Category Archives: Articles

The Mystery Of Magnus Carlsen’s Genius And Dominance In Chess

I have been thinking more about how the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen wins his games and must admit that it does not make sense to me. I have read quite a number of times that Carlsen just grinds out wins from drawn positions or simple positions. Let’s analyse that? In an age where computers are much more powerful that humans and it is much easier to understand the game aided by a training partner of Super Grandmaster strength, how is it that a player can dominate players with such a simple strategy.  A strategy so simple that many years ago could perhaps have been laughable?  Is such a strategy not too simple for the age we live in? We now have 7 piece endgame tablebases. Of course there is only so much that the memory can hold but Carlsen has has been holding his own with an approach to the game that would in theory be suicidal.

I propose that it should be much simpler to prepare for Carlsen than a Garry Kasparov or Fabiano Caruana. Even more mystifying for me is the fact that Carlsen is known to play many openings despite not being an opening expert. Should such a strategy not put him at a clear disadvantage playing rivals who have been using specific lines for a very long time?

Should the simpler positions from Carlsen in theory not be much easier to play than complicated positions? How then do players constantly lose their way against Carlsen? We are talking not just any players but super grandmasters, the very best in the world. They cannot play out the drawn positions against Carlsen to prove that they are indeed draws.

If we were to try and explain Carlsen in other sporting terms let’s say tennis, it could be the equivalent of a very good player whose chances of winning the match increase when he gets his ball in. Not when he serves fast or down the line, just serves a ball that goes and the play continues. Would such an approach, maybe it might but it would be just too risky.

Or let’s try and use soccer. How would a team winning with a Carlsen type strategy. Perhaps that could be, keep the ball in play. Do not aim for space advantage early on in the game. Just keep the ball in play and over time outplay the opposition. I doubt very much that any tennis player or soccer team would be comfortable with these kinds of strategies. It just gives the opposition too many options in terms of dictating.

Do players lose concentration against Carlsen as he ready to play for hours? Carlsen is not known for any kind of psychological warfare over the board or any kind of gamesmanship that could perhaps be getting him some cheap points. On the contrary Carlsen is but intimidating over the chess board. He does not seem to show much emotion in his games.

In some ways Carlsen is possibly the Capablanca of our times. Like Carlsen, Capablanca who had a very simple opening repertoire and spent minimal time on it. In fact Capablanca seemed to spend much less time on chess than say Alexander Alekhine, a contemporary of his.  However, once Capabanca got into the middle game or endgame with a simple game, most of the time he won. In fact Capablanca was so dominant in his time that when he lost a game after some years, that actually made headlines.

If you look at the last world championship between Magnus Carlsen and Vishwanathan Anand, Anand was constantly trying to complicate positions or use his deep opening preparation. Why would an Anand with all his vast experience not be comfortable with simplified positions that are probably less taxing for him calculation wise.

If we can agree that one key thing in chess strength is patten recognition. The more patterns a player recognises the higher their chances of finding the strongest move. In that case I would argue that much older and mature players than Carlsen should have an advantage as positions become simpler and less complicated. Why? Because they have been playing chess much longer and are more likely to have experience in such positions.

Then again, if it were so easy to play Magnus Carlsen, he wouldn’t be top of the rankings, world champion in three different formats of the game Classical, Rapid, and Blitz. I don’t know if such a feat has been achieved before. Perhaps we will need to dig more to solve the mystery of Carlsen’s magical play or simply admit that he is so much better than everyone else.

Bruce Mubayiwa

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Algorithms, The Movie

Chess movies and documentaries can be annoying for the connoisseur, not least because the spirit of the game can be changed to suit a kitsch Hollywood story line. But this one looks interesting, exploring the World of chess for the blind. A review can be found here, and this is the official trailer:

Nigel Davies

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The First Move Is The Most Important Move

Chess players are sometimes asked by people who don’t know the game how many moves they look ahead. Of course, there is no answer to the question.

But you really do have to look at least one move ahead. The first move in your analysis is the most important move. Don’t miss something on move one.

For beginners and near-beginners , this means checking your move for blunders.  Does my move blunder away material? Hopefully, this will become second-nature so that as you get more experience, your subconscious will blunder check without the need to consciously check.

As you get more experienced, you can ask yourself some new questions.

