SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Botvinnik wrote in the foreword of his ‘100 Selected Games’ about the difficult and painful process by which he became a world-beater and offered his advice to those who wish to follow the same path: ” If you are going to make your mark amongst masters, you have to work far harder and more intensively…every successive step up the ladder grows more difficult….”
Then when this is finally achieved there is still more! Botvinnik went on: ”The next step forward is still more difficult: now you have to defeat players who are outstanding even amongst masters, in other words, to beat grandmasters.”
Talent, hard work and then some more!
For Botvinnik–who had the entire weight of the Soviet government behind him–this took about a dozen years or so to accomplish. Not everyone of his generation was so lucky…TODAY, while the chess world has changed in many ways and politicians have made the earning of international titles easier and more convenient to all , actually making serious progress and becoming a world beater is just as difficult as Botvinnik described in his time.
Closer to home, Albertan Eric Hansen –who won his GM title last year–has made it clear on his blog that he wants to become a world-beater and intends to do what is necessary: ”This is my first year as a chess professional and I don’t plan on stopping until I reach the top and fight for the World championship!”
This past year Eric has achieved some excellent results and has made a lot of progress. But there is still a lot more to do, and the learning-curve means that Eric will also have his setbacks. There are just so many strong and serious chess grandmasters out there, all of them doing EXACTLY the same kind of work and study as Eric is doing.
That is what makes the entire journey worthwhile: anything easy is not worth the effort! Some days you give a lesson. Other days you get the lesson. But the most important thing is not to lose sight of the ultimate goal: to get better with each game, to learn something each time, to keep moving towards becoming a world-beater.
This week Eric finds himself competing in one of the world’s top OPEN tournaments (the 29th Cappelle La Grande International). More than 500 participants; more than 100 grandmasters. A gruelling schedule that pits you against an experienced international player round after round.
Eric has been doing quite well so far. But this is not the kind of tournament to win, for that all that is required is luck! It is more important for Eric to gain experience and keep learning. European tournaments are very different from American tournaments. Not in the sense that the players are stronger, but in the sense that the level of professionalism is higher. Botvinnik’s advice is still followed by all serious players!
Below are 2 of Eric’s games from Cappelle. The first he crushed the very strong Ukraine grandmaster Vovk, and the second he received an equally important lesson against the very strong grandmaster Fedorchuk.