Road to Grandmaster

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MikeTasker
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:37 pm

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by MikeTasker » Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:25 pm

He could go for 'Road to Chess Master' instead. As another poster
mentioned the non playing public (and media for sure) will probaly
just see 'Master' and not bother about the grand part. Only problem
is he's already there if he sends a fiver to the ECF for the team-master
title,so maybe it does have to be grandmaster.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Arshad Ali » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:39 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:I just bought a copy of 'The Improving Chess Thinker' (2009) by Dan Heisman, which looks interesting (it expands on the seminal work done by Adriaan de Groot in 'Thought and Choice in Chess' (1965) on players verbalising the reasons for their moves). He mentions 'Inside the Chess Mind' (2004) by Jacob Aagaard as a similar work, but aimed at more advanced players. The basic thesis, though, is that by examining the thought processes (and errors) of various classes of players, you can improve to the next class by looking at the differences and modifying the way you think (in theory, anyway). The idea of thinking like a grandmaster is not new of course, with 'Think Like a Grandmaster' (1971) by Kotov, but how easy is it really to train yourself to adopt new ways of thinking and to really start to think like a grandmaster?
I have a copy of Heisman's book. He also writes a column for Chesscafe. His writings are mostly oriented towards lower-rated players. The basic distinction he makes in "The Improving Chess Thinker" is between "fantasy chess" and "reality chess." In the former, a player makes his moves in accordance with the conviction that his opponent will not see through his tricks and traps. In the latter, the player makes his moves in accordance with an objective analysis of the best moves and ideas for both sides. Kotov's main idea in "Think Like a GM" is arguably the idea of making a comprehensive list of candidates before analysing any single one. If a player can do both -- analyse objectively and cold-bloodedly, and make trees of analysis that correspond to the requirements of a position -- he is already likely to be at least a Class A player. Probably most of the contributors to this thread are at least at this level. The question is how and to what extent it's possible to move to a yet higher level of play. Pattern recognition -- as de Groot pointed out -- is a key factor.

Ola Winfridsson
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:26 pm

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Ola Winfridsson » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:16 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:I just bought a copy of 'The Improving Chess Thinker' (2009) by Dan Heisman, which looks interesting (it expands on the seminal work done by Adriaan de Groot in 'Thought and Choice in Chess' (1965) on players verbalising the reasons for their moves). He mentions 'Inside the Chess Mind' (2004) by Jacob Aagaard as a similar work, but aimed at more advanced players. The basic thesis, though, is that by examining the thought processes (and errors) of various classes of players, you can improve to the next class by looking at the differences and modifying the way you think (in theory, anyway). The idea of thinking like a grandmaster is not new of course, with 'Think Like a Grandmaster' (1971) by Kotov, but how easy is it really to train yourself to adopt new ways of thinking and to really start to think like a grandmaster?
I have a copy of Heisman's book. He also writes a column for Chesscafe. His writings are mostly oriented towards lower-rated players. The basic distinction he makes in "The Improving Chess Thinker" is between "fantasy chess" and "reality chess." In the former, a player makes his moves in accordance with the conviction that his opponent will not see through his tricks and traps. In the latter, the player makes his moves in accordance with an objective analysis of the best moves and ideas for both sides. Kotov's main idea in "Think Like a GM" is arguably the idea of making a comprehensive list of candidates before analysing any single one. If a player can do both -- analyse objectively and cold-bloodedly, and make trees of analysis that correspond to the requirements of a position -- he is already likely to be at least a Class A player. Probably most of the contributors to this thread are at least at this level. The question is how and to what extent it's possible to move to a yet higher level of play. Pattern recognition -- as de Groot pointed out -- is a key factor.
One problem with these approaches, though, is that they tend make the thinking process a little too conscious, a lot of box ticking in a way. Most of the time, really strong players (and I don't talk about myself here) don't seem to think that concretely about say, candidate moves or what the opponent is threatening, but rather take this all in more or less automatically (to a great extent thanks to their superior pattern recognition as Arshad and de Groot point out).

Personally, I think Jonathan Rowson's books "Seven Deadly Chess Sins" and "Chess for Zebras" are better guides for learning how to think more effectively at the board.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Arshad Ali » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:32 pm

Ola Winfridsson wrote: One problem with these approaches, though, is that they tend make the thinking process a little too conscious, a lot of box ticking in a way. Most of the time, really strong players (and I don't talk about myself here) don't seem to think that concretely about say, candidate moves or what the opponent is threatening, but rather take this all in more or less automatically (to a great extent thanks to their superior pattern recognition as Arshad and de Groot point out).

