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is chess in the Olympics

  There is currently no chess in the Olympiad. The Chess Olympiad is a chess competition officially organized by FIDE since 1927 and takes place in even-numbered years. Before World War II the event was occasionally held every year. There was also an unofficial Chess Olympiad series that ended in 1976. Although chess is covered in the sports sections of many newspapers around the world, it is not one of the recognized sports in the Olympic Games. However, FIDE is now a member of the International Olympic Committee and follows its rules. This means that chess could one day become an Olympic event, although most knowledgeable observers say this is unlikely. The World Chess Championship is a competition held annually by the international chess organization FIDE to determine the World Champion of chess. Both men and women are eligible to participate in this championship. The World Champion does not have to be the player with the highest Elo rating: the 2006-2007 World Champion, Vladimir Kr

5 Fundamental Chess Skills Every Player Needs

I believe that there are certain skills that we need which can be developed through chess although I am not saying that other methods would not be able to do that job but playing chess and developing those skills at the same time would be quite fun.

Even though we may not be as talented as a chess prodigy, we can try to improve on these skills by training regularly so that we may equal or even surpass the level attained by some of the great chess players of history. One may have talent but if he does not hone his skills, his talent would be useless and would easily become rusty. While people who keep on training and improving would perhaps even surpass those who have talent on something. Investing one's time on enhancing the talents and gifts that they have can greatly maximize and improve their potential and this is not only in chess but with many other things in life. So one should not be complacent and think that because he is naturally more adept at a certain activity that he no longer needs to train and improve his skills.

I believe that there are five basic chess skills that each player would need or would have to use so that he can play chess in a more effective and proficient way. By no means are these the only skills that an individual needs for him to play and enjoy chess but these are what I think would be the fundamental and underlying skills that one needs for chess. Even when one advances to a higher level of chess, these skills are still quite essential and vital and at even at every phase of the game, these skills are quite important to have. 

1. Calculation 
First and foremost would be calculation and I am placing as much emphasis on calculation as possible because one needs to see one move further and beyond what he thinks is necessary since there may be cases that he overlooks an excellent follow-up to the line that he takes and would cause him to be much worse than he was so along with calculation actually, one also needs to have the kind of strategic instinct that takes into account every possibility that may arise.

If you have read my previous articles, I believe that calculation is a skill that all players need. It involves an in-depth analysis of the consequences or variations that you may face when you enter a particular line or position. This may also include the sequence or order of moves that you need to make for the best possible continuation. Although it is important to calculate as deeply as you can, I have recently learned that it would be much better to look at your options first before choosing the best possible route to take and then calculate as deeply as you can but even then, every move that would be made in a certain variation may have many other sub-variations and can branch out to more lines that may have multiple possible moves which may have different outcomes but of course we must always try to find the best move to give us the most advantage which is why strategic planning and preparation are also quite important and tantamount to calculation since they would all work hand in hand to give you the most playable positions. So just as much as calculation is important so is the decision making part where you assess what moves are objectively best to achieve the goals that you have for a certain position.

Calculation also entails that you need to count the number of attackers and defenders over a certain square or piece so that you would know whether you will win or lose when exchanges occur. But aside from that, it would also be helpful to evaluate your position afterwards and examine whether your pieces are functioning well in the squares they are in because if they are much worse than their original position before you started calculating and exchanging them, then your calculation would have been for nothing. There are benefits to training your calculating ability especially in such fields as mathematics or even economics so that you may keep your mind sharp and always alert to make the right calculations. Being able to push through the barriers to calculation would definitely be of great use in many other things in life and so it would definitely be helpful to aim to be able to calculate deeper with sense in that you are not merely calculating callously but you are calculating your moves with a purpose and with an understanding of your position.

2. Pattern Recognition
Another concept that I have been reiterating in my previous articles was pattern recognition and this is important because there are certain positions when you can immediately get an advantage, usually a material one and sometimes it may even be a mating combination. Patterns can be seen everywhere, from nature to our bodies to abstract concepts like mathematics or economics to art and music. The more we see these patterns around us, the more we get used to them and the more that we are able to spot the nuances and the specific elements involved in them. It is like using a certain formula over and over again or repeating a certain beat and rhythm, it becomes somewhat like a blueprint for our minds to immediately access when the situation arises and from that, we would know exactly what to do and oftentimes, it would become automatic. Sometimes, one would even go to the extent that he would plan to make certain moves so as to induce certain positions where these patterns would arise and as GM Yasser Seirawan said, "It is like cheating on an exam," because you already know the answers to the questions before they were asked but really you just prepared for it.

