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Could you be a chess pro?

We hear it all the time, on forums, on playing sites, at tournaments: I could be a pro if I only had the time. Do you feel that’s a true statement? Is time what really keeps an otherwise good chess player in the class ranks?

I think it probably is for some but for most of us, that simply isn’t the case. I wonder if I gave the average player (you, for instance) all the money they’d need to cover bills and food, if their chess would slowly improve because they had more time. Would they truly use three, five, seven hours a day to study?

Probably not. No, most of us would then find another excuse why our chess suffers and continue to play at the same level. Truth is, many of us have the time right now to improve greatly, but we spend most of that time playing games and/or doing other things instead of intense study.

A while back, there was a poll on a chess forum I’m on, and a surprising amount of players admitted to having a great number of books but never working a single one from start to finish. I’m in that category, myself, although I have far fewer chess books than many of the players who chimed in.

Most chess players, myself included, do minimal work and expect great gains, mostly by playing alone. Experience is king, we tell ourselves. While that may be true, we still need training in our arsenal coupled with experience to traverse the next levels of play. Without new information, we won’t improve, and that’s a fact.

It’s especially sad these days, with access to millions of free games, videos, databases, books, and more, that any of our games are suffering. I sometimes watch a video and then feel empowered. Maybe I am, for the moment, but not necessarily for the long haul unless I train regularly with them. What most of us need is a live coach, but that costs money and takes time, so we’d rather just go on playing at our level, hoping improvement comes magically through playing fun blitz.

It won’t. Just saying.

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