Unlearning Bad Habits

One of the benefits of a classical chess education is that you don’t learn to do things the wrong way. Unfortunately very few Western club players have had this luxury and when their self taught methods are practiced sufficiently they become bad habits.

It can be a difficult job change them, the best approach being to become aware of them and then then superimpose correct habits on top. With enough of this mindful practice the old habits will start to lose control over our thinking. But it can be a difficult and thorny process.

The following game shows that I’ve struggled with this myself. After more than a decade of playing the Modern Defence my tolerance of cramped positions became greatly enhanced! And when I started playing classical openings this ‘tolerance’ came back to haunt me, as in the following game:

Did things get better? Fortunately yes. After a few more years my ‘Modern’ days were thoroughly behind me and now I couldn’t imagine playing a game on just three ranks.

Would it have been better if I’d never played this way in the first place? Probably it would, but then it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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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 he teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 14 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game.