Tactical puzzles are one way of training your pattern recognition, however, I believe that there are also certain 'strategic' patterns that you might encounter as you play chess. This might explain why pawn tensions are kept in certain lines like in the Queen's Gambit Declined. According to one GM Magnus Carlsen, he said that if you are below 2000, one way to improve your chess is to improve on your tactics and keep doing them until you are above 2000 and then you start looking into more complicated and deeper strategic elements of chess. Of course, although it is good to improve on tactics and it does improve a beginner's play, one also needs to know when to defend and when to attack because sometimes the initiative gets lost when one keeps attacking and when one keeps doing passive moves, you might end up in zugzwang or worse, your pieces might get trapped and virtually useless - you can just throw it away from the board. So, I guess one needs to get into a good position then just search for tactics or induce them.

3. Time Management/Timing
In chess, time is a very crucial element much like in life and one which we do not usually have the luxury to waste which is why it is best to prepare your openings, to construct solid plans that you are able to maneuver around or positions in which you are really comfortable with, and to enhance your endgame technique by memorizing certain endgame patterns and how you can win endgames with the resources that you have. Managing your time is very important and I believe it would be best to actually train oneself in keeping his time well within the limits. This kind of training was actually done by a famous GM in the late 40s and early 60s, GM Mikhail Botvinnik, who did a lot of special training in preparation for his Championship matches to improve not just his chess understanding but even certain psychological aspects which he was successful in doing until GM Tigran Petrosian beat him and he was not able to get a rematch with him because he used that to beat two other World Champions to retake the title, namely GM Mikhail Tal and GM Vasily Smyslov who had the shortest reign as World Champion in chess.

It is also important to know when the right moment is to make a move or whether there is an opportunity to perhaps provoke a disadvantage or positional weakness in your opponent's field. With regard to timing, I think this would arise more from a deep understanding of positional strategy and the right assessment of the imbalances present in a position. Sometimes, timing is also due to instinct and may have tactical impacts on the position and I believe GM Tal became one of the most excellent chess tacticians of all time especially because his calculation was superb albeit his sacrifices were not always sound but he was able to invoke just the right amount of psychological assertion to his opponents to baffle them and eventually come out superior. Of course, it is important to keep track of the clock so that you would not lose on time, something that would probably happen due to a novelty by an opponent or lack of preparation on one's part.

4. Visualization
You need to have retention and an imaginative mind especially when you are calculating deep into move sequences. I think one of the difficult challenges that I have faced in chess is trying to visualize the plan that I want to execute because you really need to have a vivid mental picture of the position you are trying to analyze and be able to move around the pieces in your head. So you really need to have good mental visualization. Maybe you can try to imagine geometric shapes when you visualize. Apart from visualization of the current position that you are in, it would be best to actually visualize the goals that you want to achieve in your position to make the most out of all your pieces. As I said, chess requires the visual-spatial capacity of the brain so that one would be able to observe the different subtleties and idiosyncrasies of a position and make decisions from there. Visualization in the sense of setting up your goals and executing them is paramount to the kind of visualization wherein you are just imagining the moves in your mind without really having a clear aim.

5. Logical Reasoning
One of the things that I have learned is that you always need to have a reason for making moves and you always need to ask yourself what your opponent wants to do and what you want to do then try to find a way to prevent your opponent from executing his plan while at the same time executing your own. This explanation is quite complicated to think about but really we always have a reason why we do things not just in chess but also in life and usually, in the real-world, we make decisions which would generally benefit everyone without having to make much concessions however, given that the world does not operate like that, there are times when we have to choose based on what we value more and trade off or sacrifice certain things in order to progress. In chess, it is best to know what the ideas behind a position are for both sides so that you can easily anticipate what moves are best for both sides and assess who is better in the position. One must always look at situations and circumstances with sober judgment, not thinking that he is more superior or too inferior, but rather one should be able to discern the pros and cons of the position for both sides and make decisions from there, looking at every possible angle to see whether he can push forward, retreat, or offer a draw.

Of course, this all comes down to what plan you have and what pieces you need to execute your plan. Along the way, you may sacrifice your 'expendable' pieces so that you may end up checkmating your opponent. Basically, in every move that you will make, you have to ask yourself why and how it fits in to your plan. This also requires a certain kind of flexibility because you cannot be so sure of every move that you will make and so it is better to always have a contingency plan as a safety net so that in case you overlook something, you would not be as worse.


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