Friday, February 18, 2005

Discipline "vs" Enthousiasm

I noticed that some Knights have from time to time trouble with the blunt discipline that is needed to follow de la Maza's program.
Because I solved about 15.800 problems the last 3 years I can maybe shed some light on this subject.
Actually I don't understand why MdlM advices such rigid schemes.
Discipline can be a great tool. But discipline can work only during a short time. After this short time you have to transform the discipline to enthousiasm or quit the task altogether.

For some of us this is different. Don for example uses the program of MdlM as therapy for lack of discipline. But for the most of us, who only strive to play better chess, the feeling of discipline has to be abandonned. The point which MdlM has made with his hammering on strict following his scheme is that you have to really work to get results.
Well, all the Knights realize this point, so there is no point in "self flagellation".
Unless you are a masochist.
There is another pitfall that is caused by lazy thinking. That is to compare the brain with the body. You feel you have done a great body workout when the body is tired. But that doesn't hold true for the brains.
You cannot say I feel terribly bad in my head so I have done a great job to my brains.
What has to grow is love for the game. What is even more important is when you manage to feel love for the exercises. This may sound sissylike, but it's the only way to keep it up.
I love to throw the sink at my opponents. To startle the ones who where heading for a salonremise. (last saturday with white,10 o'clock in the morning, 1.e4 c6 2.Pc3 d5 3.Df3 d4 3.Lc4! Pf6 4.e5 dc3: 5.ef6: cb2: 6.Lf7: two piece sacrifices in 6 moves! He surely sat straight up in his chair!)
I think (but I might be wrong) that even MdlM fell in this pitfall.
He loved the results of what he was doing, but when the results declined he quit the game.

Those who are master now have had to learn the same things as we are trying to do now.
But because they were child they didn't even notice that they were training.
That's the way we have to try to work.
I was really astonished when I calculated how much problems I have solved.
CD has found the right attitude. If he has a bad training result he is glad he is so bad that it takes only simple things to do to get better in stead of difficult things...

So when you work, work your ass off, and if you don't, well do that with all your heart too.
The best motivation lies in loosing games and tournaments. So play lots of them.
And forget about all those rigid schemes, be practical!


  1. I like very much your blogs!!
    As a beginner at older age I met the problem to find out what is the best path to follow, simle because I did not understand the purpose of the openings. Since I started solving tactic problems my rating improved, every year with 100 rating points. In the opening stage of the game I try to put my peaces as chancefull as possible for tactics. I don't care so much for loosing pawns if there is a choice for having an open line. I like King's gambit with open f-line, with a lot of tactical complications.

  2. Temposchlucker,

    I agree and disagree with you.

    I agree in that overall, one's interest must be founded on enthusiasm. Mere self-discipline will not keep you going for long.

    I disagree in that I think there is something important to an intensive focus on tactics in chess for improvement. In order to take your game up a notch , you have to train at it. Such training will not happen without discipline because the demands surpass most everyone's level of casual enjoyment.

    On the subject of self-displine, it is accuarate to say that I often failed to complete things because I lacked self-discipline. What I was wrong about was where I was failing. For example, the self-discipline that is takes to sit down every night for 2 hours to do chess problems has a lot to do with the self-discipline to go to bed early the night before. Also, one has a limited pool of "will" force. If you force yourself to do things all day that you don't want to do, then you will not have any will left over to buckle down and crank out probs.

    It is my belief that most people who say the "just need more self-discipline" are not focusing on the things that would help them have it.

  3. Pawn sacs for lines? King's gambit? Margriet, you sound like my kind of chess player. Rock on!!!

  4. I forget where I read it, but some article or whatever suggested that a major ingredient to being a world class player is the capacity to work at something over and over and over. Raw talent at something is one thing, but the willpower to practice is what really makes the difference.

    However, I agree that enthusiasm is critical for long-term discipline, particularly for a superfluous thing such as chess. If you don't enjoy the game, why would you even want the discipline to spend hours per day working on it? What would be the point?