Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Good Can You Be at Chess?

First, learn the meaning of the chess categories and ratings*:
* The following are international (FIDE) ratings and may not align exactly with rating systems used by countries that use other rating systems, such as the United States.
  • beginner < 1300 rating (or no rating, no tournament yet)
  • amateur = 1300-1699
  • club player = 1700-2000
  • good player, first category = 2001-2199
  • Candidate master = 2200-2299
  • FIDE master = 2300-2399
  • International Master = 2400 - 2499
  • Grand Master = 2500-2599
  • Top Grand Master = above 2600 rating
The more your rating increases, the harder it is to gain new points or get to higher categories. It is a pyramid where the base is much larger than the top.
With a 2650 rating, Andrei Istratescu, the head of International Chess School, is one of the best top grandmasters in the world.
Almost every young chess player at one time wants to become a grandmaster or get from 1400 to 2500 rating as quickly as possible. Some people ask us what to do to become a grandmaster in a year. Others, more ambitious, want to become grandmasters in a few weeks. It is understandable that people want to get on the top of pyramid as quickly as possible.
However, "Rome wasn't built in a day".
In any competitive domain, be it medicine or physics, be it athletics or tennis, it takes at least 10 years to become an "expert". Fortunately, chess is also a competitive domain with more and more people attracted by its beauty every year.
Even the chess prodigies of today become grandmasters after years and years of intensive study and after participating in strong competitions.
Most of us have many other duties, thoughts, and concerns. Many of us do not have the time to study chess hours every day. Many of us do not have time to participate 1/4 of the year in competitions.
Ok, so how good can you become at chess?
The most important factors have to do with time and age. Let's see:
1) How much do you study?
Two hours per week are usually enough for a busy person to make sensible progress in chess if he follows a structured program of study and training.
Dedicating 6 hours per week is a great time budget for study by someone striving to achieve great results relatively quickly.
2) How much do you play?
There is a common misbelief that 5-7 tournaments per year are necessary to have any chance to become an International master. This is far from true and the proof is that there are old grand masters who were happy to play one tournament per year. More important is to be prepared for the tournaments you do play in and to go there with all your forces charged at maximum.
3) How old are you?
It is again wrong to believe that chess cannot be learned at older ages. A young person does indeed have a better memory but an older person has better logic and a more organized thinking.
Other factors such as your talent, memory, nerves, and attention are also important. But if you acknowledge which are your personal weaknesses, you can diminish them. For example, if you do not have a good memory, you should not play sharp, critical openings. If your attention is a problem, play the move in your head first as if you had played it on the board, wait a few seconds and play it later for good. If you are tense, avoid a time crisis or don't be interested in looking into your opponent's eyes...
Finally, you can become as good as you are serious.

What a Chess Grandmaster Does

Someone who wants to become a grandmaster must dedicate many hours every day for study and constantly participate in strong tournaments. During the night they usually dream chess positions and opening variants. They must have a fantastic memory and nerves of steel. They also need a partner for study and training of at least the same level. The hobby becomes a passion and the training becomes a way of living.
Chess is a great hobby for all of us
The path to improvement is more fun than the result. Chess is a great hobby, no matter your rank as you always compete against people of the about the same level as you. Your hobby is highly intellectual; it keeps your mind active and healthy.
And as it is so complex, every step you make forward to understand it better, to discover its secrets, will bring you more joy and reveal more of the game’s beauty.
If you want to obtain great results in only 1 year, check out our Grandmaster Package.
Also, learn how to improve at chess

source: chessmasterschool 

"How do I become a Grandmaster?" by Daaim Shabazz, Ph.D.

In chess, an ambition may be to learn a particular opening, to beat a friend in five-minute chess, to win a club title, or another lofty goal. These goals may change over time depending on the progress of preceding goals. In chess, a handful of players decide on the ultimate aim of  becoming a Grandmaster through the world federation known as the Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or by the acronym FIDE (fee-day). This is the highest level of mastery in chess.  Many often try to put the Grandmaster title a context and compare it with a similar activity. Some will say becoming a chess Grandmaster is equivalent to getting a Ph.D. Let us be more realistic and agree that the two processes are vastly different in their design and execution.
Is a GM title equivalent to a Ph.D. in Chess?
I remember reading an article on ChessBase where the author presented data citing the number of Ph.D. recipients at a California university (in one year) eclipsed the number of  those earning the GM title (in the entire history). Thus, this was the basis for saying it is harder to get a GM title than to get a Ph.D. These arguments are dubious and would imply that rarity of completion determines difficulty of the task. Even if we say that at least a GM has a Ph.D.
in chess, the comparisons are incongruent. The point is that chess is a totally different type of process.

