You’ll find on this page a few words on all the habits I’ll put in place each week.
I’ll write an article linked to each habit roughly one month later.
Habit 33: Master your openings
Well, I’ve had my first complete opening repertoire adjusted to my chess style for two weeks now. But I’m conscious it will only be a good accomplishment if I work regularly on it by revising the lines frequently.
Doing it will be henceforth part of my weekly chess training
Habit 32: Develop and enrich databases
Two weeks ago, I mentioned I wanted to avoid being an easy target during my adversaries’ preparations. So, in order to make sure I can regularly come up with new variants ideas, I will create different databases with games using the lines I intend to play.
As like for my repertoire, I will enrich my databases on a recurring basis.
Habit 31: Learn from the best
In any area, learning from the best is probably the best technique to progress. Chess is no exception here, as we must rely a lot on what has been played by the best players (former and present) to develop our chess skills.
In that sense, I will decrypt this week hundreds of top GM’s interviews that I collected during the first 6 months (books, articles, videos…) and create a top 50 of all their precious advice on chess improvement. See you at the end of the week for this Christmas surprise!
To get back to the habit, analyzing games of the top GM’s will obviously be part of my weekly chess training during these 6 months.
Habit 30: Build and improve your opening repertoire on a regular basis
For those who have been following my story, openings are definitely not the part I master. As I have been encountering an increasing number of difficulties in that area of the game, I decided to tackle the problem once and for all and build a new opening repertoire, according to the analysis of my play I did last week.
After that, I plan to improve and adapt my variant choices on a regular basis to be sure not to be predictable during my adversaries’ preparation.
Habit 29: Analyze your play
Before looking for any improvement, any chess coach will advise you first to analyze your game. This debriefing is a necessity to evaluate your strengths, your weaknesses as well as your chess style. It should be the foundation on which you will develop specific chess training. And because there is always something to learn, it is important to keep practicing this habit of analyzing every game.
I will thus regroup 50 of my games, make a diagnosis by dissecting them more deeply and check out what I can learn from that to start my progression journey.
Habit 28: Study endgames
Another important part of the game I never had the courage to study are endgames. I learned to play them by relying exclusively on games I played and the ones from top players I watched. I am conscious that studying for 5 months won’t be sufficient to fill my ending gaps, so I will search for ways to learn them efficiently and establish a regular routine to improve as much as I can.
Habit 27: Train tactics daily
I have heard about the importance of tactics countless times, so I still don’t know why I didn’t try to work on them earlier.
I occasionnally tried out some puzzles here but it seems you need to do it consistently to see concrete results. I’ve always preferred playing blitz and I guess it has helped me progress in that field. As seen by my calculation deficits during the tournament, so training tactics will be my chess priority right now.
I thus plan to work on tactics a few minutes every day, most probably in my downtime.
Habit 26: Follow your chess training
Last week, I started drawing the main lines of my chess training for the next 6 months of my experiment. Obviously, I will adapt the sessions on a weekly basis and will aim to build a solution giving me the best results in a limited time. As I have already emphasized in a previous article, I will focus exclusively on the process and try to improve my chess game by training 10 hours a week.
This new habit introduces the new part of the experiment and puts me back on the rhytmn of 1 new habit a week (ok with a few breaks I admit!).
I will follow this rule which I believe is pretty good advice for everyone: stick to my plan, whatever I decide to do with my 10 hours. Remember that a bad plan is better than no plan at all!
Habit 25: Get ready for a tournament
During these first 6 months of my project, I ended up learning a lot on very different fields, focusing particularly on benefits I could draw from non-chess factors to support my chess improvement. It is time now to review everything I wrote and prepare with accuracy every step of my tournament to get in the best possible physical and mental shape for every round. For this occasion, I have decided to meditate for 40 hours next week (which also means no new habit before the end of the tournament). See you after the tournament for the feedback!
Habit 24: Free your mind (step 2) –> note everything
The second part of the experiment will definitely be more challenging: I will note everything that I have in mind and structure it. I actually tried this over a year ago so I know how powerful it can be, so here we go again!
Habit 23: Free your mind (step 1) –> clean your surroundings
This specific habit will take the form of a mini experiment for 2 weeks and aim to empty my brain as much as possible before the tournament. There are actually two kinds of things which can occupy your mind unnecessarily, the first one being uncluttered spaces. As I cannot control what happens outside, I will do my best to clean and reorganize my own space.
Habit 22: Accept defeat and bounce back
As every chess player knows, defeat is part of the game. All it takes after losing is first to accept it, then learn from it and finally bounce back. This last step has always been the hardest for me, especially when I have been close from a better result. To make progress, I definitely have to learn how to deal efficiently with bad emotions after a defeat.
