Do you have what it takes?
By Susan Polgar

I hear almost the same things from countless chess players just about every single day, from amateurs to grandmasters, no matter where I am 

“How can I get better in chess?” or “Please help me improve my chess!”

My answers are always the same. If players want to improve and get better, they MUST have a reality check and ask themselves the following hard questions:

– What are my chess goals and how committed am I to achieve those goals? (Unrealistic goals can be brutal to one’s chess career.)

– Am I willing to listen to the advice and follow the SPICE training method? (Most will listen from one ear and hours/days/weeks later, the information will go out the other ear.)

– Am I willing to make adjustments, no matter how difficult it is, including potential short term rating losses during the modification phase? (Most are slaves to rating points, therefore, are terrified to make changes to fix weaknesses.)

– Am I willing to put in the consistent daily effort and sacrifice to get better? (This is a major problem for most players. There are too many other temptations which negatively affect chess improvement.)

– Am I willing to be disciplined in every phase of training, including changing the sleeping, eating, drinking, smoking, and exercising habits, etc.? (Most are willing to do this for a very short period of time and they slowly start to go back to bad old habits.)

From my personal 45 year experience in chess, I can honestly say that more than 99% of the chess players are simply unable / unwilling to satisfy all of the above points.

I can teach any player to become a lot better, including top level players. I have worked with absolute beginners, grandmasters, World and Olympiad champions, and many in-between. But I cannot do the work for them, or make them become more discipline and diligent. There are no magic pills that can accelerate or make this process easier. Training hard is just one part of success. Other external factors are also equally important.

When players are telling me that they are working very hard, I usually tell them that they have no idea about the meaning of the words “working hard”. And for those very few who are willing to “work hard”, are you working smart?

If you ask some of my friends who are incredible coaches (Ramesh RB or Babakuli Annakov, they will probably tell you similar things  There are no “easy” or “pain free” roads 

On the other hand, for those players who just enjoy playing, and simply want to do it for fun with no aspiration for a serious chess career, then enjoy the game without any stress. There is nothing wrong with that 

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