For example, a chess player does not enroll into a highly-structured, multi-tiered program (like getting a Ph.D. degree) within an accredited institution, assigned to mentors for guidance and have to follow a stringent set of rules, and spend years trying to prove the value of esoteric subject matters. Even more challenging is having mentors and administrators who can determine whether or not you advance through three stages (i.e., coursework, qualifying exams, dissertation) each having its own set of rules and challenges. Fortunately, chess may be more practical because the individual has more control over their destiny. Much is based on attained individual results with each tournament being a rigorous staged exam.

The chess GM is not merely a supreme chess player, they have the keen ability to ask a series of precise questions during play.

What is a Grandmaster?
In chess, the Grandmaster is the highest level of skill attainment. These men and women have been sanctioned by the governing body as having demonstrated an advanced understanding of chess through sport competitions. The chess GM is not merely a supreme chess player, they have the keen ability to ask a series of precise questions during play. The difference between a GM and non-GMs is the GM not only has a deep understanding chess ideas, they also understand which situations to apply them and in which situations to deviate.

I interviewed
GM Maurice Ashley in a segment titled, "The Mind of Grandmaster" and he talked about  how a GM does not necessarily see the pieces as harboring unique movements,  but vessels of energy to be employed in the given position. He stated that some situations causes  a player to break long-established rules. Sometimes rules get in the way of the truth of the position. If one watches top level games you'll see ragged pawn structures deliver a tangible value… or scattered pieces slowly gel into a coherent powerful force.

On a more practical level, a Grandmaster invariably serves as a model that aspiring chess players would like to emulate. Many GMs were traditionally aloof and kept a distance with non-GMs, but in the age of Internet chess, e-mail, text messaging, social networking, the barriers between GMs and non-GMs have been reduced. It is easier to approach strong players these days on a social level and this may be one of the positive side effects of technology.
So… what do I do??
Remember the chess player seeking to be a Grandmaster? The question he/she may ponder more than, "What is a Chess Grandmaster?" is "How do I become a Grandmaster?" This is not an essay on how to improve your skills to reach Grandmaster level because there are countless books and learning aids that do a great job. What this essay will do is give a basis primer on the technical process of achieving Grandmaster through FIDE. There are four things (at a minimum) that absolutely must happen to meet the basic requirements for becoming a Grandmaster.

  • First, score three Grandmaster results or "norms" in FIDE-sanctioned tournaments;
  • Two, reach a minimum rating of 2500 in the FIDE rating system;
  • Three, have the federation to complete all the required paperwork including norm certificates and pay the processing fees;
  • Four, receive conferral by FIDE.

Ultimately the player's federation is responsible for submitting the packet which includes, the title application form, norm certificates (with crosstable), a fee as required by FIDE.

As you can see, there are a number requirements and each has its own set of internal issues and politics. One is the stipulation concerning norms and rating categories that determine the number of points needed for a norm (see FIDE Handbook, section 1.4 on "International Title Regulations"). To give a thumbnail sketch, a player has to score a certain number of points given the strength of his/her rated opposition. The stronger the opposition, the fewer points needed; the weaker the opposition, the more points needed.

The result is basically stating that a norm is the score expected of a Grandmaster given the strength of their opposition. In round robins, norm chances are strengthened since each non-GM will play all the Grandmasters in the field. In Open tournaments, you typically will play Grandmasters only if you are scoring well. Thus, you may not get paired with the required three GMs if you fall off the pace. There is a recent ruling that states that
GM norms do not expire. At this point in time, there are no considerations for earning more than the required three. It may be a good future policy in FIDE to award bonus ELO points to those who earn more than the required amount.

Ultimately the player's federation is responsible for submitting the packet which includes, the title application form, norm certificates (with crosstable), a fee as required by FIDE. There have been cases where the arbiter has not informed a player of receiving a norm and/or did not issue a certificate after the tournament. Sometimes the arbiters make mistakes, so it is up to the player to pay attention to these details. It is also up to the federation to investigate any problems with the application process. There have also been many cases where federations do not submit the proper paperwork, misplace the file… or forget altogether. The player may have to apply pressure in these cases.

The final step is conferral by FIDE. The governing body has a committee called Qualification Commission and they view all the applications to make sure all the requisite documents are present. They then proceed to vet the applications to ensure that the tournaments are FIDE sanctioned and that the player's norms are legitimate. Once the packets are found to be in order, a vote is taken and conferral is granted.

