Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Most children I know love to sign up and enter every tournament they can participate in, but the results they obtain do not always measure up to their enthusiasm.

Sometimes we need to understand what is meant by " LESS IS MORE".

To put it simply, why play 5 tournaments and end up getting 50% score ? Why not prepare and play 2 good tournaments and end up top 5 placing?

Even grandmasters do not go past 60 games A YEAR. They spent the rest of the year PREPARING.

So how does one PREPARE?  Rather than reproduce the same text, why not read it for yourself here

However, I must qualify some of Botvinnik's comments - they are meant for top players, not club players.  

" I study games played by my rivals during the forthcoming competition"   

You can only do that if you are playing in a round-robin tournament, where everyone meets everyone. This approach is not practicable in a Swiss system tournament, where your opponents vary. But then, if you are observant enough and have a good memory, you may be able to recognise the usual openings played by most of the tournament regulars. Having that is the first step -  you can now go into researching what to play against them should you meet them.

"For one competition, 3 or 4 opening systems with White and same for Black are quite sufficient"  

Sufficient for a master, yes, but TOO MUCH for a club player. In my opinion, club players and students do not have the time nor energy for 3 or 4 opening systems. Maybe 1, maximum 2. In other words, you have 1 good line against your opponent's reply. It is not possible to play 1 e4 and 1 d4 and have the time to know all the variations made by Black. You can have at best 2 replies to 1 e4, then one against 1 d4 and hopefully one that will be able to answer 1 c4, 1 Nf3 or any other first move.


Here I agree with Botvinnik 100%.

"Certain of your schemes should be tried out in training games.."  

Botvinnik was talking about playing real training games with a regular partner ( in his case Ragozin) but if you don't have one, playing on the Internet with 15 minutes or more per side does help. One should of course analyse the games to look out for weaknesses which could then be rectified.

"Anyone who wishes to become an outstanding chess-player must AIM at perfection in (the realm of) analysis"  

I often wonder how many children do take their lost games and subject them to a proper analysis BY THEMSELVES and not using their computers or coaches?? This is a very important phase in chess learning. Identifying your weaknesses in your thought process is a necessary step to refining how you select your moves and how well you SEE your opponents' threats. If you lose in the same opening again and again, there must be something you do not understand about your opening, or the way you've planned right after the opening ends. Have you consulted how the masters have played?

Aaagard in his book EXCELLING AT CHESS rightly recommends that one should analyse first without the computer's help, mark out the critical phases in the game and then use the computer to check what better moves there are AT THE CRITICAL phases.

With that, good results will come to those who work at their chess the smart way.


  1. A very sound advice, adjusted to suit amateur player like most of us.

  2. If you have read Jan Timman's Art of Chess Analysis, he tried to follow Botvinnik's advice of doing nothing for 5 days before the start of the tournament, just to get the hunger for chess. He then played and lost the first 4 games. In the end, he decided to go back to his routine of late nights and started winning again.

    Hence he finally understood what Botvinnik's last statement meant:

    "Possibly some of my suggestions may not be of much benefit to some players; each must consider them critically and apply them with caution, taking his own capabilities and habits into account"