Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've engaged someone across the Causeway in his postings about the process of creating a GM or grandmaster. Though he approaches it from the motivational speaker point of view, it is laughable ignorance on his part perhaps that several bloggers have tried to dispel  his thoughts which they think will only serve to misguide. So I guess its time to prove myself in what I know about his area of expertise (motivation and mind training) when it comes to chess players.

He is not wrong in that there are components in chess by listing the 2 player's minds, the chessboard, the clock. So I shall attempt to recommend the various books below which can help him understand the subject of chess better.

Having been around the chess training scene since 1982, although a volunteer then, I have researched quite a bit on the thinking process of the chess player and how it affects his/her  game. 2 landmark books come to mind:

Adrian De Groot's classic thesis on the thinking of chess players (from club player to World Champion) gives us an insight of the workings of the different class of chess players. What is interesting is his experiments by getting Grandmasters and World Champions to talk out loud what's in their heads as they see a position. We then realise that Grandmasters calculate not much different from the standard way of Check, Capture then Threat but they also are very good at grasping relationships between pieces while thinking. These bits of information (called chunks) allow them to orientate themselves in any position and find solutions to the problem at hand. A updated version of this book is Dan Heisman's the Improving Chess Thinker.

I have the utmost respect for Mr Heisman, who is only a National Master but speaks wealth of chess instructional knowledge in his Novice Nook articles found on NM Heisman further continues the experiment by Dr DeGroot and expands on the peculiarities of chess players when analysing the same positions set by DeGroot 70 years ago. Not much has changed apparently, but it does give valuable information to chess coaches on how to work on the player's thought processes according to their playing strength. If you know how to think, you will play better moves. Not by shutting down 'noise' which should not exist if you concentrate on the what to think.

In the realm of chess psychology, nobody beats GM Nikolai Krogius. A GM himself, he set upon the task of defining the different aspects of the chess mind and how it operates when pondering positions on the chessboard. Some of the topics like Time Trouble and its causes/cures, nerves, visualising, the chess image are very relevant to the tournament player in that there are methods given to correcting such weaknesses. A good book to understanding how to deal with competition variables.

As a chess coach, one must learn and continue to receive good inputs from others. We certainly do not bury our heads in the sand as someone pointed. The 2 authors have given wonderful insights on a training method that has yielded results. I urge anyone who wants to task himself on creating a GM to sincerely read what they have to say, because they have a training system that works. No need to join dots, imagine fears and what not. 

Knowledge is what sets us free from ill-conceived notions of delusion, so I hope I have answered the sceptics who have doubts about my understanding about in the area of chess training.

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