Three good questions to ask are :-

What is my opponent trying to do?

What is the most important thing in the position?

What possibilities are open to me?

Your opponent makes half of the moves in the game. You can’t ignore half of the moves in a game. You have to find out why your opponent is playing the moves he plays.

You have to find out what the most important thing in the position is, It is little use worrying about doubled b pawns if your opponent is about to put both his rooks on your seventh rank.

You have to know what possibilities are open to you. If you don’t, then you won’t even get move one right in your analysis. Why waste effort looking five moves ahead, when you have a much better move on move one?

Sadly, no set of questions is going to be a foolproof way to play chess.

But if you train yourself to ask yourself these three questions, you might get move one of your analysis correct more often than you do now.

And the first move of your analysis is the most important move.

Steven Carr

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Chess with Chris and Kenny

Back to the Ruy Lopez next week unless anything else happens. Today there’s something different I have to share with you.

I returned from Richmond Junior Club last Saturday to see the sad news that one of my oldest chess friends and most regular opponents, Chris Clegg, had died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 66.

I’d known Chris for more than 40 years and saw him regularly at matches in the Thames Valley League between my club, Richmond, and his club, Kingston. We played six times in a decade between 1978 and 1987, and then, strangely a 22 year hiatus before four more recent encounters.

Chris started playing chess at his secondary school, taking part in junior tournaments and soon joining his local chess club where he remained for the rest of his life. Every time we played Kingston we knew he’d be there, captaining the team. If we were playing at Kingston he’d be the first to arrive to set up the furniture and equipment, and the last to leave, having put everything away. He’d even arrive early for away matches and help set everything up without asking or being asked. Chris would be at almost every tournament in the London area, arriving on his own and leaving on his own.

By profession he was a solicitor, but he retired very early. He had no family, living with his mother until she died some years ago. His other interest was bird watching. Chris was one of those highly intelligent, rather introverted people who tend very often to be drawn to chess. As his Kingston Chess Club colleague John Foley wrote in his obituary on the English Chess Forum, chess kept Chris going and Chris kept Kingston Chess Club going.

The chess world has always needed, and will continue to need, the likes of Chris Clegg. At his best he was a county standard player, a bit short of master strength. But, more importantly, he was an organiser who worked at a local level, never seeking fame or recognition. Chess isn’t just about producing grandmasters. Without dedicated organisers there would be no grandmasters and no chess.

Here’s an exciting game from a Thames Valley League match a few years ago in which both players missed wins.

But there was also good news recently: news that, as Bruce Mubayiwa reported on this site, Kenny Solomon has become South Africa’s first grandmaster. A great achievement in itself, but notable also for Kenny’s background, growing up in a township notorious for drug abuse and gang violence.

From his website:

“Kenny was exposed to gang culture from an early age. Kenny realised that if he didn’t create his own future, he would merely become a pawn in this scene, trapped in the violent, oppressive cycle of gangsterism. Strong family values and his early interest in chess kept him away from these influences and compelled him to make choices about his fate.

“After getting into chess at the age of 13, he would play blitz games with his older brother and a friend in the Solomons’ backyard, amidst lines of dripping washing.”

Note that he taught himself to play chess in his teens. Not starting young is no barrier to becoming a grandmaster.

Chris Clegg and Kenny Solomon, two very different people and two very different players, but united by their passion for chess. I’m not sure whether chess made either of them smarter but it had an enormous social impact on both of them. It enabled Kenny to escape from the gangs and drugs of a South African township, taking him to Europe where he married an Italian girl, and to grandmasterdom. It gave Chris a purpose in life and a means of connecting with an increasingly alien world (he never used the internet or even owned a mobile phone).

There’s something else they have in common as well. I don’t know when Chris learnt the moves: probabbly round about the age of 11, as we all did in those days. There’s a loss to Ray Keene from the 1961-62 London Under 14 Championship, possibly his first tournament, on chessgames.com. I would guess that they both started their obsession with chess at about the age of 13 or 14. Not at 7 or 8 as children do today.

Regular readers will know that I consider the social benefits of chess at least as important as the academic benefits, and that these benefits really kick in for older rather than younger children. I’ll leave you with a quote from a recent interview with the comedian Stewart Lee.