Personally, I think Jonathan Rowson's books "Seven Deadly Chess Sins" and "Chess for Zebras" are better guides for learning how to think more effectively at the board.
Writers like Soltis have pointed out that few GMs actually calculate the way Kotov recommends: e.g., GMs go over the same variations they've already calculated, they add new candidates to their preliminary list, and so on. It seems to be more of an iterative hit-and-miss process than Kotov prescribes. Still, making a preliminary list of candidates doesn't hurt -- even if it's done consciously.

Rowson writes insightfully.

Michael Jones
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Michael Jones » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:07 pm

There's no harm in going back over what you've already calculated, since you may well have missed something. Keres had the right idea: if you see a good move, look for a better one.

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:16 pm

Michael Jones wrote:Keres had the right idea: if you see a good move, look for a better one.
Surely that one belongs to Emanuel Lasker? Finding "good" (i.e. tactically accurate) moves will take you a long way, in fact most of us never really get any further. We pretend we're playing strategic chess, but really we're just setting up the next cheap trick.

Michael Jones
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Michael Jones » Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:33 pm

I've definitely seen it credited to Keres, but if someone has a more authoritative reference I'm willing to be corrected.

Ola Winfridsson
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:26 pm

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Ola Winfridsson » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:12 pm

Jon D'Souza-Eva wrote:
Michael Jones wrote:Keres had the right idea: if you see a good move, look for a better one.
Surely that one belongs to Emanuel Lasker? Finding "good" (i.e. tactically accurate) moves will take you a long way, in fact most of us never really get any further. We pretend we're playing strategic chess, but really we're just setting up the next cheap trick.
I have a feeling you're both right! I think Paul Keres actually said "If you can win a pawn, look for an opportunity to win a piece" or something like that, so basically a more concrete version of Lasker's expression.
Arshad Ali wrote:Writers like Soltis have pointed out that few GMs actually calculate the way Kotov recommends: e.g., GMs go over the same variations they've already calculated, they add new candidates to their preliminary list, and so on. It seems to be more of an iterative hit-and-miss process than Kotov prescribes. Still, making a preliminary list of candidates doesn't hurt -- even if it's done consciously.

Rowson writes insightfully.
It's true that it doesn't hurt to make up a preliminary list of candidates, but often these guides to improved thinking are so full of advice that it's impossible to do everything on the list, and this is where Rowson is so useful.

Although Rowson can be overly verbose and philosophising, he clearly has some great insights from a psychological point of view, such as the 'storytelling' from Chess for Zebras or the 'talk to your pieces' from Seven Deadly Chess Sins. He's much more into making sure you have right mental attitude at the board, and what to do to spawn ideas if you get stuck in a particular position. For instance, making a mental list of candidate moves may be of very limited usefulness if in game after game you fail to realize that all pieces are not taking part in the attack (i.e. you don't 'talk to your pieces') or keep telling yourself (and others) 'the story' about how you were winning against strong players x, y and z, only to blunder in time trouble - and never ask yourself why you constantly get into time trouble (e.g. spending inordinate amounts of time already in the opening over book moves).

Arshad Ali
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Arshad Ali » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:37 pm

Ola Winfridsson wrote: It's true that it doesn't hurt to make up a preliminary list of candidates, but often these guides to improved thinking are so full of advice that it's impossible to do everything on the list, and this is where Rowson is so useful.

Although Rowson can be overly verbose and philosophising, he clearly has some great insights from a psychological point of view, such as the 'storytelling' from Chess for Zebras or the 'talk to your pieces' from Seven Deadly Chess Sins. He's much more into making sure you have right mental attitude at the board, and what to do to spawn ideas if you get stuck in a particular position. For instance, making a mental list of candidate moves may be of very limited usefulness if in game after game you fail to realize that all pieces are not taking part in the attack (i.e. you don't 'talk to your pieces') or keep telling yourself (and others) 'the story' about how you were winning against strong players x, y and z, only to blunder in time trouble - and never ask yourself why you constantly get into time trouble (e.g. spending inordinate amounts of time already in the opening over book moves).
Quite. An alternative way of phrasing it is that a list of candidates unrelated to the demands of the position isn't going to help much. I think more than one writer has pointed out that masters calculate less than weaker players -- but their analysis is extremely pertinent to the position. That's a key difference between strong and weak players.

