I’ll make no secret of it! I haven’t been studying (or playing) chess as I once did. I think I got a small cold OR something- so I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping; and its put a wringer on my free time!
I obsessively document time spent on chess; and I haven’t seen anything like since fall (Actually it was worse). For a while I thought perhaps I had rhythm going and I wasn’t going to fall to the lows.
Well as I read in a forum post of another hobby; it is normal and understandable to feel sometimes more or less involved in a hobby. I even think it is critical attitude; How do we handle a little less passion and spark in chess? It is critical to enjoy your hobby and not push the hobby into a feeling of unpleasant duty… on the other hand, I do NOT want to ‘drop’ the study of chess.
A LAPSE. This is what it is. Temporary and unavoidable. What can one do to maximize his learning as time and motivation is less? How can this be a good thing- and how do we continue to be motivated… when many long hours slip to just a few?? Some thoughts…
Intensity doesn’t necessarily offer Maximum Improvement and Lapses can help one gain perspective and relax. One of the hardest lessons of chess improvement is that doesn’t necessarily come about just because one is constantly studying. In fact, constant studying can create a kind of information saturation; to the point that no one lesson really is well learnt because your simply trying to learn too much at once!
Only the other hand, an illness comes, your body says “chillax!”- you can now play a game of chess without trying to strain to remember all those recent long hours. Instead of remembering, try to be cautious and relaxed. What do you see?
Chess Improvement is much more of marathon than a sprint… and getting all out of breath and weary is counterproductive. If your mind is creating motivational obstacles from the long hours; it pays to be sneaky. Just do a little! There’s little to gain from putting in a long hours of study when you don’t feel like it. but theres plenty to learn in the first five or ten minutes.
I’ve most definitely seen this with tactic puzzles. How many people MINE salt; beating their head with puzzle after puzzle; long hours at a time. Ones mind isn’t door to be broken… its an instrument and when it is impaired with weariness it is innately less functional.
I think this last point is the Biggest. Every chess lesson is impaired when we are weary. But generally. Instead of ‘for long hours when we are tired and weary’; the better strategy is ‘often ‘ and ‘well chosen’. There’s no difference in my chart between 1 hours every other or 30 minutes every day. But there’s little doubt; which one is better.
Lose activities that are a burden when you are lapsed and simplify the program… I am currently dwindling down my Turn-based chess. I was a tyro for a time, rising in rating rapidly and spending sometimes quite a long time carefully working out things in the analysis board. But my initial 1200 opposition has changed to reflect a maximum of 1702. These are Brutally good chess players and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. There’s a lot of effort to keep up with chessplayers of this caliber. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it; perhaps it was. But with a lapse in place; now isn’t the time to run with Class B players. Instead, I want to concentrate on finding simple and reasonable moves during live chess- I want to decrease blunders. A couple carefully played games and lots of analysis- this is the simplified program to move forward. I also need to continue my study of Alburts 300 positions. The combination of tactical opportunities; defending against threats and being careful not to fall for refuted captures or tactics is Top-notch.
A good attitude is a MUST during a lapse One could for example feel great guilt? Or figure- I’m simply not putting a reasonable amount of time into this- why bother?? Its important to remind myself why I am doing this.. I am a naturally obsessive guy; with a pretty Dull life. I’d like something to obsess on that really builds a skill and engages the mind and passion. The ability to think through something clearly to understand a puzzle deeply… this is all very interesting to me. In the end it really doesn’t matter than this week, I’ve felt a little less motivated than others. I’m still motivated. I’m still aiming to be a Great Patzer. An online surprise- a contradiction in terms; as an older man with no current tournament aspirations there is no reasonable reason to believe I can become good at chess. But I ask in seriousness; whats to stop me from being good at chess? Only my own attitude and I can work on that!
Lastly, perhaps a bit of a distraction. A little bit of one, yes! Its an another old hobby, with a twist, I use to do a bit of foreign language writing, and even got half good at French. Yes, I’m starting with a new one; Esperanto. Esperanto is a constructed language and as such; has regular grammar and a logical and simplified method of creating words.
The purpose of the language was to be innately easy to learn and to foster international communication. Well of course the internet has brought international communication in a scale the inventor of the language could never imagine (it was invented in the 1890’s). but generally its been English , not Esperanto that has been flourishing.
One could ( I suppose) just call this good luck. Millions, no possibly more than a billion people; wearily learning my tricky, native language. No language needed to reach out to the world. On the other hand, there is a sort of chess like reward to learning a foreign language and I imagine being able at some future point, to converse world-wide with people in a way they can’t do in English. Once I get past ‘Mia Estas Jason Oliphant.’
Is it a distraction, yes perhaps. But there is some time I can use for writing that I can’t use for chess. (as a matter of fact that’s when I’ve been doing my blogging). Learning a language is also marathon-ish. And I can be a lot more relaxed and carefree about Esperanto than chess. (my aim is lower and the task is easier). Until then
“ Ni devas esti en bone humoro, gis ni renkontas ree.”
(let us be in good spirits, until we meet again)