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  1. Standard member Ramned
    The Rams
    03 Jul '09 23:57 / 3 edits
    In this post I will give the serious player who wants to go the distance some recommendations and some significant advice on how to study the game itself.

    I know I'm no chess master, but I hope my post is brandished by the fact that I did a TON of research on the effects of deliberate practice on your chess game. In fact, I spent 20 required hours doing this as a senior research project in high school! Here's some important research that I did:

    It takes 10,000 hours to reach mastery of any given field. Very very very rare exceptions to this rule. In my experience, there is NO SUCH THING as NATURAL TALENT (eh maybe only with vocalists...but Elton John had been playing the piano since he was 2 or 3). Einstein was documented to have spent well over 10,000 hours just thinking about time and space, and wha-la, he becomes one of the most talented physicsts of all time. Magnus Carlson, believe me, has put in over 10,000 hours of study. TRUST ME. He's no more a natural talent than Topalov.

    If someone's ever told you that you need an IQ of 160 to become a grandmaster, he is MIS-INFORMED. Do not understimate the power of hard work. Chess is not a game between 2 geniuses.

    My study plan is designed to put in 1,000 hours of deliberate study per year, for 10 years (10,000 hours of practice in 10 years!). (This means 2.75 hours of study per day if you want to go the distance).

    I started playing chess in 2005...when I joined this site in 2006, I was a consistent 1400-1500 player. Two years later, without having studied at all, I was a...take a guess....1400-1500 player. In the past 4 or 5 months that I HAVE studied, I have become a 1600-1700 player! Amazing what some hard work pays.

    First, some recommendations and resources:

    Tactics

    Sharpen Your Tactics! to be a good mechanism for tactical improvement

    Tactics Trainer on a chess website (PM me if you want it)
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    Complete Endgame Course - Endgames

    Online Chess Videos - Endgames
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    Reassess Your Chess - EXCELLENT middlegame book if you read it all thoroughly

    Art of Attack - nice little 'casual' book for learning about middle-game attacks, when appropriate and tons of examples.

    Pawn Structure Chess - it has been recommended to me, I am just about to start it.

    Online Chess Videos (PM me for the site again) - GM games are analyzed by GMs themselves

    ---

    Think Like a Grandmaster - this is a follow-up to Reassess Your Chess, I think - by Kotov....

    I've heard "My System" is good, probably similarly to "Reassess Your Chess."

    ---

    Chess Mentor Program - written by GMs teaching you various themes of the game - available through a site I can PM you (no advertising here).

    ---

    Openings: *********.com videos discuss some in detail

    I have not yet studied openings, so have no books to recommend.

    ---
    STEPS TO BECOMING A GREAT CHESS PLAYER:

    1. I recommend that all novice players taking chess seriously start out doing tactics, tons of them, i.e. purchase Sharpen Your Tactics! or Winning Chess Tactics.

    2. Next, get the endgame basics down (Read about half of Silman's Complete Endgame Course, and watch the *******.com videos if you're willing to invest in improvement)

    3. Now you're ready to get into the meat of the game. This is one of the toughest hills to climb as it is an exhaustive topic. Here, you'll change how you THINK about the game. It deals with the study of the middle-game, you learn about the logic of the game. I strongly recommend "Reassess Your Chess" and closely adhering to its advice. "My System" is good too I've heard for this.

    3.: Read about "The Art of Attack." Attacking is of course a major middle-game concept you should be familiar with - it opens your eyes to dynamic play.

    3.: Read about Pawn Structure and the art of dynamic defense.


    4. Take a closer look at your favorite openings as well as major openings such as Ruy Lopez, French Defense, and Sicilian. Understand them; understand the logic, don't memorize lines or it will hurt your view of the game really badly.


    5. Pick up a book that has games from a player you admire, such as Alehkine, Kasparov, etc. Take this book, and pick out games. Play out the opening, and then once you get to the middle-game, try to predict the move the GM on your side of the board will make. WRITE OUT your analysis for the move you choose - this could take 20-30 minutes at first. Then read the annotations on the actual move to understand why a move was played. This is a great way to improve, but I would wait to do this after you've read My System or Reassess Your Chess (or do this concurrently).

    I'm not really sure what comes after that (step 5 ought to take you a few years) other than studying your own games and determining what you can do better. Become well versed on many openings and understand the game. Look at the advanced endgames. Re-read some of those books to gauge your weaknesses and improvements.


