with divorce and death in the family. I recently had the easiest house move in history. I moved from a flat to a town house in the same building. Actually, when I moved in, the van was parked further away from the flat than the house is. On top of this I had good time, 10 days to do it in, and full understanding from my employer. I had friends that helped carrying stuff across and my mother came to visit, helping packing everything down and most of the stuff out again.

It was very stress-free, compared to other house moves I have been involved in. Still, there is a markedly change in my resting heart rate over the period, peaking on the last day of moving house. As I wear a Fitbit Surge, I have been able to track it clearly. It was something of an eye-opener.

Strees from moving

 

Only today I am getting back to exercise, so the reason for the heart rate not getting below 60 again is easy to explain. But the leap was rather excessive. Yes, the last 66 was the last day of moving…

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