In the War-room

Sherwood, Russell  Thursday, January 18, 2018

If we want to succeed in CC we need to bring some organisation and systemisation to our efforts. Why? In the simplest sense we need to (a) Make the most of our playing time and (b) Make the most of our research/training/development time.  If we are not organised most people have a tendency to both waste time and repeat mistakes. This leads us to the creation of , what is called by many, a War-room.


A War-room is simple a place of focus on our CC. This can be a physical space and/or an electronic space and/or an psychological space.  It is also worth noting that this approach is almost equally applicable to over the board Chess.


Psychological Space


  • How do you get yourself into a headspace for chess? It could be that you’re simply “in the mood” but if you want to help this along having certain music, smells or drinks to get you in the mood can be help your performance. Determining the right choice here is difficult but a little trial and attention usually helps.


  • What time of day to you work best? Im lucky in that Im happy both early and late but for some it does make a massive difference.


  • Considering and managing your emotions – How do you feel when a position is going well or badly? Does this affect your judgement and the types of moves you might make? I learned a long time ago not to analyse if Angry about something…..



Electronic Space


I have mentioned in the past that you should not really be using your computer for anything else at the same time as analysis, mainly as the system speed is impacted. Other areas to be considered:


  • Game Recording – You really need one of the main GUI’s: Chessbase, Fritz, Aquarium, Chess Assistant, Hiarcs, Arena………There are many both commercial and open-source. All have pro’s and con’s, which will be covered in a future article. The main point of this is recording your thoughts, Analysis and Ideas around a game, so you can refer to them and potentially correct any incorrect ideas should the game go against you.
  • Database Software – All of the GUI’s mentioned , have some database functionality so again it’s a similar choice. You also need to determine which Databases you intend to use, where to obtain them from and how to keep them up to date. In modern CC , Database manipulation is an essential skill to avoid finding yourself in a dodgy position at move 15!
  • Analysis Software – You guessed, all of the software above will perform this functionality. To go with your choice of GUI, you need to select your main supporting engine(s) Ive covered this in the past and will publish and update soon but the keys here are to (a) Select an engine which you get to know , in terms of its strengths and weaknesses and (b) Having an engine which fits your style and choice of opening.
  • Folder Structure – You will build up a lot of files of various sorts. This need to be organised into folders so you can find the information quickly.


All of this software needs to be set up to suit your style – for example if you want to use Database A, Engine B and Opening Book C, these need to be set up as either defaults or Standards you can select. This is different on all the software above but well worth the time learning.



Physical Space


If you are lucky enough to have this or even a corner of a home desk a few items are very sensible


  • A 2nd Monitor – This I find useful for almost anything but the main point is that we can be analysing a game on one screen whilst look at a database or e-book at the same time on the other. It is also worth checking the settings of your monitor – having one too bright or not bright enough or with the wrong screen resolution can be very tiring.
  • A Book Shelf – Whislt some players like Electronic versions of chessbooks, many (including I) do prefer paper copies. If this is the case then a book shelf either adjacent to your workspace or even on the desk of the tomes you consider most important is essential
  • Notepad. I have already mentioned electronic record keeping but a physical notepad (or two) is as essential. Sometimes you just want to note down an idea or concept!
  • Sound Levels – We cannot all control ambient sound whilst we analyse (It has been known for Washing machines to enter Spin-dry cycles nearby) we can look at a number of ways to alleviate this. One worthy of consideration is a Music/Headphones combination, especially with Noise cancelling headphones.
  • A large faced Physical Clock – Its very easy to lose yourself in analysis, so something to keep us on track is useful.  Whilst your smartphone could do this, a physical alarm clock can also be useful – If you only intend to spend one hour at the desk – you guessed it , set it for one hours time.
  • A Chess Set – I found my results improved when I started to use a physical board alongside an electronic one – if you really want to it can be connected to your software set up fairly easily.


Taking all these together we get to our “place for chess”. Making this work better can have a massive effect on your games and results!

Updated Thursday, January 18, 2018 by Russell Sherwood

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