SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Grandmaster Nigel Davies (born 1960) has one of the most interesting chess blogs out there. Or atleast I think so! Nigel’s blog is not just about chess, but offers a spectrum of perspectives that is both thought provoking but also insightful.
(Nigel’s chess credentials in a nutshell: • IM since 1982 • GM since 1993 • Author of the famous Power Chess Program, as well as a slew of other books, including: The Chess Player’s Battle Manual, Kasparov v Kramnik, London 2000, Alekhine’s Defence, The Grunfeld Defence, and Taming the Sicilian. • Columnist at Chess Cafe: Let’s Take A Look… • Professional chess coach for 13 years, with many successful students including IM-CC John Rhodes, GM Matthew Saddler, and 1992 World Under 14 Champion (now) GM Ronen Har-Zvi. • Visit another of his websites, Tiger Chess, loaded with instructional articles.)
”The Why Of Chess Improvement”–by Nigel Davies
Perhaps this should have been my very first post but better late than never. Why should someone want to go through the sometimes arduous and mind bending process of improving their chess game?
There are many different perspectives on this but I think they can be divided into three basic categories; some external benefits such as money, ego gratification and self cultivation. The former might apply to players who wish to have a professional relationship with playing, for example young and highly talented players who may have the potential to get into the World’s top 20. Ego driven motivation might range from bragging rights to the humiliation of a significant other. This leaves the area of self cultivation, which in my view is the most interesting and worthy of the three.
The most obvious reasons why someone may wish to cultivate their chess include the brain related issues of helping the young develop (there have been numerous studies linking chess involvement to improved academic performance) and preventing alzheimer’s in older people (studies have shown that board games shine here too). But besides these I believe that a chess offers an opportunity for character development by placing a person in a uniquely challenging situation; do it properly and it feels like a fight for survival.
In such difficult and stressful situations you can learn a lot about yourself, especially when your moves are objectively analysed afterwards. Anyone making a series of decisions, that can then be categorised as good or bad, is unable to indulge in the excuses and justifications that characterise so many human affairs.
In this light the act of playing chess and being honest with yourself about how you played becomes an act of great personal courage. It strips away the ego’s armour and forces us to confront ourselves.