Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Will They Come?

The question really is whether or not readers will come to see the musings of a chess player who is actually rated rather lower than most. It's easy to see that even grandmasters have no guarantee of an audience for their wisdom. But what about the lowliest of club players?

I'm betting that this is actually the largest untapped market of chessplayers. Certainly grandmasters aren't looking for too much published advice. And children have coaches, clubs, and tournaments showered on them if they live in the right place or have the right parents (as they should). Young adults have the advantage of enough attitude to overcome any impediments. But the older adult player who is trying to climb out of the chessic slime has a long and lonely trail to slog.

I'm completely convinced that the learning needs of older adult chess players are unique, and that this is ill understood by any who gained most of their chess skills before they had a real date. What I hope to do with this blog is to provide a journal of one player's trials and tribulations, while also laying a roadmap that others might find an easier way. My path will be brightly lit by the belief that the best teacher is not the one who has the most knowledge of the subject, but rather is the one with the most empathy for and understanding of the learning needs of the student.

So, what are some qualities that distinguish the adult chess learner from others?

1) Study skills are often long unpracticed and the memory just isn't what it used to be.

2) Long hours of study are usually not possible every day.

3) Many of the latest 'innovations' favor younger players. (For example, the current trend toward shorter time controls clearly favors players with better memories. This problem requires specific training ideas to overcome.)

4) Peers and family may have no idea why you'd want to spend time playing such a game.

5) Many books and other tools for learning to play chess better are simply not well suited for the older adult player. For example, though probably as many books on the openings are published as any other kind, these aren't the kind of books most needed by the improving adult player. And they are especially less useful to players without superior memory skills for making good use of such tomes.

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