New Year Resolutions

First of all I’d like to wish Chess Improver readers a happy and successful New Year! Although I don’t think this time has any ‘real’ significance, it is a time at which many of us want to draw a line beneath the past and start again.

What are suitable New Year Resolutions for someone who wants to improve their chess? Essentially they need to be framed in terms of practice rather than results. A poorly constructed Resolution would be to ‘win every game’, as this is largely dependent on what the opponent does and is likely to fail early on. A very good one, on the other hand, would be to solve a certain number of chess tactics every day.

How many problems should that be? Well it’s best not to be too ambitious as it will be dispiriting to fall short and this in turn may lead to the abandonment of the project. It’s also good to build in some flexibility whereby you have a chance to catch up if you miss a day or two.

Are there any ready made platforms for this? Well Chessity is a good one that my son uses, a decent goal being to get and maintain an 80% plus training activity rating. For 100% you need to solve 20 positions per day for 20 days so this allows a certain latitude.

Isn’t it too late to make New Year Resolutions as we’ve now reached January 6th? Well the good news is that there are lots of different dates for the New Year, depending on cultural traditions. The Aztecs, for example, had March 10th as their New Year and many other cultures also had New Year in the spring. In some ways this makes more intuitive sense as everything is growing, there’s not much new about the middle of winter.

One might also ask if there are better ways to look at the New Year so that it’s not the only starting point for improvement projects. There was also a nice post by Garry Kasparov on Facebook in which two of the points he made are well worth quoting:

  • The end of the year is a convenient reminder to look back and to look ahead. But you should do this every single day to reach your goals.
  • Let that be a New Year’s Resolution, to not wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions! Make them regularly & monitor your results.

This makes a lot of sense to me, the New Year can be a reminder to live an intentional life rather than sleep walk through it. Renewal can take place at any time and in any place, but the first step has to be a willingness to change.

Do I have any New Year Resolutions? Not really, though I have a number of projects which I’m hoping to come to fruition this coming year. First of all I’ll be making a small time comeback in local tournaments as my son Sam is now more or less established in adult competition and we can go to tournaments together. I’m also close to launching my coaching and video site Tiger Chess which I hope will become a major venue for those who want to improve their chess.

Nigel Davies

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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 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.