Secret Russian Training Methods

Have you ever wondered why the Russians dominate the Chess world? Of course its true that Chess is very popular in Russia, it is taught in their schools and the government helps to promote it giving Grandmasters many perks, etc. But unlike other countries the Russian Government probably does more, and spends more to encourage people to play chess in Russia than any other country in the world. I am sure it thinks that if they dominate the chess world the prestige that it brings them is worth what it cost the government for doing so.

But the question remains as to how can a country produce so many top Grandmasters of such high quality as to dominate the chess world for so long a time? What do they know that the rest of the world does not know about how to produce so many high quality chess players? Do they possess a secret training weapon of how to learn and play chess well?

Well yes and no. I think one first has to consider some of differences between the average Russian person and say the average American. Most Russian people have a very hard life. They are brought up to accept adversity as a way of Russian life. They enjoy very few of the luxuries that most Americans take for granted. Anything that they get they have to work very hard for. And I think that therein lies a good part of the secret of their success. Russians are use to working hard for their gains in chess and just accept it as the necessary thing to do. American are use to either paying someone to teach them these things, or they try to get it for free.

Americans don't ever work for any thing that they can buy, beg or steal so to speak. If an American is obese, rather than cut back on the food intake, they just go to a doctor and have the fat removed instantly. When Americans want something they want it instantly, right now, today, and the hell with the costs of getting it now as to waiting for it to go on sale latter. If they can't pay for it, thats no problem either, they just charge it. Why wait when you have the money when you can enjoy having it now is commonplace thinking. Never mind the amount of debt or the interest rate either. They also indulge them selves in buying more than they can afford in bigger homes, bigger gas guzzling cars, that are loaded to the hilt with accessories and electronics, etc. Also since they are too lazy to shift gears they must have a more expensive less gas efficient, more maintenance costly automatic transmission that will cost a small fortune to fix if it ever goes bad.

They make such large payments each month on all this must have stuff, that the interest keeps them in dept for most of their lives. In services like their telephone, they often load it up with a lot of unnecessary costly add-ons like, call waiting, speed dialing, caller ID, etc, etc. They also must have a cell phone in addition to the home phone and spend more big bucks for that each month. They are not satisfied with just having one small TV that many Russians can barely afford. Many must have others for their kids room, the basement recreation room, complete with bar, pool table, etc, and in other rooms of the house as well. In addition to the expensive large screen TV they must have a cable or dish hook up with many premium channels that drives up the cost to an astronomically high amount, and then spend money for additional shows with Pay TV for first showing premium movies.

This is one of the reasons why the average American's credit card debt is over $8000. And why so many are going through bankruptcy court. Whereas Russians just accept that getting what they want will take time and don't mind waiting for what ever it is that they want to get. They have been doing just that for all of their lives. Is it any wonder that so many in the rest of the world think that Americans are totally irresponsible and spoiled?

To a large degree it is true. The facts are that most American do every thing in excess. They spend too much, they drink too much, they eat too much, they drive too fast for the road conditions and they smoke too much. They also abhor exercise or any other form of activity. Rather than walk a block to the store they will get into their cars and drive there. Having less of an income then the rest does not make them more careful about their finances or being more responsible either. I see people here, jump into a gas guzzling van and drive five miles away to a gas station and five miles back to buy one pack of cigarettes. They think nothing of the costs involved driving the 10 miles for a $8.00 pack When you ask them why don't they buy several packs or even buy a carton they say that they can't afford it. Is it any wonder that they can't do so with such a poor attitude about their finances? .

Many American also have the patience and the attention span of a five-year-old kid. Its as though they all suffer from ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. They were brought up in a world of instant gratification for most every thing they want. This has become the way of life in America. One of excess and instant gratification for every thing you want. Just the opposite of the Russian life style. If an American wants to know how to play chess better than he does now he just pays some one to teach him how. Why work so hard if you don't have to is the normal thinking process. Just pay some one to go over your games and he will tell you what you are doing wrong. Is what many think will make them a better player. The problem is that they never learn the fundamentals or the necessary basics of chess that way. They will learn about a few tactical tricks and that is all. Do you have any idea how many people pay others at FICS to give them advice on how to improve their chess skills? You may be surprised at how many do and who they are.

