Matt Bridgeman wrote: ↑
Fri Dec 27, 2019 4:12 pm
It really takes the best, most obsessive of individuals to be able to pull the trick off well. Probably this fits the profile of a number of chess players to a large degree, where family life and jobs outside of chess have never slowed them down.
I probably wouldn't go as far as describing my association with chess as obsessive, but what I can say is that I have always felt lucky to be able to do something which I thoroughly enjoy, and am passionate about, for a living. And the enthusiasm and thrill and motivation I experience before each event has pretty much not waned in 44 years.
I have steadily improved at the game - though never really in leaps and bounds, and had my best ever period, by quite some distance, in the 3 months leading up to my 54th birthday, when I made 3 completely correct 'GM norms' in a row - at the Isle of Man, the World Senior Ch and Hastings. I backed that up 8 month later with what was almost certainly my best ever performance in a 9 round International Open, when I came joint first at the Vienna Open, with 7.5/9.
There are a number of personal reasons why I have been able to continually improve, but there are also some general reasons. Some of the personal reasons are hardly a secret given that I wrote about them in my autobiography, but to name one of these, I suffered from panic attacks for most of my life, until the age of 40 or 41.
More generally, I have a more (though still far from ideal!) sensible approach to alcohol - for example I used to play horrifically in the Sunday games at the 4NCL. I understand my energy levels better these days, so I know that I must combine grinding down long endings with either some quick draws or perhaps even a bye. I also understand that weekend tournaments are more testing as you get past a certain age. 2 games a day, with morning games on both the Saturday and the Sunday are great equalisers of playing strength, so that if you are in reality 300 rating points stronger than your opponents then that gap will be reduced because of these factors. In the last 6 months weekenders have cost me 15 rating points, and so I understand that to get back above 2500 I'll have to resist playing in rated weekenders. My play in the longer tournaments is of a higher standard.
So those are some of the measures I have to consider in order to to neutralise the physical aspects of getting older, but meanwhile I feel that I am constantly learning about how to play different types of positions and different pawn structures. Of course I am still annoyed at the number of mistakes I make today, but I cringe at some of my positional misunderstandings from a decade or 2 decades ago, just as a Carlsen would probably wince at some of my positional ignorance today.
Incidentally, I think you can calculate better the more experience you gain not because you are thinking more quickly (to believe that really would be delusional!), but because you have a better idea of which moves to reject.To put this numerically, if, at each ply, you reject all but 3 candidate moves, you will more easily see 4 moves ahead than if you are left with 5 candidate moves at each ply.
I don't pretend to know the science, but I am aware that research in brain plasticity is uncovering strong evidence that the brain grows - develops more pathways and connections - when it is exercised, just as is the case physically with muscles - and that the aging process needn't hamper this.
Maybe this touches on what Rob Wilmoth said earlier in the thread.