    Playing is alot more fun and tempting than studying after awhile. Personally In order to try to discipline myself, I came up with a written, weekly study plan (that I plan to update to include new books). I also follow this rule: "For every hour you play a game of chess, spend at least 1-2 hours studying the game." So that leaves me playing a game of chess about every other day (3 hours / game). If I had time and was still a minor who didn't have to sustain myself, I'd play everyday!
  2. 04 Jul '09 04:09
    they say club players could reach a grandmaster rating with 1 year of old solid dedication
  3. 04 Jul '09 05:48
    An excellent post. Kasparov's How Life Imitates Chess has the same underlying theme that hard work is what it's all about. He even goes on to say that hard work itself is a talent.

    Your list is great, Tactics should always be #1. I may put studying annotated (with words) master games a little higher. I have to say this has really helped my game and has given me better intuition into positions just from going over master games. Plus you get everything from beginning to end, openings, tactics, strategy, endings, psychology, and great games.
  4. 04 Jul '09 09:25 / 1 edit
    "Art of Attack - nice little 'casual' book for learning about middle-game attacks, when appropriate and tons of examples."

    I didn't find this book casual, I found it hard work and didn't stick with it. Maybe this just proves
    the point that hard work is required.

    There is talent. In my household with two competitive boys with differing abilities we describe
    talent as "finding things easier at first". You can see it clearly in sporting ability, maths, languages and chess too. Describing it as "finding things easier at first" allows for the less talented to put work in to achieve....and they will overtake the talented person who doesn't
    work.

    At the top level it is surely the combination of hard work, talent, the right environment plus
    a bit of good fortune.
  5. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    04 Jul '09 09:41
    I'm nearly finishing Max Euwe's Practical chess lessons (in dutch), and I found it a great first book for the player below 1600 and is garanteed to better your play. I feel I understand chess better. Also do lots of tactics but remember that you need to be able to play sound strategical moves as well to get into position where you can apply your tactical knowledge (or else it will be wasted).

    Anyhow studying chess pays off. Since I started doing lots of tactics on an internet surver in January my rating quikly climbed to 1500s, and with the effort I'm putting in to it I feel I am in for a new climb in rating soon... we'll see
  6. 04 Jul '09 09:50
    There are good elements in your post, but the definitive tone of some recommendations/conclusions make it not very scientific or professional in my opinion. Perhaps you need at least to spend 10000 hours to make a professional study, lol. Here are a few comments:

    - why 10000, and not 5800 or 13200 hours? What would make the difference in the time requested to reach GM level? Dedication and a good plan alone cannot explain it. Have you any idea of the amount of hours any specific GM (e.g. Carlssen) did spend on studying vs. playing before he became a GM?

    - there may not be a lower limit on the IQ, but there certainly is a correlation between the various forms of intelligence and chess aptitude (oops, would that include talent?). There are many studies and discussions ongoing, including aspects like female vs. male intelligence, emotional elements, social elements, ...

    - similar studies have made comparable statements about other intellectual activities. But don't you think that it matters for an individual wich discipline he/she chooses? Do you think that interest and dedication alone will do?

    - why spending more time in study than in playing? Where is the borderline if you include playing methodically against a 'sparring partner', for instance. The role of blitz, rapid games, visualisation exercises, OTB vs. correspondence, ..., must not be forgotten either.

    - without questioning the importance of tactics, why to push basic opening study (i.e. understanding the concepts) and practice so far out? Isn't it more a matter of balancing the effort continuously between tactics, endgame, opening, strategy , shifting the weights as you go along? There are elements in openings that relate to tactics as well as to endgame principles. And your practice sessions will go so much better if you survive the opening more often against a relative (to your strenght) strong opponent, even early in the study period.

    I'd be interested in reading the opinion of more players, wehter they agree or not.
  7. Standard member orion25
    Art is hard
    04 Jul '09 11:10
    Originally posted by Mephisto2
    There are good elements in your post, but the definitive tone of some recommendations/conclusions make it not very scientific or professional in my opinion. Perhaps you need at least to spend 10000 hours to make a professional study, lol. Here are a few comments:

    - why 10000, and not 5800 or 13200 hours? What would make the difference in the time reques ...[text shortened]... iod.

    I'd be interested in reading the opinion of more players, wehter they agree or not.
    I think the efects of blitz/OTB/correspondance are very important to be analised

    IMO blitz shouldnt be the focus of your study, shure you should play some blitz, to develop some kind of instinct, but do you develop your chess skills by play lots and lots of blitz? I think not. You can use blitz though to experiment new opening or discover consequences of sacrifices, but still I think you should only play blitz when you feel you need to analise the possible responses to something that you would like to play in more serious games. I am completely against playing shorter time periods than 5 minutes (except just for some fun), because you will gain nothing for it. 10 minutes? OK, you can try some new opening or something, see how your opponent replyes and if you like it.

