No chess training

Do you remember that game when fatigue took over? Or that stealthy distraction that made you lose track of it, make the wrong decision and let the win slip away?

Rest assured, each and every player has been in your shoes.

The goal of my project will be at first to highlight these non-chess-related factors with regard to game improvement.

During the first 6 months, I will establish in my day-to-day a series of habits, which will allow me to stock up on energy and develop strong mental power. I will not, however, carry out any formal chess training, which means:

  • No tactics
  • No game analysis
  • No finals
  • No work on openings
  • No coaching
  • No training program

In November, I will evaluate the effects these habits have had on my game by participating in a tournament.

It is only during the last 6 months that I will start implementing direct methods of chess improvement, while still following my rhythm of introducing one new habit per week and without forgetting to take into account the ‘quality/invested time’ factor. After this period, I will once again sign up for a tournament to test my evolution.

Starting at 2100 ELO

Up to now, I have developed my ideas relating to openings, mostly by following games involving players with 2700 ELO points (nowadays 2800). Even though I have occasionally tried out some lines with Chessbase, I’ve never taken the time to create a real repertoire, even less study it. Most of the time, I try to escape the outline of theories, in order to walk into unknown territory and fight on my own.

Although this method did help me out in the beginning, I’ve often noticed that against some of the brightest adversaries I’ve faced, I haven’t been able to measure up by taking such risks.

Nonetheless, this way of handling openings and my ELO ranking, which has remained almost the same for many years now, have allowed me to conclude that my overall game level is indeed around 2100 points. I will hence consider this number as a starting point for my chess progression journey.

Non-chess factors: imperfect experiment

I am fully aware that this part of the experiment won’t be perfect, as there are many variables that come into play and which could influence the outcome. However, I’ve decided to limit the impact of some of them in order to stack the deck in my favour.

  • Preparing against the adversary: It’s necessary to master a minimum number of openings so that the game is not over before it’s begun. Instead of using my existing repertoire, I will prepare each game by taking into account who my opponent will be and by playing a variant I’ve never used before.
  • Playing : To progress you must play. I will only play 5 official games in the Belgian interclub tournament during the first 6 months and maybe a few rapidplay tournaments. The impact will be thus reduced. I will also stop playing fast chess online (blitz and rapid) because it constitutes a form of tactical training.
  • Watching professional games: I’ve been watching professional tournaments during last 5 years and my level has not increased, probably because I skim over them. Consequently I will not change my habits.

Some aspects will however remain out of my control, namely the three following:

  • Pairings: the beauty of pairings lies in the fact that I cannot know what type of player I will face, his strength or his general state, factors which may obviously tip the scales one way or the other
  • Chess Knowledge : Even though I won’t engage in any specific chess training, it is certain that I will benefit from the chess knowledge I will have gained through my research. I can also not erase the time I’ve spent around the chessboard.
  • Tournament : Just one tournament and the Elo performance stemming from it is of course not enough to perfectly indicate any achievement but I can’t practically do more.

What work and what doesn’t

Despite the imperfect nature of the experiment, I aim to promote the habits leading to success which were not initially meant for the world of 64 squares. And in the end of the year, I hope I will have a more precise idea on what works and what doesn’t work in terms of chess improvement.

Most of all, I want to also help each and every one of you with your individual improvement goals. So if you’re up for it and a specific habit sparks your curiosity, join me and let’s go on this journey towards success together!