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Archive for February, 2018

Four types of Decisions

February 27th, 2018 5 comments

Nikos was recently in Glasgow, so we recorded a few short videos where we are bullying each other and talking about the four different types of decisions we make while playing chess and how we can train them. Incidentally, I have a column in American Chess Magazine based on the same idea. Obviously I also talk about it and a lot of other things in Thinking Inside the Box, which has been out in paperback for a little while now.

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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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