Sunday, January 27, 2013

Competitive Chess Training Part 5 - Understanding of Talent

In the last article we've discussed the stages of a players progression and development. By now you should have somewhat of a road-map. Now, I was gonna talk about something completely different but this week I want to discuss "talent" and what role it plays in chess.

Understanding talent in competition is important because an assumption of a given player's potential can drastically influence the effort of performance. This article will be good or bad depending on your agenda. It will be good as it dispells a few myths about natural limitations, while at the same time it will relieve you of any excuse and possibly overwhelm you as to what effort it takes to be successful at the game, on and off the board.

So first lets identify what talent is. I think of talent as a natural feature. Many people like to think of talent as a sort of intangible essence allowing a person to easily succeed. While this is true at the stretch of the imagination, it's an extension of something much simpler. My argument is simply that not all talented people will succeed depending on a variety of factors both internal and external.

The point I would like to elaborate is that I don't believe anyone is truly "talented at chess". We are all talented and unique in some specific way. So what makes a player appear to be born to win at chess. Aside from some particular effort and experience a person can use their talents as an advantage or tool to their chess game. A creative person can design amazing tactics or combination while a person with great focus will be able to analyze critical details of a given position above expectation. The key is that they are creative or they have good vision. These are talents that can be applied to many activities and not chess chess.

No matter what talent you possess you must make it a factor of the game in a way that favors you. You always want to make your advantage the dominating theme of the game. Even if you don't win you will perform with more confidence and gusto. In addition and it will be easier to overview you games to see where you can improve.

Truth is, if you accept that your potential in chess is limited because you aren't talented, your ability to use your talents to their full potential will be dictated by your opponent. It can take years to hours to discover your talents depending on how honest and involved you are and there's no secret trick. Unfortunately for those who are withdrawn, it can be difficult for overly introverted people to discover more of themselves. Not saying that introverted people can't discovered their talents, more or less an outgoing person will more often put themselves in  a better position to test their strengths and weaknesses.


Big Fish Games

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Your chess name

1. Take your middle name.. it is now your first

2. Take the first 2 letters of your former first name and the first 3 letters of your last name.
combine those. It is now your last name

3. Enter a chess tourney with that name and watch you win.

I am... Alexander MaDaw

Big Fish Games

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Competitive Chess Training Part 4 - The Milestones of a players progression

Last article I discussed practicing habits that will help a player make practical improvements. Of course everything we've gone over is pretty much amateur hour. Don't get me wrong... the basics are essential for any serious player. However it's important to remember that you've basically jumped from beginner to a more intermediate tier. With that said you can expect the future articles to be geared towards the tournament player.

Those of you who are looking for a more in depth and serious interested in chess will likely find more delight in the future articles. This, however does not completely isolate the casual chess enthusiast. Information here will still be easily understandable to the most basic players. As I mentioned I won't be teaching chess tactics... that's what your handy dandy text books are for.

What's important for any growing professional is to know where you are, where you're heading and goals to meet along the way. Personally for me I prefer to break down player development into groups. So for this article I would like to introduce a sort of flow chart.

Beginner - Understanding the rules of the game. How do you win. What piece moves where.

Novice - Understanding the idea of strategy in chess. Tricks and tips. This is where you creatively visualize in-game tricks. Building a nice position. Creating an interesting combination. Success isn't really prominent here but players will begin to express themselves as competitors.

Intermediate - An educated chess player will reside around this area. This is where a player decides he wants to fill in some of the gaps in their development by investing in their knowledge. It's not until a player reaches this state where they understand how far they truly stand. The danger is where a play may choose to max-out at this stage.

Advanced - This is where an intermediate or educated chess player will learn some of the patience and discipline of the game.  An intermediate player may still tend to break away from their plans. A more advanced player begins to put together a major portion of their refined fundamental knowledge and will play more bold. You'll see more (! - a good move) in their analysis. It will be common for an advance player to create true threats amongst professional players for short periods of time. Honestly while 60% of players will fail to reach this state it is reachable by anyone through commitment.

Semi professional - Very comparable to a professional player in terms of skill and creativity. The major difference between an advanced player and semi-professional is having insight on more definitive long-term development of a in-game series. Being able to play game winning moves instead of momentarily satisfying developments. Their game-play will come together as a whole or they may pursue a career in non competitive chess environments such as authoring. Some will argue this is the state where talent alone will allow this plateau to be reached however I believe a player can reach this state at a minimal if time, devotion, and means are present.

