Success will depend on how hard you train


There is no reason why girls / women cannot play chess as well as boys / men do. But it means that we also have to spend as much time if not more to train, improve, and get ready to battle at the highest level.

Over the years, I see first hand the direct correlation between hard work and success. I have seen many incredibly talented young players who did not go far in their chess careers. On the other hand, I have also seen players with moderate talent became world-class players through hard work.

I am lucky that when I was growing up, there was no twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, selfies, internet, 300+ channels on TV and all the other useless time wasting distractions.

When I was a young player, while others were busy hanging out, going to malls or movies, and enjoying life, I was busy solving puzzles, working on endgame, improving my opening repertoire, working out, and doing everything possible to reach my goals.

The results speak for itself. While with moderate talent, I reached the world #1 ranking at 15 and remained as the top 3 female players for about 25 years, became the first woman to earn the grandmaster title (via tournament play), as well as being the first, male or female, to win the chess triple crown (world blitz, rapid, and classical champion).

At the same time, many others with much more talent squandered the opportunity. There are many other examples.

Young people today are very lucky to have the best technology and information at their fingertips 24/7. It is up to them to set their goals and decide how much success they want to achieve.

Even after retiring from professional chess more than a decade ago, I still work hard 7 days a week (12-18 hours a day). How can anyone expect to achieve success if they are not willing to work hard for it?

Comments (3)
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thanks so much for your insight maam. i'm a mom of a 2 yr old and recently came across your dad's book. i can never tell in words how much motivation it has given me. i should thank your entire family. your blog is again a superb motivation tool. we all are lucky to have such an elegant player and human to motivate us. thank you so much maam.


true ma'am. I will follow your instructions.


There is no dilemma which one makes you an expert, it is nurture over nature, no doubt. Susan is right there (Anders Ericsson makes the point in his excellent book, The Peak, on what it takes to become an expert). Yet, not all training/effort makes you great. First, one needs to know what skill to improve by using "deliberate practice" (Ericsson's term). Secondly, the learning method should be right. Here is an example of the importance of the method: 199 in 200 chess entrants get stuck with aimless wood pushing, never going beyond the moves. Too bad, Dr. Tarrasch would say, as, unlike music or love, chess never made them happy. The culprit? the broken traditional way of teaching at Square 1 as Nimzovich suggested in 1929. Does anybody care (chess patriarchs and matriarchs, chess organizations, USCF, FIDE, for example) about this colossal 99.5% suckcess rate? Doesn't seem so... Think about it again, 199 in 200 never move to Square 2!

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