SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The above position is from a game played in Leningrad 1949. White to play and win.
Solution later this afternoon
TODAY’S INSIGHT INTO BECOMING A BETTER YOU
Often chess players I meet ask me ”How can I improve my game?” or ”Why can’t I play as well as I am able to?” People get blocked at some point in their chess development, regardless of how much they study or play or take lessons. This is part of a natural cycle as one seeks self-improvement. I tell my students to be patient: it doesn’t take a lot to play better chess but it also doesn’t happen overnight.
First, you need to periodically re-define your attitude towards competition: you have to believe that you have what it takes to overcome any and every obstacle that comes your way. That with correct training and preparation you can win. Don’t get into the ”I don’t have enough talent!” trap. Researchers are finding that talent is created and nurtured as the mind and body adapt to your training and playing. Neurons and neural pathways in the brain start to re-progam themselves the more you train and play. In this way, obstacles can be seen to be of a temporary nature. You need to constantly remind yourself that you can do it!
Second, you need to constantly raise your standards: if in your training you usually are able to solve correctly 60% of the problem solving examples in a given time,then you need to push that up to the 75% level. If it requires more time, then arrange it. If it requires more energy, then sleep more. Experiment what works for you and adapt.
Raising one’s standards in training should become an ongoing process. As you approach the master level (for example) , then you have to start thinking about going beyond that . How does an IM train that is different from what I am doing? Does he spend more time, or does he do things differently?
What ever you discover, you need to incorporate into your training. Mastering the game of chess is a learning process that requires feedback and self-criticism. The higher you make your standards, the closer you get to your true potential.
Third, you need to be fair to yourself and give yourself all the opportunities you need to become a better player. Or, put another way, the opportunities that you have must become the testing ground for the ‘new’ you. When you play in your usual tournaments you need to have higher expectations for your results. Your friends and club mates might be surprised by you becoming more critical of your play and achievements, but your performance will only reach its peak as you demand more of yourself.
Finally, you need to put everything together efficiently: your improved training techniques, your higher standards and your higher expectations during tournaments. You need to seek harmony: your ability equals your performance. For that you might want to improve your concentration skills.
The simplest way to do this is to find the best way (for you) to sit comfortably at the board so that you are able to focus more clearly and for longer periods of time. For me that means sitting with my back straight and keeping both of my feet flat on the floor; my arms comfortably folded; my breathing rythmic and unforced.
Read about Yoga and meditation and the postures that are so important for your energy flow and improved health. Learn about the importance of reducing the fidgeting the body naturally engages in. Of slowing down the respiration levels while reducing body movement and mental distractions.
I remember seeing Karpov play an adjournment against Ljubojevic in the 1979 Montreal Tournament of Stars. At the time Karpov was the best player in the world. His health was excellent and he was winning one tournament after another, and he wanted to add the Montreal tournament to his list of victories. I spent the entire afternoon studying Karpov’s behaviour during the adjournment. I especially recall one moment in the game where Karpov seemed to go into a deep trance for 30 mintues, pondering his next move. Karpov just sat there, back straight, feet flat on the floor, arms folded infront of him on the table. He was entirely motionless for 30 minutes! Not even 1 finger twitched….
Clearly for Karpov it was not just a case of him being the best chess player. He found a way to put all of his skills together in such a magnificent way thru improved concentration and focus.
Let that be enough for today.
SOLUTION TO EXERCISE: 1.Qb4!!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS