The Value Of Chess (Part-2)

Comments: 74

Before reading this lesson you may like to review or read the first part. Here it is: LINK

In the first part of this lesson we were talking about a positive influence of chess on you:

Chess trains your mental skills.
Chess gives you deep understanding of strategical principles.

If that sounds logical, then why is it that MOST chess players can’t seem to apply their trained mental skills in reality? Read on!

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It’s a comforter…

Tyler Durden: It’s a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator: …Consumers?

Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers.

Chuck Palahniuk “Fight Club”


That’s it! That’s the reason why! We are so accustomed to and reliant on ready-made solutions, that we forget to think independently.

If you are unsure about something in chess, then what do you do?

You open a book, search in a database or turn on a computer engine, don’t you? And there’s nothing wrong with it. Information is easily accessible so we ought to take advantage of it. That’s how MOST chess players roll in this day and age of computer and internet. But don’t we miss something?

Yeah, we forget to think by ourselves.

Maybe you are thinking: “Oh thank you Captain Obvious. You just saved the day by stating what’s so apparent.”

Really? Well, read on.

I’ve had a lot of different pupils. When I’ve just started to train someone, I often was shocked about how MANY obvious mistakes he/she made. By the way, lots of those obvious mistakes were suggested by their previous coaches.

I’ll mention only a few examples (otherwise this lesson will be endless 🙂 ).

Chess player spend quite a lot of time getting his openings in shape. While analyzing his/her games, I see that the evaluation of a position changes many times during 1 game. That said, the final result has no relation with his position after an opening!

The conclusion suggests itself: openings are not very important for this player now; he should eliminate his more significant weaknesses first. Why didn’t he/she understand it by himself?

Chess player spend time on learning theoretical endgame positions, BUT they never happened in his real games. Perhaps this is not the most effective training for him, isn’t it? 🙂

Chess player solve thousands of tactical puzzles, while he almost never make combinations in his real games. This should have forced him to change something in his training, right?

Chess player wants to change his results. At the same time he/she does NOT want to change his way of training/thinking/playing. Isn’t it obvious that the 1st thing is a consequence of the 2nd one?

Einstein once defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again… and expecting different results’. Perhaps it’s about time we cure ourselves of that insanity and change the way we approach chess training?

The list may go on and on…

Such mistakes look obvious (especially after I explained them 🙂 ). BUT then why do people keep making them? Please, think about it.


Comments: 74

Comments 16

  1. Thanks Igor. Actually by digest all this information u share with us not only we will become better chess players but also better human beings :O) I believe that the way u approach teaching is unique and beneficial to the one’s personality. Take care…:O)

  2. Igor Smirnov Sir, Please Sugest one best book which will teach me the principles for practical life… Thanks in Advance

    1. I don’t know if our chess teacher will suggest anything, but I have a couple of suggestions: 1. Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tze 2. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu….and don’t forget what Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” from Les

  3. Dear Mr Smirnov

    We will gladly and patiently wait your analysis over the motivs of human behaviour.
    It is very nice to hear your opinion since you have studied this sector!

  4. Hello GM Smirnoff, To answer your question: The insanity you refer to is a combination of resistance to change & laziness. It’s obvious also that our consumer based society(filled as it is with control freaks & power mongers)is training us to do as we are told & trust authority for answers. When I started playing chess I had to be an independant thinker ’cause there was no computer help & books were not that much help either & even though I achieved an expert rating(mostly by my own methods), my ability to think for myself told me that I had gaps in my chess knowledge. However, I’m not sure that I ever would have realised that I needed a better thinking system if it wasn’t for your excellent courses. I am very thankful that a strong GM like you took the time to get a background in psychology in order to develop a superior method of training in chess. This is something I would have liked to do myself if you had not beat me to it! Anyway, thanks again GM Smirnoff, I hope this is a good answer to your question.

  5. Mr Smirnov
    In order a player or a pupil to change attitude or perspective he must be willing to. It is not a matter of the trainer.
    Lack of self esteem, arrogance, fear, unwillingness to confront with the unknown, are bonds that cannot easily be refuted.
    I think the only way for a teacher to deal with is good spirit, cosistency, and humor!

  6. that’s it, you have hit it. It is like changing our engine oil every month with the same brand of oil which expires so soon.

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