Road to Grandmaster

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Keith Arkell
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Keith Arkell » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:33 am

True enough. And there won't be 30k of university debts to repay :wink:

Warren Kingston

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Warren Kingston » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:29 am

What about the challenge of quite a good golfer becoming someone who plays in majors,

Ross Fisher was a steady golfer at about +2, he went with his new coach and within two or three years he was in the worlds top twenty. So it is possible. Golf is played between the ears, like chess, its all about making the right decision at the right time.

Ola Winfridsson
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Ola Winfridsson » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:35 am

Keith Arkell wrote:Back to chess,and my own feeling is that everyone has a natural level which they get to without any particular effort,and that level differs from person to person.I think that if someone was gifted enough to naturally get to 2350 or 2400 just by playing chess for years and years,then if that person worked very hard at chess then they could make GM norms. Of course it is difficult to demonstrate this because most people who get to 2350 or 2400 have already worked at least quite hard on their chess. I'm not sure that any amount of hard work can bridge the gap if for example a player doesn't get above 200 despite many years of playing the game.
I think you hit the nail perfectly on the head here, Keith. One often hears that 'anyone can get to x' (often a rating between 1800 and 2200). My experience is that that's not the case at all. Someone I knew years ago, spent 20 hours a week on chess, but never got past ECF110/120. Chess requires a certain innate ability and not everyone's got it, just like not everyone has the dexterity or manual skills to become a good carpenter, or the fact that far from everyone are good at maths etc.

ThomasThorpe
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by ThomasThorpe » Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:03 pm

Couldn't agree more! Question I'd like to ask Keith, what made you choose to concentrate on chess? And how long had you played prior to your decision? Did you also (at any point) begin to think you had made the wrong decision on your way to GM? I'm just intrigued because I'm nearing that age in a couple of years and am playing about 140-150 at 14 years 5 months (have a grade of 124 atm though)

Keith Arkell
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Keith Arkell » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:52 am

Hi Thomas,
To be honest it was negative reasons rather than positive reasons.It will all be in my book soon(published by Bob Jones of Keverel Chess). Essentially I was terrified of mainstream life,and chess seemed like an easy to understand,relatively unscary alternative.
I learnt the way the pieces move I think sometime when I was 13.
I never thought that I had made the wrong decision,perhaps partly because,coming from a working class background,I had no conception that there were any easy ways to earn a living.

You don't give me enough information for me to give you any advice.I mean if you are 124 grade having played chess for 1 year then you show real promise,but if you learned to play say 4 years ago then I'm not so sure.

What you have to consider is this: I focused my life on chess because I enjoyed it and it gave me a self confidence which I otherwise lacked,but from a practical point of viev,I have won more tournaments than almost anyone in the world(about 330 of them) and yet there has never been a year when I have earned more than 20000 pounds.Not much more than a dustman.My question to you - do you also enjoy chess that much?

Colin Patterson
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Colin Patterson » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:11 am

Keith's post reminds me of an anecdote from 10 or so years ago. Keith kindly agreed to do us a simul at West Bridgford and after it was all over, we were all chatting in the bar, as you do. Inevitably, the conversation got around to this very topic - the difficulty in making the GM title and the lack of financial reward unless you make it to the very top. Someone came up with the rejoinder - "Yes, but it must have been brilliant growing up knowing you were possibly the strongest player in the west of England". Keith's response was something along the lines of "The west of England? I wasn't even the strongest player in our house"! Priceless. Older brothers have a lot to answer for.

Michael Jones
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Michael Jones » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:31 am

Keith Arkell wrote:How about we ask the same question re other activities?
What about the challenge of quite a good golfer becoming someone who plays in majors,or quite a good footballer becoming a premiership player;
or how about Joe average becoming a top lawyer or a sought after brain surgeon?
Or someone who was quite good at physics at school becoming a top scientist?
Interesting question; one way of looking at it is the proportion of people aspiring to something who actually do it. I can't find anywhere that gives an exact figure for the number of graded players in England, but at a guess it's somewhere in the tens of thousands. England has 37 GMs, so the proportion of club players who go on to become GMs is somewhere in the order of 1 in 1000. Comparing that to the case of football, there are a few hundred players in the Premiership (20 or so clubs, 30 or so players in a squad) and of course a large number of those aren't English. The number of schoolkids who play football must be in the millions, so that would give a considerably smaller proportion making it to the top level than the 1 in 1000 for chess. I think it's fairly safe to say that it's impossible to become a Premiership footballer solely by working hard; you need a certain amount of talent to start off with. Another thing to look at is age; although many of today's top chess players became GMs in their teens, it's not unknown for someone who didn't take up the game until adulthood - or at least didn't play it at any serious level - to become a GM. Anyone who's not a very good footballer by the time they're 18 certainly isn't going to end up playing professionally.

