Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lets look deeper at why we dont have a GM yet?

Chess is a game of reasoning. It is also a game of trusting your own reasoning. As we go up the rating, the challenges to your thinking gets tougher and tougher. Your sense of self doubt becomes greater for you are now challenged by more and more superior thinkers.

At some point, if your confidence takes a knock, you implode. You give up. I think you may be able to get up to IM by white knuckling. A combination of psycho tricks and understanding may get you there.

I think the divide happens at the GM level. There you cannot bluff anymore. There you are laid bare. The psycho tricks dont work anymore. You are in the presence of grand masters.

And so the culture we need is one where we can learn to reason and reason at the highest level. Once we use belligerence, intimidation and cheap tricks we have lost the plot. So the first thing is to learn not to be distracted. Stay focussed on the plan, the issue. That is the way to the top.

That is why I say the current culture is not condusive to getting that GM. Most are broken before they can get there. That is the fruit of this culture of fear.

How many games have you played and lost because of self doubt? When you dont trust your own analysis, when your thinking shuts down under the pressure? When you lose courage?

The trick is to improve your ability to reason, to see through the cheap tricks. And finally to have the courage to stand behind your analysis. Then you are on your way to being GM, to being a stronger player. No short cuts.


  1. R,
    In Malaysia our best talents had decided (or their parents) to concentrate on academics, to become medical doctors, engineers, accountants and other more promising careers. To be a GM in Malaysia is a dream with no real prospect to support oneself financially (how about supporting a family? Dream on). It is more financially advisable to be a professional football player than a professional chess player in Malaysia. Dato' Tan's promise of incentive for the first Malaysian GM is greatly appreciated, but is it enough? And how much can a chess player gain in a month? In the former USSR, chess was thriving there because they were supported by the Government. In other countries, chess is more dependent on funds from the private sectors. Maybe you (and me) can help solve that problem in Malaysia.

  2. I dont think that detracts from the fact that learning to reason deeper is the way to go. I believe the only home grown GM in Singapore is also a Dr. He became a GM later in life. So its a fallacy that the GM must come young. It's always a process. Why put an artificial barrier to the age we get our first GM. First figure out what it takes and then try to get the next younger. So that age limit to me is an excuse. What we can do now is to improve our preparation, our selection criteria etc. Get all those little things right first. That is where the focus should be. How do we know our next GM wont be Mas or Mok? The point is we do not know. If we improve things, get everyone to compete then the GM will come eventually. Keep focusing on improving not finding excuses.

  3. I think it also takes a lot of money and time to play in high level tournaments outside of the country to gain IM and GM norms - which a lot of our young players are lacking of. Especially time. They have to go to school and there are exams every month or so.

    A total support from parents and the school system is also required here. Not many parents can see a good future for their children if they want to make playing chess as their profession.

  4. Zabbura, you talk in absolutes. You want total support before we start. That is the excuse I hear also from many people for not doing a good job. If you want total support before you start then you will never start. Things happen in process. Just improve. Why are you focussed on parents? What do you know what is in their minds? Just decide for yourself.