“But also the things that get you when you’re 13 or 14, that’s when you’re most susceptible and if you’re lucky enough to encounter a good thing when you’re 13 or 14, it will stay with you for your life.”

Chris and Kenny were both lucky enough to encounter a good thing when they were 13 or 14.

Richard James

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Developing Focus

The best chess players in the world have a great ability to focus on a position, using this well honed skill (their ability to focus) to concentrate on finding the winning move. Seasoned players can maintain focus for extended periods of time. The beginner, on the other hand, has trouble staying focused for any length of time. The ability to maintain focus eludes even the most enthusiastic and obsessive chess novice. The ability to focus must be learned like anything else, making it a skill. Can the ability to focus really be considered a skill? Absolutely! Like any skill, it requires training and practice. Here are some ideas to help develop your ability to focus, most of which take place away from the chessboard.

First off, don’t confuse memory with focus. Many beginners think that having a well stocked chess memory will give them an advantage, which it does to some extent. However, unless you can focus on the position at hand, a head full of memorized chess positions does you little good. It’s as if you have the pieces of the puzzle in your hand but you can’t put them together because you mind cannot clearly see them as individual components of the puzzle. Lack of focus equates to fuzzy thinking.

We’ll start our exploration of focus with a loose definition. I’m not going to site the Oxford Dictionary for the definition of focus but instead, give you an example of the level of focus you want to achieve. When I was seventeen, I was sitting in my bedroom reading a book. Suddenly, I found myself in the story. Instead of sitting on my bed reading, I was in the scene described in the book. I could see the most minute details described by the author. In short, I was part of the story. This is an example of a momentary high degree of focus. I’ve had the same experience watching certain movies. While this moment is often fleeting, it serves as an example of the type of focus I want you to strive for. Don’t simply play the game externally, be part of the game internally. Be one with the game. Absolute focus allows you to do this.

A wise chess teacher said that when you sit down to play chess, you should leave your day to day thoughts off of the board and concentrate only on the game. While this is true, it is difficult to do, especially when you haven’t developed a strong ability to focus. While we can run away from external situations that distract us we cannot run away from the internal distractions, namely our own thoughts. So how can we develop our focusing skills?

Start by reducing your sugar and caffeine intake. Sugar and Caffeine, friend to many a chess player, may artificially raise your energy level, making you feel as if your brain is functioning at a higher level (greater focus), but what goes up must come down. Once the sugar or caffeine effects start to wear off, you crash, which means your ability to concentrate becomes weaker (less focus). Stick to healthy foods prior to playing chess. Get plenty of rest because a brain deprived of sleep is not conducive to good chess.

The environment in which you play is also important. Quiet environments are the best places to develop you focusing skills. Environments with the least amount of external distractions, such as computers, televisions, etc, give your thought process fewer avenues of escape. Ideally, an empty room with only a table, chairs and chess set would be the best choice. However, it is unrealistic to ask you to empty out an entire room in your home for such a purpose. Libraries are nice and quiet. So are churches! I have sat in the back of a well known church here in San Francisco to work on my game just for this reason. Even the Vicar approved of the idea once I explained my reasoning!

Of course, environmental controls are a small part of this equation. No matter how well suited the environment, you still have to deal with all those noisy thoughts rattling around in your brain. Consider the ability to focus as a circle whose diameter is constantly changing. The greater the circle’s diameter, the broader and less concentrated the focus. The smaller the diameter, the more concentrated the focus. Our goal, as chess players, is to narrow the circle of focus down to a circle so small it appears as a dot! The smaller the circle, the greater the focus.

If you walked in the door after a long day of work or school and immediately started playing chess, it would be somewhat difficult to instantly narrow your focus to only the events on the chessboard. Instead of immediately sitting down to play, try some simple exercises before playing. Start by employing some breathing exercises. Take twenty or so long deep breaths. Take your time. You’ll find that to do this correctly, you have to concentrate on your breathing. Guess what? Because you’re concentrating on your breathing above all else, you’re focusing and unclogging your thoughts a bit.

Next, play solitaire on your computer or better yet, with a real deck of cards for ten minutes. Seriously? This does two things. First, it allows your brain to wind down a bit and concentrate only on the card game, developing your focus and second, it helps you with your pattern recognition skills. I use simple card games with my students to foster these two skills and it has helped immensely.

