“Having a workout partner can eliminate problems of progression, inconsistency, and lack of motivation.
The challenge is finding the right one.”
Champions, in part 1, we spoke about how a good training partner can help you to memorize new openings, learn about and improve upon your main weaknesses, gain extra motivation and accountability to train, and lots more.
But you may be wondering...how do you find someone? What kind of person should you look for and what kind of skills should they have?
We’ve previously talked about the importance of investing in yourself. And here as well, you need to invest. But not with money, but with time.
Searching for the right training partner is like trying to find a world-class personal trainer. You shouldn’t hurry up to decide. Instead, you need to search carefully and look for the following qualities...
The #1 trait
The most important factor to consider is that you must get along with him/her! You’re going to spend lots of time with your partner, and you need to be, at a minimum, comfortable with them.
If you don’t love their jokes or their character, your “alliance” will not last long. It’s okay if you’re not best friends. But your energy levels should be similar and you should enjoy each other’s company.
Invested in you
Simply put, they should be invested in you and your results.
They should genuinely care about your results, and they shouldn’t be jealous if you start to perform better than them. This may sound obvious, but it’s not easy – I’ve seen many partnerships break because of this.
Trustworthy and reliable
If you’re looking for a training partner to take your results to the next level, they need to be trustworthy and reliable.
If you’re dreading a cancellation text message an hour before every training session, chances are you need a new partner.
A good training partner will show up and be ready to go on time.
You also need to be able to trust the person.
You should be sure that whatever opening you’re analyzing, whatever novelties you’re finding, it should stay between you.
Same goals - same speed
If your goal is to become a Grandmaster, but your partner only aspires to become the champion of their chess club, they won’t push forward as hard as you. In other words, your speeds will be different.
While your goals don’t need to be exactly the same, it’s very important that you have the same mindset. With similar goals, you’ll be able to relate and challenge each other to a greater extent.
Opposite chess style
In part 1, I already told you about how my training partner,
GM Zaven Andriasian.
Zaven was a crazy attacker, whereas I was a positional player. Because of this, we had so much more to learn from each other. As such, my advice is to look for someone with a different style of chess to your own.
Should they play the same openings?
You may think that it’s necessary for your partner to play the same openings as you. But actually, there are many benefits if your training partner doesn’t, not least that you can; grow your opening repertoire, gain a wider understanding of chess, and understand the key ideas in positions you may not otherwise commonly see.
Should I have multiple training partners?
Is it fine to have more than one partner? Absolutely!
You can learn different skills from each of your partners, as well as many new openings.
You can also create a team and work on chess together.
What if they’re stronger than me?
Well, if they don’t mind working with you, it’s great to work with someone that’s stronger than you.
You may have heard the famous saying, “If you want to become a millionaire, surround yourself with millionaires”.
This advice is transferable across all walks of life.
You might ask, why should they be interested in working with you, instead of trying to find someone at their level or stronger than them?
They might love your personality, your jokes, or your creative thinking process.
So if they’re stronger than you but still want to work with you, that’s great.
That means you have something special Congrats!
Can I make my sparring partner the engine?
No, no, no!
Soon we’ll write an entire article to discuss in more detail all the downsides there are to playing against an engine.
But for now, in a few words, your metallic friend will just ruin your confidence.
It’ll always beat you. You might lose not only your confidence but also your love of chess or of the particular opening you were practicing with it.
While it’s good to spar against someone better than you, they should not be unbeatable.
Test or celebration?
You might ask a good question, how would you know if they’re going to be a great training/sparring partner? If they’re going to be invested in you, if they’re reliable and if it’s fun to spend time with them?
I’ll answer you - No way! You should test.
At first, when you arrange the first meeting or the 1st call, you make an assumption whether it would work or not. If your intuition or the inner voice says “no” or isn’t excited - move on. Don’t waste your time.
But if you feel, you found the right person - make a trial period.
If that works- great! If no - move on and continue your search.
But not in Google
It’s not easy to find a partner with all of the qualities described above, after all, that’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger called it a challenge.
However, those who seek shall find. Make it a priority to invest your time in finding him/her. It’ll be worth it.
We have a thread in our forum for anyone looking for a training partner.
You should check it out, and write a post with something like: “Hey guys, my name is Any, I’m from the U.S., my rating on Lichess is around 2.000 and I’m looking for a training partner.”
In the next article, I’ll share with you some of the most effective training techniques that I used with my training partners and which all my successful students are using.
Stay tuned, until next Tuesday!
P.S. You can share your thoughts in our forum.