Burn the school down!

Burn the school down! These powerful words spoken by Cliff Curtis, aka Genesis “Gen” Potini, in the movie The Dark Horse, illustrate that in chess – and in life – everything is possible and you’re allowed to be crazy from time to time. Push the pawns up, sacrifice the piece, blow up the king side. What’s the worst that can happen?




The Dark Horse tells the true story of the mentally ill New Zealand chess champion Genesis Potini finding his life purpose through coaching underprivileged children in chess. The film features an outstanding, award-winning performance by Cliff Curtis (Fear the walking dead, Blow, Whale Rider) who’ll be starring in James Cameron’s future Avatar sequels.


Chess teaches you to open your mind, push your boundaries and think outside of the box. Moves that seem totally absurd and unreasonable at first sight can sometimes prove to be the best moves. Getting yourself in that state of mind where everything is possible is often the first step to a great idea. Every chess player, regardless of their background and level of play, is capable of creating something new in chess.




Want to broaden your horizons and test your outside of the box thinking skills? In the impossible chess puzzle given above, white has to find a way to checkmate the black king in only 1 move. That’s right, you only have 1 move! Before you can solve this problem, the rules about pawn promotion are repeated as follows: when a pawn has reached the eighth square, the player has the option of selecting any piece of his choice excluding the king and the pawn. Hint: rereading the start of this blog post gives you a slight edge 😉






Why repetition is the key to your chess improvement.


You want to improve your chess skills and wondered what’s the fastest way to do so? You’ve read chess book after chess book, played game after game, watched YouTube video after YouTube video and feel like there’s no end to this information overload in today’s digital society? Is this really the best way to learn and am I getting the results I really want? You’re not alone. As passionate chess players we all love strategy and thus we want to adopt the best strategy to accelerate our learning process and eventually our chess improvement. How can we boost our chess skills, not just winning a few games here and there but achieving a substantial and lasting gain of hundreds of rating points without spending a decade? It’s easier than you think. We’ve all heard the phrase “Repetition is the mother of all learning”. Whether you want to learn a new language, a new instrument, or maybe a new chess opening, repetition is vitally important to improve your skills. But what does that really mean? How often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Let me lead you to a deeper understanding of the power of repetition and explain you how Chessimo can help you to accelerate your chess improvement.


Remember the very first time you were driving a manual car. You were told to put one foot on the break, one on the clutch, turn over the key, put the car into first gear, slowly release the clutch, simultaneously start pushing the gas and yes, keep an eye on the mirrors, turn on the lights, use your indicators and ow yes, make sure everyone in your environment is safe… Are you still with me? The very start of learning something new can be overwhelming and the likelihood of screwing up a few times in the beginning is very high. Of all the information you absorb initially the first time you hear it, most of it will get lost quickly as the forgetting process starts. Now, this forgetting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In his book How we learn, Benedict Carey explains the forgetting process can be a good thing as it allows learning to build, much like an exercised muscle.


Just like you need to exercise your physical body repeatedly on a regular basis to create long lasting change, you need to exercise your mind over and over again until you’ve got the new learnings internalized. You repeat the same lessons until they become habitual and you don’t give them any conscious attention anymore. Are you still going through all those steps mentioned separately when driving a car now? Of course not. After repeating those steps over and over again, you’ve developed the habit of executing them automatically.




Unlike with driving a car, where not following a certain frequency of repetition would result in months of struggling, endless frustrations and potentially a lot of material damage, the penalty of lack of repetition in chess is much less dramatic. No big harm is brought about but you just can’t seem to figure out why your improvement in chess is so slow after hours and hours of training?

Let’s take the example of learning chess tactics: seeing a new chess tactic for the first time is exciting and often truly fulfilling. You feel amazing as you’ve discovered something new and your awareness has expanded. But can you be sure to recognize that specific tactic in every future occurrence over the board? Have you ever had that frustrating feeling where you knew you could have found that tactic in a game of your own but for some strange reason it didn’t came up on the moment of truth? We’ve all been there. Let’s put it in proper perspective and minimize the chance of that happening again.

What it really means is that that specific tactic hasn’t been internalized profoundly enough. In order to internalize the tactic – or any other chess idea – you’d have to repeat it over and over again within specifically designed time intervals. The more you repeat the tactic, the stronger the neural connection will be in your brain, the more emotionally involved you’ll become with the tactic and the quicker you’ll recognize the tactic over the board in a real game. (You want to read more about this internalization process? Have a read through Why chess grand masters find the right move every single time.)



We’ve mentioned specifically designed time intervals in between repetitions are essential to optimize the learning process. But how often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Can you design your chess training sessions in such a way that whenever you learn something new, you’re sure to capture the ideas learned as quickly as you can? The answer is yes!  Hermann Ebbinghaus plotted the retention of new information over time resulting in the so-called forgetting curve and found that the best way to retain new information is by spaced repetition of the same information. This is where Chessimo’s unique repetitive design of tactical, strategical, endgame and opening exercises comes into play. By completing one unit a day, the same patterns will automatically come back within the right time frame ensuring an optimized spaced learning process and an accelerated learning experience.

How often do you use Chessimo? Can you wait for the next day to start your next training module? Let us know in the comments below!