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Grandmaster Chess Training and Opening Preparation

  • GM arunabi
  • | Jun 27, 2011
  • | 29902 views
  • | 58 comments

Kkjimbo asked:

I am a low ranked club player (British Chess Fed 109) A fellow patzer at my club has agreed to spend some time with me in the close season training. We plan on a once a week 1 or 2 hour session. Have you any tips on how we could get the best out of this time.

Dear Kkjimbo,

What we would recommend is, to play a lot of practice games. Never mind about the result but try to give your best in each game. Take your game seriously and do not think that the player you are playing against is your friend. Try only to give your best in each game. Whether you win or lose you still have something to learn. After each game you both can analyze the game and share the ideas.  If you learn a new opening try to play those lines in practice games. You will gain lot of ideas before the real tournament game.

One more idea is, try to play blindfold games. One of you can play with the board and the other player will be playing blindfold. This will make you sharp if you are getting ready for a tournament. Try to solve as many tactical problems as possible. 

 

Hello!

What does it take to become a grandmaster, how much training and how much dedication. And do you think everyone, regardless of talent, can become a Grandmaster?

Greetings from Denmark, Simon Seirup

Officially the GM title is the highest title one can achieve in Chess apart from becoming a World Champion. It cannot be said that everyone can become a Grandmaster. To become a Grandmaster you definitely require talent and proper training. I have seen a few IM’s who definitely play at a Grandmaster standard but still don’t become a GM. One of our friends who became a Grandmaster a couple of years back, missed the GM title in a single game in 2005. He just needed a draw against a GM in the final round to achieve his 3rd GM norm and cross the 2500 mark. But he lost that game and it took him another four years to achieve the GM title. It is clear that not just training and talent matter, but also strong nerves. 

A Grandmaster should have a good opening repertoire. Hence to be a good GM, opening training is also important. Opening theory is developing in leaps and bounds in recent times and it is essential to keep track of recent developments. It does not matter how many hours you work but it is important to do the necessary work. Kramnik in one of his interviews said “Chess training is like gym training:” no matter what you will have to train every day. If you miss one day then you will have to work several days to makeup for it.

Players who are pretty good in tactics and attacking chess might not be strong in positional chess and vice versa. If there is a weakness it is important to work on it and eliminate it.   

 

I know GMs and IMs play the opening differently from other players, but how differently do they play the opening, what is their intention in the opening?

GM’s and IM’s are usually well prepared in the openings. They have clear ideas about the openings they play and they often try to get the advantage in the opening itself.

They prepare the openings in such a way that they have analyzed all the possible ideas for the opponent and they know the exact way to counter them. They study the opening in a much more concrete way than the normal players. They know the piece placements and pawn structures for different openings.

That is why when a GM plays a Novelty against another GM, it is not really easy for the latter to play, since the player who introduces the novelty would have analyzed all the possible ideas his opponent can play and will be ready to face them. But the one who is facing the novelty has to work out everything over the board, which is really not easy. Unless you have analyzed the opening and know the games previously played and ideas used in that line you cannot even understand that the opponent has played a novelty, much less respond correctly.

Comments


  • 16 months ago

    skFeldkirch

    What is the Henrik Carlsen method. How does it work?

  • 16 months ago

    skFeldkirch

    what does the Henrik Carlsen method look like?

  • 3 years ago

    dannyhume

    You can do exactly that...right now. 

    You are actually 30 years older than your post and you have been given a second chance because in your older age, you regret listening to those who said you could never be that spectacular because you didn't start early enough.  But you've been given a free 30 years; your memory is clouded because that was a stipulation made by the angel (or satan or whoever or whatever put you in that induced state).  Make the most of it.  Same thing happened to me.  They didn't take me back to pre-school age, but I'll take these free 30+ years and try to see what may come of it.

  • 3 years ago

    Roma60

    i wish to go back 30 years and have a good memory

  • 3 years ago

    Bornwarrior

    You need both to reach the ultimate top of the pyramid. Talent without hard work is meaningless, hard work without talent will get you very far. And that is better than 90% of people out there. Because most people look for the easy road, quick rewards. With hardwork, constant commitment, and focused training you can reach a higher level than most. People who out there say:" I can't do this because I lack talent", Well they lack something much more important talent. They are lazy, and lack tenacity and willingness to work hard and long.

    Henry Ford said: "whether you think you can't do it, or that you can, you are probably right."

    Talent comes into play in a maybe a smoother ride to the top, or if you aim to reach the company of Einstein, Fisher, Napoleon,...the true GREATS in their fields.

  • 3 years ago

    IM dpruess

    Elubas,

    i never said that hard work doesn't exist. nor that it is less important than talent. i just believe that people also have a variety of different mental gifts.

  • 3 years ago

    dannyhume

    I definitely want the Henrik Carlsen method. While Magnus may have played in his first tournament at 8 years old, when did he actually start the Henrik Carlsen method? 

