Chessable, Or the Power of Repetition
I never really studied while I was at school. Why? Because I had a simple system, taught to me by my father at the very start of my school years. It’s elementary really, but it does take a bit of discipline. It consisted of the following:
1. While in class, pay total attention to the professor and the lesson. No distractions.
2. When you get home the first thing you do is read the lesson from the textbook. Once should be enough if you paid attention in class.
3. Before the next class of that same subject, read the lesson once again.
And that was it. I don’t know how my father knew of this system but it worked wonders for me, leaving me a lot of free time for chess. I applied the same system at University and it worked like charm again, I finished University in record time.
The Chessable website has created something similar to the above. The main focus of the site is openings and their memorisation. One of the co-founders is IM John Bartholomew and he is mainly in charge of the chess-related material, even though they have others on board too, I noticed GM Leitao’s Najdorf repertoire, for example.
So how does it work? After signing up, which is free (there is also a paid pro membership), you get access to various repertoires (called “books”). Some of them are free, others need to be bought (the most expensive was $9.99). It seems it’s still the early stages of the site so for the time being there aren’t many of them. I checked several of the free ones and here comes the repetition part: you are looking at a chessboard and you read explanations in words on the side. Then moves are made on the board and then you’re asked to make the same moves for the side you’re studying the repertoire, repetitio in the purest form. You get points every time you get a move right. This starts slowly, you are asked to repeat the moves after move 1 or 2, then it goes deeper, but not much. The maximum depth I got was around 7-8 moves, probably the paid repertoires are developed in greater depth and detail. The repetition session doesn’t last long, around 1 minute or less in my case, but the site does remind you that “learning chess requires practice every day.” Here I see the main merit of the site and the idea – you are encouraged to repeat what you have learned every day. Repetitio est mater studiorum. You also get “rubies” (which can be used for various purchases on the site) and points to further encourage you to follow through.
Coincidentally, I have a student (rated around 2000) who is using Chessable to study openings and he is quite satisfied with the service. As I see it the site is intended and aimed at exactly this level of players, rated up to 2000 or perhaps a bit higher, who want to practice and learn their openings well. Even though at present there is no wide choice, I expect the site to grow and add more openings. Who knows, maybe I even give it a try and publish my own repertoire there?
I think the site is worth giving a try, especially if you’re not very good in the opening and want to learn one or two (or more!). For starters you can try the free versions and then decide if the whole system works for you. In any case, don’t forget to practice every day!