Seconds anybody?

A “chess second” refers to a person or a group of people who support a professional chess player, especially during tournaments12. These are some of their key responsibilities:

  1. Training the Player: Chess seconds help in training the player by identifying the lapses within a player’s repertoire and developing actions to fill such gaps.
  2. Cooperating Expertise: They bring their personal expertise to train a player, such as an opening that an elite may not be knowledgeable of1.
  3. Bringing Ideas: They contribute to the creativity of the game by bringing in new ideas and perspectives.
  4. Sharing Experience: They share their experiences from playing particular tournaments, players, or time controls.
  5. Researching Opponent: They research the opponent to prepare the player for the match.
  6. Preparing Opening Repertoire: They prepare the opening repertoire for the player.

In essence, chess seconds are a necessary force behind truly successful super grandmasters, providing a supporting role that is crucial to a player’s success.

My previous thoughts that AI coaches can help budding chess players like me (ELO 1800+) seems more accurate if we don’t think of coaches in the traditional sense. Instead of coaches, it’s probably better to think of this digital helpers as seconds.

Seconds are closer to the level in terms of strength and ability compared to the player they are helping. Of course seconds as per the definitition above, always works with professional or Grandmasters, not beginner or anyone without a chess title. But with AI becoming more accessible, we’ve seen singular persons multiply their ability with the help of AI. For example, a programmer can do the work of a team of programmers with the help of AI. in the same vein, a chess player can work with a second to help him or her to improve their understanding, and learning chess more efficiently.

So, imagine a digital second, that will work tirelessly with one objective: to help you out with your chess. Someone who works tirelessly, who does not need rest, food or salary. Someone who records your games, looks at them, see patterns, know your weaknesses, and tries to remedy them. Someone who researches your openings, your opponents etc and make the necessary preparations.