Many Americans are also so use to getting everything for nothing that they do not believe in working very hard for anything. Especially younger people who have grown up in a world that has handed them every thing they ever wanted for free since birth. They down load their music for free, they down load their moves for free, most or even all of their college is given to them either by their parents or by grants that they do not expect to have to pay back. Any money that they do earn is quickly spent on frivolous non-essentials, like drinking, tobacco, pot or drugs, concerts, partying, gas guzzling vechicles, cellphone, music systems, other electronics, etc. They don't have a saving account and never save a dime for the future. These people who play chess would never dream of buying a good chess book or a training CD because they feel they can get all of this training for free on the Internet, library, or someone will just show them how for free too.

So with this, I get everything for free, attitude these people are not going to be interested in spending time in study or working for those things that are necessary to improve their chess skills either. There are things that you can't get for free however. You can't download the hours needed in study for those special areas of chess training into your brain to become a good strategist for example. Just playing many games of chess is not going to increase your chess skills very much either if your not playing much higher skilled players, because the people you are playing with most likely are also mediocre players who will teach you little if anything. Getting good at playing chess is similar to learning how to play the piano or violin. If you don't put in the time in study you will always be just a, inapt, incompetent, mediocre, failure. You will wind up with such mediocre chess skills that you may become discouraged from even trying to improve. If you want to get a chess degree in mediocrity this is the way to go.

Is it any wonder that so many American chess players are so inept and incompetent with such a undisciplined life style. So when many in the rest of the world say that Americans are fat, lazy, irresponsible, undisciplined, crude people they may have good reason to feel that way.

To be successful at chess you must lay a CONCRETE FOUNDATION just like building a strong building, and like building a well built solid house you must also put in the necessary time to study the necessary basics of chess. It's just that simple. As in the old adage you don't get something for nothing is the same in chess.

Many truly believe that they can be successful if they can find some odd Unorthodox chess opening that will throw off their opponent and give them the necessary advantage to make him blunder so badly that they will enjoy a early win just in the opening of the game. Here is some one looking for the instant easy way of quickly winning chess games with out all the necessary opening preparation study. That would never happen to someone who has taken the time to study the "Ideas Behind The Chess Openings" Like Reuben Fine tells us about in his book. Learning about the basics of chess prepares you for correct play and when your opponent's memorized opening play runs out and he is at a loss as what to play next you will have him at they mercy of your superior knowledge of tactics, strategy and analysis for control of the center. He does not stand a chance against such odds.

The Russians have put together several exhaustive and through programs of study that can take years to complete. Their programs also differ from most others in the way that they teach it.

They start the learning process with the END GAME.

If you think about that, it makes perfect sense to teach the endgame first. If you were going on a long trip with out a map to your destination, you may never find your way, driving around in circles until you run out of gas. Isn't that what endgame study teaches us, how to prepare in the opening and the middlegame for a successful endgame?

In fact some Russian chess programs don't even teach much about opening play at all. One such popular complete study program to bring your skills up to the tournament level, approximately 1700 USCF, consists of intensive work primarily on end game study alone. This is just one of the seven volumes for the now complete course, but was designed as a complete course of study, this is volume II. It can be purchased for $28.95 The complete seven volumes Russian course, by Lev Alburt, with the once Russian SECRET chess training methods can now be purchased for $155 List Price.

Here it is lesson by lesson for volume II
1.  Rules of play
2.  Abbreviated notation. Attack and defense. Trades
3.  How to start a game. Mating with a Queen and Rook in the endgame.
4.  Mistakes in the opening. Mating with two Rooks in the endgame
5.  Opening traps. Mating with a Queen in the endgame.
6.  Concept of planing. Exploiting a large material advantage. Mating with a Rook in the endgame.
7.  Tactics. Double Attack. Pawn Endgame. The rule of the square.
8.  Pinning. Endgames with King and two pawns versus King.
9.  The Skewer. How combinations are created. Endgames with King and Rook pawn against lone King
10. Typical mating combinations. The back-rank mate. Endgame with King and non-Rook pawn versus King
11. Typical mating combinations. Mate by a major piece, Queen or Rook. Endgame with King and non-Rook pawn versus King.
12. Test. consists of 20 chess problems.

