Question by : What does it take to become a decent chess player?
I’m quite new to chess. I started playing about 8 weeks ago, playing about 3-4 hours per week. I have just started training with Chessmaster 10th edition and I beat players ranked around 1050.
What is a good training time per day? Is playing against a chess software a good way to learn. Do I need books? And, most important, how long would it take me to become a **decent** player?
Answer by Oneida
I can’t play chess for the life of me, having tried one of those chess programs are being beaten regularly by a character called Neanderthal, who had strong faith in the attacking power of his king. However, there are a couple of good books which are worth reading even if you don’t play chess. One’s called The Inner Game, by Dominic Lawson, about the match between Kasparov and Nigel Short; long out of print but well worth looking up because it has some good insights into the psychology of the game. But Kasparov’s book is so good – on chess, and on management/leadership – that I’d recommend you trot out and buy it. And I think the best way I can answer the question is to quote those of his sub-headings that brought me up short and really made me think. So here goes:
Play your own game, not your opponent’s; don’t watch the competition more than you watch yourself;
A frequently changed strategy is no strategy at all;
‘Why?’ turns tacticians into strategists;
Tactics must be guided by strategy;
Time trouble leads to a vicious cycle;
Ask ‘What if ….?’;
Be aware of your routines, then break them;
Preparation pays off;
Evaluation trumps calculation;
Freezing the game;
All change comes at a cost;
Originality is hard work;
Fear of change is worse than changing too fast;
Know why we make each mpve we make;
Make sure a good peace follows a good war;
Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight:
How much infomation is too much?
Pruning the decision tree;
The initiative rarely rings twice;
The game can be won before you get to the board;
Staying objective when the chips are down;
The difference between better and different;
Intuition vs analysis;
Detecting a crisis before it’s a crisis;
and so on … the book illustrates every major point with an example of an actual chess game, and often an example drawn from business or politics. It’s seriously brilliant, and if I were you I’d buy it and read it while listening to some Bach. (Why Bach? because he was a ‘whole-picture’ man as well. You can’t compose a fugue one note at a time, because you’ve got to think about how it’ll repeat, invert, change speed, etc., and all of that happens at the same time. Most chess players are musicians, either performers or listeners).
That may not be the answer you were looking for, but it switched on so many lights for me that I have to share it.
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