Thursday, October 24, 2013


The SCF and other organisers do their best in providing ample opportunities for players to take part in competitions, as is their objective in creating a healthy chess scene.

However this does not mean that the players themselves should try to play in every single tournament. Playing in a tournament should be viewed with achieving the following objectives.


After drawing up lessons for losses in previous games, the player should review carefully the losses derived and determine their causes. Improvements should be made and digested, so as to avoid the same mistakes made when playing the next tournament.

New ideas derived from the study of lost games should be tried out as well in the next tournament and the cycle of analysis and refinement continuously applied till the player is confortable in the positions appearing before him/her. Ultimately, the player should not be surprised by any opening novelty that has not been researched or played arising from his/her repertoire. Failure to remember the moves and resulting in lost positions a second time in a tournament game is, in my opinion, totally unnecessary.

It is not enough to have a good thought process - one needs to practice using it to derive good moves.


The aim of playing in a strict time control is to practice discipline in thinking about moves. The emphasis here is mainly in working out variations arising from the opponent's moves which may differ from prepared analysis. Here the aim is spend the correct amount of time in deciding what best to play. Some positions are complicated and require more time, while simple captures should not bog the player down in the time spent. What I observe mainly in competitions is that players offen do not spend their time carefully in working out their moves when the position becomes critical, especially when the pawn structure can be altered or when multiple captures of pieces is possible. Such moments require careful consideration but often players react too fast and allow their positions to crumble. Many chose to exchange pieces when offered without serious thought, often slipping into inferior positions after their exchanges.

To play accurately in time trouble is an art in itself. I have seen good players able to dish out good moves even when their time left is dangerously low. This is a sign of good concentration by the player in foreseeing all threats by his opponent and working out their responses in advance. Here players should learn to retain their composure and not panic at the sight of the clock. Alertness, clarity of thought and determination are most needed when approaching a time trouble situation.


Good chess is often possible when the player achieves deep concentration and focus on the position in front of him/her. Failure to do so often results in missing tactics, leaving pieces to hang and therefore captured. Often the sense of danger leaves the player who drifts into his/her neighbour's position trying to solve problems there instead of focussing on their own positions. Deriving a good move from a good thought process, in good time, is also a goal for the player to work on.

If you are a player that joins  tournament after tournament without working on the above objectives, my fear is that burnout will result in you playing the same openings the same way, reacting to situations with the same "programmed" moves and likely achieving the same results as your previous tournament. One must never allow oneself to get into this droning mode as it is the surest way to kill your creativity and interest in the game. When this happens, it is time to stay away from the tournaments and start studying games again to recharge your creative batteries.

I recommend that one should not go beyond 60-80 serious competitive games a year and spend the remaining time STUDYING not just openings, but games of the top players and analysing their moves from the opening all the way to the endgame. This is necessary for all improving players who must have good ideas and plans with them as they prepare for their next tournament. Not forgetting the daily practice of solving tactical puzzles to keep their tactical muscles in shape of course. Only thus can one attain good results consistently.

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