A great deal of this study material can now be found on the Internet and maybe in your local library.

I did hear of another Russian Training program that was only available from a Russian Grandmaster in Russia. He is not willing to make it a commercial program yet because of his insistence of full control and his unwillingness to discount it to any commercial wholesaler. He asks something like $1500 and is unwilling to negotiate a lesser price.

The Russians are successful because they are willing to spend the time in the study of all the necessary elements it takes to get to the top. They may have more desire and a greater will to win and be more single-minded in keeping on track to get there with out letting distractions keep them from their daily studies. How badly you want to improve can make all the difference in the world from just being mediocre to becoming a decent chess player. The intensity of desire that you can keep on a daily basis is crucial to insuring that you get through some complete course of study.

If you had no TV set, certainly this would be one less distraction in that end for example. If you had no phone this would be another less distraction. If you had few friends to bother you this would be another. If you had no car and had to bicycle to work and to the store you might not want to go far from home. If you had little money you may not want to go out to eat or go drinking with your friends very often. If you lived in a very remote area of the world you just might not have all these distracting things. All that would be left for you to do in your spare time is study chess and play chess. May be this is why so many Russian people do this? They have little else to do. Playing chess with a few friends may be the only source of entertainment you might have if you lived in Northern Siberia and it was minus 60 below outside for example.

Could you live like that? Yes you could, if you were brought up in that type of environment and that was the way of life for you and every one else in that area. The American life style is so vastly different from the rest of the world it is hard for the average American to appreciate just what they have. But the Russians have adapted to it and now it is responsible for turning out some of the finest chess players the world has know for more than a century. Some of the best are: Anatoly Karpov, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Chigorin, Viktor Korchnoi, Vladimir Kramnik. Plus the numerous other Grandmasters past and present.

The Secret Training Factor? But there may be other reasons that are not widely known about, that could be responsible for so many Russians to be so successful. Reasons that are not known much about because they are not related to chess factors in the training of but only a very few chess training programs. The reason is that psychology related areas are not of much interest but for only a very few chess enthusiasts outside of Russia.

During the cold war Russia got very interested in the study of psychology and began a intense program into the mysteries of the human brain, paranormal and other mind related areas. Maybe they thought that they could learn how to read another persons thoughts and if they could then they would have a very powerful tool for their benefit in a variety of different ways. Just imagine if you could do that how it would change your chess game for example in OTB play? You would instantly become invincible. I am sure that they never learned how to do this but they and some other Grandmasters have come up with some other interesting ideas that are now being explored.

One is in the area of Intuition.

In Dec 2002 Judit Polgar at 26, born 23/07/76, one of the three Hungarian sisters won an important game against a world class Grandmaster and when asked how she did it, she replied that she just trusted her "Intuition" and sacrificed two pawns to get the winning position.

All three achieved grandmaster results in their teens, the youngest Judit ousting Bobby Fischer in 1992 as the youngest grandmaster in history. All have won against male professionals twice their age. They have had to overcome not only many top players in competition, but also hypocrisy, sexism, and resentment over the success of their parents individualistic educational approach. What type of knowledge did their parents have about chess that made all three so successful? Or was it more discipline to keep them at the task of learning. Or was it some type of successful chess training program? Or all three. You can find out more by buying the book The Polgar Sisters by Cathy Forbes for $7.50

Two Grandmasters from the country of Slovenia have teamed up to write a book about intuition recently. They say that intuition is central to all chess decision-making, and understanding of its role is vital in improving one's game. Players who try to calculate everything to a finish are doomed to lose out to those who use their logical and intuitive abilities in harmony with one another. This book the first devoted to the role of intuition in chess explains how to allow your intuition to reach its full potential and provides guidance on the types of positions in which one should rely heavily on intuition and on those where one ought to be more analytical.

What is interesting is that the country of Slovenia is one of five countries that formerly made up Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was created in 1918 and after World War II it became a federated communist republic. In 1990 Communism was abandoned and the country began to splinter into its five constituent republics, a process accompanied by civil war between some of the ethnic groups.