FIDE - Fédération Internationale des Échecs

Another Path… Less Trod
There is another path to the GM title, but this path is less likely. It requires a player to win a World Championship level tournament (World Championship, World Junior Championship, World Senior Championship). This means the granting of the title is automatic if one wins clear first. In the case of the World Championship, the top 16 will earn the title if they have not already done so. Typically players placing in these positions are already Grandmasters.
One of the most controversial rules in FIDE is the automatic granting of titles. The problem has come at the International Master (IM) and FIDE Master (FM) level where problems of credibility have surfaced. For example, in weaker chess regions where there are few titled players, automatic awarding of titles are looked at with disregard by peers who earned titles through three norms and rating requirements. There are many cases where players earn the IM title and their ratings are well below the required 2400 level… in some cases as much as 300-400 points! This denudes the value of the title and this practice should cease. Such problems are not likely to occur with the GM title, but the biggest problems may be the legitimacy of tournaments where there norms were earned.

If one achieves the Grandmaster title, it is certainly an accolade worthy of praise and like no other. However, it carries different meaning in different societies. Many Grandmasters are shocked when they travel to a foreign country and do not get the public respect they feel they deserve. I remember some Russian émigrés coming to America in the 80s getting this rude awakening. I once heard a true story about a person who was hosting a top Grandmaster in Israel, a powerful chess nation. The two go into a business establishment where they chat with the owner. The host excitedly introduces the owner to the Grandmaster. The host politely shares in the excitement, but asks the Grandmaster, "So… what do you do for a living?"

Most people do not understand what a Grandmaster is and it is due to the failure of marketing chess. FIDE should make sure that the prestige of these titles are kept meaningful. There is a question of rating inflation and there are those who say that GM title is not as meaningful as in the 50s and 60s. There is a divergence of opinion. Some say that chess players have simply gotten a lot stronger in a shorter timeframe. I would agree. The Ukraine's
Sergey Karjakin earned the GM title at 12 years and seven months and that record will certainly be broken one day. Regardless of where you stand in this argument and which path you have trodden, represent the GM title with class… and give back to the chess community.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Test KVChess

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How To Deal With Time Trouble? (by GM Igor Smirnov)

Recently, I received a couple e-mails from students who are having a hard time dealing with time trouble. And if you are one of those chess players who succumb to this dilemma often, then you are in for a treat. Right here, I will lay down certain tips and tricks that will help you combat this OTB problem. :)
Very often, we see the following situation: a player plays a good game, gets an advantage, but then appears in time trouble! Under time pressure, he makes an annoying mistake and even loses in the end!