    Also, what about idiot-savants who can't otherwise function in society...if some of these people can instantly add massive numbers, accurately count matches that fall on the floor, or name the day of the week of any date in history instantaneously, then surely there are some who can instantly calculate 50 moves ahead better than any of the previous/current chess champs?

  • 3 years ago

    Elubas

    "does anyone arguing against talent think that if they had the "Henrik Carlsen Method" when they were 9, they would have been a GM at 13? (and 2800 at 18)."

    That would be helpful, but you'd need a lot more than that: environment, motivation to put in tons of hours for chess, discipline, resources in some cases, just to name a few.

    The problem I have with those who argue that talent is essential, is that, too often they assume it purely for the lack of a presently clear explanation! They are just amazed ("how is this possible?") so they simply assume that it was something inherent. Isn't this how they came up with greek mythology? "How could the sun have gotten there? Oh, there must have been a god for that! And a god for water too!" Now of course there are logical explanations for those things, so a god for any of them seems unnecessary to most. But for a long time that was thought to be very convincing.

    Everyone is different, yes, so naturally there can be some natural tendencies of ability for a given person, but that doesn't mean that it's more or less significant than hard work; to say anything else with no support would be a bold presumption.

  • 3 years ago

    Bornwarrior

    Hey guys,

    Everyone on their posts, wrote about "Chess talent", but I think we should approach the question more broadly. I don't think that it exists a specific "gene" for chess, or mathematics, or anything that specific. I think that once we develop a specific brain wiring, excellence in related intellectual pursuits is possible. In a sense, a chess grandmaster can also be a great engineer (thought process and spatial acuity). So I believe a chess "gene" is too simplistic. The other side is nature vs nuture.

    First of all, no one can't deny that we are all born differently, therefore in a logical sequence of thought process, we would agree that the wiring in our brain will also be different. The shape of our wiring will make us more prone to excel in certain fields more than others. The same go for our body composition. ( a 7 foot guy will be great in basket ball but might struggle in wrestling). In a sense, some may have an initial lead in some activities. So the question is, can personal choice and perseverence overcome that hurdle if we weren't born with those qualities, and we choose to pursue an activity where maybe we weren't really suited for?

    Well, I believe in a perfect world, where some "guru" get a print out of our body composition and wiring and decide where we are going to focus all of our attention with unlimited support in one direction, then the answer to the above question would be no. Because each one of us will be doing what they are born to do 24/7 with all of the support.

    But since we live in an imperfect world, where there are an infinite number of influences, then I think that someone can overcome that hurdle by sheer determination up to a certain point. Maybe A is not as smart/or suited for chess as B, but A had a very hard life and therefore sharpened his competitive edge and survival instinct, whereas B had a comfortable upbringing. These influences will determine how each approaches their chess study and how they might "fight" on the board to get that win and become a chess grandmaster. A might devote more time and effort, and struggle much harder in a game and beat B. And even if someone had the perfect mix, other influences from daily life can either enable him to succeed or hinder his progress. Too many variables influence our acts to really sum up any definite answer.

    That being said, one might be able to defeat the competition and get a rank as a "grandmaster", world champion, or whatever else... but to be truly great that intuitive predisposition is required.

    Greatness and title is not the same thing. We have muhammad Ali and klictchko, Fisher and Karpov, Napolean and Eisenhower ( or whoever else)...

    Just my 2 cents.

  • 3 years ago

    fish_food

    It is rather difficult to be sympathetic with your claims, especially on a site devoted to chess, and by extension, chess improvement.

    If you knew the research on talent ,practice, Myelin...it is not likely you would have your views. So you think you are being insulted.... Perhaps, but what is an insult is often subjective...so I am telling you are not au courant with the research and I am also telling you such research was born out by the Polgars (and many others across many disciplines) and your view is simply wrong. Insulted? Not my problem.

  • 3 years ago

    IM dpruess

    my point was his memory of the names of players, the city the game was played in, and the year. not the position ;-)

    please stop insulting me with every comment by calling everything i say ill-informed, ill-thought out, or making nasty comments about you hope i think more about my chess moves. it's unpleasant, and it doesn't win arguments.

    i in fact was totally informed about the study you mention. you just did not read what i said carefully enough to understand what i was actually talking about.

  • 3 years ago

    fish_food

    "another tidbit about Carlsen: apparently if you show him a position, he'll not only know "oh yeah, that looks familiar" but he'll know the players, the site, and the year it was played. i doubt he trained to have that particular memory ability, because... that would have been a lot of wasted effort and would have prevented him from training most efficiently at actually playing chess.'

    Unbelievably uninformed statement. The study of chess master vs non-master memory has been done.

    Show a master -- including Magnus -- a position from a real game, and yes, they (or he) can remember it with ease. Show them (or Magnus) a position with pieces randomly set on the board that bears no relation to a real game, and their(and his) recall is no better than the man on the street. 

    Again, the recall has been learned -- it is chess specific -- and it is not an inborn talent. The master easily recalls a normal postition because of chunking. He cannot use chunking however on a fantastic, random postion that bears no relation to a real game or chess pattern he knows.