Habit 21: Analyze behavioral trends of my opponent during the game
Kasparov was an expert in reading facial expressions and detecting behavioral weaknesses from his opponents. He used these techniques a lot during his confrontations. I’ll do my best to understand these psychological elements and see how helpful they can be over the board.
Habit 20: Go outside regularly
Fresh air is essential to human beings. I’ll get all the benefits by going outdoor more regularly everyday.
Habit 19: Optimize chess preparation for the game
As explained in the description of my experiment, I haven’t allowed myself any type of chess training during the first 6 months. And without much time between rounds in the upcoming tournament, I thus have to master my preparation technique to stay as competitive as possible. I’m relying on the few Interclub games I will do before the tournament to test different systems.
Habit 18: Get and stay in the zone
Many of you have already heard about or even experienced being in the zone. This extreme state of focus can actually be achieved by repeating the same routine right before each precise moment. I’ll see how I can develop mine.
Habit 17: Improve my posture
Staying seated during long hours in front of the board can lead to various types of physical discomfort which can easily distract you from the game . I’ll aim to strengthen my posture to avoid being distracted.
Habit 16: Master my energy levels
The more I advance in this project, the more productive and energetic I become. But despite all these efforts, there are moments during the day when I feel little slumps (power loss). I know it could also happen in my games, so I’ll test and track different methods until the tournament in November to find the routine which gives me optimal energy.
En passant, I have already started drinking just water and stopped sugar from this 1st of August to detox. See you after the tournament for the results!
Habit 15: Take naps
I’ve actually already started this habit, because I know naps help me get back on track for the afternoon. I continue this habit until the tournament. (When I can of course!)
Habit 14: Journaling
From better self-confidence to creativity peek, the value of writing is apparently underestimated. I guess it is time for me to take a journal and start writing 5 minutes a day and see what happens.
Habit 13: Repeat daily affirmations
It seems that regular self-talk can help you stimulate positivism and thus achieve what you affirm to yourself. I will prepare a motivating speech and read it loudly every day until the tournament.
Habit 12: Release the stress
Stress peaks during the game can negatively affect the way you play. Many techniques exist to help you feel more relaxed. I will try some Yoga as well as deep breathing to release tension from my every day life.
Habit 11: Visualize my objective
Visualizing the end result is a technique used by famous athletes such as Michael Phelps to achieve extraordinary performances. I’ll visualize 5 minutes a day my ideal outcome of the tournament I will be participating in in November.
Habit 10: Plan out my week
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve realized how difficult it was to add an increasing number of habits to my daily schedule. I’ll now plan my week more carefully to be sure everything stays under control.
Habit 9: Drink water
The best way to rehydrate the brain is to drink water. I’ll aim for 3 to 4 liters a day.
Habit 8: Strengthen my attention
Yes, you can practice improving attention. And it is clearly essential to avoid too much wandering during a long chess game. Doing one thing at a time helps to reinforce your attention. I’ll deliberately avoid multitasking and start with 15 minutes per day by only focusing on one task.
Habit 7: Take regular breaks
Taking breaks from competition is often a good solution to come back stronger. You’ll find here a good example with Peter Leko. What is also important is to include regular breaks in your week as well as along the day. It helps getting some fresh air in order to accomplish more. For this week’s habit, I will plan breaks in my daily schedule and see how it helps me. I’ll also plan to make revitalizing breaks while playing my next official games.
Habit 6: Practice meditation
In almost every book talking about productivity and/or success that I’ve read, there is mention of some meditative practice. I tried on a few occasions but never managed to stick to it more than a few days. So, I’ll try doing only 1 minute the first week and adding 1 more minute over the next weeks, during the first month.
Habit 5: Adopt a healthy diet
Adopting a healthy diet benefits both your body and your brain. I’ll make small changes to my eating habits, starting with the progressive decrease of high sugar foods.
Habit 4: Establish a morning routine
Most successful people swear by the importance of a well-established morning routine. I’ll try to verify how it affects my day by planning with precision the first 90 minutes and sticking to the plan.
Habit 3: Exercising regularly
You probably saw this habit coming. All top GM practice some kind of physical activity and insist on its importance. I’ll start softly with 5 minutes of daily exercise (with 1 or 2 days rest) and gradually improve the tempo.
Habit 2 : Stop playing Blitz and Bullet online
As explained in the Experiment page, I’ll try to stop playing online. Not an easy task as I have become addicted after having played for several years. The objective will be to replace this habit by reading books or articles.
Habit 1 : Get sufficient sleep
For the first week of the experiment, I’ll simply try to respect the amount of sleep I need. I’ll go for 7h30 to 8 hours each night.