    I think correspondance chess is very usefull, as you can learn about positions by analisis, you can follow remote lines, you can calculate all variations in the position, and you can play without any pressure, you can play your very best. Of course you have to play correspondance chess as if you are playing correspondance chess and not as if you were playing blitz. Use the advantage you have in time, and bring out the best you can in every position. This tipe off chess is usefull to develop a feeling about what is the best in diferent positions, in a very similar way as post game analisis does actually.

    In the end its OTB that you will aply all your knowledge, and you will learn by experience, you will be face to face with your oponent in a duel to the end. I don't have to say the benifits of this do I?
  8. Standard member Ramned
    The Rams
    04 Jul '09 14:01
    Originally posted by Mephisto2
    There are good elements in your post, but the definitive tone of some recommendations/conclusions make it not very scientific or professional in my opinion. Perhaps you need at least to spend 10000 hours to make a professional study, lol. Here are a few comments:

    - why 10000, and not 5800 or 13200 hours? What would make the difference in the time reques ...[text shortened]... iod.

    I'd be interested in reading the opinion of more players, wehter they agree or not.
    Tough and valid points you make that we'll leave to the psychologists (i.e. people who have put in 10,000 hours studying this sort of thing vs. my 20 lol).


    1. First, why 10,000 hours. It has been studied by psychologists around the world that true mastery in a discipline, especially in chess and music, that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice has been required to reach true mastery, while 8,000 was sufficient to reach "good" (Good vs Brilliance). I am actually writing down all the hours I spend studying the game to test this conclusion as a long-term research project.

    2. Perhaps a natural intuition towards chess (although I utterly disagree with such a possibility) lowers or raises the amount of hours needed to master the game. I am not as aware the effect of male vs female thinking in chess. But whatever natural talent exists is greatly overwhelmed by the significance of practice.

    3. Interest and dedication are a MUST to reach mastery. Nobody who hasn't a passion for chess will put in 10,000 hours, same with physics, music, flying airplanes, etc. That means it does matter what discipline an individual chooses.

    4. That is my own personal belief, in order to discipline myself to practice. For this question I would have to recommend the following article: http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracticePR93.pdf

    5. I think you present the better argument here. Currently I am shifting the weights between middle-game, endgame, and tactics. I believe that the in-depth study of openings is too complex to study without having a good understanding of playing the middle-game. In the end, it will come down to an understanding of how each 'part' of the game is closely correlated.

    Good questions, I hope I have presented my position clearly. My earlier post was 'definitive' because it was more of an argument than a presentation of information.
  9. 04 Jul '09 14:08
    Originally posted by Mephisto2
    - without questioning the importance of tactics, why to push basic opening study (i.e. understanding the concepts) and practice so far out? Isn't it more a matter of balancing the effort continuously between tactics, endgame, opening, strategy , shifting the weights as you go along?
    I'd say it id definitely worth pushing the opening study out a bit, to counteract overemphasis elsewhere, and natural tendencies. A lot of people concentrate 'too much' on openings, to the detriment of the rest.

    I have on a number of occasions come out of the opening cramped, or a pawn or exchange down,
    but played on to win anyway. When you stop making tactical howlers later in the game, it is worth spending more time on the opening.

    Basic principles could be looked at, but this does not take much time. There is definitely no call for learning the best move to make 11 moves deep in the XXX Sicilian, in the opinion of YYY.
  10. 04 Jul '09 14:12
    Originally posted by Ramned
    In this post I will give the serious player who wants to go the distance some recommendations and some significant advice on how to study the game itself.
    ...

    Playing is alot more fun and tempting than studying after awhile. Personally In order to try to discipline myself, I came up with a written, weekly study plan (that I plan to update to include new b ...[text shortened]... ). If I had time and was still a minor who didn't have to sustain myself, I'd play everyday!
    Some of this is very familiar. Ever heard of someone called MdlM??

    Analyse your games (both, but esp lost) should be on your list somewhere.
  11. 04 Jul '09 14:33 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Ramned
    In this post I will give the serious player who wants to go the distance some recommendations and some significant advice on how to study the game itself.

    I know I'm no chess master, but I hope my post is brandished by the fact that I did a [b]TON
    of research on the effects of deliberate practice on your chess game. In fact, I spent 20 required hours d still a minor who didn't have to sustain myself, I'd play everyday![/b]
    Nice plan.I disagree with 1 thing though.I think you underestimate the value of actually playing the game.One thing all the greats(and I mean all,not only WC's) have/had in common is they played an awful lot of games while starting their careers.

