What obstructs 95% of players? (part-2)

Comments: 141

In the previous issue we talked about the typical problems many chess players have. You may want to refer to the previous issue here: LINK

In short, people read A LOT of chess books, but the benefit is MARGINAL at best. Why is this the case?

I’ll tell you something seemingly obvious, yet it will have a tremendous effect!

There is a HUGE (I mean extremely HUGE) difference between reading and studying. Unfortunately most players don’t fully understand this, so let me explain this difference in detail:

1.     Time:

How much time do you spend reading a book? Anywhere from a few days to as much as several weeks. Thus reading can be quick.

Studying a text book can take a month or a lifetime!  I’m not exaggerating. For instance ,studying a religious book can take a lifetime, and even then you may still not fully understand it.

This is closely connected with the next item:

2.     Repetition:

Once you have read a book, you never read it again. It seems boring and unnecessary.

When you study certain material, you try to implement it in your practice. In this case you’ll need to repeat the process several times to make sure you understood completely how to proceed.

Once you’ve applied this knowledge in a practical application, you will develop new questions. You will then need to study this material again to find solutions to your new questions.

This process may occur many times until you finally get 100% effect out of this knowledge (book).

3.     Your activeness:

When you read a book or watch a video, the author of this material is active. He prepared some materials and is providing them to you. You go over this material, however, by yourself, without really doing anything active. This is passive learning, much the same as when you watch a new Hollywood movie – you are a passive viewer.

When you study something, you are independently active. You try and develop solutions yourself, and only after that will you compare your ideas with those of the author.

You try to understand every author’s idea. If you don’t understand something – you don’t skip it, but study the material over and over again until insight comes to you.

You try to understand and remember everything. After that you go and try it in practice. You may fail, but you keep trying until you train this new skill enough to get good results.

To study requires one to be very active.

4.     Level of difficulty:

As you may have guessed, reading is easy. That’s why most of people like it so much!

You read something, you feel like you should be getting smarter. You digest ready-made material with little or no effort required from you. This comfortable situation makes you feel good because it is not difficult. Studying is much harder. Here you have to face your weaknesses, admit them and then put in a hard effort to confront them. You need to spend a lot of time and effort, do unusual things and develop new habits. Inwardly you have to admit that somebody is smarter than you in this area, which is painful for a lot of people.

Reading is entertainment. Studying is a hard work.

5.     Memorising:

A few months after you read something, you only remember the most general ideas from that material.

Let’s create a little test. Have you studied any of my paid courses? Do you remember the titles of each video lesson? What rules were presented in each lesson? How many practical tasks were presented in this course?

If you only study my free lessons on this blog, do you remember the lessons you’ve read two months ago? What were we talking about then?

Unfortunately, most people can only give very general answers. It means you have NOT studied these lessons.

When you study something seriously, you won’t forget it later because it is learned. It becomes a part of your nature, your new habit.

In many countries people shake hands after a meeting. You never forget to do this. You don’t need to write it in your notebook – it is automatic and becomes a habit.

Studying develops new habits. Reading develops… nothing.

6.     Free/paid:

Not always, but often you can get reading material for free. More often than not, you have to pay for your study course materials.

There is some good news for you here. I’ve been an active chess coach for the past 7 years. During this period I’ve charged $ 0 (in other words helped for free) and as much as $ 100U.S per hour. I’ve noticed an interesting thing: the more the student pays, the better results he/she gets.

I always try to do my best, so my coaching is the same but the students’ ATTITUDE is very different.

For instance, those who paid a lot never come late to the lesson. Free students sometimes even skip the lessons.

Those who made serious investments write down all important information. Some of them even use a voice recorder, so as to repeat the lesson later on. Those who paid little never do.

After an expensive lesson, a student always performs his home tasks (even when it seems unnecessary for him).

In the same way, you will probably eat the dish if you paid a lot for it in a restaurant (even if the dish looks unusual for you). It seems silly to pay for something and then not use it. We avoid making silly mistakes.

After a free lesson a student decides by himself which tasks to perform and how. So he distorts the training and doesn’t get any real results.

All in all, when you pay for something you take it much more seriously.

That’s why some tricky guys download tons of free chess materials from the internet, but their real progress is miserable. It’s just fair.

7.     Effectiveness:

After you study something new, you can take a qualitative leap forward. You develop new (more effective) skills. You change (improve) your way of playing. You start getting unusually great results.

After reading something, you feel good. You may be enthusiastic. But when it comes to practice – nothing changes. You still get the same results as before. This upsets you. You want to bring your mood up again and… you start reading another exciting book…


Now that we have discussed this topic in great detail, it’s time for you to ask yourself “Am I reading or studying chess materials?

