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Revenge of the fuddy-duddies - further improvement when you are "old and past it"!

  • FM sqmorr
  • | Mar 18, 2012
  • | 5853 views
  • | 26 comments

Lots of people have asked me whether I'm doing anything radically different these days to recently achieve some of my cherished goals (three IM Norms, several GM scalps) in the last couple of years - having failed to achieve them in almost 30 years as an FM!

The answer is not anything radically different, but I have learned a lot about chess development since I returned to chess in 2003, and used this to more proactively plan and train my chess, so I would offer the following tips to those (mature and not so mature) readers who wish to maximise their results:

1. Have self confidence

Techniques like self hypnosis, and performance psychology can help develop this and really persuade your unconscious self that you can and will cope, whatever the challenge. Giving yourself the chances to be lucky also helps.

2. Be sharp

Lots of practice to the build up of an event helps a lot, as does daily tactics exercises (eg, CT-ART, puzzles in the magazines, etc). My own personal favourite is to heavily concentrate on solving endgames studies (eg, Studies 2.0 from Convekta) in the build up to an event since it develops skills in precise calculation, imagination and resourcefullness.

3. Have energy

These days I only play in events where there is one game a day, and try to have a little nap before a game. I will NOT play when I'm tired (eg, at the end of a day's work) and I travel the day before I play. Also, some energy supplements for a long game are handy - that's why people always see me with my bottle of Sprite and bag of bananas!

4. Prepare well

The usual tip of analysing your games thoroughly is always helpful. Given limited time (which all us amateurs suffer from) it also makes sense to play fewer opening systems - but prepare them very well. I find that Solitaire Chess is very powerful for deeply understanding classic games and developing my inuition and thinking skills. Dvoretsky's books are also very powerful and demand a lot of effort and humility! Also, if you can afford it, hire a Russian coach - I have used two Russian coaches on ICC over the past four years and I gained a great deal of chess wisdom, chess culture and self awareness from both of them.

5. Play the strongest possible players

You really have to be constantly stretching yourself against the best that you can get access to. The lazy habits you develop that suffice to beat much weaker players do you a severe dis-service when facing tougher opposition.

A couple of recent games showing me in action. First a near miss against a very strong young GM from Croatia:

And now a win against a very fast-playing young IM from England: 

 

The best of luck in your games - except if you are facing me of course!

Comments


  • 17 months ago

    tucumcari

    Thanks for a great piece. I'm plannng on playing my first rated USCF tournament next month and will take your advice! I know what you mean about the Russians; I went to school with a Russian @10 years ago and he liked to say as he was beating me yet again "the Russian brain is different than the American brain."

  • 2 years ago

    FM sqmorr

    Hi LondonRay,

    Yes - thanks very much for the superb photo Ray. You took it when I was in a good mood just before getting squashed by Michael Adams!

    Cheers,

    Graham

  • 2 years ago

    LondonRay

    Nice article, photo by Ray Morris-Hill

  • 2 years ago

    yonikeren

    a superb article,written from the bottom of your heart!

    Thx :)

  • 2 years ago

    FM sqmorr

    Hi Tekoa,

    Your point is a very good one. Nothing can beat face to face coaching!

    However, compared to other coaching areas (sports, music, etc) chess is VERY receptive to coaching on the internet because the key things you need (a common board to discuss moves/games/positions, an audio/video link to chat over your thoughts and ideas) are easily available with today's technology (ICC, Chess.com, Skype,...). So in my view internet coaching can be ALMOST as good.

    Cheers,

    Graham

  • 2 years ago

    Tekoa

    It was heartening to read this article. You read so much about how people in age group have no hope of becoming any good.

    Personal coaching is obviously the best however, I do have reservations about how effective coaching through the internet can be. How effective is it when compared to f2f coaching?

  • 2 years ago

    Redoubtable67

    Really enjoyed your article.  Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.   

  • 2 years ago

    FM sqmorr

    Hi MiguelCamacho1,

    Good question! However 15.Bd2 is a mistake because of 15...dxe4 16.Bxc3,b4! which puts both white bishops en-prise and black has a clear advantage. Even worse, if white tries to avoid this by 16.Be2 he is completely lost after 16...e3!

    Cheers,

    Graham

  • 2 years ago

    MiguelCamacho1

    HI

    IN YOUR GAME AGAINST IVAN SARIC AFTER 14...RXC3 WHY WHITES DONT PLAY BD2????

  • 2 years ago

    rongchen

    Inspiring, thanks for sharing!

  • 2 years ago

    karangtarunasemarang

    Smile

  • 2 years ago

    Schacktherapy

    I'll be 68 in July.  This gives me hope and energy.  Now I just need to retire so that I can get my priorities straight on spend some serious time on my chess and flyfishing.

  • 2 years ago

    TonyH

    Actually it is possible to obtain a GM title after 58,...An instant GM title is awarded for winning a worldchampionship (the main one, senior and Junior and womens)

    Two IM's that I am aware of have gained the GM title this way (Larry Kaufman being a recent one)

  • 2 years ago

    jojotwello

    "Well, I just tell myself that im as strong as Bobby Fischer on the first move. However, it keeps going downhill from that..."

     

    Great idea by the poster of this comment!

  • 2 years ago

    mobidi

    @FM sgmorr Yes! it is very simple to become GM when You are 17 (remember ABBA)Laughing,it's more complicated ,when You 37 Sealed,it's "impossible"when You are 57 Cry.Now i'm 53 (like You)-my dreem -to become THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPION when i will be (if will be)  64 .It will be the record!Tongue out.Now i'm preparing some variants.Of course- i may play NOW-but ...Now i'm TOO STRONGFoot in mouth (i want to wait until i will be 64!).Sir,Your recommendations are very good.Hypnosis is VERY IMPORTANT ,if You don't believe just look at the game Tal-Semenkin (Riga1954),or maybe Fischer -Tal (1959 Yug.). Self-hypnosis ,of course,is very interesting in chess- weak player is playing " IN DEEP TRANCE"...Maybe You want to be The World Champion TOO ? We can do it ! (because we know SECRETS of our greate GAME!).Start NOW!

  • 2 years ago

    kcsmith169

    Thanks, great encouragement for me in my goal to return to OTB chess after a 37 year break and finally earn my master rating (as a starting point).

  • 2 years ago

    Naisortep

    I've become accustomed to reading about successes by prodigies. It is refreshing to read about an 'up and coming' senior citizen.
  • 2 years ago

    Naisortep

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 2 years ago

    MrMars

    why wouldnt you want to wish your opponents the best of luck in trying to beat you?

  • 2 years ago

    FM sqmorr

    Yes Delacorta, that is exactly what I mean. The key thing is to get actively engaged in the game as if you were there playing for real, as opposed to the tendency to passively just "read and nod" (as Rowson describes it) when you only play through the moves.

    Tom Rowan wrote a couple of great articles on solitaire chess:

    - Turning Your Chess Books into Grandmaster Strength Coaches

    - A Peek Inside Fischer's Laboratory

    You can find both at: http://www.chessforums.org/chess-books-recommended-reading/380-searching-few-articles-tom-rowan.html

    Cheers,

    Graham

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