Monday, January 20, 2014

Should my child play a slower time control?

Has your child lost on time before?

Remember: "Feeling" low on time and losing on time are two different things. Many kids only get in time pressure when they realize they are losing, and they use all of their resources to try to salvage a losing position.

It's most important for the player to play a lot of good chess players in conditions where that player tries hard to win.

It is also important for the player to learn how to play weaker opponents but win consistently. This skill comes from experience, and it is the reason why the top half of a National tournament loses their rating points to the lower half.

If you are a Master playing against a bunch of 1600 players, you will occasionally lose games due to silly mistakes or time pressure if you are playing a fast time control. But every Master I know plays blitz, g/25, g/120, and basically every possible time control available.

Never hand-pick your opponents, be flexible when planning tournaments, and just be flexible.

And maybe avoid blitz and 1 minute chess (it depends on the kid, but when in doubt, avoid blitz and 1 minute chess).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

App Store and Amazon.Com

Basically all of the App Store chess apps are the same. Stockfish is free and perfect.

Basically all chess books are good and the ratings don't tell you if the book is readable. It's not so easy to find a readable (enjoyable) chess book. The chess audience likes to feel like they are an adult reading a challenging book. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to feel this way (including the adult who "thinks" they enjoy this type of challenge).

Monday, January 13, 2014

Trick yourself into moving slowly (quick notes unedited)

These "quick notes" were originally posted 10-11-2012.

- "Move slow" is the most common thing a lot of students hear.
- There are techniques to help you play slower.
- Think of 3 candidate moves or more, even when you have something memorized, or if you think your move is forced. Make yourself come up with 3 good moves.
- If you see a good move look for a better one.
- Try to calculate more moves ahead. "If I go here, his best move is... and I will respond with..." Just try doing that even if it is tiring. Usually people calculate terribly at first. Option 1) use your intuition only and never calculate (a sign of talent but also lazy). Option 2) Calculate every day even in positions that look simple. Play the chess game in your head and officially deliver the move on the board.
- Stop and assess the following on every turn:
King safety, Material, Development, Space, Pawn Structure, Good Minor Pieces (Knight on an outpost vs. Bishops in an open board), better use of squares and files.

Notating trains you to play slower. Always notate, so moving slowly will feel natural. Notating helps one create a routine and a "rhythm" similar to a basketball player who shoots free-throws.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Not Playing vs. Playing Terribly

Question: What's better. To play a low quality chess game where you play fast and don't think or simply not play at all?

Answer: I don't know. When you play low quality chess, you get some terrible habits that will be hard to reverse. The good news is that you will learn a few patterns. Overall, it's hard to get rid of bad habits and easy to learn patterns. So aim for high quality practice. If you are going to play low quality chess games, use moderation.

Practicing should be a lot more tiring than competing. Just make sure to remember that tiring practice can make some people quit chess. It's a marathon not a sprint (sorry... sports analogy).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

#BobKnight #AnnoyingSportsAnalogy #Preparation

Question: What can you (a person who isn't good at chess) do to help someone (who is good or nearly perfect at chess) improve?

Answer: A lot! Don't let the student practice in a way that he or she gets worse! I've often felt that someone like Bobby Knight would be one of the best chess coaches in the world although his style of "coaching" is not good for young kids (he's a little too intense for the average chess player).

Here are a few of my favorite Bob Knight quotes. Also I apologize for using sports analogies (I'm tired of people doing this).

Bonus: Find the quotes that are similar/redundant.

"The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare."
"You don't play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball."
"The key is not the will to win... everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important."
"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."
"People change over the years, and that changes situations for good and for bad." 
"Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one." 
"I have always maintained that in basketball the importance of the mental to the physical is about four to one."
"If I came in to recruit your son, I would tell you, your wife, and your son, that I will be the most demanding coach your son can play for."
"I don't intend to retire." 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Ways To Improve

1. Play against your computer but notate anyway. Set it at a level where you lose sometimes. Young kids/beginners should set it at a level where they lose 1 out of 4 games. Advanced players should set it at a level where they lose 3 out of 4 games. Notate even though you the computer notates for you. The key is to get used to the "rhythm" of notating. Get used to the process. If you can patiently notate against the computer that instamoves (moves instantly) then you can be patient against any opponent. Learn to enjoy the process of notating. Remember, notating a chess move will be easier than writing your own name and some day you will hate playing unnotated chess (unless you are under 5 minutes).

2. Read chess books that are readable. Most chess books discourage young readers (and adult readers). Start off with "How to beat your dad in chess." Don't buy your chess books based off reviews! There are so many 5 star chess books that will discourage kids from reading.

3. Use ChessMagnet.Com or any similar site.


Don't just play your family member. If you do play your family member, notate. Playing low quality unnnotated games is bad for you! Unnotated games are bad for you! The only time you should not notate is when you have a clock and you have 5 minutes or less.

Don't just search the app store and play a chess app hundreds of times on your phone or tablet. Consider doing something like I described in the first paragraph of this blog post.