Alexander Baburin – Becoming Grandmaster, Talent v Hard Work, & Planning as a Key to Success! EP149
In this week’s episode I talk with Alexander Baburin, Ireland’s only Chess Grandmaster currently.I’ve always had an interest in Chess – playing badly but the strategy, the history, and the focus required be a great chess player!The podcast gives me a wonderful opportunity to talk with experts in their fields and I was delighted when Alexander agreed to come on and talk about the world of chess and his career.Here is a summary of the topics we discussed during the episode. I hope you enjoy!Summary Topics:
The 10,000 hour rule and the Grandmaster
Hard work v Talent
Bounce, Matthew Zayed and deliberate practice
Playing the Polgar sisters – 2 making grandmasters and 1 international master
Women Grandmaster titles and full Grandmasters
Growing up in Russia (Gorky)
Discovering Chess at the age of 7 and being taught the rules by his dad
Joining a Chess club in school and quickly realising this was something he really liked
3-4 years later, becoming seriously hooked and starting to play 10+ hours per week
Early practice was more just friendly games and less structured study and play
Having a coach and getting play more structured
What is the best use of your time when playing Chess seriously?
What to do before the games and after the games
Creating a Plan to help develop his game – similar to studying for an exam
There are many topics to focus on to study in chess
The coach can help very much with this work
Studying Chess and the impact it had on academic life
Schools being supportive of Chess and seeing this as a positive hobby/passion
Chess teaching planning and discipline leading to better schooling
Having Swimming and Basketball as passions in early years
Tapping into the desire to win and do your best
Getting into the ‘Zone’ when playing and everything else fades away
Living his life and playing for years before realizing it would be a career
At the age of 20, Alexander had to make a decision where to go next and this time was when Chess became an option as a career – a couple of years later, the boarders opening up, this helped Alexander pursue Chess as an option
By 22-23, chess became something he would do for the foreseeable future.
How Chess ranking works and the difference between National, International Masters and Grandmasters, getting a ‘rating’ and moving up and down rankings
The big gap between IM and GM and reaching the GM level taking 5 year…
How international competitions work and how to achieve a ‘norm’
The Swiss System in Chess
How quickly can someone achieve GM status?
Looking at the speed at which kids have reached GM at the age of 14-15
Getting to GM level in 7-8 years and aligns with the 10k hours rule
Common traits with Grandmasters – coming all forms and shapes
One common trait – Hates to Lose!
Every loss is a ‘little death’ – psychologically very difficult
Driven by the desire not to lose more than the desire to win!
Developing resilience and dealing with frustrations…
The role of luck or is it pure skill in Chess?
Luck playing a role in his career and providing opportunities
Controlling Emotions during a Game and approaches to keep them in check
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat
How the style of play develops and changes over time
Playing against ‘pieces’ or against ‘players?
Chess players peaking at the age of 35 but now it seems to be younger – at 27/28
The Indian summer is noticeable in many players – even up to the age of 60
Alexander stopped growing as a player 20 years ago due to making a conscious decision to diversify – write books, coaching, etc
The general level of play is increasing now compared to 20 years ago – at the club player level – but at the top level, less so
The role of technology and how it’s changed the game of Chess in a dramatic way
Making information and learning much more accessible
Chess engines helping players learn much quicker – like a spell checker
How technology has brought more cheating in Chess
Watching more chess online has had a positive impact – it’s overall been a positive
What advice amateur players could look at to improve their game?
Coaching, Planning, studying games, and be consistent on a regular basis
Having a plan is better than no plan!
Training Sam Collins in Ireland to be a Grandmaster