As to academia, there are now 30,000 or so pupils sitting A level physics each year. Maybe 100 or so of those will become professors (I'm taking a bit of a stab in the dark here since again I don't have any exact figures) and probably only a handful will become household names. Science also tends to be a young person's game: Newton was 25 when he developed the theory of gravity, Einstein 26 when he published his papers on relativity, etc. Anyone who only starts taking an active interest in science after the age of 18 has pretty much no chance of making any original contribution to it. Brain surgery and law both have slow qualification processes: unlike chess or physics, where one sensational tournament result or research paper can propel you into the limelight, you can't become one of the top names in the field overnight. Even once you've qualified it takes years to build a reputation as one of the best in the profession, rather than just one successful case or operation.

So, having considered all that, I'd probably assess Will's chances of reaching his goal in chess as higher than if he'd chosen to aim for the top in any of the other pursuits you mention - but still not very high.

Keith Arkell
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:32 pm

Hi Michael,that looks like a`well reasoned analysis of the comparisons.

It may perhaps be possible to challenge the criteria for what counts as a chess player though. I mean I read somewhere that there are 3 million people who at least knock around playing a bit of chess in England,so that maybe a better figure to compare with the school kids who play a bit of football for fun.

I would argue that most people in england will run into chess at some point in their childhood,and if they have the potential to become a GM then even if they don't take the game very seriously,still those around them will notice how gifted they are at the game.
I certainly don't buy the argument that there are hundreds of bright people out there who would make GM if they were interested or motivated to do so.I know 2 extremely clever people from my schooldays.Both desired to be good at chess.One of them was hopeless and gave up when he couldn't progress past beginner level,and the other is still very enthuiastic about chess,spends his evenings on ICC,and at the age of 49 is still about 80 grade.
I think there are a number of mystery ''factor x''es (or perhaps not so mysterious to those who have studied these things) which combine to make a strong player.Not all intelligence related;and if sombody lacks even one of those factors then that person's potential is extremely hampered.

ThomasThorpe
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by ThomasThorpe » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:42 pm

Hi Keith

To clarify my previous post, I've played for about 2 years 3 months and am graded 124 at the start of this season, with a grading performance of 150 after 9 games this season (5 wins and 4 draws).

In the comparison between football and chess, it is probably true more people play for a football club than a chess club at junior level. However, football clubs and playing football is a lot more publicised by the television, the premier league etc. whereas chess doesn't have tv coverage (not very often nowadays). So juniors have to find it themselves, maybe through school. However at school, many peers might say, "Chess is nerdy. Football is cool" which could put people off. Of course, I disagree with that statement (I play chess myself) but sometimes the way chess is portrayed at some schools doesn't help it introduce new players

Keith Arkell
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:57 pm

If you're 124 after 2 and a bit years Thomas,then,with the lag involved in getting a published grade(games from 18 months ago are included in our current grades!),and given the level you are playing at today,at this early stage you look to have good chances.
All the best,and meanwhile I've got a tournament in Uxbridge to try to salvage...

Simon Spivack
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Simon Spivack » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:50 pm

Keith Arkell wrote:I focused my life on chess because I enjoyed it and it gave me a self confidence which I otherwise lacked,but from a practical point of view,I have won more tournaments than almost anyone in the world(about 330 of them) and yet there has never been a year when I have earned more than 20000 pounds.Not much more than a dustman.
Cough ;)

Trefor Owens
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Trefor Owens » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:23 pm

As a, self elected, representative of the older generation I thought I would throw my hat into the mix. :)

I am 51(hard to believe I know :oops: ): I learnt to play chess at the age of 11 after a shattered right foot ended my dream of playing for the mighty Hammers and have had various grades since the age of about 14.
If memory serves me well my highest ever grade was 174 around 20+ years ago.

I aim to better that grade before the 2012 Olympics, not sure what the odds would be.

I am presently 158ecf
here goes

Cheers
Trefor

p.s
Before someone points it out, I do appreciate that, on current form, I may well stand a better chance of resurrecting my dream of wearing the claret ‘n blue number 9 shirt :D

Michael Jones
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Michael Jones » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:29 pm

Hi Keith,

Yes, fair point about the figures; there's a difference between someone kicking a ball around in the school playground and playing competitive games (I did the former quite often, but would never have been good enough for the latter), and similarly there's a difference between pushing a few bits of wood around a board at a lunchtime club and playing league or tournament chess. So although the number of schoolchildren playing football is probably still greater than the number playing chess, the discrepancy is most likely not as large as my previous post may have suggested.

I agree that 'cleverness' is not universal - excelling in one area of intellectual activity does not mean that one will necessarily excel in another; referring back to the example of physicists, there's a surviving game which was supposedly played between Einstein and Oppenheimer which, although it's hard to draw too many conclusions from one game, suggests that neither was an exceptionally good player. Perhaps general 'cleverness' is a help for one seeking to become a GM, but it's certainly not all that's required.

All the best with the tournament!

Neill Cooper
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Neill Cooper » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:47 pm

It is not just numbers, but aims. When my son was in primary school almost all the boys wanted to be professional footballers. None wanted to be professional chess players.

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Chris Goodall » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:06 pm

Don't listen to any idle sniping Will. The English love to predict failure and call it realism.

Good luck with your club championship game against Cap'n John :-)
Chris Goodall, formerly known as Chris Wardle. Northumbria League hand-cranker; ECF Grader for Bernicia and the NCCU.
Newcastle is not in Scotland!

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