A Collection of Chess Advices, Useful Chess Quotes (Part 3)


He [Bobby Fischer] told me a secret of his training method he called "Peaking". At 5pm every day he would do strenuous activity, sport, walk or exercise. 

He explained that he trained his body to peak at this hour so that when the tournament came, he would be primed for a game at this time. No wonder he always insisted on 5pm starting time for tournaments. 

– Casto Abundo 

Physical exercise,

Top condition  

I spend around one hour per day on physical exercise. 

Exercise is a must for every chess player.  

As the proverb says, 'A sound mind in a sound body'.  

– Humpy Koneru  

Your body has to be in top condition.  

Your chess deteriorates as your body does.  

You can't separate body from mind.  

– Bobby Fischer  

Healthy body, healthy mind  

Above all else, before playing in competitions a player must have regard to his health, for if he is suffering from
ill-health he cannot hope for success. 

– Mikhail Botvinnik  

Sleep well  

Proper sleep is vital for the brain to function well, but it's amazing how many players neglect it. 
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess  

Read the right books  

…you can learn a lot about chess by reading the right books.  
– Nigel Davies, The Rules of Winning Chess  

The reason studying chess is so hard for so many is simple: 
We make it hard.  
– Andrew Soltis, Studying Chess Made Easy  

Lack of effort, 
Chess improvement, 
Keep the vision in trim  

We often mistakenly equate lack of effort with lack of talent. 
– Andres D. Hortillosa, Improve Your Chess at any Age  

…the more time you have to devote to chess improvement, the more likely you are to improve. However, I know many players who seem to do everything they possible can to improve: they toil to get their openings in shape, pay lots of money to have coaches look at their games, work on their endings enough to know their Lucenas from their Philidors, and diligently study their own game in all the ways they are supposed to, but without great success. 
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

My impression is that 'the improvement problem' is more subtle than simply lacking the time to do the necessary work.  
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

…aspiring players should place much more emphasis on developing their skill than increasing their knowledge. 
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

…chess work should be less focused on 'learning', and more about 'training' and 'practising' whereby you force yourself to think.  
– Jonathan Rowson, Chess For Zebras  

Just as the pianist practices the most complicated pieces to improve the technique of his fingers, so too a grandmaster must keep his vision in trim by daily analysis of positions with sharp possibilities, and this applies whether he prefers such positions in his play or not. 
– Alexander Kotov  

How you know you are improving in chess (according to IGM Loek van Wely):  
You only know you are improving when your opponents seem to be playing badly more often than before!  

As beginner:  
Learn first basic endgames - don't begin memorizing lots of opening moves  

Watch out for coaches who want your child to memorize lots of opening moves. The accepted way to teach chess strategy is to begin with the basic endgames first and then the tactics of middlegame, paying only modest attention to the opening stages. Coaches who try to switch the order do not understand how chess learning best proceeds and develops. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Yes, you can, 
Just believe in yourself,  
Develop talents, 
To achieve anything, 
Price to pay  

The greatest magic I have seen was when I started saying, 'I will' instead of 'I wish.' 
– David Copperfield  

You should believe that you can do what you want. Always. 
– Jacob Aagaard, Excelling At Chess 

You could be a much better chess player than you are. 
– Simon Webb, Chess for Tigers 

Everyone, at any age, has talents that aren't fully developed. 
Even those who reach the top of their professions aren't immune. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess  

…as we get older we rarely test our resources and without such testing it is impossible to discover our gifts. 
If opportunity wasn't provided at a young age, it can be created in adulthood. We can look for ways to experiment and to push the boundaries of our capacity in different areas. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

If we're going to get the most out of the talent we're born with we have to be prepared to analyse ourselves critically and improve our weakest points. The easiest thing is to rely on talent and focus only on what we do well. It's true that you want to play to your strengths, but if there is too much of an imbalance growth is limited. The fastest way to improve overall is to work on your weak spots. 
It's important not to listen to the stereotypes we have of ourselves when embarking on this project. Our own opinions of our abilities are often wildly inaccurate, driven by one or two incidents or comparisons. People who constantly tell others, and themselves, that they are forgetful or indecisive create a negative reinforcement loop that becomes hard to break. How do you know your memory is any worse than your spouse's, or mine? It's much better to be a little over-confident than the opposite. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess 

Everyone has talents, I'm convinced of that. The question is what those talents are and how best you can develop them. 
It's healthy to have ambitions, but you have to ask yourself what price you're prepared to pay to achieve them.  

