Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chess surfers need to know how to catch a wave!!

Since attending a National K-12 or Scholastic event at least once a year since 1989, my motivational stories have grown in metaphoric range. This year at the US Open, I'm once again reminded - as I watch so many player slipping and sliding result-wise - of my favorite surfer analogy.
Throughout a tournament, players try to establish respect for themselves by 'standing up' to their opposition, not unlike a surfer popping up on his board under adverse conditions... The best players in an event remain steady - untoppled, dominant, and certain to take away not only respect but perhaps even a check for their tournament expenses and perhaps even the rent!
Other players on the other hand have a hard time even getting into the water, getting knocked down by forces of strength beyond comprehension. Those lucky enough to pop up and ride a wave may find it lasting for only one round.
Success in a chess tournament requires tremendous stamina and perserverance. This doesn't come without practice and many, many unsuccessful outings. If your attention falters for even a moment, you'll be toppled.
A good chess player needs character, discipline, and good nerves in order to triumph. These are not developed in isolation.
-John MacArthur

A good memory, or attention to detail?

One thing I find interesting in all of my lessons - is the fact that I have to repeat myself so often. As a result I use many metaphors and analogies for students based on sports, movies, common experiences and such to convey strategic chess understanding ...
Never-the-less, I end up again repeating myself.

My strongest student to date, Marc Arnold (now about 2430), has either a great memory or disciplined attention to detail - as far as his game is concerned.
While trying to get him to study for himself seemed nearly impossible, the countless hours we spent together were always rewarded. Often he would question a principle or motif as I would point it out in a master game, that it was not what I had told him previously. Curiously, I would quiz him on the circumstances of our previous encounter with the motif and he would mention the name of the player (i.e. Paul Keres) or the opening to jar my memory ... and I would then simply explain what happened then, what's happening now, and how the current position is an exception or a clarification to the motif of our experience. Marc always seemed to get what I told him the first time it was said - and he would categorize it correctly, with nearly all of the details in order.

If something is important to you, pay attention to detail, whether or not you have such an excellent memory.
-John MacArthur