  • 3 years ago

    IM dpruess

    Danny, one person who i think became a GM in just around 4 years of chess play was Magnus Carlsen, who played his first tournament just shy of 9 years old (and I saw a game of his from then, he was truly a beginner); and became a GM shortly after 13.

    does anyone arguing against talent think that if they had the "Henrik Carlsen Method" when they were 9, they would have been a GM at 13? (and 2800 at 18).

    another tidbit about Carlsen: apparently if you show him a position, he'll not only know "oh yeah, that looks familiar" but he'll know the players, the site, and the year it was played. i doubt he trained to have that particular memory ability, because... that would have been a lot of wasted effort and would have prevented him from training most efficiently at actually playing chess.

  • 3 years ago

    dannyhume

    I wonder about this whole Laszlo/talent/hard-work thing.  Lots of people may try to get their kids to become GM's, however how many have a persistent consistent methodology that essentially comprises a large proportion of their childhood education?  How many have children willing to do this?  How many are willing to force their children to do this?  How many children would naturally gravitate to one activity like chess with that much focus and attention without being labeled as autistic?

    This lady I know has twin boy and girl 5 y ear olds who could not be any different (he likes trucks, smash, guns, sports while she likes pink, princesses, and art).  They are both phenomenally intelligent and talented youngsters for their age, but the boy would never in a million years sit still and train chess (or any one thing) day in and out.  I know a virtuoso pianist/physician who has 4 children, the oldest is a boy who was around 6 and a girl who was around 4. He simply said that the boy won't sit still while his girl had potential and focus.  I asked how he (and all his siblings) became such accomplished musicians and he said "discipline".  He had a holiday party once and his mother was there and I asked her how she raised such overachieving children and she said (in her foreign accent):  "I was a police officer, constantly reminding them and practically forcing them to practice daily".

    So this whole talent vs. work thing seems a little artificial.  While I can readily acknowledge that someone can be more suited ("talented") to play chess, I am just unconvinced that anyone has any significant special edge over anyone else of similar general intelligence and work ethic.  I have yet to hear about anyone who became a GM in less than 8 years and all of them had rigorous consistent training that essentially was a large part of their childhood.  

    Except Capablanca.

  • 3 years ago

    Kmarshall

    thank you sir, appreciate the answer Smile  I did the same, coming from the same generation as you.

  • 3 years ago

    fish_food

    kmarshall-- I have not played competitive chess for many years, but I was rated a uscf master (before mobile devices) back in the day.

    I did not have the advantage of the current advances in training methodology and computers, so I guess I trained the old fashioned way, by studying chess books.

  • 3 years ago

    Kmarshall

    @ fish food...just curious, your rating is what, and how did you get there? What are your training procedures, etc. I think that would tell us a lot about the validity of your hypothesis. If a person trains like crazy for a long time, and never goes over 1400 (I personally know a few in my chess club who have done that) and if a person hardly ever studies (like Capablanca, for example) and is a great player, one would have to assume that there is some talent involved in the mix. Just a guess...

  • 3 years ago

    fish_food

    "@FishFood - What is unreasonable about Dpruess response? Are you trying to suggest that there is absolute proof that lazlo's methods will work on anyone? If so that is foolish. What is not disputed is that Chess involves a very specific portion of the brain, and that some people are more developed in that portion of the brain then others."

    What part of Myelin do you not understand? What part of gene expression do you not understand? The brain and body adapts -- very gradually --to the training demands put on it. Of course, if you train incorrectly, no adaptation occurs. That is what a GM has...he has trained so that his brain has adapted over a period of 9 or 10 years. The talent was not inborn, it was created.

  • 3 years ago

    fish_food

    Those who believe in talent are only hurting themselves. It would be revealing to look at their training regime.

    "My father developed a theory why none of the women players became grandmasters. He carefully studied the life stories and developments of the great male champions. Then he searched for the answer: what do men do differently than women, and why do women stay behind?

    He believed that one can only achieve high results if one has high expectations in the first place. In the case of chess, in order to become a World Champion or even a grandmaster, one has to have the highest goals. Also, it is important to have similar training methods and competition challenges to the more successful players. Getting strong competition in the 1980's certainly meant competing against men. All along our dreams and goals were to become a top ten grandmaster in the world." --Susan Polgar

  • 3 years ago

    CConstantine

    Have you ever seen a toddler, lets say 2,3 or even 4 and they are dumb as hell?  I mean honestly there are dumb people in this world.  No matter how much you train them, no matter how dedicated they are, they will never be a GM in chess.  I believe hard work can get you so far, maybe the average person can obtain strong club player status, maybe Master, but the idea that anyone if they train hard enough or are taught at a young age can become a GM is insane.  Life is a bell curve plain and simple.  There is talent in all things, and there is also hard work in all things.  Lazz gave his daughters the environment to nurture their natural intelligence and their talent, if they were born dumb as rocks it wouldn’t have mattered.  I agree with the other post, just because a mind reader guesses one thing about you doesn’t mean he/she can actually read minds!  I can only imagine how many fathers tried to make world champions and failed. 

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