Annotate the Game

I was having breakfast with good friend Amir Nissen this morning and we got to talking about how to learn, learn well and learn quickly. 

Fast learning is not a particularly new concept – Tynan recently got a tutor to speed him through learning Japanese whilst Tim Ferris took to learning his language through martial arts. Both are great ideas and hacks to aquire a skill quickly. But Amir has a different way to hack quickly to a point of mastering a skill.


Amir used to play competitive chess (funnily enough, against a great school friend of mine, Igor Loza) and got quite good. He explains that when you begin learning how to play chess, the instructors would make you annotate the game, jotting down all of the moves you made during the contest. When the game was over, the instructors would sit down and walk through the game with him, blow-by-blow, questioning his strategy and ideas at each stage. This quickly developed Amir’s chess skills because it began highlighting where he was making common mistakes often, as well as making him more aware of the patterns that, when presented to him in a game, would cause him problems. This enabled him to eliminate these patterns earlier in games of chess, which left him playing to his strengths more often. As a result, he became very good, very quickly.

The key is to spot patterns in your actions as they emerge AND build an understanding of how you react to those patterns as they take shape. Annotating the game is just one way to do this, but a very powerful one at that. I look forward to giving it more of a go.