Deliberately Practicing Deliberate Practice

Something I have written about before is the concept of deliberate practice.

Intellectually I could speak about it at great length, but right now I’m more focused on the pragmatic aspects.  Specifically my current training regime which primarily involves books by Quality Chess and analysis of my own games.

I’ve read many different articles and blog posts which say that one of the most important aspects of trying to improve is to make sure that you enjoy what you are doing.  This often comes in the form of advice to “study whatever you feel like today” with little thought given to the overall methodology of the approach itself.

The problem that I have started to have with that way of thinking is that it is in direct conflict with a saying I saw Jacob Aagaard repeat in his Calculation book in the GM Prep series.  That saying is “Improvement begins on the edge of your comfort zone.”  My apologies to the originator of that statement, but I cannot recall whom Jacob attributes it to.

Those two statements can not coexist.  One or the other can be correct, but not both.  So it’s time for me to decide which direction is right for me.

The truth is that I have been going in the first direction for quite some time.  I do what I want when I want how I want with little regard to the overall curriculum.  It’s time to change.

Deliberate is the most important part of the phrase deliberate practice.  Many things are practice, few of them are deliberate.

So with that in mind my new program needs to be heavy on solving.  The fact is that typically I get involved in some solving and then I get tired of it.  I slip into the laziness so many chess players experience and I don’t want to spend an hour or two solving hard problems that make my head hurt.  I’d rather just play through some games.

Then I start playing through some games but come to a section where there are two pages of analysis on just one or two moves, so I justify skipping over them by repeating the bit about having to enjoy the things I’m studying.

Before too long I’ve spent some time shuffling wood, but not really learning in a proper environment.

So here is how the change will occur.  My plan now will be this:

  • Solving one page (six problems) from Glenn Flear’s book Tactimania as a warm up.  This is literally just to prime the pump.  Nothing more.
  • Working through a chapter of Yusupov.  Exercises, variations, everything.
  • With whatever time is left I will play through a ton of GM games in my database of whatever opening I am working on at the time.
  • After three days in a row of Yusupov I will switch and allow myself a chapter of something else.  Romanovsky, Gelfand, etc.
  • One day per week the session will consist of one hour of Tactimania followed by analysis of my own games.  Typically the one I played that same week.

I feel reasonably confident that I may not like everything I outlined above since it’s work, but I will do it and I imagine I will begin to see real improvement.

Now, off to Yusupov!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

One thought on “Deliberately Practicing Deliberate Practice”

  1. “That saying is “Improvement begins on the edge of your comfort zone.”

    Indeed, if your study is to easy then it’s not a study, just some rehash of the things you already know by heart. Not that it’s bad to do some repetitive work but to improve one should learn something new or something you have difficulties with.

    For me it’s finding a thoughtproces I am happy with and stick with it, meaning do all the steps of it. Nowadays my thoughtproces jumps from 1 to 3 to 2 to 24 to …, you get it, no system at all. That’s the reason why I started with the book ‘How to tune your chess tactics antenna’. Now that I am halfway the book (which I can recommend to put it on your whishlist) I noticed that I have to learn all tactical devices again and again and again so that I can easily spot them, with other words improve my patern recognizion.

    So I am slowly building up the things I dont know or am doing badly (make many mistakes at it). Step by step working (hopefully) in the right direction. The only problem I have and have not really seen new in chess books about is to learn how to play blindfolded. Now I still have to stare at the board to calculate. But that is a problem for later, now first thoughtproces and patern recognizion.

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