Chess is More a Game of Skill than Knowledge

“If you want to get better at chess you need to place much less emphasis on ‘study’ whereby you increase your knowledge of positions, and place more emphasis on ‘training,’ whereby you try to solve problems, play practice games, or perhaps try to beat a strong computer program from an advantageous position.” (p.25).

“Chess skill emerges from chess playing combined with chess training, where ‘training’ means working things out by yourself.  The main skill a chess-player needs is skill in making decisions, so that’s what you need to do and do repeatedly.  If you want to become a better player, you need better habits, and you cultivate better habits through training.  The best training is the kind that pushes you up against the edges of your comfort zone, where you force yourself to take responsibility for difficult decisions.  It is so much easier to read books that give strategic guidelines, hints and tips, etc., but what you need is ‘know how’ and that means learning by doing.” (p.29)

“…The main function of chess trainers should be to guide the training of their students, rather than to teach them directly.  The best thing you can do for a student is to select interesting positions for them and analyse them carefully so you can see the kinds of things that the student is missing.  The trouble with this approach is prosaic, but real.  Chess tutors are normally paid by the hour, and this tends to make you think that you should be showing the students certain things, imparting knowledge, giving hints and tips, etc.  This is understandable, but much more useful, I think, is to give the student difficult positions to solve, to be there in a supportive role as they solve them, and then carefully consider what the student missed and why.” (p.66)
Johnathan Rowson in Chess for Zebras

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