Such a situation is certainly frustrating. And the recommendations I’m about to give will help set yourself free from the chains of time trouble.
First and foremost, there is a great difference between thinking and having doubts.
In most cases, a chess player THINKS only during the first few minutes after the opponent makes his move. After that, he starts to check the SAME variations again and again. Not contented, he starts to worry about the consequences, and try to find 100% ideal move, and the cycle goes on and on.
Guess what? This cycle doesn’t help at all! This only creates chaos in his head and totally mixes things up. Finally, after going through the same variations, worrying about the consequences, and vainly searching for the perfect move, he does something ridiculous… and you should know what happens next.
To avoid this typical, VERY frustrating, and game-breaking scenario, keep these in mind:
–> Do NOT calculate 1 variation 2 times. You may not be the BEST calculator around but when you sit at the board, you only have yourself to trust.
–> In most cases you should NOT spend more than 3 minutes on 1 move. You may need to spend more time on crucial and highly tactical positions, but 3 minutes is the average for every move.
This also brings us to the next advice:
Use your intuition.
Look, even a computer – whether it’s Rybka, Fritz, or even that supercomputer Hydra, CANNOT calculate all of the lines until the end and come to a 100 percent correct conclusion. That said, trying to judge the outcome of the game for MANY moves ahead is a wasted effort.
Oftentimes, you will find yourself in a situation where you have 2 or 3 logical moves and there’s no way you can calculate the lines until the end or come to a certain conclusion.
What to do?
Use your intuition! This means you should choose a move, which came to your mind FIRST (which seemed good for you at first sight on a position) and then do only the needed calculation to verify that the move is tactically sound. This is a very powerful advice! Check it in your practice, and you’ll see that it works great!
And another piece of advice: Make normal moves.
Most often, a game is decided by a mistake of one player (NOT by a brilliant play of his opponent). That said, it’s more important to avoid mistakes, than to find 100% perfect moves all the time.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Don’t try to make 100% correct moves all the time. NORMAL move is good enough in most cases.
Even the greatest players like Karpov follow this advice! The former World Champion, when faced with a branching point in one of his games, go for the sound, normal, and generally good move… the one that requires the least amount of calculation.
He didn’t win ALL of his games, BUT he won MOST of them. Heck! He was a former World Champion. You’d do great by following his footsteps. :)
Let me tell you 1 little story.
Recently I got a message from a chess player, a close follower of my blog to be precise. He explained his chess problems, and one of them was constant time trouble. I recommended one of my chess courses, which contains the answers to most of his questions.
He answered: “Yes, I was thinking about your courses since the last month, but couldn’t decide which one to start with!”
I can’t but smile and laugh a bit. It’s not surprising that he has a time trouble in chess, isn’t it? :) He thought about 1 simple decision during more than a month!!!
In an old manual for Samurais, I found the following quote: (chess is a model of war by the way, so samurai’s wisdom is suitable for chess)
“Man should make a decision during 7 breathing in. If thinking takes too long, the result will be lamentable.”
So the 4th advice is: Decide and do it quickly!
If you have time troubles in chess, then you probably have problems when it comes to making decisions in life. Procrastination is a habit you want to get rid of.
I know many people who spent tons of time to decide which of my courses to order. Meanwhile, they lost the most important thing – TIME. It was much better to make ANY decision, but to make it quickly and to start going forward.
ANY decision moves you forward! If your decision was wrong, then you will know that this thing does not work. You learn something from it, and it’s going to be useful in the future. Then you will start finding another solution and you will always keep going forward!
On the other hand, the one who doesn’t make a decision (or postpone it) will be stuck on his current place. He’ll have no progress whatsoever!
That person who goes forward (who makes a decision and learns from it), will easily outrun him!
Another example: some people wait several months to get my course with a discount. Again, they will save a few bucks, but lose TIME.
I strongly advice that you make decisions, and make them quickly! ANY decision is better than nothing!
For example, if you think that my lessons don’t help you – reject them completely. Unsubscribe from my mailing list and start searching for something else.
If you think that my lessons are useful – then what are you waiting for?! Order the complete chess courses (LINK) and start studying them NOW! If you only read these blog-posts, you still get something useful, BUT it’s very little compared to what my complete chess courses offer. Of course, I keep the better and BIGGER stuff in my complete courses.
Make a decision!
Our life consists of TIME: years, months, days, minutes…
Thus a loss of time shortens your life.
A loss of time is a little suicide.
So make decisions. And make them quickly!

Time Management by Joel Benjamin

Time management is a difficult issue for players of different levels and ages.  Playing too slowly can be just as damaging as playing too fast, and often more difficult to cure.

The first part of the problem lies in all that time you spend on “evaluation.”  I’m not sure what the term, as you use it, includes.  Deciding how you stand can be useful, but it shouldn’t take very long, and you need not do it every move.  I suspect you are including making plans in “evaluation,” but the same comment holds there as well.  If you spend a few minutes planning on one move, you most likely don’t have to spend any time there on the next one.  Most of the time, your ideas will still be good.  If the position changes significantly you may need to make new plans, but that won’t be every move.

You want your thought process to be as efficient as possible.  It should go something like this:

1) Examine your opponent’s move to see how it affects the position (does it threaten something, or prevent your plans?).
2)    Look for “candidate moves.”  This process doesn’t have to exhaustive and should take less than a minute.  Two to four candidates should be enough for most moves.  Analyze the ones that look best to you, and try not to jump back and forth too much.  Don’t feel you have to spend a lot of time (if any at all) on choice #4 if the first option looked really good after a bit of analysis.
      3) Make your decision and do a final check for safety before playing your move.

In a slow time control game (say forty moves in two hours, but not game/30) it is okay to have an occasional long think.  But you should only do that if the position is critical, or the choice between two moves can lead to very different positions.  Most of the time you can trust your intuition or instinct.

That, I think, is really the problem.  Choosing a move doesn’t require so much time.  You probably need to trust your judgment more, and not try to make a perfect move every time.  Excessive time usage is usually mostly about confidence in making decisions.  Use a combination of your gut instinct and brief calculation (only extensive calculation if the position really demands it) and your moves will probably come out fine.  In fact, the moves late in the game will probably be better…because you will actually have some time left to think!