Factors that influence your Chess progress - II
Once I isolated myself inside a room at my house in rural Mysore, India. A river flows near by, along with several farm lands, and other houses. I spent several month studying chess. But then I realized that I didn't have anyone else to play with. Working alone was stressful and lonely. Then I realized that my peers who are a part of a chess ecosystem elsewhere were getting better faster and are also having fun. On the other hand, there wasn't any Chess club I could be a part of, in my corner of the country. The only choice I had was to move around to a different city to be a part of a chess ecosystem there.
This made me realize how other external factors influenced my chess progress other than the learning process and commitment we talked about last week in this article.
A healthy Chess ecosystem plays an important role in molding a chess player, especially if the chess player is in his/her early years of development.
The discussion about chess ecosystems is broad and is a topic in itself. But to highlight the important players of a chess ecosystem, I would point out:
• Top Chess players - Inspirers. Example: Vishy Anand for Chennai.
• Chess tournaments - For better playing experience.
• Media - To get the news out and make more people interested in Chess.
• Coaches and Clubs - Essential for progress.
• Sponsors - Enablers: For more than five years, I received scholarship from my school in Chennai, which many people might know. Velammal is the name, and many GrandMasters were one time students of this institution. They encouraged my growth and also supported me financially. I know first hand how so many promising youngsters quit Chess because their schools weren't supportive. All this makes these enablers a critical part of a chess ecosystem. And, it also includes corporate sponsors who fund tournaments and other chess initiatives.
All these, and several other factors that play a key role in keeping a chess ecosystem healthy and thriving. Feel free to add a comment if you think I missed something. I'll be sure to include that in the next article.
Chess is a mind game. Who knows your mind better than yourself?
Some people perform better when they get adequate sleep and solve tactics before the game. For some people, they play extremely well, but in the slightest trace of stress, they start blundering. This is knowing your mind – the factors that will influence your performance.
There's another "Know yourself" factor. It is knowing your Chess mind. As in, what works best for you. What kind of positions bring you result. What is your biggest weakness? Is it your inability to handle time crunch? Is it your opening knowledge?
Knowing this helps make informed choices in your training. Working to iron out all your weaknesses will start bringing in more tournament successes.
When you think about this step, bear in mind it needs honesty in the evaluation of yourself.
What does a chess coach or any other chess buddy brings in to my training that I can't exercise alone? That is perspective.
What I see as methods to get better may look different from another person's view. It also includes the knowledge about strength and weakness. This external perspective is essential at least to prevent running in circles, or stagnating in a particular chess level.
I can write essays about it considering the fact that I ran in circles for more than ten years stagnating in the 2000-2100 chess rating level. I learned the lessons the hard way, and it took time to learn them.
As the saying goes, if you can't lead, you can guide. And hence the blog post. And I am happy to work as a coach helping out other chess players to get better at their game. And I'm also working on mine with this knowledge.
I tend to define Chess perception as the mental ability to have a firm grip of the chess pieces, squares, and their interaction, in an imaginary level.
This grip on Chess imagination helps when analyzing longer variation, and also helps avoid blindspots. My theory is that this ability is what differentiated elite players, because it helps them analyze accurately any position in a shorter span of time, which others might take forever. So, the better a person's mental grip, or chess perception, the more accurate and less forgetful he/she is when calculating deeper variations, and also less blunders.
It is also something that starts making trouble as age creeps in. So, it makes perfect sense to work consistenly on chess perception during training.
When I was young, the intrinsic nature of creative chess and winning motivated me to keep working towards my game. Money was a lesser priority since my parents took care of the expenses. But as I grew up, my priorities changed, my focus changed, and so did my motivation.
At one time during college, I was running low on cash, and played games just for winning more money. This lead to frustration. The focus shifted from the beauty of chess to money. So, I feel that it is essential to have a healthy source of motivation to keep oneself up and running with excitement, and to be aware of external factors that might throw your motivation out of balance and lead you to frustration. I should've been conscious when I played for money. I lost focus, and Caissa (Metaphorically, the Godess of Chess) punished me for that. Now, I keep myself motivated by analyzing my best wins and sharing them with others for feedback.
All these factors, from learning process to motivation plays a critical role in our chess progress. I feel that it is essential to be conscious of it so as to avoid the trap of stagnation in Chess. These are some of the lessons I've learned in my journey so far. If you think there's something left out, or if you have any other idea or personal experience to share, drop a comment below. I'll be happy to read and respond.
Thank you for reading. My best wishes for your success in Chess.