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Alexander Baburin – Becoming Grandmaster, Talent v Hard Work, & Planning as a Key to Success! EP149

January 23, 2020


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

Connecting with Alexander – you can find him on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/alexander.baburin.37

Email – [email protected]

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