The Rookie

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Brian Towers
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Brian Towers » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:06 am

Jonathan Bryant wrote: I once got speaking to a non-player about how much time and effort it would take to have a chance of making a significant improvement in my playing strength (i.e. of getting to 200 ECF or thereabouts). She asked me what difference it would make to me if I ever reached that goal. The only specific change I could come up with was that I’d be playing my games at one end of the tournament hall rather than in the middle.

I’m quite sure this is why most of us don’t significantly improve as we get older. Improvement is hard and takes a lot of time an effort and yet actually makes little difference so why bother?
Why bother?
I think it comes down to that old Robert Browning quote "A man's aim should exceed his grasp else what's a heaven for".
The grading is just a number which tries to measure something. Really what we want is just to become better in that Browning sense.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:00 am

Brian Towers wrote: Really what we want is just to become better in that Browning sense.
Well yes, but we don’t - for the most part - want to do the work that’s required. So we don’t - for the most part - become better (Browning sense or otherwise) and drift along having reached a certain level.

We want the outcome not the process, in other words - and there are obviously good reasons for this. We have jobs and families and other interests that also place demands on our time, for a start.

Mick Norris
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Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:37 am

Brian Towers wrote:
Jonathan Bryant wrote: I once got speaking to a non-player about how much time and effort it would take to have a chance of making a significant improvement in my playing strength (i.e. of getting to 200 ECF or thereabouts). She asked me what difference it would make to me if I ever reached that goal. The only specific change I could come up with was that I’d be playing my games at one end of the tournament hall rather than in the middle.

I’m quite sure this is why most of us don’t significantly improve as we get older. Improvement is hard and takes a lot of time an effort and yet actually makes little difference so why bother?
Why bother?
I think it comes down to that old Robert Browning quote "A man's aim should exceed his grasp else what's a heaven for".
The grading is just a number which tries to measure something. Really what we want is just to become better in that Browning sense.
What's the best choice for Jonathan to spend his time on:
a) chess or b) the piano?

If you answer a), then the supplemental question is should Jonathan spend his chess time:
1) working hard to improve the standard of his play or 2) helping to develop chess in schools and communities?

(note, no prizes for getting the correct answers :wink: )
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Arshad Ali
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Arshad Ali » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:53 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
We want the outcome not the process ...
Exercising a higher level of skill in any area of endeavor is inherently satisfying. Playing more accurate chess is more satisfying than playing sloppy chess. If a player puts in the effort to play more accurate chess, his rating -- which reflects strength in a rough and crude manner -- will reflect this. But Moss seems to have gone after the rating but not the process (which is hard study). The point is that at the beginning of the book he seems to be quite determined to storm the heights. He invests quite a bit of time, travel, money, and play to get to those heights yet his rating improvement -- which is a crude estimator of his strength -- improves only modestly (around 10 points or so over 3 years). My contention -- which he would probably agree with, and which the strong players he was associated with pointed out to him -- was that he didn't put in the hard study. He clearly had time for this since he had time for the travel and playing. More generally, why do so many players not put in the study when they clearly have time for weekend tournaments and evening play at their local chess club? The claim of paucity of time just doesn't wash. If they wanted to, they'd do it. They'd find time for it. I guess study is just a very unpleasant activity. Or people don't know how to go about it in a structured manner.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:19 pm

Arshad Ali wrote:
Jonathan Bryant wrote:
We want the outcome not the process ...
Exercising a higher level of skill in any area of endeavor is inherently satisfying.

Oh I fully agree - but not sufficiently so that this in itself is sufficiently motivating to keep people studying when the going gets tough. This point can easily be demonstrated by glancing around any tournament hall/considering the progress of ourselves and club mates over the years.

Arshad Ali wrote: Playing more accurate chess is more satisfying than playing sloppy chess.
This, on the other hand, I think is rather more contentious.

Firstly, playing more accurate chess could well put you into the bottom of an Open section (as per Roger’s post) rather than the top of a lower section. This would mean considerably less chance of winning a tournament/games in general.

This would be less satisfying to a lot of people.


Secondly, the reality is we never get that sense of playing more accurate chess really. At least most of us don’t.

As Chris says, when we’re 180 we’d like to be 200. When we get to 200 it doesn’t seem that special at all and we want to be 210. That’s when we’d have really made it. You can substitute any set of lower or higher numbers the point remains.

Also, I rather suspect that the "better" you get at chess the more you understand that you’re not playing accurate chess at all. This isn’t necessarily a satisfying state of affairs for many of us. Ignorance and bliss and all that.


Ultimately I don’t think TGSM’s lack of progress needs explaining. It’s normal. You say, he invested time travel money ... well so do most of us. We do almost anything other than what is necessary - i.e. the hard study as you mention.

As you say, he wanted the outcome, he didn’t want to go through the process. End of story. There’s no shame in it but it’s no mystery.


I don’t believe the 'people don’t know how' argument. Everybody knows. You study your own games. You study master games. You do the Yusupov series etc etc. We all nknow this - and if we don’t it would take 5 minutes googling to find out.

We would like to improve. We know how to improve. We don’t want to do the work necessary to improve.


As I said, we want the outcome not the process.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: The Rookie

Post by MartinCarpenter » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:39 pm

I'm not even sure if many people even want the outcome that much, no matter what they say.

Matt Fletcher
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Re: The Rookie

Post by Matt Fletcher » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:51 pm

Mick Norris wrote: What's the best choice for Jonathan to spend his time on:
a) chess or b) the piano?
I vote c) Jazz flute... 8)

Anyhow, for what it's worth, I'd like to improve at chess because (within reason) I like to try and improve at everything I do - I find things much more fun that way. But (like many others, as Jonathan says), I suspect I don't improve much at chess because a) I don't have huge amounts of time to spend on it and b) the time I do have, I don't dedicate to doing the hard stuff properly.

I might have a more specific motivation for next season though because our team is doing very well in the league - if we get promoted I'll be crushed in pretty much every game if I play at my current level (which won't be much fun).

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