Working Hard

In the last few months, I’ve been working with Daniel to establish in his chess discipline the principal of: “work hard on every move”.

We know that chess is non-linear, and a wrong move, as small as it maybe, can cost you the game. A chess tournament is quite challenging, both physically and mentally, and it’s easy to think: “I’ve worked hard in the previous game. I should relax this game”.

In contrast, the “working hard” principal says: “every move of every game is equally important, and you should give it as much attention as is appropriate, regardless of previous games and effort”.

This seems to work rather well so far, and allowed Daniel to bridge some of the gap between his performance at home and at tournaments.

2 thoughts on “Working Hard

  1. Perhaps some of this is semantics, but my instincts tell me that what you are looking for here is that one must be fully attentive every move. And it may sound funny, but as one competes at higher and higher levels, one learns to be both relaxed and attentive, and to alternately concentrate deeply and to step back and maintain “the view from 30,000 feet”, too.

    Every move is certainly a chance to make an error (whether a small misstep, or an outright blunder, or something in between). In and of themselves, small errors do not generally cost you the game, though it can be critical to recognize that something has gone wrong and to take corrective action; even at the highest levels, grandmasters are often able to dig in their heels and save difficult positions, and even to go back to playing for a win after warding off disaster.

    Some moves are critical, and thus require a longer think. Sometimes it is the move itself that requires a lot of calculation; sometimes it is a matter of making a plan that takes deep thought, and then the moves come fairly easily as the plan is executed. Attentiveness is needed every move, to make sure things are working as intended, to notice what the opponent is up to, and to spot things that were not noticed previously.

    One of the most valuable skills developed through chess is the ability to both concentrate deeply and to maintain a broad attentiveness. The combination is worth understanding, and is a key to mastery – both in chess, and in many walks of life.

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