Chessize, Don’t Verbalize

Possibly the surest way to get better at chess is to avoid verbalizing about it. Chess is a non-verbal symbolic language. Chessize in your skull instead of verbalizing.

It’s a old saw that words are not the things they describe. Zen calls verbalization “a finger pointing at the moon”. And it’s a cliché that those who talk the most know the least.

Cold counsel for someone as verbally oriented as I am. But my best performances have always been at those times when I am able to suppress the rendering of my chess thought into words and express the game to myself internally as combinatorial musing.

In 1972, noted American interviewer Dick Cavett, a brilliant intellectual in his own right, asked Fischer what it takes to make a grandmaster. Fischer’s eyes darted for a moment, , then he smiled and replied, “Well, you have to be able to see the pieces move in your head.”

It follows that most discussion of chess is wasted. 90% of what one learns in books one must eventually discard. Reading words about chess is largely the coach coaxing you into doing the exercises that will make the right “muscles” grow.

Our host, GM Davies, will possibly disagree with me on this point, but I think his own words on Chess, as compact and as neat as poetry, support the thesis.

Jacques Delaguerre


Author: Jacques Delaguerre

Jacques Delaguerre is a Colorado musician and chessplayer.