Going for a Title: Chapter 2 "Training Like a Champ"
As I'm writing this there are 18,694,438 members of chess.com and although it may be the biggest platform for chess out there, it is not the only one. Although many are casual players, there are many serious competitors out there training just as hard or harder than I am with the same goal. Much like any other sport or pursuit there are many avenues to develop into a competitor, and many advantages and disadvantages that can effect this. I presently do not live in a chess mecca such as London, Moscow, or New York City, so I am heavily reliant on books and the internet for guidance or knowledge. Fortunately, we live in an era where you can attain the world's worth of knowledge from a few key strokes or a book. Studying puzzles and classic games in books has been just as informative as analyzing my own games and watching videos of masters playing on YouTube. One thing I cannot supplement is an experienced coach to guide me on a personal level.
At present, I do not have a coach. I had lined up an experienced coach local to me who I could meet with, but due to health issues he is no longer available. I have, however, had the great fortune of meeting some of you in the chess.com community and have also had some outreach from Twitter. I am continually impressed and delighted by how available and willing to help some GMs and other members of the chess community are to an ambitious stranger. Truly, there is no community as supportive and willing to share it's knowledge than this one, you guys rock. Some of the guidance I have been given may seem common knowledge to those who have been involved for some time or have had the guidance of a coach, but it is new information to me and has helped develop my understanding of the game. Admittedly I have been scoffed at or insulted a few times, this is the interweb after all, but the helpful advice has far outweighed this.
One tool that has helped immensely has been to analyze my own games and look for missed opportunities or successes. So far I have had three GMs and several friends on chess.com suggest this as the #1 tool they use to develop and grow. Another guidance I was given was to never give up in a game. On a higher level players are better equipped to know when it's time to throw in the towel, but a great opportunity is to fight on and see how your "fight of flight" is in the game. Not only is this a challenge, but when you win it is exhilarating!
Above was a blitz match I had recently. Although I did not play well, not giving up the fight lead to a win against a stronger opponent.
Right now I'm sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee, my phone, my laptop, two chess books, and a tablet. Although a jogger might think I'm having a relaxing Saturday morning looking at cat videos on YouTube or buying a fidget spinner on Amazon, I'm actually training voraciously for what I want most. Instead of hours in the gym, I spend hours developing my mental muscle. Although there may be some dissimilar techniques between developing as a chess player and as a more contemporary athlete, the similarities meet in the mind, not the body. I eat, sleep, and breath chess. My phone dings 24/7 for chess matches and tournaments I participate in, much to my wife's dismay. I spend hours "studying tape" of other players and go through scenarios in my head. I have developed a routine for puzzle solving, game analysis, and traditional book study. While it's been suggested I dodge blitz matches, I still participate to keep my mind sharp and "get my fix" as well as gauge my development. While my training and development may not show on the outside, aside from grayer hair and a developing twitchy eye, what's going on in my head is a factory of hard work. I took about a month away from blogging and became a bit of a hermit to study and train, but now I'm back and using this as fuel to reach my goals. Since I'm being transparent and honest, I feel more motivated to do well; we'll call this "The Schultz Method." To quote the great philosopher and hip-hop artist Watsky, "I put in hour after hour let's be crystal clear, I'm gonna get there if it takes a day or fifty years."