Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homework Troubles

There's just no getting around it.

If I want to improve my chess, I have to do my homework - the hard yards, so to speak.

Unfortunately, it is easier said than done.

When I first started playing competitively this year, I'd realised there are severe gaps and defects in my chess knowledge and skills. These mistakes are very costly and they often have a detrimental effect on my play and I desperately need to fix them if I'm ever to have a hope of improving my play to a decent level.

While I'm fortunate to have a job in the midst of this economic climate, unfortunately, the job entails me having to work weekends and on public holidays at times.

I've always believed that it is possible for anyone to reach FIDE Master (FM) level if they devote sufficient time and resources for chess study and practice.

This is where I fall short.

I've a study plan but circumstances have forced me to make me divert from it. That's because I get side-tracked by something more important when I'm at home.

In addition, the nature of my work requires a high level of concentration throughout the day (I work as an analyst in the security industry) and it's often and not surprising that by the time the end of the day comes, my brain just refuses to accept any new information thrown at it.

Take last night as an instance in point. I tried to feed my brain some chess annotations from one of Anand's early games but it lifted its hand to say,"Enough! No more." and proceeded to spit the information right back at me. It's like trying to feed a videotape into a VCR only to have the VCR eject out the tape constantly. Frustrating.

Does this mean that I need time to rest? Yes.

I know I need to rest but I can't possibly have that every night. Coffee works for like 10 minutes for me, after which, the Sandman (inset) starts to blow dust in my eyes and my concentration falls apart.

One way I found which seemed to help was to go for an early gym session in the morning (I've been heading to the gym 3 times a week at least and trying to swim once a week) to boost my energy levels. I found that it has helped somewhat because come the end of my work day, I find that I still have at least a good half an hour of brainpower energy left.

I barely touched the telly these days although last night, I stayed up to watch a documentary on the origins of the Vietnam war protest in America. I rarely watch prime-time television programmes (save for the occasional CSI episode on Mondays) although I do watch quite a bit of BBC and SBS documentaries.

On weekdays, I do Sudoku in the morning, the Crosswords during lunch and try to fit in some chess homework at night. I've been contemplating giving up the Sudoku and the Crosswords but it's hard to kick the habit and these puzzles offer my brain something else think on besides say, finding a new variation in the Sicilian: Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack.

It's a constant daily struggle I admit but just because it's hard doesn't mean I give it up.


  1. I have the same problem. During the day i work as administrator so i have to keep my head by the job at hand. In the evening i have to cook, eat and do the dishes and only then i have time to do some chess study. Offcourse by then i am tired and only want to sit in my comfy chair and watch tv (a thing i dont have use my brain).

    So it's hard to do some chess study but since i work with a coach/trainer i have to force myself to atleast one hour a weekday. After awhile your brain gets used to it, although not at a 100% energy level.

    So my advise is just to do each evening/night some chess study for aslong as possible. At first it may only be 10 minutes but after a month or so your brain is used to it and a half hour or an hour is possible. Offcourse one has to watch to start the study at the same hour each day.

  2. chesstiger:

    glad to hear i'm not alone in all of this. :)

    that is a smashing idea ie. in getting used to 10 min than increasing the time of study as time goes by.

    i'll definitely give it a try.