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On the edge of Toronto's Annex neighbourhood

The Point of Practice

Shunryu Suzuki

A QUOTE TO PONDER – Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Monk, 1904 - 1971)

“If you don’t understand how to practice archery in its true sense, then even though you practice very hard, what you acquire is just technique. It won’t help you through and through. Perhaps you can hit the mark without trying, but without a bow and arrow, you cannot do anything. If you understand the point of practice, then even without a bow and arrow the archery will help you.”


GM Alex Colovic says … (in his Chessable blog)

A very accurate thought expressed by a Zen monk. It perfectly describes the stereotypical chess player who “can hit the mark without trying, but without a bow and arrow […] cannot do anything.”

A huge number of chess players are completely useless outside the chess board (unfortunately, I would add). They have achieved a very high level in their own area of expertise, but in Suzuki’s words they have acquired only technique – they play chess exceptionally well and nothing more.

I would like to expound on the idea of Suzuki’s last sentence – the point of practice. It originates from the Zen concept that all things are interconnected. By learning the underlying principles of chess (or archery, or anything, really) one should be able to apply them everywhere. But nobody teaches these underlying principles because they are not written anywhere.

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