Maurice Carter: SETTING GOALS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHESS
Just about every day we are setting goals. Most of the time they are the small ones that are just a result of something happening. We mostly just react to something and say to our self, ok I will try and do better, or think how can I prevent that etc. Sometimes are more serious ones we commit our self to correcting them or prevention.
What I have found about setting goals, that they have helped improve my chess. Before I go into greater detail about how they work for me. It would be best to make a few comments on setting goals in general.
1. Having any goals no matter have large, small, a few, many, short or long range don't matter. The main thing is to have some idea of what goals you think will help you.
2. Having goals is not some sort of magic thing that will you just snap your fingers and they happen and work.
3. You have to stick with them, give them time to work and when you have set backs, don't give up.
4. Overall they do help, having some direction to follow. There is a saying in chess " Having a plan is better than not having one." So it goes for goals also.
When we first start to learn chess, we have a very simple goal, to learn the moves, names of the men and the rules. We don't commit this to paper, just it Is on our mind. Once pass this early point in our chess development, we have a new goal to try and win games. We also add we want to try and improve our game. After a period of time, many move on to seeking more advance knowledge of the game. A few are just happy to stay where they are, and chess is just another game to play sometimes.
So let's talk about the serious players. Now we develop goals and try to use them as a tool to further improve. I think that we need a number of small goals and larger ones. If we only have one goal at a time its either one that is not reasonable to obtain, or we don't have a number of smaller and more reasonable ones to obtain. We need to stay focused on them and use them to build further on.
Perhaps it would be helpful to follow my course of action over my chess career. I been playing for over 60 years, so I think I'm in a position that I can relate my development. I have had many ups and downs, but I feel that having goals has helped me more than if I didn't have any. I still use them, so it Is still a work in progress!!! There is an old saying "If I only knew then, what I now know."
I started like all do, my goals were simple, learn the names of the pieces, how they moved and the rules. Then try to win games and not make mistakes that today would be considered very dumb. Once I determined I like the game and wanted to get better I started to develop goals. I do suggest that you commit them to paper. This way they you can see them in front of you to remind you and we all know we often forget things. So let me list the types of goals I have had over the years and many still apply even to this day!!
1. I want to be World Champion and the greatest player of all time. Well this is probably one we would all like, and it would have to be considered a long term and ultimate one. Let's face it, that is not going to happen, it is not a practical goal. It's ok to aim high, even if it is not going to happen, but it's good to think like that.
2. A more reasonable one is that I want to be a Master or even an IM. So smaller goals towards this would be, moving up in the ratings from the Classes, to Expert and then the Master class and if possible get into IM Title Norm events. This is a series of smaller goals that build towards the main one.
3. When I first started play in ASPC, I was in a preliminary section of the Club Championship. So my goals were to get at least an even score, if possible get enough points to advance to the Semifinals. Later on it was to get into the Finals and try and win it. When the Hawver Cup became an event, I wanted to get my rating up to get into the event, and try and also win it. These types of goals are ones even if you fail, you can still go after it again.
4. I have had goals that I wanted to beat an Expert, a Master and even a Titled player. I play in other organizations so this has happened. Still it is a goal that I want to maintain.
5. Another type of goal that I have is to beat certain players that I have often played many times. My score is draws, I have lost many and not one win. I won't mention these players. So this is the type of goal that helps me try to play better and improve.
6. We all play certain parts of the game bad, opening, middle or endgame, perhaps all. So goals can be to study chess books to find ways to improve these areas. Are you falling into traps, or overlooking simple threats?
7. Are we making clerical errors, wrong square moved to, not having the board correct, playing too many games, careless use of "if" moves, not taking the time to analyze a move, or even devoting time to study chess literature. The list can go on and on.
So perhaps my advice can help you some. Just remember if you want to improve it takes effort and time.