Is it possible to become a very strong player without reading books?

  • #1

    So one of my chess tutors, a FIDE 2000+ player, claims that he has never looked into a chess book as he finds them boring. Is that possible?  I think he is making this up. Hard to imagine that you play chess for that long and at his level without ever having read a chess book. 

  • #2

    It used to be impossible.  Now though with computers, online play, video tutorials, etc etc...sure, I'll buy that.

  • #3

    Sure. I mean, this website isn't a book right?

  • #4

    sure, but I think he is a bit too old to have all his chess wisdom from the internet.

  • #5

    Lets go for the columbo approach here. How can he find them boring without having looked in them? Well, what do you think? Have we identified a sneaky natural raw talent that reads books but wants to give the impression that he is the dude of chess?

  • #6

    Books are one way we contain and communicate information, but it is always second hand in comparison to actual human interaction. It's always more fun to learn by playing. Being able to play various random players from all over the world means you can see all different styles of openings, strategies and play, which was the kind of thing that books were good for back before the internet boom. Various demographics would be used to various play styles in the same way accents evolve.

    Surely you can still learn things from books. But you should always be reading what you're interested in. Don't force yourself to study a boring old chess book because you think you ought to, when you'd rather just play a game, or watch a famous match analysis on youtube, or play solitaire. (Unless of course you find that boring chess book to be thoroughly interesting, then go ahead!)

  • #7

    bronsteinitz, I got the sneaky idea that you are right. He claims that he has bought books, but never read them.

  • #8

    I've known a French IM who learned only through playing (a lot!), analyzing with stronger players and using a chess engine (back when they were 2500-2600 strength).

  • #9

    No, it isn't.

  • #10

    OMG! You mean in addition to remembering how the pieces move

    we have to learn to read!

  • #11

    It is exceptionally unlikely however remotely possible. If you found an IM to instruct you, analyze with you, and play you for hours and hours a day, you could certainly become quite good without ever reading a book. 

    But for those of us who don't have the wealth to hire our own world-class daily coach, it won't happen.  

  • #12
    pfren wrote:

    No, it isn't.

    you mean it is not possible to become a very strong player without reading books?

  • #13
    Bartleby73 wrote:
    pfren wrote:

    No, it isn't.

    you mean it is not possible to become a very strong player without reading books?

    Yes.

  • #14

    Well, you're wrong then. There's nothing in a book that someone can't tell you verbally.

  • #15
    Scottrf wrote:

    Well, you're wrong then. There's nothing in a book that someone can't tell you verbally.

    I would be wrong if I said you know what you're talking about.

    But I didn't say that.

  • #16

    Funny, but you're still wrong.

  • #17

    Pfren, are you saying that if someone had a GM or IM trainer work with them every day for several hours, they'd still be unable to become a strong player (to me that means around NM strength) even after many years or even decades of work unless and until they opened up a book and started reading? 

  • #18

    Something tells me that Scott learned all his moves orally :-)

  • #19
    Kingpatzer wrote:

    Pfren, are you saying that if someone had a GM or IM trainer work with them every day for several hours, they'd still be unable to become a strong player (to me that means around NM strength) even after many years or even decades of work unless and until they opened up a book and started reading? 

    The trainer's work is definitely not substituting knowledge gained by reading books. having trained a few GM's and two (junior) world champions, I know that my training could never substitute that piece of knowledge.

  • #20

    Scott is right, words can be both written and told. Aslong as you have a teacher, why would you ever need a book?

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