Setting goals is a vital part of the improvement process but what should they by? The key is to set process goals rather than outcome goals, which is nicely explained here:
What are some good process goals for chess? Reading particular books, learning particular openings and solving a certain number of tactical puzzles every day certain qualify. On the other hand goals such as winning a particular tournament or championship do not as their aim depends on things such as competition.
Improving your chess is really all about practice, but how do people establish the practice habit? Here are some interesting tips from another field that chess players in general are not familiar with:
In these days of very serious opening analysis and theory going well into the middle game in many lines, people often forget the importance of core skills or don’t have time to practice them. Tactical vision is of course absolutely essential, as most people realize. But endgame skill is often underestimated or even overlooked altogether. Who needs openings if they can win equal positions against the World’s top players.
Here’s Magnus Carlsen providing an object lesson in this art, winning a more or less equal endgame position against Teimour Radjabov. The commentator is the ever lucid and calm Jan Gustafsson:
Here’s a nice documentary on the candidates tournament, won of course by Sergei Karjakin:
My son and I have been watching the Chess24 video commentary on the Sinquefield Cup and very entertaining it has been too. I don’t follow top level chess too closely but this may now change.
Something that has interested me has been the recent relative fortunes of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri. They are both extraordinary talents yet Vachier-Lagrave seems to be breaking through to a higher level whilst Giri has been struggling.
There could be many reasons why this is so but I wonder if it’s because the Frenchman has a clear chess identity, a dynamic player with similarities to Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. With Giri on the other hand I don’t really see that, certainly he’s a brilliant tactician but the cautious way he lays out his game gives little opportunity for this to shine through. Of course he has plenty of time to develop and suspect that everyone will struggle with him when this happens.
Here meanwhile is a video of round one:
There’s still a game to go in this year’s British Championship but it’s been a fascinating event. Most of all the presence of Michael Adams, a top class GM who has successfully competed against the best players in the World, has provided many great lessons. It’s interested to watch the games as they unfold because you can then try and guess the move and get a sense of the important decisions by the amount of time taken.
The following game was a vital one as Adams was pitted against the number two seed, David Howell. Adams won a tough game shown here with commentary by International Master Andrew Martin:
One particularly interesting encounter from the Bilbao Masters was the game between Magnus Carlsen as White against the Chinese prodigy, Wei Yi. Here is the game, nicely analyzed by Jan Gustafsson:
Here’s a Bobby Fischer documentary that I haven’t seen before. I like the emphasis on Fischer’s dedication, the great key to improvement:
It’s quite interesting to see how many chess people are high achievers in real life. Do they use chess strategies to do this? Probably they do, at least in a way.
I would say that when Angela Eagle (at one time a keen chess player) recently challenged for the Labour Party leadership it was good example of an attack on a weakened monarch. There are a number of leading lawyers who have chess as their hobby and law seems to have much in common with chess in that it is an adversarial battle of intellect played according to a set of rules. Also traders of financial markets also seem well represented by chess players.
Of course there are many chess players who just play chess and are not in the least bit interested in other fields. Here’s a prime example, the late great Bobby Fischer before he lost his marbles. But even then it was all about the chess:
There was a good lesson in the last round of the Candidates tournament on how to play a key game. Going into the last round Sergey Karjakin and Fabiana Caruana were in the joint lead and crucially were also playing each other. A draw between them would mean that Karjakin would qualify for a match against Magnus Carlsen because of a superior tie-break, but only if they weren’t also joined by Vishwanathan Anand who was playing Black against Peter Svidler. If Anand were to win this would boost Caruana’s tie break after which he would qualify instead.
In this situation many players might pull their punches and try to play it safe, but not Karjakin. Following the advice of Nicolai Krogius in his book Psychology in Chess, Karjakin just played a normal game. And he went on to win with a nice combination and has earned the right to play Carlsen in New York in November.
Here’s a Youtube presentation of the game: