A lesson from a complicated man!
GM Yasser Seirawan wrote an excellent story in the October 2016 Chess Life magazine. Titled "A Complicated Man", Yasser wrote about his mentor, someone he breathed the chess air with for a period of time. USCF members can look at a digital edition here.
Viktor Lovovich Korchnoi passed away in June of this year. This chess icon is well remembered and spiritedly analyzed in this article from GM Yasser Seirawan. As he writes, in 1980 Seirawan flew to Zurich joining Korchnoi’s entourage of chess practitioners and shares a snippet of the initial training intensity. While there are a lot of games, pictures and substance in the article, I had at least one “take-away” to add to my regimen. A small paragraph in the article outlines this worthy idea.
“Whatever I thought “working on chess” meant before now flew out the window. Viktor was relentless. He was up at dawn, making us breakfast, reviewing our previous day’s work looking at positions, waiting for me to wake. I always awoke a few hours after him before joining breakfast. This usually consisted of Muesli, cottage cheese, yogurts, hardboiled eggs, fruit and toast as well as tea. Then an hour of five-minute blitz to warm up. Long walks, a light lunch that we might skip and then we got down to really serious work for seven hours straight. Petra [part of the entourage Seirawan met there] would come to cook dinner and disappear. We would be working throughout, and then have a break for a final hour of blitz before pottering off to sleep.”
Yasser Seirawan goes on in the article acknowledge the “profound effect” these weeks and months of intense daily training would have on his own game. There is more details in the article and a worthy read for anyone interested in chess improvement but would also enjoy some unique insights and challenges (like the revelations and real fear and “looking back over the shoulder” in the entourage with potential retaliation from Russia over Korchnoi’s defection).
The “take-away” I have added is this early morning blitz regiment…with coffee, to my chess improvement discipline. I have varied memberships at different sites and will play at least three blitz games (5/5 is my preferred but often settle for the standard five-minute time control). It is a great way to keep up with different sites and an easy way to find or seek a game pretty quickly with multiple venues. For me, it is somewhat worthy to play a game on playchess.com where I honor my ChessBase program, FICS through the Babas interface, ICC home to my 45/45 league play, and of course, Chess.com’s live chess that has improved immensely with the latest “v3” version.
Even as I write in this treatise about this new addition to my practice, my mind is still playing over this morning’s games. I think about those opening moves, particular positions and moves where I “koulda, shoulda, woulda”. It has given me a somewhat of a chess “presence” throughout the day and often leads me to study a particular idea as well as get as much chess into me as possible!
Thank your Yasser, for writing an article unearthing deep lessons and practices from one powerful chess circle. Thank you and God’s rest to Viktor Korchnoi, who so relentlessly pursued his desire to play chess that continues to form an entourage.