Author Archives: NigelD

About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in Southport in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days he teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 13 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game.

The Tiger Chess Endgame Course

Further to my post yesterday on the Tiger Chess Strategy Course, here’s how the Tiger Chess Endgame Course works. Once again it is included with the £4.95 Full Membership fee and provides an easy and very thorough way to learn the endgame:

Nigel Davies


The Tiger Chess Strategy Course

I’ve been introducing a lot of new features at my Tiger Chess site with the aim of making it a one stop improvement venue for those who’ve had enough of gimmicks. Amongst these is a 160 week strategy course which aims to provide an in depth education in chess strategy.

Each lesson addresses a particular subject which is then illustrated by two videos of relevant and interesting games. At the end of the lesson members are asked to consider when and how this theme featured in their own games, a process which helps digestion of the material.

Here’s a Youtube video which explains more, this and many other features are included in the modest £4.95 monthly membership fee.

Nigel Davies


Blindfold Chess

A controversial improvement method is to play blindfold chess. Blindfold exhibitions were banned in the Soviet Union in 1930 because they were thought to be a health hazard, though I have yet to see any evidence that this is true. And I’ve found that it has helped my own game to practice visualizing ahead in my mind rather than moving the pieces on the board.

Here’s a recent blindfold exhibition by Magnus Carlsen in which he takes on three opponents simultaneously. A bit of a walk in the park for him, but entertaining nonetheless:

Nigel Davies


Your Chess Environment

Something that chess improvers rarely consider is the quality of their chess environment. Who are they playing against and mixing with? And are these influences good or bad?

This can be a huge factor in an overall improvement plan, it’s important to be part of the best peer group you can find. Without this a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings can creep in. Are the Latvian Gambit and Morra great for improving because they develop tactical skill? Are you sure about that?

For some there’s no such problem of course. A nationally recognised talent will, in many countries, be well looked after and groomed for success. They’ll get the best trainers, be flown to the best tournaments and receive a good helping of support. At least they will in India!

With this in mind here’s a name to watch out for, young Nihal Sarin. He’s been blazing a trail at U10 level and in a country that loves and respects chess talent he’s an odds on favourite to do very well.

Nigel Davies


Does Chess Require Intelligence?

One question that occurred to me during recent controversies about the ‘female brain’ was whether chess required intelligence in the first place. There is a widespread assumption that it does and there are many players who are very smart. Yet on the other hand I’ve met many excellent players who are not particularly clever at all.

Searching around for studies I came across this one by Merim Bilalic and Peter McLeod. Amongst their surprising findings they discovered a negative correlation between intelligence and rating in their ‘elite group’. On the other hand there was a strongly positive correlation between rating and practice.

This is what I figured, the essence of skill is dedication and practice. This in turn will be most significantly affected by the drop out rate, and it does seem that chess is not always a girl-friendly environment.

Here anyway is a documentary from National Geographic which features Susan Polgar. Interesting:

Nigel Davies


Sun Tzu, Chess & War

I found this documentary interesting, especially the comparisons between chess and go in their applications to warfare. My view is that chess wasn’t actually designed as a war game at all, and that instead it evolved from fortune telling rituals. This would certainly explain why chess thinking doesn’t necessarily work so well if applied to military scenarios.

Nigel Davies


Rules And Fair Play

The news last week that Wesley So was defaulted for ‘using notes’ during one of his games came as a shock to many chess fans, and especially when the full story emerged. Here are details of what happened from Chess24 with So being interviewed:

Q: What happened yesterday?

A: I wrote something beside my scoresheet on a piece of paper – just to focus during the game, which was a reminder for me to play hard – but apparently the rules don’t allow it so I lost the game yesterday.

Q: According to the arbiter he had warned you about it before…

A: I wrote it on my scoresheet before. He told me you can only write draw offers or the times or the results on the scoresheet, so I brought a piece of paper with me this time, but my logic didn’t work out.

Q: Is that a normal habit of yours?

A: Yes, unfortunately it has been a habit for me for a long time – for years actually – and I did it a lot in the past, in Tata Steel, almost all my tournaments. Nothing was working for me in this tournament, so I thought I’d go back to my old habit. This tournament has been a nightmare for me, so I just want it to be finished.

Was what So did illegal and deserving of a forfeit? Well the FIDE regulations can be seen here, with the following being the relevant rule:

“12.3: During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse on another chessboard.”

Is it just me in thinking that this would this seem to be about chess notes, such as a file of opening variations? Was the arbiter being sensible and measured in giving a forfeit when lesser penalties such as a time deduction were possible? And was it fair of So’s opponent to seek arbitration rather than just playing the game? I will leave it up to the reader to decide.

As far as chess improvers are concerned I’d suggest trying to stay on the right side of the law wherever possible so as to avoid hassle during your games. Meanwhile it’s better not to distract or lower oneself by trying to use technicalities unless you have been genuinely affected by your opponent’s actions. It should be the moves that should count with the rules serving the goal of fair play.

Nigel Davies


Chess Improvement Takes A While

Chess improvement takes a while, just as you can’t master the violin overnight. The 10,000 hours rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell still seems reasonable for chess, despite studies that show it may not be universally applicable. Ability counts as well of course, but there’s no substitute for dedication.

So why is it that most people look for short cuts, despite the evidence to the contrary? I suspect there’s a lot of hope in this, plus the fact that most adults struggle to find time for pursuits such as chess. It tends to be a lot easier to find time when you’re young and don’t have other responsibilities.

Of course it’s possible to study the right things more efficiently, and I do believe we can shave a good percentage of that 10,000 hours away. It’s also possible to make good progress with less time than that, as long as the focus is on what counts. This was one of my main motivations in creating my Tiger Chess web site, I wanted to shorten the process for serious improvers.

How long does it take? Well for people who can dedicate an hour or so a day to chess it’s possible to notch up a thousand hours in three years. If those three years feature a focus on the right things (tactics, strategy and endgames) then quite substantial progress is possible. Who does this? Not many, which is of course why it’s the route to an edge. Generally speaking adult players spend very little quality time actually studying the game, they are far more likely to chat about it online and buy another openings book.

So what does my web site offer? Well I’ve just launched a 160 week endgame course to add to the 160 week strategy course that has been running for a while. Plus there’s a monthly clinic for members games, book recommendations, articles etc etc. But be warned, there’s not a single promise of how you can become X points stronger in Y amount of time, in other words a sales guru’s nightmare!

Not that this will distract me…

Nigel Davies