Coaching myself

Photo: Joakim SParv

When I decided to do my best at the Swedish Championship this summer, I wondered how I could best use my time. So I read my book and learned that I should work through an exercise-book with rather easy exercises. And start all over again when the book was finished.
I started the 1st of June, solving exercises four hours per day. I wish the outside life could have stopped for a month, but it didn't, so some days I didn't sit down until past midnight and finished with the birds singing outside the window.

It would be a lie to say that I haven't also spent time with the openings. I decided what to play already a year ago, and since then I have held on my secret during every tournament. When I played Jonny Hector in Växjö a few weeks ago I preferred to confuse him with a bad line. But my pawn sacrifice against him in the Swedish Championship wasn't a novelty, as I thought. He had seen it in Quality Chess' newsletter! Thankfully, I had a stronger 17th move prepared and got a pleasant position.
The next day was the best opening wise: after the novelty at move 12, Michael Wiedenkeller followed one of the prepared lines until move 21, where I actually had nine more minutes on the clock compared to when the game started, and 85 minutes more than my opponent. So what did I do during those hours? Walk around and look at the other games, while relaxing and enjoying? Never! I was scared to death to forget the 4 000 prepared moves, and didn't want to let any other thought into my head.

I won some games and was satisfied with my coach. However, my friends from Lund knew my weaknesses very well. I lost to both of them and finished a point behind the GM-norm.
After the tournament, many players congratulated me on the elo points I earned. I tried to explain that it didn't matter to me, until I remembered the title of the book...

When you have prepared for something in a year and it's suddenly over, you feel quite empty. I am physically tired – after running a lot and losing 3 kg in Örebro, but also mentally exhausted.
I will play one more tournament before I focus on other things again, SS Manhem's GM-tournament three weeks from now. But now I asked the coach for a break. He permitted two days.
I look forward to start again! The first thing I will do is reading the book about analysing the games from the tournament.

Any man in the street knows how to increase his physical strength, but among most chess players confusion reigns when it comes to improving their playing strength. Axel Smith's training methods have guided his friends, teammates and pupils to grandmaster norms and titles. Hard work will be required, but Axel Smith knows how you can Pump Up Your Rating.

Every area of chess is covered - opening preparation, through middlegame play, to endgame technique. Smith delves into both the technical and psychological sides of chess, and shows how best to practise and improve.

International Master Axel Smith from Sweden has had great success as a coach. Using his methods on himself, in the space of two years he boosted his rating from 2093 to 2458. He is now closing in on the Grandmaster title

ISBN: 978-1-907982-73-6 - Released September 2013