Friday, February 6, 2015

21 Years 8 Months and 9 Days! from now

Lurking around, I wandered into the thread “Inspirational Adult improvers”  A lot of impressive stories and impressive people on that thread; but what was interesting was when it got derailed into a discussion of Deliberate Practice;  The number of 10,000 hours of Deliberate practice was dropped and created instant controversy.

It would be silly and ridiculous to claim that a guy nicknamed the “Great Patzer” could have any real insight to the accuracy of the claim.   But patzer or not, I am keeping pretty extensive records of how much I study.   And I can conclude that since 8/21/2014 till now; if my training sticks to this average… It will be 22 years and some before I write off that 10,000th hour.

GENERAL thoughts and Reflections on training, as it exists today.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons it stuck with me, was that the last 7ish days there was a definitely up-tick in the consistency of my study. 
  • 12 strait days of at least one half hour or more
  • 25 out of the last 30 days  (of at least one half hour+)
(Compare THAT to October where I spent only 15 out of 30days on serious chess study.)

I also have been having little time for complete games;  Instead about 2/3 of my current time spent is on “turn based” gaming.   In fact this is absolutely the driver of my current obsession.  If a game moves to critical decisions, my analysis gets long and exhaustive! (I’ve looked at over 100 ply- in places);  and that inevitably bumps some of my other games into tomorrow; then I find myself drawn right back into the marathon game- and revisiting, revising and updating all my lengthy calculations.

Love of Big Ego Trips
What really Strikes me about the idea of “mastering” chess; apart from how Vague it is, how impressive it is.   Even more then becoming a ‘strong’ player, or earning xxx points in xx days;   Chess ‘mastery’ is an awe-inspiring idea.
I can see it now; the audience is hushed, and people are looking with that oh-so-impressed look on their face.  And the position, after quite a few moves; and the pieces are spread around in random looking chaos; There’s no grasping in my mind;  everyone of those pieces all worked out in my head, no tactical surprises,  a clever and game winning refute behind every seeming flaw in the position.  And all is seen;  the grinding maneuvering of the knights.  A hidden flaw that the opponents king might come out in 3 moves;  and a queen side majority that clearly Must overwhelm any diffence;  producing a promoted pawn in 10 moves….

For the record, I don’t think this daydream is real, no matter how effort we put forth and how much we improve.
Chess (and I mean this Adamantly*) seems that it is Never Easy on its participants and viewing higher places—it appears that competition dramatically intensifies.   Stronger players have a lot less ‘simple’ errors; are able to defend tooth and nail against bigger errors, and have a near inexhaustible will to drag you to checkmate!
So What’s so Good about “mastering chess” anyways? LOL

Well, coming back to the post about being low rated;   We are obsessed about “mastering chess” and “Becoming a strong player” because, basically, it is human nature to want to excel in things we obsess in.  AND generally we would like to do what most people can’t.   the one of impractical. The other needs fought against.   Our efforts at improving chess needs to be a personal struggle against our own Patzer ways, lest we find other peoples success, as discouraging.

Dear reader,  here is my strong thoughts about it;  if you want to do better in chess- give up on these Ego trips*.  They’re unproductive, and they’re distracting.   What we Should do is learn to enjoy chess and take pride and make efforts to get good at solving puzzles.   That is the epitomy of tactics.  Learn each phases of the game.   Become interested and involved in the game.   when the opponent does something unexpected, instead of “ Crap, this proves I’m no good at this” look at it like “wow, chess is a Really fascinating game.  I thought I had the unstoppable attack, then look what that unexpected move, does?!”.  

Remain determined to try like He!! and always looking for the win – without putting so much pride online.   The End Truth, as I see it,   “One does not simply walk into ‘chess mastery’ , Not with 10000 ‘hours’ could you do this!”*

Chess is never mastered (by humans), so best effort as Good enough.  That kind of positive outlook might keep one interested and engaged for 22 years.  some mysterious and Prideful goal  “am I a strong player, now”…. Ok “am I strong player, NOW” and your unlikely to last 2 YEARS…. and I might end with Point that I am not a professional researcher in Learning, nor am I a good candidate to be a titled master.  But I am an Excellent Candidate at being A chess-player who enjoys a serious game at chess, and seeks to do his absolutely best and improve to the extent that his lifestyle allows him to do).