    "For every hour you play a game of chess, spend at least 1-2 hours studying the game."
    I would suggest: for every hour of study play 2-3 hours.My thinking behind this is it takes time and pratice to implement the things you learn.

    "So that leaves me playing a game of chess about every other day (3 hours / game)"
    I think it's better to play 3 games of 1 hour.With 1 hour each you can play a decent game and you practiced 3 times.Next day you have 3 games to analyse and find improvements of your play instead of just 1.

    I also think it's important to keep playing stronger players.One reason why players plateau is because at a certain point they stop doing this.
    You may stop when you've become WC

    edit: actually disagree with 2 things.I believe talent does exist
  12. 04 Jul '09 14:43
    Originally posted by Vincearoo
    they say club players could reach a grandmaster rating with 1 year of old solid dedication
    That may be true for an unemployed,single,childless clubplayer with no social life.And even then I'm not so sure.
    But I think most simply don't have enough time.
  13. 04 Jul '09 15:00 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Romanticus
    Nice plan.I disagree with 1 thing though.I think you underestimate the value of actually playing the game.One thing all the greats(and I mean all,not only WC's) have/had in common is they played an awful lot of games while starting their careers.

    "For every hour you play a game of chess, spend at least 1-2 hours studying the game."
    I would suggest: fo 've become WC

    edit: actually disagree with 2 things.I believe talent does exist
    I remember kasparov suggesting to magnus that he only play 50 games a year(magnus didn't take the advice. But, that is what kasparov supposedly did).



    As to the OP:

    All the stages are intertwined. But, as you have stated tactics are very important. Planning is useless if it is tactically flawed. But, then again tactics are useless if you don't have a plan. The reason tactics are a better place to start is because they are very concrete (as are endgames, another critical study subject for a beginner-even though they should be very simple ones). Middlegames generally don't have a definitive answer (until you get to a very high level).

    BUT, opening study will also improve your tactical and positional vision. As you see more and more positions you will see more and more ways to play positions-what works and why and what doesn't work and why. I am starting to go over some of khalifmans opening books. And yes I am memorizing lines-it is an unnecessary evil at some point. But, I have found my positional and and tactical vision greatly increased because of the new and rich positions I was seeing and absorbing.


    And yes the key is WORK. I don't just lay on the bed reading the book. I set up the positions look for improvements or new ideas on both sides which I would like to investigate or possibly use as a pet line.

    No matter what book you are looking at you get nothing out of it without putting anything into it. I equate it to the law of supercompensation in the fitness world- you have to push yourself past your present ability(strength), rest and after you have recovered optimally then then your ability(or strength) will have increased.
  14. Standard member Ramned
    The Rams
    04 Jul '09 15:31
    Originally posted by Vincearoo
    they say club players could reach a grandmaster rating with 1 year of old solid dedication
    That is impossible for a novice club player. It would take studying chess for 24 / 7 and being invincible to burnout, sleep, hunger, thirst, and the demands of society.
  15. Standard member Ramned
    The Rams
    04 Jul '09 15:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Romanticus
    Nice plan.I disagree with 1 thing though.I think you underestimate the value of actually playing the game.One thing all the greats(and I mean all,not only WC's) have/had in common is they played an awful lot of games while starting their careers.

    "For every hour you play a game of chess, spend at least 1-2 hours studying the game."
    I would suggest: fo 've become WC

    edit: actually disagree with 2 things.I believe talent does exist
    I recognize the strength of playing as allowing you to put your new-found knowledge into work. However, if you play alot more than you study; say you play all day for 5 days and study once that week, then you are not maximizing how much you can apply in your games. When I play 1 game every 2 days - a full length game - I play it as OTB and try to apply what I have learned. Personally, a 1 hour game is too blitzed. When I play a game, it must be 60 / 60 or longer so I can think carefully, consider the imbalances in a position, and apply what I am learning. With a long, regular game you also are playing at your best, so that when you analyze it carefully, you can find the main weaknesses that you have.

    I posted a game in the other 'studying chess' which I had analyzed earlier. And I discovered an extremely important weakness in my play: Once I got a decent position and material lead, I got overconfident, to such a degree that I missed a simply 1-move CHECKMATE! Thus I had to go on another 30 moves to play a difficult endgame. Thus, in the future I will play the entire game carefully and keep my endurance going.

    And talent exists for everyone at some level, but practice is necessary to develop the talent. No such thing as being born a grandmaster.