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User Rating: / 62
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
By GM Daniel Gormally, England, FIDE 2506

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I recently indicated that I spend half an hour to an hour a day, studying chess.

While this is a vast improvement on my normal routine, which basically consisted of doing no chess work whatsoever, if I'm honest it's still woefully short of what you need to do in order to bring about radical improvement. To get to that 2600 level which might lead to a breakthrough in terms of how much money is coming in and what sort of invites I might get.

Sure, if you spend just half an hour a day the likelihood is you won't suffer from rust when you actually sit down and play in a tournament. That's the minimum requirement I believe for me just to stand still, to remain at 2500 level. If I didn't do that much I'd probably get significantly worse.

But to really improve, means hard work. That means a radical and continuous overhaul of your opening repertoire. Putting your games through a microscope which involves working on your weaknesses. Studying middlegame positions. Studying endings. Working with Chessbase. Working with computer engines. Playing through the games of the top players and looking at what they are doing at the moment. I could go on and on.

The subject of chess improvement is inexhaustible and there are basically not enough hours in the day. A lot of the top guys are working between 6-10 hours a day. That's hard, hard work and if I'm honest I don't have the personality, I don't have the discipline to do that much. Maybe I should though I have no real excuse, as time isn't an issue. I don't do anything else other than chess. And it's the only thing I'm really any good at, so I should try and become as good as I possibly can.

  Vladimir Kramnik- likely to be a formidable force at Khanty-Mansiysk.

At the Zurich chess tournament just finished, during the press conference it was indicated that the reason that Kramnik was absent from the event, (or one of the reasons) was because he was preparing specifically for the Candidates tournament in March.

Now I don't know about you, but if I was one of his potential opponents in Khanty-Mansiysk, I'd be very worried about this development.

Because Kramnik already has a formidable reputation as an extremely hard worker in chess which he combines with his formidable natural talent, the idea that he's putting even more work in specifically for this event must fill the rest of the field with trepidation.

Don't get me wrong, I still consider Levon Aronian the favourite, especially as he was so impressive in Wijk Aan Zee. But Kramnik has already indicated that he may retire when he is 40, which probably means that he realises this is one of his last opportunities to play a world championship match. So he must be very motivated.

Kramnik has always considered hard work to be essential to his make-up as a chess professional. Just read these quotes I found on

"Chess is like body-building. If you train every day, you stay in top shape. It is the same with your brain chess is a matter of daily training."

I agree. If you pump iron every day you'll soon have the body of an Apollo- it's the same with chess. Study chess for hours every day and eventually you'll become at one with the board. You'll just feel where the pieces should go- the connection between your brain and the board will become effortless.

"On the whole, the life of a chess professional is not as easy as it appears at first sight. One needs to devote some ten hours a day to chess and to everything connected with it - physical and psychological preparation."

Ten hours a day. Quite a lot isn't it? Clearly the average person won't be able to do that much, even if they don't have a job, family and so on. It takes a special kind of person to do that.

"Every month I look through some ten thousand games, so not as to miss any new ideas and trends."

If the last comment didn't make you think twice about becoming a chess pro, that one surely did. Ten thousand games a month might not sound like much, but that's a hell of a lot of chess. Over 300 games a day. Even if you are just flicking through the games, it will take you many hours a day. Scary stuff.

"I have no time for any particular interests apart from chess."

This comment makes him sound like the sort of person you prefer to avoid at a dinner party. But what this quote shows to me is dedication. The dedication to study chess for many hours everyday. Want to spend a few hours catching up on Game of Thrones? Nope, no time to spend studying the dragon. Well not the dragons you want. A few hours nattering away on Facebook? No, better off spending that time on the latest games from TWIC. Go down the pub? Are you serious??


    Game of Thrones- the wrong type of dragons?

Even if you don't have that kind of dedication, it does make you think how we might be better off using our time during the day in a more efficient way. If you want to be the best, you have to be prepared to make sacrifices. Because in chess, hard work pays off. It's a game of knowledge.

Having said that I'm now going to pop series 3 of Game of Thrones in the DVD and crack open a bottle of white wine.... life's too short!

Originally published in GM Danny Gormally's blog

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:
Bobby Fischer vs. Hikaru Nakamura: Theoretical Match-up
Interesting thoughts of Anand in defeat
London Chess Classic Preview
Losing your motivation
Playing blitz chess online & all the computer cheats
Anand-Carlsen borefest continues
Magnus, is this all he has?
A clash of kings
Do we overrate ourselves?
Computers and their all-pervading influence on modern chess
From Russia with love
The England Chess Team & Jack Wilshire
Should the grandmaster title be scrapped?
ECF Book of the Year?
Is being a chess pro worth it - continued?
Is being a chess pro worth it?
An Elitist Game?
Does hard work in chess pay off?
World Cup Final preview
World Chess Cup Semi-Final preview
World Chess Cup Quarter-Final preview
World Chess Cup 1/8-final preview
Why are Russians so good at chess?
British Champs-2013
Ghent and now the British
I'll never be fat again!
Lessons learnt!
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 (3)
1. Written by jorge on 15:58 19 2014 .
ONLY HALF AN AHOUR A DAY thats so disrespectful and unprofessional you should quit or put your MAN PANTS at once...u coward lazy rat :p !!!
2. Written by jorge on 16:04 19 2014 .
despite t
despite that i thin u were pretty hinest to say all that ...but well....i think u know what to do now...BECOME A BODY BUILDER AND PUT YOUR MAN PANTS!!!  
and push yourself to the limit"!!!
3. Written by 0_x on 16:23 26 2014 .
heyy im in india
yes.yes. we know...d00d, 
we all had a dream of becoming a great chessplayer and making it to the top, ... 
until we heard of vova kramnik.

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