The two GM's who wrote this book on intuition are Alexander Beliavsky born 17/12/53 and Adrian Mikhalchishin, born 18/11/54. 1953 was the year when East Berliners rose up against Communist rule. In 1954 the Senate subcommittee held the famous Army vs. McCarthy communist inquiry, Eisenhower launched a world atomic pool with out the Soviet Union, the first atomic submarine Nautilus was launched and West Germany is granted sovereignty and admitted to NATO. That means that both were only 13 and 15 years old when Yugoslavia became a communist republic. In July 3 of 1962 the Cuban blockade started when the U.S.S.R. decided to build missile bases there. Kennedy ordered to lift the blockade after the Russians backed down.

So both lived in a communist republic for over 20 years before communism was abandoned in 1990. Most of that time was during the depths of the cold war years between the US and Russia. Is it possible that these two communists were involved in Russia's mind-control experiments? Is this why they know so much about intuition to write a book about it? What else could they tell us about psychology insights for increasing our chess skills? After 1990 they were free of the communism rule and since they do not live in Russia and are no longer under Russian control are free to write or say what ever they want to with out Russian reprisal. What influence communism had on their chess development and goals toward becoming GM's we can only imagine. But how did they get involved in a joint effort to write a book about intuition is the better question. We will have to keep our eyes open for other books they may write about with psychology factors that could improve our chess game. If you wold like to read this book, Secrets of Chess Intuition by GM's Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin. It is 176 pages and the cost is $19.95

FM Amatzia Avni, has also written a book, called Practical Chess Psychology. Drawing on his research findings, strong players descriptions, as well as the views of the psychologist author. This book covers the much-neglected human aspect of chess. Here he gives us a better understanding of the psychology of chess playing as well as chess theory to assist players at a club and tournament level to maximize their chess strengths. 160 pages, $22.95

In the new Chessmaster 9000, at The Classroom section, Josh Waitzkin has a Psychology of Competition Chess Course. A multimedia presentation narrated by Josh and is both entertaining and instructive as it covers the finer points of positioning and tactics, using 20 different games as examples. Here he discusses the concept of "maintaining the tension." Here is a short excerpt from the course.

Seven years ago my chess trainer at the time, Gregory Kaidanov, introduced me to the concept of "maintaining the tension." The idea is that a position is often very tense and the inclination of a weaker player is to relieve the strain on his or her psyche by releasing some of the tension. This can be done by various simplifying mechanisms such as trading material, locking down the pawn structure, or making some irreversible change in the nature of the position. The stronger player will tend to prefer to keep tension in the position psychologically because he or she will be more adept at handling difficult situations; but more critically, there is a fascinatingly delicate tension that objectively exists in many complex chess positions. The two players can gradually improve their positions, but the first one to make the critical break will be at a disadvantage when the game explodes into the concrete.

Have you ever noticed the way a cat stalks a mouse or a lizard? The cat will inch up to it and then they will both freeze into motionlessness. Usually the prey will be the first to move, and at the first twitch the cat springs on it with lightning quickness--the mouse gives its direction up--shows it's cards first--and the cat just leaps onto where it is headed. Dogs, on the other hand, tend to be far more exuberant and are less impressive hunters. They will bark and charge after a squirrel which will easily scamper off and run up a tree.

To play chess with feline patience, attentiveness, and precision takes years of work. But I would recommend a slightly different language than Kaidanov's with which to approach the issue. There is no doubt that "maintain the tension" speaks well to what is happening on the chess board, but psychologically I would prefer to "be present." The mouse, after all, is destroyed by mounting tension (or fear) and the cat is simply poised. I have consistently observed this contrast in my competitive life as both a chess player and a martial artist. When the pressure is on, the great performer will have a heightened state of awareness and the less successful competitor will be on the verge of exploding from all the tension. But what is the root of this difference? This entire course will, among other things, tackle the question of what separates the average Joe from the truly great competitor.

The other chapters include discussions on: Materialism, The downward spiral, Transitional moments, The illusion of certainty, Posie under fire, The psychological connection, presence and a note from Josh.

The Chessmaster 9000 has been selling for 39.95