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

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