To achieve anything, whether it's to play chess at the top level or gain your school diploma, you have to believe in your goal. 
You have to be focussed, to completely concentrate on your goal. That means you have to develop self discipline and create enough time to reach that goal. 

It's healthy to be ambitious. But you have to ask yourself what you want and how much of yourself you are prepared to give. 
You can study night after night, but if it costs you your family there has either to be a clear agreement on what's involved or you have to adjust your goal accordingly. 
– Artur Yusupov 

To succeed as a world class chessplayer takes natural talent, tremendous will power, an enormous fighting spirit, and the desire to study the game in a serious way. 
– Jeremy Silman, How to Reassess Your Chess  

…it is clear to me that I would not have achieved such success at anything other than chess. The game came to me naturally, its requirements fitting my talents like a glove. 
– Garry Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess  

Play in a style that fits you – even when your coach disagree  

I began training with a Russian Grandmaster…as human beings we connected but chessically we didn't gel. He was a systematic strategist with a passion for slow, subtle maneuvering. I had always been a creative, attacking player who loved the wild side of chess. I liked to live on the edge in the spirit of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, and now my new coach had me immerse myself in the opposite sensibility. We dove into the great prophylactic players, studying the games of Tigran Petrosian and Anatoly Karpov, ex-world champions who seemed to breathe a different air. Instead of creating exciting dynamics in their positions, these guys competed like Anacondas, preempting every aggressive idea until opponents were paralyzed and gasping for life. 

While I found this work interesting, the effects of moving away from my natural voice as a competitor were disturbing. Instead of following my instincts, my coach urged me to ask myself, "What would Karpov do here?" 
But Karpov had cold blood and mine boiled. When he searched for tiny strategic advantages, I yearned for wild dynamics. As I tried to play in the style that pleased my coach, chess began to feel alien. At times I felt as though my head was in a thick cloud and I couldn't see the variations. 

As a result, I lost my center of gravity as a competitor. I was told to ask myself, "What would Karpov play here?" and I stopped trusting my intuition because it was not naturally Karpovian. 
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning  

When you train and coach others in chess  

When you become the trainer you think about things at a deeper level than you do if you study them for yourself. 
– Artur Yusupov  


I have always had a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess.  
– Siegbert Tarrasch  

Chess is not for nerds  

In this country, it's generally the case that anything cerebral is thought of as nerdy. In the worst case, this even applies to getting good grades in school. 

In the United States, the nerd image will be very difficult to shake. But when superstars like Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, and Madonna, just to name a few, show their love for the game, it might not be long before chess deservingly takes on the image of being a cool activity. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Chess is not boring  

Those of us who play chess know that it has all the intensity of any major sport, including basketball, football, baseball, tennis, and golf. I'm a huge fan of all of these sports, and I get the same feeling watching or playing them as I do watching or playing chess.  

Isn't watching chess sort of like watching grass grow? Sure, if you don't know what's going on. 
But for the avid chess player, the excruciating tension of an important game is more like watching your wife go through labor. (My wife went through sixty hours with our daughter, so I know of what I speak!) 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Myth: Chess players are crazy  

Well, I have met a few chess players who might fit this description. No doubt, where there is genius, there is sometimes madness (witness John Nash from the book and movie A Beautiful Mind). American World Champion Bobby Fischer, with his many eccentricities and severe paranoia, only reinforced this perception. 

With the public knowing so little about chess, there is the powerful tendency to generalize on meager evidence. 
The reality is that the vast majority of chess players do not fit this stigma at all.  
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success   

Chess against Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia  

Exercise the brain. Playing chess can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by as much as 75 percent.  

Benefits playing chess  

With the compelling and comprehensive proof of the scholastic benefits of chess now coming to light, it is no wonder that teachers and administrators across the United States have begun to incorporate chess into the nation's classrooms. 
In almost every major city, there is at least one in-school or after-school chess program focused on using the game to develop character and discipline in young people as well as act as an effective tool of intervention. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

…I have been able to spread the word about chess on a national level, traveling to cities all over the United States to speak to groups of young people about the benefits of chess. The message is slowly spreading. My dream is to see chess in every school in America. It will take time, but there are signs that it's starting to happen. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

My most important project now is to help kids in the U.S. do better in school and in life through chess. 
– Susan Polgar 

Chess, like science, mathematics, and music, is a powerful tool  

Chess is great for kids. I know how it affected my life. I have seen its effects on the kids I have coached.  
And I have studied an overwhelming body of evidence that powerfully shows the amazing benefits young people can gain from playing chess. 
In an age where flashy images rule and thirty-second messages have replaced informed thinking, the advent of chess in homes and classrooms across America could have a resounding effect on the next generation of our nation's kids. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

…even some chess coaches did not see chess's power to the full extent that I did. They saw the effectiveness of showing a kid a new checkmate or a nice opening variation. But many believed that it stopped there, that chess was just about chess. 

