Listening To Your Pieces

Sometimes it’s difficult for a chess player to be objective, especially when external matters start to enter one’s consciousness. These can come from many sources, sometimes being chess related issues (rating, prize money, title norms etc.) whilst at other times they can come from our lives outside chess.

Whatever the source they can cause havoc with our thinking processes, is there an antidote? Well it does help to try and limit one’s focus to the chess board, but this can be easier said than done. One answer is to develop a calmer and more focussed mind via some meditative discipline, though this takes the kind of time and patience that not many people have.

A method that I think is rather good is to try to tune in to what our pieces want, trying to envisage what will help them live their lives to the full. Of course they are not really alive (at least not when I last checked), but this method can serve to increase your focus on the board. It’s a bit like looking for the seam of a cricket ball.

In the following video, from the cult series Lexx, I was rather impressed with Kai’s concentration. He managed to tune out his pieces’ chattering in the way that we need to do with our own distracting thoughts.

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens 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 Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.