Professional - A consistent mindset with a wealth of knowledge. While blunders will still occur in any players game, the ability to recognize in-game and make viable fixes is present - and not only after. A semi-professional player will take satisfaction in such post-game diagnosis.

Master - This is more or less where a player can reach GM IM titles.


Big Fish Games

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Gaming Resources

1.  RecordMyDesktop - (Linux only) A nice easy to use desktop recorder. You can click and drag over any designated area on your screen. Down side is long time recorder may require a bit of saving time immediately after.

2. OpenshotVideo Editor - (Linux only) Another super easy go to video recorder. Downside is it can interupt for no reason at all. Save often!

3. OnlineVideoConverter - (website application) A great resourceful tool for a variety of file types and conversions. Down side is basically it is riddled with annoying popup advertisements. Some can be mistaken for application buttons. Clever idea.

4. About.com - (website) Awesome information site for anything especially gaming and technology. Makes a great online news magazine as it has a quick and painless and absolutely free subscription. Downside is the potency of your email updates in comparison to the site itself. Better search the site while your there.

Some good starter tools for your gaming toolbox

Big Fish Games

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Competitive chess Training Part 3 - Learning how to practice

I my last article I talked about Investing in Developing an education for chess. Hopefully this discussion may have helped with the ever confusing topic of "where to start?"or "what books should I buy?". So now that you have your book and you are going through your information you may think... it cant be that easy can it? Well yes... and absolutely not. In fact the most crippling roadblock of any student is knowing How to practice.

Practicing is indeed a very simple concept misunderstood. We know the benefits of practicing a lot but very rarely do we actually practice. There goes a saying that "practice makes perfect". While this makes a point as to it's importance, I truly believe the correct phrase is "practice makes permanent". Many players feel that by constantly playing games eventually you'll get better. This might happen... quite similar to rolling dice.

Here are a few tips

1. Eliminate multitasking and practice concepts
I mentioned in my last article the importance of fully understanding each and every basic element of your academia. This is what separates the pro's from the amateurs. Once you cover a single core concept you should be spending your practice time putting knowledge into play.  Advantages are useless if you don't understand the importance and can't seem to improve your play with that aspect.

Multitasking is a very dangerous practice because it makes it near impossible to diagnose the root of your problems.

2. Don't practice to win... practice to execute.
If you practice correctly you will eventually build yourself a city of solid walls, great defense and a set of reliable offense tools. The great thing about practicing to correctly execute different elements is because you will be surprised how quickly you improve in competition and also how seemly abstract concepts seem practical.

Practicing to win only teaches you how to win the matches you are familiar with (leaving a lot of improvement to chance).

3. Solving puzzles develops tournament level tricks.
Solving puzzles are simply a great way of developing offensive analysis skills. Therefore I recommend always having an unused puzzle book at your disposal.

In higher level competitions simply playing basic will prevent you from advancing while your opponent builds a breakdown strategy. Chess is not for the passive.

4. If you have to think about it you don't really know it.
Keep practicing until it's second nature.

5. No substitution
Take advantage of everything practicing and studying has to offer. Every pawn has it's square.

Practice thoroughly and frequently. When you have free time simply ponder about the aspect's you've learned. Never let what you'v learned go to waste. As always have fun. Happy practicing!!!


Big Fish Games

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shoutouts To Affiliates and Sponsors

First of all, I would like to thank all of my readers for supporting my work. I feel really great about chess taking of for me both in a competitive and community aspect. I promise to everyone I will do everything I can to make chess more exciting and also to support the esport community as best as I can.

I am also to make a few shoutouts.

First goes to vVv Gaming this is one of the best gaming communities I have ever been apart of. I've  met lots of really cool and talented gamers here. My whole outlook and experienced has expanded far beyond I could imagine. I look forward to great things from them.

Second google is awesome! You guys are teh bestest eva!

Also shoutouts to Big Fish Games a recent affiliate of mine. Thank you so much for accepting my sponsorship request. And for everyone, seriously check out this site. Best casual gaming site every. Great wide variety of games.

Once again thank you all <3

Big Fish Games

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Competitive chess Training Part 2 - Becoming an Educated Player

In my last article I talked about Investing an appropriate amount of time in your chess game. If you haven't read this article I strongly recommend you do, as it is perhaps the most important article I will be discussing. If nothing else, it is critical to properly set the tone for your career rather it's chess, gaming, or just about any occupation available you may pursue. Now, with that said lets get to the second part.

So now that you have decided to devote x amount of time and you are in the zone you are probably looking to develop some skills. I can only speak from experience but I feel the best way to get started is actually to mess around. You can pick up a chess board and learn the rules of the game. I actually feel it's good to pick your brain a bit before actually learning tactics and strategy from a 3rd party resource. It's probably good mental exercise for you anyway to see what you can come up with just off of common sense. I'm assuming that you have access to a computer. So if you don't have an actual chess board or another person to play against, there are a wide variety of chess sites that will let you play against the computer or other people virtually. Remember you are not really trying to break ELO records here. You will likely make plenty of simple errors. The whole idea is to walk before you run and just have complete reckless abandon. Comeon!!! You're a secret weapon! A world champion in the making! People just don't know how oh so Pro you are yet.

Even though you are pro... it's good to watch other pros. Learning the history of competitive chess is one of the best ways to appreciate skill that goes into the game. Again this should be fun to watch in terms of suspense amongst champions. It's also interesting to see how the lifestyle, rivalries and politics of the classic players have influenced the game as well as the world. You can find software, or read about these historic battles but it's also a good idea to watch the actual video and documentaries.

*several YEARS pass by*

okay... By now you're probably tired of just being creative and losing games for absolutely no apparent reason. You want to step up your game and play like a pro. Time to invest a little bit into your resources. Don't worry... you won't be breaking the bank. But getting the right chess information can be tricky. Most books and sources teaches information that would suit a prodigy player who had a coach for several years and taught them all the terminology but no tactics. For the rest of the 99.9% of you guys here's a little tip... start with a childrens level book. Most players have a hard time eating crow when it comes to books labeled for amateurs or children. Lets face it though, we're all amateurs when we start and some of us will remained skilled amateurs for the entirety of our lifetime. My first book was chess for kids which taught a few cool chess patterns and ideas... I then worked my way to the amazingly simple Jeremy Silman Reassess your chess book which taught me how to read the board. Whichever book you choose be sure that it's incredibly simple to digest and should instead of providing you with tricks, force you to change the way you think when you play the game. You will want to treat this like a super easy textbook. You should read practice and digest the information to the point where you accidently think about these chess concepts out of the blue. In other words...This is not a quick read. This will be your foundation and if you skim through you may find yourself having to start over several times. Best way to do it is to give yourself a year to master the book. Go section by section repeating if the faintest issue is not clear (This is actually the secret to mastering). Not trying to win but to perfect your craft. By the time you're halfway through your book, you'll be surprised at what crazy maneuvers you will be able to execute with fundamentals, a little creativity and common sense alone. I'd guess and say 60% of the people you'll play in competition will lack basic fundamentals but have gotten by a few inexperienced players through intelligence familiarity and cute tricks. A solid foundation alone will dominate this 60% 9/10. Good to know, isn't it?

A few key notes on picking your title
1. Don't rely on chess opening books.(Openings are tools you will spend a career/lifespan developing. They will serve you later)
2. Look for keywords such as Amateur, beginner, for kids, understanding the board etc. (learn to follow before you lead)
3. Contains a vast amount of actual text with chapter titles highlighting various elements of the game.
4. Avoid "for dummies" (Great for a converse amount of information but generic concepts generally lacks fine points only discovered at higher levels of play)
5. Middle game is important!!!

*about a year later*

So now you are educated. Well done! You can continue to study more "sophisticated" literature for chess fundamentals if you so wish. The important thing is to accompany your wealth of knowledge with actually in-game experience. Playing basic perfectly is good. Now you can pile on the auxiliary information. Tactics will be available in a much wider variety of content such as youtube vids, chess site tips articles. If you know just how pro you are subscribing to some magazines and staying up to date is always a good idea. Asking questions on the forums are a great way to get specific issues addressed

I also recommend investing in puzzlebooks. They are a good cheap time-filler for practice and you usually get your moneys worth. They are also a great confidence booster as I work through a few puzzles before actually playing in tourneys. You should always have an unused puzzle book available.


So now this should keep you busy for a bit. If you have any questions post them right below. As always have fun!!!

Next Discussion >> Comming soon 
Online chess