Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Final conclusion

What this blog lacks is a final conclusion. I will provide one now.

There are things in life that one can call "unfinished business". In my life I had two which stood out: fishing and playing chess.

I hardly caught any fish when I started to experiment with fishing.
It took me 25 years to get the hang of it. At the moment I understood how to do it and started to catch lots and lots of fish, I abandoned fishing. Since I don't like fishing. Experimenting and finding out  how it works was a definite challenge, but when the challenge was over, it was finished. I never touched an angling rod again.

I made a genuine effort to get substantially better at chess. I failed. The final conclusion is that the common belief that you can become good at anything just by willing it and working hard is not true. No matter how intelligent you are.

I learned lots and lots of things about the workings of my own mind, so I don't consider it a waste of time. The lessons reach way beyond chess.

What is left is a monument of which others can take advantage. You can save yourself an awful lot of time by reading this blog well.

Good luck to all of you.


  1. well...
    you are estimatingly right.
    I think the difference between an adult and a kid in improvement is the more flexible brain of kids. Chess as a whole is to complex for adults to improve, kids can improve their skill even in such complex things like chess.
    I'm still fighting, i hope i can find a hidden path by dissection of the skills and training of them "seperatly". I think you made your skilltraining not intense enough but .. im afraid.. you are right and substantial improvement in chess for an adult player is virtually impossible.

  2. I agree, too.
    I think you did put a lot of effort to get better, and of course there could always be the doubt: "did I try hard enough?"
    Well, let me assure you - you did.

    Getting better in chess is a difficult thing. Nevertheless, in my case I did become better, but I need to admit that it might not be possible for all people even if they copy exactly what I did.
    It has nothing to do with intelligence, that I am sure of.
    What is different about me is maybe not different at all: everybody seem to be able to improve. Initially. When you started training, tempo, you did improve. Something from 1500++ elo to 1800++ elo? But from that level on, it might not be possible to improve further. This is because the "hardware" wont improve in adults, only the "software" can be improved. But at 1800 it was already improved close to its optimum. With young people this seems to be different. Probably all this is comparibal with learning a language. Children can get rid of an accent, adults usually dont. I would not wonder if I stop improving from now on.
    My current official rating is at 187 ecf (=2100 Fide elo) and I started with less than 1800. But in the past I had a german DWZ of 1812, which might have been a value of nowadays 1900 fide elo, so my improvement to 1900 was regaining my old strength, after which I pushed it to 2100 by optimising my chess skills. But deminishing returns might kick in and it might be the end of the story soon. I will keep trying to improve, but I wont try for many years. By the time I wont improve over the course of 1 year I will stop.

    But left aside improvement: Do you play chess, even if you dont improve? Just for the fun of it?
    I am not sure if I would once I discovered that I am not getting better (or not much better).

    2 of my matured students became better in chess. One of them (~50 years old) did not become considerably better in tactics (maybe an initial improvment can be seen, but he plateaus now), but wins now more games than before and improved (proven by rating) by 200 elo within a year and seem to improve further. He started from a lower level, though (from 1500 to 1700). Without getting significiantly better in tactics I would guess that he might not improve further soon. Well, there is still the hope his tactics skills will catch up. At least in my case my tactics dont seem to improve, and compared with other 2100 elo players my tactic is pretty poor ("horrible"). Aox made me aware of that yesterday.

  3. I have faced and observed the same problem: most players stopped their progress when reaching 1800 chess level (rating). After that it is needed to work harder and get rid of the most significant weaknesses.

    In my case - I have made a progress from 1600 to 1800 (or maybe even 1850) because of learning positional play, strategy and tactics (up to the 1700-1750 level).

    Even if my rating stops and never improves - I will play chess as I enjoy it very much. There are MANY areas (fields) of chess activity: you can play OTB, virtual (via Internet), blitzes, bughouse, Fischer Random Chess, blindfold, correspondence chess, etc.

    Take notice that all of us may enjoy chess at such perspectives as: analysing, reading, writing about chess (via forums or running a blog and making comments), teaching others or simply solving or creating puzzles.

    For me: chess is much more than a game, sport or an art. It is some kind of intellectual activity and it brings me pleasure whenever I can test, think or write about chess. I hope you may get richer with the help of chess in any dimension, too!

  4. I would argue you became good at chess but not great.

    Through hard work you became good.


  5. I used to come here every now and then and read your posts. Really liked the way you analysed the tactical positions and how you spotted/failed at some of them. Hope you come back to chess some time later. Good luck to you!

  6. heya, if you ever read this, i used to come read your blog back in about 2008. just decided to get back into chess a few months ago and today i thought about you. i guess i missed you by a bit less than a year. best of luck to you. :-)