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Lessons Learnt!

User Rating: / 11
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 18 July 2013
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by GM Danny Gormally


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We congratulate GM Daniel Gormally on having shared first place at the Scottish Chess Championship. What lessons has he learnt along the way?


Having played two tournaments already this summer, one moderately successful, the other one much more so, I thought I'd do a list of lessons that I've assimilated so far, and possible improvements I can make to my play.

Here are the first four mantras:

1. Check your analysis!

A chessplayer stands or falls by the quality of his analysis. At a crucial moment in my last round game in the Scottish Championships, I failed to check a line of analysis sufficiently enough, which probably cost me outright first. Basically my opponent pointed out a move, Rd3, which I had seen, but dismissed too quickly, for a bad reason.

We often have plenty of time when we're sat at the board, thinking about very little, or nothing at all. So why not take the time to check your thinking process? Check your lines 2-3 times during a game, is my advice. I'm naturally impulsive, whenever I play the pub quiz machine for example, I'm banging the buttons at a scary rate, so sometimes it's about reigning in your natural instincts.

2. Believe in your analysis!

I was speaking to Gawain Jones about some of the top players, as he's met a lot of the top guys over the board in the London Classic, for example, and he was telling me something interesting about Magnus.

Basically Magnus puts you under a huge amount of pressure at the board. He'll sit there and think in your time. So you think and think in this very complicated position, and you play a move, which gives him many choices, and he just replies instantly!

Because he believes completely in his own analysis, and he's already worked out what to do in your thinking time. I think that's one of the thing's that separates the very top guys from the rest, is that they are far more decisive in their thinking patterns. None of the wishy-washy thinking that plagues my own game.

3. Know as many positions as possible.

It's important to be able to feel comfortable in as many type of positions as possible. Of course not everyone has the time or the inclination to study every opening under the sun, but you need to widen your chess education as much as possible. None of the top guys have weak spots, where you can say "I get him in that kind of position, he's in trouble"

That may have been true in the past, but Fischer was probably the first truly universal player, and now they tend to know everything. A good example of what can happen if you don't have a wide enough repertoire occurred in my penultimate game in the Scottish.

My opponent avoided my preparation and I was soon in trouble. I prepared plenty before the game, but perhaps I need to prepare more before events, so there aren't any holes in my openings. And I still don't have a realistic defence to 1.d4.

4. Stay in shape!

As I said in my last post, chess is more and more a sport, and there's no excuse nowadays for waddling to the board sporting a huge beer gut. There are plenty of opportunities to eat healthily and exercise.

Also drink tends to increase your anxiety levels over the long-term, even if the odd beer might relax you in the short term, which is not a good thing when you are competing in something which requires strong nerves.

As I said there is nothing wrong with the odd drink, although the aforementioned Magnus doesn't drink at all during a chess event of course. Just when drinking is done to excess that it becomes a problem.

GM Daniel Gormally is open for chess lessons. You can contact him using this This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:

The sad case of Borislav Ivanov: Part II
Does Anyone Have a Cure for Anger Problems?
The Depth of Chess
Fundraising in chess
Nurturing a Chess Prodigy
The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men - Part II
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men
One move, one line - Part II
One move, one line
Candidates Final Review & Preview of Upcoming World Championship Match
Would Carlsen have beaten Capablanca?

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Comments (2)
1. Written by Peter on 10:26 18 2013 .
 
 
Is it just me, or is this article quite controversial? For example, if I follow advice #2 and trust my analysis, then I might find myself blitzing out second-rate moves. In fact, I've had those period when I overestimated my current form and played too rapidly, missing some good alternatives. Meanwhile, advice 1 is telling us not to hurry and to take the time to make a good decision. 
 
Also, the tip to think during one's opponent's time is arguable. Many top players leave the board and just wait for the opponent to make a move. This way you can save some mental energy. Very few people can work productively for 5-6 hours over the board. I know that Fischer used to do this, but he was unique. I guess Gawain Jones was referring to a technique of capitalizing on the opponent's time trouble: leave him little time to think, put him under pressure, come up with good moves while he's thinking. But why would anyone do this with, for instance, an hour on the clock?! 
 
The same can be said about the drinking issue. Very vaguely described, as if the author himself is not sure whether it's ok or not to drink alcohol during a tournament.
 
2. Written by O_~ on 13:00 20 2013 .
 
 
LoL! 
Thats a forced mate...! 
I think comment no.1 checkmates the article.. 
:x 
O_O 
 
Nice article though...
 

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