Studying vs. Playing

Jun 4, 2008, 9:51 AM |

A family saying at our home is "work first then play." Improving your chess skills is a perfect example of this theorem in practice: "study first, study second, then play."

Over the past few weeks, I've read a number of posts asking for assistance in improving "chess study." These requests range from "opening lines" to "tactics" to "end games." There's been a barrage of responses to these requests that probably go over the original poster's head as much as evaluating Black's position in "Spanish Game: Closed Defense. Alekhine Gambit."

Fortunately for Chess and unfortunately for novices, there are no short-cuts. There are not cheat codes; there are no "get rich quick" schemes. There's studying and playing and reviewing and studying; it's an endless cycle.

While it's frustrating to get mated or to hang a piece, it's these setbacks that everyone has encountered at some point in developing their game that become the foundation for solid play. The tendency to want to quickly master chess is probably the biggest setback in a novice's development because this aspect is often reflective in their game in over-extending pieces, attacking too soon, and the obvious tenet -- MOVING TOO QUICKLY.

So here's the simplest formula I can offer:

Measure twice; move once!

This applies to studying versus play as well. Spend twice as much time honing your skills and knowledge before you start yielding your sword.