In the beginning....
This journey actually began years ago - it is only recently that it occurred to me to write about it.
Where to start this story? Well, let me share why I decided to write about this journey, and then go back and tell you more about the journey up to this point. This is the point at which as a chess player - or as a person getting in shape for any endeavor - you can appreciate, and perhaps learn from someone trying to achieve a specific goal.
These first two blog posts provide a lot of background - if you are more interested in where its going from here - I suggest starting with the third post.
I decided to write about this journey for a few reasons…
First, this is a difficult journey. I wanted to record it because it may help others who wish to do something similar.
But also writing down one’s thoughts is clarifying. It helps a person to process, to learn, and to grow through one’s experience.
Another point is that blogging will help keep me accountable to myself in this journey.
As I thought about doing this, I recalled that decades ago, when I was first trying to become a master, I would often publish chess analysis either locally, or regionally in magazines like the Illinois Chess Bulletin or Badger Chess (the Wisconsin chess magazine.) Today fewer of these magazines exist, and so its harder to find a place to publish.
As I considered whether to write, I knew that at times I would have to deal with issues that are difficult. But I recalled the story Jan Timman told at the in the Preface to his book The Art of Chess Analysis: “Far more useful was Botvinnik's advice to analyse games at home and then publish the analysis. As he put it: 'During play your analytical work is continually being tested against your critically-minded opponents, but in home-analysis it is very easy to be unobjective. To fight this tendency and to get away from poor analysis it is useful to publish your individual analytical work. Then you are subject to objective criticism.' “
Accountability is a necessary component to success, and if I wish to improve then its important to subject myself to this same objective criticism - not just with respect to my games, but also with respect to my entire process of improvement.
And so, due to Botvinnik’s advice, here I am writing about the process.
It isn’t JUST Botvinnik, though. To achieve a difficult goal requires a team. Key to my team is my wife Deborah, whom many of you in the chess world know. She has been at my side through chess coaching, state and national championships, and running chess tournaments and chess camps, and Deb’s support is crucial to this journey.
Another key member of my team is my physical and wellness coach - Emily Emanuel, founder and CEO of Hit the Floor Fitness. A key member of my team, Emily’s background may be found here for those who are looking for a trainer.
In dealing with my challenges, I have found it useful to also engage with a psychological coach. Dr. Jill Narcisi, who has been helping me to deal with unresolved blockers from my past as I work to move ahead.
The area where I haven’t engaged anyone specific yet is chess itself. Obviously, I am a coach, and can do some degree of self-evaluation. However, at some point I need a coach to help direct me and keep me honest in my approach to training. I anticipate that I may tap several people in this area - GM’s Alex Yermolinksy, Greg Kaidanov, Greg Serper, Yury Shulman, Alex Goldin, Dmitry Gurevich, Irina Krush and many others are all friends whom I expect to reach out to at various points along the way.
So that’s the set-up, the plot, some of the main cast of characters. In my next post I’ll share how I got to the point of deciding to make this journey and what the starting point was…
Until then — good chess!
I hope that my readers, especially those in similar circumstances, can learn from my experience and that it helps them in achieving their own goals.