What’s your, “It” for 2021? We no longer have an elephant in the room! Covid, masks, social distancing are here to stay for a while. Why? Because people are nasty, hard headed, selfish, law breaking, hypocrites, that’s why. Reread, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and then wear your mask!?! People won’t wear masks, they won’t wash their hands, they won’t stop touching their faces, and they refused to social distance. We had the opportunity as a country to show the world how this virus could be contained. Instead we acted like it wasn’t that serious. Real or not, serious or not, curable or not, vaccinable or not, it is changing the social structure of the world. Chess does not have to be one of it’s casualties!!!
The good news is that chess is a brain function more than it is a social one. By that, I mean you can prepare and improve the same way people always have… Alone!?! Chess is an inner game. So how do you measure your success if you can’t get to any tournaments. The sad part is that most people don’t know how to measure chess success at all!
Most people think that you measure chess success by ratings. That’s simply ridiculous. The only thing you are measuring is the player’s, “Estimated Strength”! If the only thing your coach cares about is your rating, you will waste thousands of dollars and waste thousands of hours taking the slow route to get good at this game! Using ratings exclusively to determine if someone is a success at chess is the same as using a High School Diploma to determine if someone was a successful student! Every degree you can get is a bench mark of strength. High School Diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s, PHD, are all just measures of minimum performance strength. What was their GPA? Did they graduate on time? Early? Late? What courses did they take? How many courses did they fail? Did they go on campus or get their degree through continuing education? What else did you do while you were in school to make sure you got a, “well rounded education”?
So now we come to chess. C Player, B Player, A Player, Candidate Master, Master, Senior Master. These are indications of strength for sure, but are they indications of success? As a coach and an employer, success has to be determined by their road to success as well as their destination! How long have they been playing? How regularly do they play? What type of competition have they faced? What is their winning %? Higher rated? Lower rated? What is their P %? What is their career PPG? Annual PPG? What is their Category? Does it match their rating? How well rounded are they? Are they a Certified Coach? Are they a Certified Tournament Director? Do they have any Affiliate experience?
This former World Champion, Viswanathan Anand is giving us a lesson just by taking a picture. Your computer is a toy and a tool but it’s not the boss!?! Everyone of us plays and studies differently on a computer than we do on a board. At some level what’s going on just isn’t real to our brain until it’s, “out in the real world”. Until we start the conversion from toy to tool, any success you think you are having on the computer is an indulgent delusion!? Let’s say you are doing tactics on Chess.com and your rating is 1600. If you solve a 1600 puzzle it will give you 12-16 points. If you fail that 1600 problem, it will deduct 12-16 points. Here’s the delusion. After you fail that 1600 problem you will get a 1200 problem and get 8 points, then a 1300 problem and get 10 points, then a 1400 problem and get 12 points. That’s not the ELO system! That’s the, “Please don’t leave when you fail because you weren’t paying attention because it’s a toy.” system!! LOL
If we are going to grow in our capacity to win and draw chess games we must remember that perfect practice makes perfect! You must be determined not to settle. For most of us, (me too sometimes) the computer is like setting up a puzzle on the board and then peaking in the back of the book to see if we got the 1st move right. still LOL If you want your computer to help you, then you must set up for serious training. You must write out the entire answer and any variations before you move. You must play to win or draw at all times if you expect to develop your, “Tournament Eye” and intuition. And, finally, you need to look at your statistics, not your rating to determine if you are actually making progress.
To lend some definitions;
P%= Protection Percentage. If you play 50 games with a record of 25-10-15, Your P% is 70%! Awesome if you are playing up most of the time, average if you are playing in your class most of the time, weak if most of your opponents are lower rated than you.
PPG = Points Per Game. Points Per Game is taking the number of points you’ve earned since coming out of the provisional ranks and dividing that by the number of games played! An average of 3 or better is good money! Anything less means you need to be doing more analysis and fixing instead of playing all the time. Just so you know, learning from playing alone is the slowest way to get good at chess!!! Let’s say that after your 25th game your rating was 754. After 5 years and 300 games your new rating is 1995. That’s good money. If after 25 games you were 971 and after 5 years and 600 games your new rating is 2237, you should have spent more time doing analysis and studying instead of playing so much!?!
Category and Ratings match. If they’ve played 100 games since they got to 2000 and they are still a Category 1 player, or they’ve played 100 games since they got to 1800 and are still a Category 2 player, that means that they are only good at beating players their rating and below. You can not experience growth by playing in your class all the time. You been duped into using prize categories as achievement markers!! The only time you are supposed to play in your class is when you are trying to win the prize! Parents select class sections for their children all the time. It’s a direct contradiction to Grandmaster advice!!
To get a scholarship or make chess count on a Middle School, High School, College Application, or Resume, you need to be a complete Chess Personality/Manager. Being a Nationally Certified Coach or Referee of any kind demands respect and elevates these applicants to peers instead of subordinates during any kind of interview!
In Closing I want to say that, “It” is possible for you in 2021! Whatever, “It” is, we can help!
Coach Mike C