…To me, the opposite was true: Chess was everywhere. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Learning chess at a young age had an amazing effect on their lives 

Many of the students have since gone on to Yale, Harvard, New York University, and other top universities. 
When I see them now, they all speak about the amazing effect learning chess at a young age had on their lives. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Important lessons in life to be learned from playing chess  

…life lessons I learned from playing chess. …playing and studying chess have given me an incredible number of insights on how to walk this planet. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

Its many strategic insights proved useful when applied to life, and the discipline it demanded strengthened the minds of the young people who studied and played it. I saw how mastering chess had affected my own life, and I wanted to spread the word to every kid I taught. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success  

…one move could be the difference…they knew people (their own family members in some cases) who were suffering the consequences of wrong moves, poor choices, and bad decisions.  

…each time a kid, no matter how meek in life, won a game, he felt as though he had proven himself in some fundamental way he could not fully explain. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success 

…There were times when a poor move was not so terrible as to cost the whole game. 

…bad moves did not always lose.  

…mistakes were not the sin – not learning from them was. After a loss, one could wipe the slate clean, set up the pieces and play again, this time with greater wisdom.  

…a few words of consolation from me could turn a bad loss into a life lesson learned. 
– Maurice Ashley, Chess for Success   

Chess saved him  

I grew up in a really tough neighborhood on the Lower East Side. A lot of my friends dropped out of high school. They're having kids right now and they're only eighteen years old. They're in the streets selling drugs, not doing anything with their lives. If not for chess, I might be in the same predicament. 


When I was a little kid I was so hyper, especially in elementary school. 
I never listened to the teachers or anything. I was failing all my classes. I never did any of my homework. And then when I got up to junior high and got involved with chess, I started to play competitively in tournaments and going to Nationals. I started getting B's, then I started getting A's. I guess I would say that a lot of it had to do with chess in that it calmed me down, allowed me to focus, to pay attention in school.  


We prepared hard for the Nationals. We would get out of school at three-thirty and we would stay until seven o'clock. We would play speed chess, going over openings, going over middlegames, endgames, anything that would help us. We had a coach, Neil Dorosin, who didn't get paid. He was a teacher at the school. He didn't play chess real well, but he volunteered his time, after school, weekends, a lot of hours spent to help us. Right now I can still talk to him about anything.  

The Nationals was exciting. …We were hanging out in our room when our coach came up and told us, "You guys won!" We flipped out, started running around the hotel room. It had been so much work, but it was worth it. 


When it comes to life in general, I try to think a couple of moves ahead. 
If it's going out with friends who might want to drink and drive, or just seeing the consequences of handing in a paper late. Chess is in every part of my life, at every level. It helps me relax, to take time out and go over stuff a couple of times. That helps you see all your mistakes. 


There are so many things I want to do. I love kids. I want to be a teacher, but I'm also interested in being a cop. I grew up in a tough neighborhood where cops were really rude, pulling over the kids all the time. I feel like maybe I can help change that by treating people better. But on top of that, I want to also own my business. The hours are long, but there's good money in it. This semester I took an intro business course. 


If I was chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, I would implement chess in every school. I think chess would play a big role in kids' lives, and they would also get enjoyment out of it. 
– Chris Escobar, Chess for Success 

His self-esteem and grades in school improved with help of chess  

Phil Margolin was an acknowledged "bad student with a bad attitude" who flunked eight-grade math. Margolin credits chess with turning around his grades and boosting his poor self-esteem: 

"I had to sit still, with my feet on the floor, and focus my attention on the board. I had to make decisions about competing good moves, and then reevaluate my decisions. I didn't realize it then, but I was developing the same skills children need to read a book with comprehension, solve a math problem, and take an exam. My grades improved, and so did my self-esteem. I went from nonacademic classes to the honors program. Today I'm a successful attorney and the author of ten New York Times best sellers. Not too bad for an eight-grade flunky."  


I first met Suzie [not her real name] when I went to her school assembly to present a trophy to the chess club for their achievement at the regional chess tournament. 


