A Broad View of Improvement

Since this is “The Chess Improver” I believe it worthwhile to spend bit of our valuable time discussing what improvement, and specifically chess improvement, is.

Until a few years ago I would have defined “improvement” as an increase in my official rating (or grading; I shall try and appeal to readers of all national persuasions). I was moderately obsessed with this number, having shepherded it from 1198 after my first tournament in 1981 to the heights of 1825 (USCF Class A; oooh-rah!) in 1990 and back down to the 1600s in the 2000s. If you think that’s too many numbers in a sentence, I agree.

The revelation that freed me from this mental tyranny was an excruciating loss (blundering in a “won” rook ending) one midnight at the local club that cost me the remainder of the 60-point increase I had gained through a great deal of study and effort over a year’s time. All of that was gone with the wind in two tournaments, and I had a headache to boot. On my way out I announced “I’m never doing this again” and I never have.

I have loved playing chess since teaching myself as a 12-year-old, and I love to compete, test myself, give an all-out effort and yes, win (and like all the greats, I hate to lose. I just do it more often). Over the last few years I have developed a new appreciation of chess improvement, of how work and growth in chess might carry over to other areas of life.

My special interest is in the brain and mind as instrument–how to train, motivate, energize and perform at your best as often as possible. I have read of and tried a great many techniques and systems of mental, physical, spiritual and emotional improvement and hope to offer you, Gentle Reader, something that fits with who you are and adds a little zest, a little edge, a little more joy to your chess, and your life

That’s my broad definition of improvement, which I hope to explore with you in future posts.