Be honest with yourself. Be objective and take all criteria (your results) into account.

P.S. Have you enjoyed this lesson? Share it with your friends by using the buttons below.

Comments: 141

Comments 36

  1. Houdini 3 is out and it is much stronger , many gone buy it but they will not play better chess of it , many download a lot all Is wrong I bought all you’re courses and stick to it not use something else anymore. U are amazing U are the only one that really can read/know the amateurs mind !!!! always have dream to have a GM as coach that know what I did wrong why I loose , why I get no progress etc etc 🙂
    My progress is slow because I serious study all your courses , but the good think is finally after many years I get real progress !
    Thank u GM Igor Smirnov U are the best ever for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Wonderful…wonderful..wonderful ..this’s article simply wonderful, thanks very very much for our teacher SUPER INTERNATIONAL GM Igor Smirnov,,,

  3. Excellent lesson GM Igor Smirnov. You are the first person who underline this difference between reading and studying. It is sure that this lesson will help a lot of people to progress and reach the next level if they follow your advices. Thank you again.

  4. I have learned the following from a native (American) English teacher: There is a big difference between studying and learning. It may sound strange because we were thought that these two words are synonyms but meditate a minute about the following sentece and you will see that is true. You can learn something without studying and sometimes you don’t learn a thing even when you do study.

  5. Thanks for your insight. You have hit the nail RIGHT on the head. There is a BIG difference indeed between Reading and Studying and many of us, like myself, doesn’t take enough time to study. Thanks again for this timely reminder

  6. of course this is very true. The dilemma for a 52 year old, like me, do I have the time to make it work?
    I already convinced you can help me out. I only wander, can I help myself out?
    This is the only reason why I haven’t taken the course yet.

  7. Thanks for your nice words! And I’m ready glad you enjoyed the lesson.
    Don’t forget to ask yourself “Exactly how will I implement it in my training?” and “What changes should I make in my training now?”
    P.S. Stay around in the coming days, I’m preparing something good for you 🙂

  8. Recently I send an Email to Smirnov for paid private session but smirnove is very busy but this lession cleard all my doubts about studying courses. very Thank full to igor smirnov there is no words for me how can I appreciate Igor!

  9. I HAVE BOUGHT AND PAYED FOR THE ABOVE pRODUCT BUT i AGAIN HAVE PROBLEMS DOWNLOADING .jUST LIKE LAST TIME.if you cannot help me please refund the $149 in South African Currency as I am an elderly pensioner who is not very Computer literate and cannot afford to lose the money

  10. dr mr Igor Samirnov

    it is really correct what you have said. to study chess material ( opening or what ever) it is a muss for us to repeat and repeat the lesson until we 100 % understand the main idea of the lesson. we study than practice it with the computers or friends and study again and practice it over and over and until one day the idea of the lesson stay in our mind.

  11. I agree : Now I don’t worry about me reading several times the same passages of some chess books and trying to solve by myself the exercises .But I worry about the one I only read once .
    Everytime I study a chess book , I note the day . Then several years after I do the same exercise and can see I haven’t improve my game , but I didn’t forget .

    But it takes a lot of time , really .

    Reading opening books was quite unuseful . I can’t remember all the variantes .

    This is the same for all we do . A student listening to a maths course can like it , though he won’t be able to solve problems about

  12. Great Post! I wanna thank you Mr. Smirnov , this is the post I was looking
    for and I agree with your concepts 100% and thank you for the time and
    effort you have spent for this rich post,
    I will follow you!

    1. Hi Ben,
      You can subscribe you our free lesson and posts by following the below link.

      After you register your e-mail you will also get a free course by GM Igor Smirnov called “Quick Success in Chess”

      For more information about subscription please read the below FAQs.

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  13. After reading this article I feel better : I spend a lot of time just reading and re-reading the same pages and chess exercises ….( for instance Lorentz training book) . This is what you call studying .

    But I didn’t pay a lot for that book , though .

    You said one takes time on lessons because he paid for .
    But maybe he paid because he wanted to spend time .

    Then in the former USSR , I suppose chess lesson were free , weren’t they ?
    I am a teacher and I notice some parents believe their child would improve because they pay for lessons . However , the best pupils never spend a cent …

  14. Really, really nice post.. Thanks. I will try to apply these in my university lessons and chess-life.
    Great as always, this time even greater 🙂
    Thank you!

  15. Outstanding post Honorable GM Igor. I personally like to skim first thru a course to become familiar with the content and then repeat and repeat as necessary to learn and be able to apply quickly the concepts. Sometimes it takes many repetitions but it works for me.

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