Saturday, 14 April 2007

Chess improvement #1: Know yourself

This is the first in our series of chess improvement tips, targetted at the club or casual chess player who is serious about improving their game. Whilst each tip will be relatively self contained and easy to follow, they are not a substitute for hard work: for serious improvement you will also have to be prepared to work hard.

The first step to improvement is to "know yourself": what are your strengthes, what are your weaknesses, what are your goals? Once you know this, you can better focus your improvement efforts.

We'll borrow an exercise from the business world to help us with this:

Firstly, take 4 sheets of paper and grab a watch (this exercise is adapted from the Visionary's Handbook)

Then, take 1 minute and on the first sheet of paper, brainstorm everything that describes you as a chess player when you woke up this morning; Not the kind of chess player you were yesterday, not the kind you want to be, but the kind you are now, today.

1st minute up. Move to the second sheet of paper, and again for 1 minute, brainstorm the chess player you are going to be in 5 years time.

Next, on the third sheet of paper, for 1 minute brainstorm the things that need to be true in order for you to be that chess player that you said you are going to be.

Finally, on the last sheet of paper, for 1 minute brainstorm the things that make you different as a chess player; that set you out as a radical amongst your peers.

Take time to re-read what you've written. You should already have started to know yourself better as a chess player, and have started to formulate a mission in your mind. We'll show how to use this knowledge in future posts.

Chess improvement tips are published every Saturday on Chess Tales. As this is the first week, we'll publish an additional second tip later today.

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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.