Getting, “It” Done In 2021!

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 60%! 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 6 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 3 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

SCBC 2020 in Review!!

Sundays: 430 pm – 630 pm Nov 29th – Dec 27th or, Monday Dec 28 – Thurs Dec 31st 10am – noon daily!!


Get the inside track on everything we learned in 2020?

1.) With no tournaments, how do players know they are making progress?
We’ve been accurately translating Chess.com numbers into over the board strength for years! That’s just one of the reasons Chess.com chose us to provide the post round analysis for the 2014 and 2016 Virginia Scholastic Championships!

2.) All of our students know to look for checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices on kings and queens and rooks. We are ready to share 2 more, “no skill required” factors that will help anyone win games faster.

3.) When we asked students to tell us the properties of the pieces, they told us how they moved, not what their properties were! This exercise gives an instant boost in understanding and playing strength!

4.) Pawns are fast!? Players were smiling ear to ear when we focused on the way pawns are supposed to be used. Find out their true value and the entertaining threats they pose when your opponents think that pawns are slow and expendable!

5.) A draw is a win! The key to being a better player is playing up! Understanding the rating system will help you get as many points from a draw as you do from a win!!

Registration is from today until the 28th of November or until Dec 27th depending on which class you pick. Cost for this great year ender is just $99.00! Slots are limited so please register early! Email your name, ratings of any kind, and which course you want to; waterman2010kir@aol.com. We will confirm and send you an invoice.

May your holidays be full of chess!!
Coach Mike C

Virtual Stamina

So how is the virtual school going? It’s hard to sit there for 40-55 minutes, get a 5 or 10 minute break and then repeat that 4 or 5 times in a day. Uninterrupted, that’s like having year round, daily, company training!?! LOL Just imagine it’s a year round chess tournament with 4 or 5 rounds a day! If you want your child to excel, they need to learn more about virtual stamina. My classes have always been 2 hours. If you talk to my students, they’ll tell you that in the 1st couple lessons, I wore them out in 20-30 minutes. In a little over a month, they found themselves going 50, 60, even 75 minutes before they even thought about their snack. Every one of my students can explain, “Chess Fatigue” and what to do about it! They’ve told me it works for more than just chess!

Learning to concentrate at chess is only hard if your opponent is annoying. Every act of thinking about chess encourages optimism, confidence, and commitment. Becoming better at chess is sure to improve their concentration! That includes school work. If you want to know how to get the most from virtual learning, we’ll teach you the shortcuts.

Private lessons only. Homework, No-Homework, and Prodigy Programs are still available. Our programs are 6 – 12 weeks. Ask about the free zoom consultation. Coach Michael Callaham 804-426-6058.

Turning Draws Into Wins! Just 3 fall slots left!?!

Whether it’s chess or body building, every sport is constantly evolving. Some of the variants that are coming out from Alpha Zero are going to change chess training for sure. One of the ways we evolve is to get rid of old ideas and habits! Competitive Chess Players must gain experience at managing risk!! When chess is a toy, there is no risk, not even to the ego!! It’s OK to win, lose or draw and it doesn’t matter how much you miss because there are no rating points on the line.

Let’s talk about the value of a draw and help you understand that a draw is just as good as a win if you manage your risk correctly. To do that, we need to explode a couple of long held myths! Once you enter into competitive chess, it’s win, draw, and never lose. By managing your risk, you can get 25%- 60% more points for a win, enough points to feel like you won from a draw, and if you do lose, they take less points away!

If you played in a quad as a 1200 against a 1400, 1300, and 1200 and scored 1.5, your new rating would be 1220. 2 points would make your new rating 1262!! 1 point would only drop you to 1195. If everyone was rated 1200, 1.5 gets you 1200, 2 points only get’s you 1225, and 1 point would drop you to 1175!! For the lower rated player, a 1300 gave them odds of 9-7 and the 1400 gave them odds of 5-3. These odds, the risk, are all imaginary until you have reached the 1st Category, 1800 and above!! You should expect to lose when chess is a toy. You are obligated to win or draw when it’s a tool! When you lose 3-5 days from work, pay lodging, pay transportation, meals, entry fees, and other expenses, that’s a really expensive toy!!

Myth # 1 … “Look for the best move every time.” Simply ridiculous!?! Look at this position with white to move:

There are 16 equally good moves in this position. There is only the move that suits your taste. I’ll say it again, Grandmasters beat other Grandmasters by making their opponents play unfamiliar middlegames from familiar openings. If you put any classic line on your computer, after about 12-14 moves the positions will read, “=”!!

Myth #2 “Draws don’t get you anywhere?!” Ridiculous!! Draws don’t get you anywhere among equals, but when playing up, you can have more draws than wins and get a, “Category” result.

15 | MICHAEL CALLAHAM |2.0 |D 13|W 4|L 7|D 16|L 6|
VA | 12417373 / R: 1881 ->1910 |N:1

I was playing in an under 2200 section when I earned that performance.

Myth #3 “Experience” is the best teacher”

In chess this is only half true!?! With 100’s of years of games and advice available, why would you be learning from your experiences when you can use someone else’s? Jason Morefield has gotten his rating all the way up to 2337 in just 407 games and only 84 events. He achieved the Category of, Life Master in Jan 2019!! All this talk is about saving the family time, money, and effort. No one is better at that than us! Call for a free consultation and quote! Your wallet, spouse, and other children will thank you!! Call Mike Callaham today. 804-426-6058.