…Suzie, a painfully shy fourth grader. She was staring at the trophy and quietly asked me why I brought it to their assembly. I explained that it was for the chess club and then she asked me very quietly if she could get a trophy if she joined the chess club. I told her that many children win trophies, ribbons, and medals when they focus on learning and practicing their chess skills.  


The next time I saw Suzie was at the regional chess tournament the following year. Fifteen elementary teams competed to advance to the state chess tournament. Suzie had joined the club and worked hard to qualify for the team. She was beaming as she came up to the score table to announce her first win and I was surprised to see her shyness replaced with such confidence. 

As the day progressed, Suzie and her teammates advanced to first place and won a coveted place at the state competition.  


In the afternoon…Suzie came running up to me with her arms outstretched and a smile that took my breath away. I asked how she was doing and she said, "I'm doing great." I asked how many games she won and she said, "Oh, I haven't won any games." She is a perfect example of what we try to teach the children – winning is fun, but it is not the most important part of chess. She was excited to be there with hundreds of children from all around our state. She made new friends and her team was being featured by one of the network television stations for the evening news.  

Suzie's coach told me that she had a very difficult home life and that chess had turned her life around. She was self-confident, her grades and attendance had improved, and she was taking a leadership role in the chess club. 
– Julie Young, Chess for Success  


There was a kid at St. Matthew's Catholic School named Eddie [not his real name] who had all sorts of behavior issues, ADHD, family stuff. 
Since we started the chess program, he has just made an about-face. He has turned around in his attitude, in his schoolwork. He's become more cooperative with his teachers. And they don't tie it to anything but the chess program because they weren't doing any new interventions.
When we introduced chess and they saw this pretty quick turnaround, they started to wonder what was going on.  
– Brian Molohon, Chess for Success  

The ability to think ahead   

Chess gave me the ability to think ahead. But not just the raw ability to sit there and envision chess pieces on a board, but thinking about your life in general: academically, professionally, spiritually, or anything. 
– Antonio Javier, Chess for Success   

Chess gave him a lot of emotional intelligence and maturity  

When I got good enough to be on the chess team, I felt really empowered. It was the first time I realized that you could come from nothing and become something.  


I think what chess has done for me is given me a lot of emotional intelligence and maturity.  

I realize a lot of times I feel like I see past what I'm being given on the surface, what is appearing to me on the surface in terms of, let's say, a conversation I'm having, or the way I'm being treated by someone or any interaction I have. I can see the underlying themes, what's really going on. I don't think I was born with that. It's something you come to when you learn how to analyze well. I just think the analytical benefits of chess are so abundant, so numerous, that you can't even quantify them. 

I only realized all the lessons I learned from chess when I was twenty-four. Only then did I look back and see all the lessons I had learned. 
– Francis Idehen, Chess for Success  

"Chess ignited me"  

School did not nurse me the way chess did, in a way that could fulfill my potential. School feeds you knowledge, but school didn't help me deal with my problems in life. School didn't put me in contact with myself.  


Winning chess tournaments triggered my life. I had the understanding that I could move forward, that I could do things, that I could be someone. It made me start to think that I had options, that I could pursue those options. 

… that was the beginning of a new way of thinking about life, that there was more than what I was seeing out there on the streets.  

I became open to a lot of things. I fell in love with philosophy, languages. I was able to approach subjects in original ways. 
Chess can allow you to take ideas that don't seem connected and then make them come together down the line. Chess offers a complex way of thinking that unites a stream of melodies that don't seem to fit, makes them harmonious.  


Since I've been deeply studying music, I can see the many parallels between it and chess. In both, there has to be a stable idea, then the execution of it, then the need for harmony, and then the necessity for a proper tempo or rhythm at which you execute these ideas.  


In chess, you have to get knowledge, you have to be creative with the knowledge, you have laws to learn, and you have to be ready for the exceptions. In music it's the same. Plus, in both, each individual can play in their own way, they have their own voice. 


Chess increased my concentration and focus. I developed that habit in a fun way. Chess showed me how to work hard, how to foresee the consequences of negative decisions.  

…chess…develops this way of thinking like let me watch out, let me analyze, let me be careful. This is natural in chess and in life. 


Chess brought me peace of mind and showed me who I am. Now I know myself a bit better. 
In our day and age, guys on the street have no idea who they are. They are so consumed by the media, they're like drones.  


