Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chess Talent and Titles

One frequent question comes up in chess and most performance based aveneus. "Can anyone become a master, or is it birth talent?". Not only is it often asked, but it's heavily debated to this day.

To get the obvious out of the way. Possible is a dangerous keyword. It is possible that every top skilled player gets sick long enough for you to meet requirements held by the federation. The odds of that happening makes that argument unrealistic. The real question is "Can anyone develop the skills required to reach a level needed to win a Master title". My answer lies somewhere to a combination of factors and I lean to the answer of "no".

Many top players will often take the stance that talent itself is only one of many barriers, if not requirements. A second issue is nurture. Growing up with the "right" influence makes a significant deal on how you exploit your talents. That is not to say having a chessboard shoved to you at a young age will make much difference. The key is not chess as much as "mastery". Mastery at chess can be developed outside of chess itself at a young age. Learning to solve or at least approach problems analytically at a young age makes a major difference. Sometimes this works out better if you are encouraged and have a cast of motivators throughout your life. Sometimes you learn by beating the odds and making ends meet. It's all about how you exploit your talents in the here and now.

Skill itself can be taught and learned, often by will. So asking if anyone can become a "good", or "knowledgeable" chess player, the answer most definitely is yes. However, not anyone can, by odds, have the perfect set of talents, right training path, motivation to develop skills, and competitive opportunity to thread the needle. That is why masters are defined with the requirements they are.

So where does this leave you? Well, who's to say you are anyone? Who's to say you can't thread the needle. Your situation may seem so off-target that it seems impossible, but who cares really. No one will really if you were talented until it's all said and done and even then... You can't predict the future and it's too late to change the past. Instead, be confident and play the game you love and develop your mastery of the game.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Best Way to Improve Concentration

A big question is how does one keep their mental composure when playing chess... or perhaps doing anything in life.

Sure, when you're on a roll you're on a roll. What happens when things get complicated? Your whole focus tends to break down. You make a move and seconds later you think... "gah I can't believe I overlooked that important detail". Then it goes to... "I hope they don't see that mistake". Then it goes "how do I make up for that blunder".

Concentrating can make all the difference. Even if you blunder horribly, if you concentrate hard you can still win the war on attrition by keeping your opponent on edge and making up lost ground.

So what is the best way to concentrate? Well... concentration often starts before the match. Practicing good structure to your thinking goes a long way. Good structure to thoughts are applied to each move not just to some. Just because you have blundered or the situation looks completely foreign, it doesn't mean sticking to your thought structure will prove any less valid.

Armatures tend to break away from their practice is scary situations. Sometimes it's safer play, sometimes riskier gambles. Regardless of the direction, the intent is always negligible and tends to domino uncontrollably. That means you giving the keys to your opponent.

So with all things said and done practicing structure to your ideas is key. The practicing part engraves this into your system so your knee-jerk reaction is using your brain and not just your nerves. If you find yourself not concentrating... slowdown. Forget the clock... for a moment, and add a bit of structure. It will save you time in following up and will, if nothing else, give you direction.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chess Clock, winning and Ethics

You are down a piece or 2 and at a decisive disadvantage. However, the time on their side has expired. You can either claim win or press on. What should you do?
To many, this question is more than a little deal. So is it okay to cash in? Is that the right thing to do? Like many answers in life it depends... On the other hand the most difficult choices are also simple at times

Why are you playing the game?

90% of the time if you know the goal of playing the game to begin with, the answer is a bit obvious. As far as I am concerned, if it is a tournament match I will claim without hesitation. Honestly I play with the confidence that losses are due to mistakes, not my ceiling. My goal is playing to win. Perhaps my opponent is a better player than me overall. However, I am apparently better at winning in the moment and that's what the tournament is designed to tell.
Many unrated games I start are for practicing specific elements in my play to improve. Even though they are indeed unrated, my goal is to focus, learn and win. The difference is that I will benefit very little by claiming a win where in tournament I am expected to overcome the situation (Most players playing to win aren't so careless). Since there is no tangible nor practical benefit to clicking a button where the situation is quite rare, I tend to play on. If my opponent however is stalling and I have proved the point I am aiming towards I will claim the victory. Perhaps I have not found the best answer and I may have walked into a trap, however that is why it is important to analyze your games anyways.

Should I not claim a win in tourney If I am trying to prove myself?

Taking the highroad in tourney does not make you a schmuck. Your goal for entering the tourney may be to prove to yourself or practice as opposed to earning the win. Again, it all comes down to knowing why you play to begin with.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Difference between 1800 vs 1300 player

It's a frequently asked question. What is the difference between the amateur, intermediate, and expert player. As far as the amateur and intermediate comparison stands the elo often compares the 1300 (Usually rough default elo) vs 1800. While this is not always the case we'll use the commonly accepted comparison for the basis of this argument

So what is the fundamental difference between the two? Well, the best way to objectively look at this is to understand what the ratings actually stands for. Lets say a player cannot beat (on average) a player of 1300 rating. This means all players new to the league or players unable to win games against newer or higher rated players. Meaning on average players 1200 or below are prey because they are not skilled enough to average wins against the average class. So the ability to beat players within the standard mold of untrained or inexperienced players signifies the ceiling of this players capability. What this means is generally players lurking around 1300 elo are either improperly trained or un disciplined all together.

