What is the #1 reason why most players do not reach their full potential?
Lack of DISCIPLINE!
I have seen so many young talented players who could have reached the elite level. But they never came close because of lack of discipline.
Every player has strengths and weaknesses. There are no "perfect" or "flawless" players. Even great players like Fischer, Kasparov, Karpov, Carlsen, Anand, etc. have weaknesses. Unless those weaknesses are addressed and improved upon, the pinnacle is out of reach.
There are so many different components in chess, and all are important:
Opening, Middlegame, Endgame, Tactic, Strategy, Calculation, Position Assessment, Physical Fitness, Time Management, Nerves, Confidence, Mental Toughness, Will to Win, Patience, Motivation, Perseverance, Handling Losses, etc.
There are also many other outside distractions such as Video Games, Social Media, Going to Clubs, Texting, Movies, TV, YouTube, Drinking, Hanging Out, etc. It is much easier and more fun to do everything else instead of training hard in chess.
As I have often said before, I am NOT the most talented player. I do not have the “Natural” talent like many other players have. But I made the best out of my limited ability with an insane level of hard work. I do NOT drink, smoke, go to bars, clubs, or play video games, etc. I work out physically every day. When I was an active player, I trained hard daily, especially on areas I was weak at.
Even with my limited ability, I was able to become to the first woman who earned the Grandmaster title via tournament play, reached #1 ranking in the world at age 15 and remained in the top 3 for around 25 consecutive years, won 4 World Championships (including the first ever chess triple crown: World Classical, Rapid, and Blitz Championships), 10 Olympiad Medals (5 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze) and a record 56 consecutive game on board 1 without ever losing a game, etc.
Another advice I would like to give young people is never take anything for granted. If you do not take full advantage of the opportunities now, you may not get another chance.
As a young girl who grew up in a poor family, I remember vividly that for many tournaments, we had no money to eat. We definitely could not afford any restaurants. So we traveled by train, packed can food and bread in our luggage, to survive during tournaments.
If my parents were willing to make that kind of sacrifice for my chess career, how can I ever squander this opportunity? This is why I worked and worked harder than all my peers. That work habit never died. If you want to be the best, you have to be willing to put in 110% effort! There is no other way.
Today, I work everyday to help my students improve. While many coaches just superficially pass on their chess knowledge to their students, I comb through the maze of chess problems to pinpoint their precise weaknesses to come up with a unique and individualize improvement plan.
There is no one size fits all at SPICE. But their improvement will fully depend on their personal training discipline. What this means is if I can do it then anyone can do it too. The question is how much does one want it?
I realize that everyone is busy. But it is better to spend at least 15-30 minutes on chess improvement per day than 2-3 hours at one time at the end of the week. My motto is based on the famous quote by Thomas Jefferson:
“Never put off your chess improvement until tomorrow, if you can do it today.”
DISCIPLINE! DISCIPLINE! DISCIPLINE!