The Obsession Talent

Being obsessive, especially if it goes with being compulsive too, is often seen as disorder. But for chess it’s actually a wonderful gift that enables people to put in the required amount of practice to make progress with the game. The often quoted figure of 10,000 hours time investment just isn’t going to happen with ‘normal’ people as their study time will be interrupted with checking text messages, phoning people up, making cups of tea and eating biscuits.

Being an obsessive person myself I’ve never had a problem with silly distractions. But what should someone do if they don’t have this talent? An internet search came up blank, but then I had the bright idea to simply reverse guidelines against obsessive tendencies. I found an article here and suggest adapting it as follows:

1) Focus on chess mastery and resolve to dismiss distractions.

2) Keep your mind on the board and the moves.

3) Read chess books, nothing else.

4) Understand that chit chat and socialization are a waste of time.

5) Eat simply and order in pizza rather than cook.

6) Accept chess as your lord and master.

7) Seek out practice partners who share your chess obsession, they can function as a ‘social outlet’ without getting distracted.

8) Exercise at home with a chess DVD running at the same time.

9) Only consider activities that will help develop your chess.

10) Don’t do anything for others, focus on your own needs.

11) Avoid wasting time on other activities.

So there you have it, an excellent template for making progress with chess. And if you can’t hack it then just accept staying weak, being the club secretary or something and losing to those with more focus and determination. Obsession isn’t a problem, it’s a talent!

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.