Get Ready to Win!

Apr 10, 2011, 2:24 PM |

Last week, my chess game improved greatly.  I have been taking private lessons with Henry for three weeks now.  A good teacher will greatly improve your game.  You can read books on your own, but a good teacher has a better perspective on where you are and is more adept at giving you specific recommendations on how to improve your game.  Of course you can learn by reading books, and watching videos—all of which should be done regardless, but a good teacher will make your learning process more efficient.  You don't know what you don't know.  One smart mistake I was making, with a book in hand, was studying pawn chains as though they were my opening.  So I was making too many pawn moves—you should make no more than two, three if you fianchetto on your castle-side—while failing to develop my higher ranking officials.  That minor adjustment improved my game tremendously.

This week, while going through a game I lost, my teacher said to me, "He's not beating you.  You're beating yourself."   That message really hit home to me, because too often we make mistakes that we have no excuse making.   It pained my teacher to see me make blunders when he knew that I knew better.  If I continue to make those kind of mistakes, he said, "I can't help you."  If you know better and continue to make the same mistake,  no one can help you until you decide to assume the position of knowing better and truly desire to want better results from yourself.

In order to reduce my blundering I need to play longer games and really think about the moves I'm making.  I wondered to myself, am I thinking like a good chess player?

This week, to develop my chess metacognition, I am going to annotate each move with why I am making a move and also considering the following questions:

  • Why did I make that move? 
  • What do I gain by making that move? 
  • What does my opponent gain with their moves? 
  • Where are his vulnerable positions that I can exploit? Where are mine?

This game here is the first time I tried this technique.  I won by resignation.  I will do this for every game I play this week.   

Don't pick a fight unless you're ready to win.  If you're  in a state of mind where your defenses are down; you're mentally or physically tired, pressed for time, or just going through the motions, play an unrated game.  A large part of being a winner is picking and choosing your battles.  Assess your state of mind.  Size up your competition.  The entire game of chess involves involves making moves that will increase your probability of winning.  Don't play to lose.  Get ready to win!

Do you have any advice on improving one's chess metacogition? What questions do you ask yourself while making a move?