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Monday, March 19, 2007

Learn From This Mistake

GM Susan Polgar writes in her blog about one of her chess students who "Finally broke through and won the National 2nd Grade Championship in December. He also became the #1 ranked 7 year old in the country. This was the beginning of the downfall."

The problem? "He resisted solving puzzles. He resisted working on his endgame. He resisted practicing, learning and improving. He thought he was the King of the Hill! This happens to a lot of young players with early strong results."

The player she writes about is her own son Tommy, who then encountered major difficulties in subsequent tournaments. As hard as it was for her to watch, she notes that "As a Chess Coach, this was the best thing that could have happened to Tommy. It was a real wake up call to him."

Polgar continues: "As my father used to say, every day that you do not practice chess, you lose the knowledge of 10 days. Practice makes perfect and it has to be done on a consistent basis. 15-30 minutes a day on busy days is still better than nothing."

Most of us have to actually experience this kind of over-confidence (in any arena of activity) to really take it to heart. My advice: save yourself the trouble. Susan Polgar's father understood the importance of repetition and it applies to any field of learning. There is no standing still - any day you don't progress, you regress.

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