The next suggestion I have is to sit at the chessboard, position your head so that only board takes up your complete field of vision, and look at each pawn and piece, silently naming the squares each of those pawns and pieces is on. The idea here is to get your focus aimed at the board!

For overall, general improvement of your focus, take up a physical activity if you’re not already involved in one. It can be any physical activity, such as golf, Tai Chi or even bird watching. Why such an activity? I like to bird watch. To get to many of the locations where the birds are at requires some walking. Walking is excellent exercise and exercise helps your brain function at a higher level. While exercise will not make you the next Einstein, it will help you increase your brain’s ability to function optimally. What does bird watching have to do with concentration? To identify a bird in the wild, you have to focus in on the bird’s size, shape, feather coloring, etc. These are all variations of pattern recognition. Because you generally have a very small time frame in which to identify the bird before it flies away, you have to focus your attention very quickly and maintain a high level of focus and concentration while identifying the bird. Learning to focus in small increments makes maintaining focus over a longer period a bit easier.

The point to all of this is simple: The better your focus, the more apt you are to find that winning move. Focus development techniques can be found in many of the things you do away from the chessboard. The more you do in the way of honing your ability to focus, the better your playing will be. Make a list of five things you do each day that help you with your focus. You should be able to come up with at least five. If not, find five things you can do to increase your focus. They can range from card playing to riding a bicycle. Get focused. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

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Learning Chess the Right Way

Chess champion Boris Spassky once expressed the thought that he would like to learn chess over again and this time learn it the right way.

The human effort to learn chess is shaped in part by its cold mathematical nature as an intrinsically difficult problem: definitive evaluation of a given position requires it be solved to all possible terminal positions.

Thus it makes sense to start learning chess at the ending. There’s the purely human consideration that it’s easier to internalize the powers of the pieces when seeing them act in solo or in small groups on an open board among reduced material. And then there’s the austere science of converting a position step by step to the final win, working back towards to the midgame in one’s studies.

General trends in teaching chess seem most askew from the game theory realities in the study of the openings.

The older notion of the openings as narrow trails mapped out in a huge, dark forest doesn’t apply to modern times. With and without the aid of computers chessplayers have broadened the ground being regularly trampled until chess is less like a mysterious forest than an overloved and over-visited public park. Opening positions are revealed to be a very broad spectrum of related positions shading off this way and that, like the iconic Hindu picture of the Transfiguration of Krishna when he is revealed as all deities fading off to the vanishing point.

Openings used to be said to “transpose”, which is fatuous, since a move order is not headed to a specific place on the strength of possessing a name assigned to the first few half-moves on the basis of some historical personage, event, or even joke among chessplayers. There are simply many paths to similar or identical positions. There certainly are an amazing number of move orders to get to the tabiya we call the Maroczy Bind, paths arising in openings as varied (in the view of our lame classification schemes) as the Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez, and the Modern. An analogous band of converging tabiyat is clustered towards the center of the Neo-Grünfeld spectrum.

Reading criticism of World Champion Carlsen’s handling of the problem of opening study suggests strongly that he takes much this view and doesn’t concern himself with classification as much as absorbing the spectrum.

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Pawn Mass

A few days ago I was watching a game played between Neiksans (2567) and Geir Sune (2453). On move number 20 white sacrificed his bishop for 2 pawns on a6. After a long thought I came to the conclusion that white wanted to create a pawn mass on the ‘b’ and ‘c’ files. Then on move 28 Black played …Rb8 and white rejected the exchange of rooks and played Rxf7. At first glance it looks dubious to exchange the last major and active piece, but White had very logical reasons for not exchanging the rook.

So why did White not exchange the rook?
1) It is last major piece on the board.
2) The rook is very active on 7th rank and has targets.

Eventually game was ended in a draw after 64 moves.

I was watching this game on Playchess and doing a ‘guess the move’ exercise (this is exciting and fun while doing it with a live game). I toyed with the idea of playing Rxb8 on move 29 with following considerations:
1) Black Knight on g3 is awkwardly placed so you can get tempo with e4 after Rxb8.
2) With the e4 lever you can create a strong pawn mass.
3) Black’s Rook is not participating in the main battle area.

