In my career as a player and chess coach, I have dealt with many difficult problems that stand in the way of progress for both – myself and my students. One of the main problems that occur to most players is the lack of motivation once a certain level is reached and nothing magical happens. What I mean is that once a player performs well or achieves an expectation he previously had set then the question arises “now what?” “Should it be easier to win games now that my rating is pumped up?”
And then the inevitable downfall begins and you have to start recomposing everything again. Most of us have been there.
Chess is a difficult activity, even for Grandmasters.
The amount of time and effort one must put into the game is incredibly high compared to the benefits it may bring in the best case scenarios. Right now, as I write these words, my friend, a GM with a promising career and over 2600 rating is telling me about the feeling of time-wasting he has during his training sessions, and he does not know where to begin to reach a higher level. Imagine, a 2600!
Unless you feel very passionate about the game, you will have moments of doubts about the time spent in the game. I believe it’s normal; the important thing is to overcome these stages and don’t let them take a toll on your attitude towards the game and your training routine.
In this article, I’ll share with you some of the advice I give to my pupils and recipes I have tried myself.
1. “Training chess is like going to the gym. Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.”
This is a cliché that I have heard too many times, but there is a big difference. Going to the gym is painful, you feel your training on every muscle and within days you can see and feel small results.
Chess does not work exactly the same.
Whether you are accumulating knowledge by reading books, watching video lessons or working on tactical exercises your results will only be seen when tested at a competition, where success will depend on several factors.
Do not think negative about your training; be certain that if you train day by day there is a small chance you will still fail, but if you don’t train you will certainly fail.
Work is better than no work. Simple.
2. Remember the frustration.
Who hasn’t said in a tournament, “I should have studied this line”, “I should have read that book”, “I should have analyzed my games”?
All of us have been in that situation. Remember those moments and get yourself to work on what you know you will need.
3. Don’t be too harsh on yourself; enjoy the process.
Many students think they will be GMs one day or it is something they got coming. Well, of course, passion and training will get you close, but there are many great players who never became GMs.
Life has its ways.
However, they were no inferior players. What I’m saying is you have to do it for yourself, enjoy the learning process, and don’t set a deadline to your goal.
4. Surround yourself with positive people and avoid the naysayers.
One of the things I’ve learned from being a coach is not only to teach chess to my students but to maintain their motivation, the positivity, energy, and fun around the game.
I believe that environment is the key to the development of a chess player.
5. Split your goals into small manageable pieces.
For example, you want to do several things, like studying tactics, openings, positional chess. There are so many things you want to work on that the feeling of overwhelming is inevitable. You soon feel that there is too much work and no matter what you do, tomorrow there will be as much work.
Well, start in parts, read that endgame book that you were planning to read and put the rest aside for a while. Find motivation in getting one thing done rather than plenty of things halfway.
With this, I conclude my advice to those ambitious players who are seeking information on how to keep going in their chess careers.
There is no secret but hard work, create habits that keep you busy, cut your goals smaller and get them done. Thank you for reading; I hope this article will be useful and as usual feel free to comment your thoughts.