Ola Winfridsson
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:26 pm

Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Ola Winfridsson » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:57 am

Arshad Ali wrote:Quite. An alternative way of phrasing it is that a list of candidates unrelated to the demands of the position isn't going to help much. I think more than one writer has pointed out that masters calculate less than weaker players -- but their analysis is extremely pertinent to the position. That's a key difference between strong and weak players.
Pithily put!


Michael Jones
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Michael Jones » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:43 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:Quite. An alternative way of phrasing it is that a list of candidates unrelated to the demands of the position isn't going to help much. I think more than one writer has pointed out that masters calculate less than weaker players -- but their analysis is extremely pertinent to the position. That's a key difference between strong and weak players.
I recall one of David LeMoir's books in which he says something similar - that often when he's analysed a game with his opponent afterwards, the opponent has asked "Did you consider such and such a line?", he says he didn't but, since he won the game, he can't have missed out on much by not doing so.

Arshad Ali
Posts: 704
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Arshad Ali » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:56 pm

From the link:
Taylor says that he wants to become a grandmaster while continuing to study for a degree in physics and chemistry, without forsaking his other hobbies (guitar, Go, learning Mandarin, among others), without losing his girlfriend (who he says has no interest in chess) and without giving up his social life.

In his latest entry on Sunday, called “Training Schedule,” Taylor said that he is planning to devote 10 hours a week to study, at least initially, so that his work load is manageable. “The one thing I don’t want to do is start trying to cram chess into every waking moment, only to burn out quickly and stop abruptly,” he writes.
He's gotta be kidding.
Michael Jones wrote:I recall one of David LeMoir's books in which he says something similar - that often when he's analysed a game with his opponent afterwards, the opponent has asked "Did you consider such and such a line?", he says he didn't but, since he won the game, he can't have missed out on much by not doing so.
I think Bill Hartston points out, in his book "Better Chess," that a plan is just a device for choosing the next move. Likewise, the calculation of variations is just a device for deciding the next move. If one can decide the next move economically, without calculating truckloads of variations, one saves time and energy. An obvious example is where your opponent plays Q x Q. Most of the time, your recapture (or resignation, if you can't recapture) will be automatic. That's probably the reason why writers like Heisman advise a player to look at the forcing moves first -- captures, recaptures, checks, obvious threats. It's also clear that a master's knowledge and experience are going to allow him to 1) savagely prune the tree of variations he's going to examine, and 2) to arrive at more accurate positional evaluations at the end of each line of analysis, enabling him to choose between different candidates more accurately and more economically. For example, at the end of one line there may be a rook ending which an amateur would evaluate as balanced, but which a master might evaluate as superior, even winning. Another example is an opening system where a mster knows what to calculate, what piece configurations to be aiming for, where the promising plans lie. Even an amateur who has carefully studied, say, the Dragon or the Colle system, knows where to calculate, what to look for. Calculation and planning are done more economically, sometimes even on automatic pilot.

ThomasThorpe
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by ThomasThorpe » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:18 pm

I'm 14, been playing for 2 and a bit years. Am grade 124, grading performance of 149 this season (this being my 3rd season) so far. I'm not saying that I think I will be a GM, becaus eI think I stand not much chance. Of course I'm going to try, but the question I ask is: Do you think that a chess title for someone like me to be a reasonable acheivement, and if so, what title should I aim for?
A note on my improvement.
After season 1 I was grad 85
After season 2 I was grade 124.
And we're in season 3 (for me) at the moment, playing 7 games and grad. perf of 149

I know 149 is a very rough estimate, as 7 games is nothing compared to the 58 I played last season :)

I personally think FM is a reasonable target to aim for.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Road to Grandmaster

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:31 pm

ThomasThorpe wrote: I personally think FM is a reasonable target to aim for.
There's an old rule of thumb which says that if you can improve 10 points a season and aim to reach FM/IM/GM standard in your early twenties, then progress can be measured by taking your age multiplying by 10 and comparing to your ECF grade. FM is about 215/220 (being 2300 International) - so you target to get there at 21 or 22. A sort of final year university goal. Many players who have gone on to reach IM and GM standards have crossed 2300 at a much younger age of course.

(edit) on the "ECF official" (Intl Elo-650)/8 conversion, 2300 comes out at 206, so I'm being about 10 points pessimistic as to the standard needed for FM.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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