Out of curiosity I checked my analysis with Fritz, where the engine didn’t like my moves at first, but after few moves it liked White’s position. I will not publish my analysis here as I want readers to do it on their own.

Lessons Learned

1) Like any tactical shot, the strength of a pawn mass must be analysed thoroughly.
2) A pawn mass is very powerful if it creates space for you and cramps opponent position, creates a mating net or the opponent has difficulty in bringing his pieces or additional piece into the action because of it.

This lesson is based on my experience; spend some more time on a move which looks dubious and illogical at first glance. Often you will find the logic in it after further study.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Training Materials

What training materials I am using at present? And can I recommend them?

At present, I am working my way through the Steppenmethode Step 6 workbook and the three Yusupov orange books.

I can recommend them, because they provide a systematic coverage of most of what I need to know at my level.

But the training material which is good for you is the training material which exposes weaknesses in you. If you go through a book and think to yourself that you understand everything in that book, then you won’t have learned as much as a book which took you three or four attempts before you got what was being explained.

So what weaknesses in my game have my training materials found?

I am poor at positional play and poor at endgames that require exact calculation.

As an exercise, ask yourself ‘What weaknesses came to light while reading the last chess book I read?’

That will be an interesting exercise which should help you improve.

Steven Carr

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Teaching kids the Ruy Lopez (2)

So we left you last time considering the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O. If Black, as he often will in lower level kiddie tournaments, plays a natural developing move such as Nf6 or Bc5 we can capture the pawn on e5 safely, and, if Black tries to get the pawn back we have an array of tactical weapons involving using our rook on the open e-file at our disposal.

The most popular moves, in order of frequency, are f6 and Bg4, followed at a considerable distance, by Qd6 and Bd6. Stronger players tend to prefer f6 and Qd6, while lower rated players are more likely to go for Bg4 or Bd6.

At this level you can usually get away with simple development but there’s one important thing you need to know. It’s a trap which happens quite often in kiddie chess: the Fishing Pole‘s much more respectable cousin.

After 5… Bg4 play continues 6. h3 (a natural move, and by far White’s most popular choice here) 6… h5 when White has to decide whether or not to take the bishop. Theory recommends 7. d3 when both sides have to calculate each move whether or not White can take the bishop. If instead 7. hxg4 hxg4 leaves White in trouble, and if he tries to save his knight with 8. Nxe5 he gets mated after 8… Qh4 9. f4 g3 (the key move, shutting the door on the white king).

Before we move on there’s one other thing you might want to demonstrate, at least to older kids. Look at this variation: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d4 exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4 7. Nxd4. Now take everything off the board except the kings and pawns and play out the resulting pawn ending. Something like this might happen:

This is worth explaining. White’s winning because he can always force a passed pawn. As long as he doesn’t undouble Black’s c-pawns his opponent will never be able to create a passed pawn. If you run an intermediate level class it’s well worth giving this sort of ending to your pupils. Get them to record their moves and see what happens. In my experience many players will fail to win with White because they play c4xb5 at some point.

This exercise will teach you a lot about doubled pawns: about when and why they can be a disadvantage. It will also teach you a lot about pawn endings. Most importantly, it will teach you how openings and endings are closely connected (even though both are even more closely connected to middle games).

I wouldn’t encourage kids to spend too long playing the exchange variation, though. One reason is that, if you teach them to play the exchange variation after 3… a6 they’ll also make the trade after other third moves, which you probably don’t want them to do. So at some point they’re going to have to move onto 4. Ba4 as well as considering how to meet Black’s most popular 3rd move alternatives.

But first, you might like to demonstrate a couple of famous games. Regular readers will know that I’m very big on teaching chess culture as well as just chess so it’s always a good idea to look at how some of the all-time greats handled the opening you’re learning.

Richard James

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Obsession

In my youth, I knew another chess player who was absolutely obsessed with the game. While I had my music and other interests, my friend was only interested in chess. As time passed, we saw him less and less. He preferred the company of his chess set to that of his friends. Eventually, we didn’t see him anymore. He became a recluse whose only ambition was to unlock the deep mysteries of our game. We completely lost touch and years later I heard that he had been committed to a mental health facility. While I seriously doubt that chess was the cause of his problems, his obsession with the game serves as a cautionary tale for those of us that love the game. Too much of anything can be unhealthy.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit obsessed with chess, but its a healthy obsession. By healthy, I mean that I have other interests and, more importantly, I know when to take a break from my playing and studies. Its no secret that getting good at something requires practice. We build our chess knowledge base by studying the game and put our new found knowledge to the test on the chessboard. We find the balance between theory (study) and practice (playing) and improve our skill set. The serious student of the game sets aside a time each day for their studies. This students knows the limitation of their attention span and sets a realistic limit on how much time they spend hitting the books. Then there’s the all out student.