Chess ignited me. Someone lit a star that will keep burning as long as I live. 
– Kasaun Henry, Chess for Success   

Chess Improves Academic Performance and Social Performance  

(Source for most of the text below: "New York City Schools Chess Program" by Christine Palm, copyright 1990.) 

Chess has long been recognized throughout the world as a builder of strong intellects, but only recently has the United States begun to recognize chess's ability to improve the cognitive abilities, rational thinking and reasoning of even the least promising children.  

Chess brings out latent abilities that have not been reached
by traditional educational means. It promotes logical thinking, instills a sense of selfconfidence, and self-worth, improves communication and pattern recognition skills. It teaches the values of hard work, concentration, objectivity, and, commitment. As former World Chess Champion Emmanuel Lasker said, "On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long."  

In Marina, CA, an experiment with chess indicated that after only 20 days of instruction, students' academic performance improved dramatically. George L. Stephenson, chairman of the Marina JHS math department, reported that 55% of students showed significant improvement in academic performance after this brief smattering of chess instruction.  

Similarly, a 5-year study of 7th and 8th graders, by Robert Ferguson of the Bradford, PA School District showed that test scores improved 17.3% for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.56% for children participating in other forms of "enrichment activities" including Future Problem Solving, Dungeons and Dragons, Problem Solving with Computers, independent study, and creative writing. A Watson-Glaser Thinking Appraisal evaluation showed overwhelmingly that chess improved critical thinking skills more than the other methods of enrichment.   

Educators at the Roberto Clemente School (C.I.S. 166) in New York report that chess has improved not only academic scores, but social performance as well.

In 1988, Joyce Brown, an assistant principal and supervisor of the school's Special Education department,
and teacher Florence Mirin began studying the effect of chess on their Special Education students. When the study began, they had 15 children enrolled in chess classes; two years later they had 398. "The effects have been remarkable," Brown says. "Not only have the reading and math skills of these children soared, their ability to socialize has increased substantially, too. Our studies have shown that incidents of suspension and outside altercations have decreased by at least 60% since these children became interested in chess."    

Connie Wingate, Principal, P.S. 123 in New York, says of a New York City school chess program, "This is wonderful! This is marvelous! This is stupendous! It's the finest thing that ever happened to this school. I am most sincere.

It has been an absolute plus for the students who were directly involved as well as for the rest of the school... If I could say one thing to funders, it would be this. If they ever walked down 140th St. and 8th Ave. and had the opportunity to see where our children come from, they would know that these children deserve every single break that they can get. They are trying, through chess, to apply themselves and do something to better themselves. And that filters into the entire school and community...

More than anything else, chess makes a difference... what it has done for these children is simply beyond anything that I can describe. The highest scoring student in our school is a member of the chess team. He became the highest scoring kid in the school after he joined the chess team. All four are in the top quarter of the school, and they weren't before. Academically, they are doing much better in class, and it's in no small part because of chess.
Just how they feel about themselves, their self-esteem, makes them all winners."  

Jo Bruno, Principal, P.S. 189, Brooklyn, NY:. "In chess tournaments the child gets the opportunity of. seeing more variety and diversity. There are kids who have more money than they have, but chess is a common denominator. They are all equal on the chessboard. I believe it is connected academically and to the intellectual development of children. I see them able to attend to something for more than an hour and a half. I am stunned. Some of them could not attend to things for more than 20 minutes."  

Jerome Fishman, Guidance Counselor, C.J.H.S 231, Queens, NY: "I like the aspect of socialization. You get into friendly, competitive activity where no one gets hurt. Instead of two bodies slamming into each other like in football, you've got the meeting of two minds. - It's strategic, and you use logic to plan an attack scheme Aside from being good for the cognitive development of these youngsters, chess develops their social skills, too. It makes them feel they belong. Whenever we get a child transferred from another school who may have maladaptive behavior, our principal (Dr. Wilton Anderson) suggests chess as a way of helping him find his niche. It also helps kids learn how to be better friends. They analyze the game and talk it over afterwards. I even had a couple of kids who never had much in common start going to each other's houses to play chess and swap Chess Life magazines. We've got kids literally lining up in front of the school at 6:45 am to get a little chess in before classes start."  

About me

I played my first chess game in December 1977 and was lucky to hold draw. I continued to play chess and joined a chess club in September 1978. I'm still enjoying playing chess. I like to do many other things than playing chess. Long walks, some jogging, cycling, reading books, listen to music, watch movies, writing and much more. Life is fun!