Saturday, August 4, 2012

Actively Studying Chess

If you actively study chess; you create a serious study environment, in which you find ways to really use your brain, that are beyond your comfort zone

Examples of active chess studying are:

  • Solving tactics puzzles from computer programs, magazine or book diagrams or from the board by means of visualization, so without moving the pieces, writing down the variations, checking them later with the solutions and keeping track of your progression
  • Studying a difficult tactical or strategical chess position on the board by means of visualization, so without moving the pieces, writing down the variations and conclusions and checking them by now moving the pieces and comparing what you see to what your mind's eye saw as reflected in your notes. As a variation you might use a chess clock and add a time constraint, for instance 15 minutes.
  • Playing through a grandmaster game and constantly trying to visualize the given sidelines besides constantly asking questions such as: What is threatened with this move? Why does he play that? Why does he not play this? Etc.
  • Doing the same with your own games, preferably the ones you lost!
  • For making notes of your findings and filing your analysis. These activities are neuro-linguistic and help to imprint what you have learned.

The benefits of these methods are that you step out of your comfort zone, stomp your brain and improve your chess skills, which is very important.

Examples of passive chess study are:

  • Watching chess (technical) videos
  • Just playing through (grandmaster) games while moving the pieces
  • Checking games or positions with the help of engines and not forming your own opinions about them

An example of an-in-between chess study activity could be the memorization of opening variations without trying to understand the moves. Of course learning variations by heart is active, but not trying to understand them is passive. Trying to understand moves at the same time helps to memorize them also, since each move can then be associated with more information which is to the liking of the brain.

Now ask yourself: How do I study chess? Do I use the active or the passive methods, or a mix of them?

Hat tip to Waldemar Moes.

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