The all out student puts much of his or her free time into studying the game. They think that if thirty minutes a day of study produces a good deal of improvement over a year, then three hours a day will in turn lead to the same improvement in far less time. The problem with this is that the untrained mind can only concentrate for so long before it starts to lose focus and wander. Putting three hours a day into your chess studies sounds great but if your mind can only handle 30 minutes of complete focus, you’re actually wasting the other two and one half hours of your study time. Building your mental muscles is similar to building your body’s muscles, you increase your exercise regime slowly. Now there’s the obsessive student. The obsessive student lives only for chess.

The obsessive student ignores all else except for chess. The obsessive student gets up in the morning and studies/plays chess and then falls asleep at the chessboard 10 hours later, repeating the process again the following day. Chess consumes their every thought. While truly chess obsessed people are somewhat rare, they exist. Of course, there is a difference between someone who studies the game and goes on to become a Grandmaster and someone who is simply obsessed. However, even titled players have been known to take it too far. Bobby Fischer is an example of a titled player who was unhealthily obsessed with the game. Yet there was a trade off in the case of Fischer. He became one of the greatest chess players ever known, but paid a tragic price for his success.

I have thought a lot about why people become obsessed with chess, either a slight obsession in which the obsessed has outside interests or a full blown ’til death do you part’ obsession. I believe it has to do with unlocking the game’s mysteries. The one aspect of studying chess that keeps me going is the simple fact that the more I study, the more my game improves. The more my game improves, the greater my calculation skills. The greater my calculation skills, the better my combinations. Of course, better combinations lead to winning games. But what about the mysteries of chess?

When you first start playing chess, the entire game seems a mystery. However, as you diligently study the game, you start to unlock some of it’s mysteries. Of course, at the beginning of your training the mysteries revealed to you are small in stature, such as proper development during the opening. However, as your skill set improves, the mysteries that are revealed become deeper in nature. One such mystery is calculation. Beginners tend to calculate a single move at a time, their move, which isn’t much in the way of calculative skills. As they improve, they improve their calculative abilities and think in terms of “if I make this move, what is my opponent’s best response?” Now they’re calculating two moves into the future. As time passes, the beginner becomes an intermediate level player and can see three or four moves into the future. The now intermediate player goes back over a master level game that they didn’t understand as a beginner and suddenly it starts to make sense. Moves that baffled our beginner now become clear. This is an ‘unlocking the mystery’ moment.

There is a great natural high to making such a discovery. Sure, other players have made the same discovery during their studies. However, this discovery is new to the discoverer and often has the effect of driving them further into their studies. This is a good thing but too much of a good thing can be problematic. You should never drive yourself to study past the point of losing concentration. When your concentration is lost, time is wasted. You’ll also face the possibility of becoming burnt out which will destroy your game.

I have a textbook addictive personality so I have to be careful, be it in life or in chess. I could easily become a completely obsessed chess player. Fortunately, I balance my chess with other activities like playing music. I also don’t go overboard with my studies. I break my study time down to small increments of three, thirty minute segments, five days a week. Because I’m 54 years old, I don’t have the ability to concentrate for as long as I used to, with the exception of music. Rather than try and force myself into long study sessions, I break my sessions up into manageable blocks of time. I also am weary of becoming burnt out from too much chess so I take vacations from playing. Because I teach chess full time, I spend a great deal of time around the game. Sometimes, when I have a break of a few days to a week, I grab my binoculars, journal and go bird watching. Sometimes, I take a day off and play guitar. In fact, some of my best chess ideas have come to me while the playing guitar. The point is to know when to take a break. Not doing so can lead to terminal burn out. Take it slow and take it easy. That is a sure fire way to improve your game. Balance your studies with physical exercise. Speaking of games, here’s one to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

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