Thursday, November 29, 2012

Psychology in Chess by N. Krogius

      I have the original edition of this book that was published in 1976. This book would be useful for average players up to master. GM Krogius was Karpov's trainer in 1978   
      Even though I have long been ‘retired’ from OTB chess, I still think chess psychology is a fascinating subject and this book is probably the best available on this interesting subject.  For anyone interested in this largely ignored area of chess, I suggest Googling ‘how chess masters think’ and reading some of the interesting material that comes up.
     Krogius uses an informal, anecdotal style that makes for easy reading, but the real question is, can you actually improve your chess by reading about psychological factors in chess? Determining whether learning theory or practicing play is more effective in improvement, whether evaluation skills can be successfully taught and can players be taught how to accurately look farther ahead are all important aspects of chess psychology that many recent studies have tried to answer.
      One psychological study conducted in Great Britain several years ago that I read stated, “Talents that selectively facilitate the acquisition of high levels of skill are said to be present in some children but not others. The evidence for this includes biological correlates of specific abilities, certain rare abilities in autistic savants, and the seemingly spontaneous emergence of exceptional abilities in young children, but there is also contrary evidence indicating an absence of early precursors for high skill levels in young people. An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggests that differences in early experiences, preferences, opportunities, habits, training and practice are the real determinants of excellence.”
     We all know that when it comes to chess players, some people seem to have a natural gift for chess and, as we are seeing today, many kids display this talent very early because they, as the article stated, have early experiences, opportunities, habits, training and practice that simply were not available to previous generations.  Also, we all know that for many, no amount of practice seems to result in improved play. That does not stop us from trying though.
      In this book, Krogius begins by looking at chess psychology gleaned from writings of Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Reti, Torre and Botvinnik. Then he discusses chess images, intuition, attention, time trouble, tournament tactics, knowing yourself and your opponent, emotions and mistakes.
       In the forward Boris Spassky notes that Krogius has not followed the traditional method which consists of concrete analysis of positions but has tried to shed light on chess from the point of human psychology.  Spassky adds, “It is difficult to overestimate the significance of psychology in chess, for it is not only knowledge, but also character, attention, will and, on occasion, the player’s mood which determines the outcome.”


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