Last weeks post was about balance and that’s still a good weekly question.   We’ve not gone far enough in any of our openings;  but I am playing and reading about the French and I feel that I’ve seen several good things about it.   It helps, that as a matter of coincidence both an instructive annotatized game I’m reviewing and one of my turn based games are on the Tarrash. 

I’m NOT playing enough Chess, ironically.   The turn based stuff is a little… different.  For all the people that play too much Blitz, I don’t play enough.   More games in shorter times would cover more ground.   (besides my seriously sickly blitz elo of 1000 ish is just too low, even Given that I’m not a fast thinker). Also, The chess club here in town is truly in danger of dying out.  There were only 3 serious members.   

Endgames ought to get More attention, and perhaps I do too much lurking at the forums of (given that I rarely post)

I also need to work through my projects;   posts for the future; Silman versus Heisman annotations, a tactics study (motifs versus improvement),  and  some analysis between how much time I give myself credit for versus how much time some of my study actually takes (ongoing measurements are being made).


  1. It is the nature of a Chessplayer, I think, to look for fatal flaws in another guys thinking. ( I like to think it explains the hot nature of's bulletin board)--
    so I anticipate that some might not like and may even be rather upset with my take on the 10000 hour claim (which has been widely shared throughout the chess community).

    I want to reiterate a couple points, if you find what I've written as disrespectful or dismissive. First , and as I started with, I am a class D patzers with no USCF improvent to show and little indications of a rating increase either. So while I like to think I'm improving and I have little proof of it.
    Moreover I have serious issues getting to OTB slow chess tournaments-some of which (well heck MOST of it) is personal. Thus Even if I were to show promising signs of general chess improvement it would be a slow and hesitant bump to my rating.

    so the cheek of it, A class D patzer dismissing acedemic research and putting out his own crazy thoughts. but then , that is what a blog is for! I'm not doubting any study or anyones improvement record in this record. see point 2.

    Main point* "chess mastery" is hugely pychological. There' no sharp distinction what chess strength counts as chess mastery. and clearly people's experiences greatly vary in the amount of time it took them to attain a xxxx rating. I think its a pychological thing to even say that there is "chess mastery" and my strong opinion is that for me personally it would be better to feel there is not.
    Perhaps another younger person with a better lifestyle feels that chess mastery lies at GM- and he finds that reassuring and inspiring. More power to him!

    Lastly, I am not saying anyone who takes the 10000 challenge very seriously as having an "ego game". when I said that there was an ego game in it, I meant that one should study to chess to challenge oneselves and not to measure against others.

    that part was also pretty personal. I want to resist artificial deadlines in my quest to improve. Artificial numbers are bad enough. LOL.

    feel free to contact me to talk over any of this. I am willing to consider other points of view. I'm also a bit of a LOTR fan, so I couldn't resist twisting a classic quote (even if its become to some a overused meme).

  2. Deliberate Practice and the MAGICAL number of 10,000 hours (of DP) is a really hard topic to discuss.

    One way is positive: it shows that reaching (obtaining) MASTER level is not easy nor fast. That's one of the reasons WHY most people NEVER achieves this status. That's why there are lower chess grades (A, B, C, D, E class player, etc.).

    The second side of this topic is/may be negative: it is too broad to think about it in a CLEAR way. There are a lot of questions to ask and sub-elements to discuss. Just think about: the rated of learing, the efficiency of teaching, the optimal methods of work and tools, the individual potential to learn, study, play and analyse chess (IQ factor comes to mind, but it is not the only one, nor the most important one), the frequency of playing and studying (being taught) chess, the individual trais of character (stubborness, the motivation, desire to find the thruth, competiveness, coping with stress, etc.).

    To make it clear and say it loud: it is A LOT better to enjoy chess and do any activities we wish... than to torture oneself with "10.000 hours rule". There are too many factors that we have to take into consideration (at the way to mastery) to believe it is "exactly 10.000 hours" to obtain master level. It may be even 100.000 hours that is INSUFFICIENT to get a master status, but sometimes just 4-5K hours may be enough to make a success.

    BTW. Do not worry - I am a patzer too, but a little more educated and experienced (B class).