A trainer - What is he good for?
Today the topic is a little special.
I'm on a training week with 6 other players and my trainer Igor Khenkin. There will be a lot of players saying this is nonsense. And it might be right for those. I don't want to persuade anyone here that having a trainer is good. Personally I think this is depending on attitudes and circumstances.
What I want is reporting what I like about having a trainer and this week and showing a very special position which I would have never seen without the trainer.
When I was a child I dreamed of becoming a very strong player. But I had no real chess education before I was 13 except looking in some books and playing around mostly with other kids. Then I entered a childs tournament and faced club players. They gave lessons each week. This were games out of an english chess journal with points per move. This taught me some tactics and the importance of attacking the f2/f7 square.
Instead of continuing this story I stop with the summary, that I got some single lesson here and there later, but mostly I was a self taught player, over club average and clearly beyond 2000. And family affairs, kids and a solid income became more important, so that I even stopped playing in a club for 25 years.
As I had gotten a solid scientific education I restarted playing tournament chess with a complete different approach. I read books and topics about training. The best forum for this was chesspub.com. Search there for SmyslovFan, who is member here too. The best blog series I found was from Jacob Aagaard on the homepage of Quality Chess.
So far this demonstrates only a lot you can do without a trainer.
So why do most other sports have trainers and what are they good for in chess? And what made me spend money for a trainer as soon as I could afford it without handicapping my family life?
At first it's fun, if you get the right one. I. B. Khenkin is dedicated to chess in a way and qualified that it's simply sometimes beautiful to observe this. An example?
We go through my losses first and sometimes I play a move which is so bad, that he even doesn't want to discuss it. I ask, why this is so bad. He continues to talk about the alternative moves and the consequences for the position. This is no intentional teaching strategy. He simply cannot stand my misjudgement of the position and the connected mistake. And he cannot stand it because he dislikes me. No! He cannot stand it, because he loves chess and is hurt if its logic is mistreated.
Believe me. This teaches and motivates more than any book could do.
Sometimes I went out of the training "zusammengefaltet und passte mit Hut unter der Tür durch" (folded and fitting with hat on under the door). But this was not the consequence of a personal attack. It was the consequence of his love to the game and his direct speech. As there was no disrespect to the person I had never a problem to stand this. A trainer is not there to feed you with honey all day long!
His knowledge helps a lot to detect my weaknesses. And sometimes chess is simply magic, if you get explained grandmaster games by someone who does really unterstand what's going on on the board.
Would you believe in a winning position of rook and bishop against rook and knight, if rook and bishop against rook is a drawn ending? It happened in the last Hastings Chess Congress. I give the complete game, you can jump to move 78. Before you can see a battle with black fighting to keep his hopes for the first place and white fighting the winning intentions of a stronger opponent.
I could write some more blog entries about what I learned and experienced. I hope you get the fun connected to a good trainer, if you love chess.