Now lets take a look at players above the fold. When 2 players play each other the one with the stronger training tends to win. I know... sounds obvious right? Believe it or not it's heavily overlooked and dismissed. If a player that is 1300 is un-disciplined or lacking fundamentals and this is the ceiling, that must mean the player capable of winning against this player frequently (which requires some formal skill-set or discipline) is in the very next class up. Keeping in mind that the ELO is very dependent on the no. of games played the average elo stc...

As far as 1800 is concerned... at best I can argue that the beginning expert mark is generally 1800-2000. Naturally 2000 is the choke elo... because players tend to want to dogfight to reach the big 2k. So to compete around this elo requires the mental & emotional endurance in addition to the skill-set

Ultimately, this is generally for spectator amusement. Nothing is concrete about this comparison but I felt like attempting to put a bit of logic to the matter.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recent thoughts

Right now I feel proud over my chess game.

Sometime a little bit over a few months ago, things in chess has completely changed. I feel like there was a box style of play that no matter how much I studied and learned I was always stuck in an almost amateur style play, which was frustrating since my knowledge of the game felt extensive.

The last few months I've been playing so much better. It doesn't really feel like a hot streak. My focus in chess has become deeper from position to position. In fact my general understanding of the game has competitively evolved from an advanced amateur to a semi-professional.

It may be that I've pushed my creative and analytic skills the extra mile. It may also be that experience has finally kicked in and I've learned to adapt to the situation at hand. This may be the fundamental of practicing so much taking it's toll.

One way or another I feel like a real chess player and maybe just at the beginning of playing like a top level player. I don't like to say that I'm a "good chess player" as good is somewhat of a perspective, but I have confidence playing against anyone including 2K+ opponents. I am currently playing a few games against more top match players and hopefully I will be able to pull off a few more impressive victories.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recent Activity

Just checking in with a few of my strong performances against high match players

Enjoy!

The home of Email Chess on the web!
The home of Email Chess on the web!
The home of Email Chess on the web!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Learning at an older Age

Hello all, I hope everyone is off to a great year so far. It's good to be back and right away I want to address and itching question.

An interesting topic that comes across in chess (or any competitive or skill-based craft) is understanding how improvement and progress REALY works. Everyone knows that time practice and experience are critical and often outweighs most academic theories when competing at the highest of levels.

Lets look at 2 players. Player A started playing chess at the age of 7 years and player B started playing chess at the age of 15. It's in fact, not uncommon that after a few years of practice and experience player A will appear to have an unnatural and talented advantage over player B. This will apply should both players be of same age or either player is older.

Okay, so let's look at this from a personal and human angle, because of course at the end of the day we are all human... although some of us are quite immortal. One must understand people in order to unlock the secret.

Player B will have the advantage of a more mature and holistic look than player A. This is because he presumably has experienced 8 more years of life (more importantly teen years) before he has experienced chess competitively. He has been molded into a sophisticated young man with finer qualities than his counter subject. He knows what's right and what's wrong, what works and what doesn't, and he knows what being punished and being rewarded is all about.

So this, on paper gives player B a massive advantage over player A. Of course there is much more at work than what's happening on one side of this fence. Player A has an often over-looked and while not a more sizable advantage, a much more applicable and effective advantage. Player A has not ruled out the less interesting details of the game. His mind is in the process of exploration and in his earlier years he will absorb information like a sponge until he is molded (often by society) to stop nitpicking and pay attention to the big picture. However, by this time around his teen years he has accumulated an extra few years of garbage that make up his inner moldings. Any criminal or investigator will tell you garbage is far from useless in solving real world problems.

So... we see now from this example, player A, should he devote consistent (even so much as an half-an-hour of unstructured daily training) his advantage is quite literally unfair. There are some things he will not have to think about doing because it's what he's been doing. Any training is just extra that both players will require effort to utilize and ingrain. Not to mention player A will not experience the shock factor of changes because he is used to it. Player B has been burned by real world changes he will need to hesitate and weigh every decision similar to asking a girl out or what to tell his parents about his failed exam.

So all hope is lost correct? Wrong, the solution is in the problem. We need to reverse engineer the situation here.  How do we do that? We need a child-like imagination. We need to spend more time playing for fun laughing and joking with people we care about. We need to experiment and investigate out of curiosity and not out of obligation for improvement. Our goal should be an unrealistic and paradise vision. The academic concepts are important but without any execution they are simply food for thought. Once we do this we will break down some of our moldings (discretionary) and relive our child hood. This will indeed (with some effort and will to let go) not only provide a second chance but a second chance with the benefits of the holistic view.

Never refuse to have fun at what you do. Want to be average at your job? Just go for your paycheck. Want to become better at what you do? Read, youtube, or ask about informational or even humorous stories and try new things in you spare time. Above all learn to have fun!  

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