Grandmaster Q&A Part 5

In the autumn of 2013 I gave ten hours of training to a GM who has been struggling for years, unable to improve his play and slowly bleeding rating points. I felt he had certain problems in concrete positions, but in general needed to work more on improving his play.

After the sessions he sent me a long list of additional questions that I agreed to answer, if I was allowed to share them with the readers of the blog. As long as I kept his name confidential, he saw no problem with this.

As we are talking quite a lot of material, I have decided to cut up the Q&A session into five posts.

This post continues from last week’s post.

12) Preparing until the Eleventh Hour:

This is a typical problem of mine which has been there since I started playing chess. Preparation doesn’t finish.

During any tournament once I come to know my opponent I work hard even until 10-15 minutes before the game. I just check each probable lines which might come, then refer to my notes or just search what the top players are doing in that particular line afterwards start engine for a while and somehow gain a superficial idea/knowledge of the position and go to the game. If I don’t do this somehow I feel less confident thinking that I haven’t prepared.

We are back to talking about confidence. Chess is a difficult game and we can never get certainty. We have to accept it. There are other things that will influence your game as well.

Think about what the right combination of rest, preparation, fun and so on is for you. Think about it a lot. We are all different and you will have your own needs and balance.

Over-preparing is indulging an obsession. It is refusing to accept that we cannot control everything. And in the process focusing on only one aspect of the preparation; neglecting being in the best possible psychological and physical form for the game.

Funnily in the game in 95% of the time my preparation never comes. So like that the work done before a game for let’s say last 10 years (I have been using laptop approx. 10 years or so) gets wasted. I once had a conversation with a GM (rated around 2600 most of the time) and he had same experience. I played him twice during 2012 and both the games ended in a draw. (although this information is irrelevant).

13) For solving any position or practising calculation is it better to set the position on the board and analyse or is it ok to see the same at the screen or blindfolded?

In generally I prefer board but practically it becomes difficult especially while working alone on some opening. To understand certain things/concepts or memorise the move order it is better to have them on Board. But due to shortage of time (if it is during tournaments) or if the variation is too big it becomes tough to put everything on the board and play out the moves. What is your suggestion in this regard?

I prefer using the board. It depends on the difficulty.

But when I prepare for a tournament I always use the computer programs. It is just too inefficient otherwise. I think my brain can adjust quite well from 3D to 2D. But when solving there is just an anchor of seriousness when you put up the pieces. At least this is my experience.

14 ) Poor Time Management :

My Time Management is very poor that I have mentioned several times during our training session (while solving the positions you gave) I am consciously working on this aspect and in fact it’s better than before. But still it happens and when it happens it brings a disaster in terms of performance. What would you suggest?

I am working on a book with a training system to deal with exactly this; due out in the second part of 2015. But to a great extent we are back to the illusion of control. Once you realise that you cannot control the game or the position, only how you relate to it; how you play it, you may be better at making decisions.

Because time trouble happens in most cases when we do not make the choices we cannot work out by calculation earlier on in the game.

As I see it, the three question training method is very useful in dealing with the type of positions where we have to decide, rather than think indefinitely.

Learning to recognise positions where we should make a decision is important. This is the path to solve the problems with time trouble. It is not easy, but it is possible.


8 thoughts on “Grandmaster Q&A Part 5”

  1. Especially in this era, good time management is absolutely critical. 3-4 years ago, I would use up all of my time before move 25, and then…well let’s not talk about that!

    Not sure what to suggest to combat this except – think during your opponent’s time, trust in your decisions (even though you know some will be wrong) and don’t ponder over a single move for over 15 minutes unless it’s absolutely, absolutely critical.

    Maybe he should try experimenting in the wrong direction for awhile – purposely play overly fast for a few games and see that the mistakes he makes are not life-threatening, while the mistakes he makes in time trouble usually are…

  2. Time management … that’s really something I would like to read a lot about. Especially concrete training tipps on how to cure time trouble addiction.

  3. Dvoretsky has written about training games and solving exercises in specific ways.

    What I implemented after reading dvoretsky and thinking about chess myself:
    Decisiveness and focus are key to good time management. And the big timesaver is a good intuition.
    1)decisiveness: ones you worked out all your options, choosing what to play should happen instantly.
    2)focus just on the position and forget about all the rest.
    3)a good intuition will guide you in the good direction and save you a lot of time. Of course you have to rely on your intuition.

    After playing with this mantra, I started winning games againts 2000+ elo players. Against 2000+ i went from a 10% score (over 10 games) to a 55% score (20 games), and I’m usually the one with more time and more energy when nearing move 30.

  4. Frankfurter Bub

    The part Q&A session is very interesting, so thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts.

    Has any one experience with “tapering” before an important tournament? Let me explain what I mean. If you prepare say for a (half) marathon, the football world championships or anything were you to push yourself to the very limit you will train hard to a certain time before the event you train for starts. Then reduce your training so that your body and your mind are fresh when they are needed most.

    This pretty basic stuff in lots of sports, so does it work in chess as well?
    I myself try to finish preparation for a tourney about a week before it starts and then I refresh some lines. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I feel better with this kind of preparation.

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