The Struggles of the Improving Chess Player
So you spend many hours playing chess, reading books, and browsing websites for tips to strengthen your chess game. Maybe you’ve found yourself asking a few stronger players for tips to take your game to the next level. When you review the games of chess masters or other stronger players you can’t understand why your moves seem to mimic theirs yet you still lose to players that are not highly rated. In most cases the reason so many players especially below the chess master level are not improving beyond their current playing strength is because of the failure to incorporate the basic foundations or fundamental ideas of the game. Seeking guidance in how to improve at chess is the first step in the right direction. If you want to seriously take your game to the next level than the following tips are sure to improve your game.
Stop Obsessing Over Chess Book Openings!
Many struggling chess players spend entirely too much time studying and memorizing chess openings. While most players refuse to believe this advice we are here to tell you to avoid this like the plague! More importantly you should study opening ideas only! This leads to better understanding of which direction the openings lead play into the middle game. Now you might ask “Don’t you have to memorize certain lines in order to get a good grasp of the opening that you intend to play?” As the former World Chess Champion Max Euwe once mentioned the opening phase of the game is only intended to develop all of your forces quickly to logical squares to prepare for the middle game. Many players over study the opening phase of the game thinking that by memorizing every known “best line of play” they will win straight out of the opening. While many games have been won in this manner, it is usually due to the opponent making a gross positional or tactical oversight not lack of chess opening knowledge. The players who usually gain most from intense chess opening study are usually masters and grandmasters. As you can imagine this is because they have a better grasp already on other aspects of the game which really does improve your play such as middle game and endgame ability.
Learn From Every Loss!
Studying your lost games and finding improvements will set you on a fast track to becoming a stronger player. Many times during a chess game you might tend to play moves that you thought were good only to find out later that there was a much better move that you either second guessed or simply overlooked. To avoid future blunders review your lost games with either a stronger player, coach or computer program. Once the game has been analyzed, review the results to see where you went wrong. Avoid these kinds of mistakes in future game play! First analyze the game yourself to find refutations to your own inferior play before submitting the game for analysis.
Make sure to analyze the game yourself to find the move that started the downfall of your position. Look to see if the mistake was tactical, positional, an aimless move, or other aspect of inferior play.This will give you a clear picture of what can be improved.Only after this should you submit the game to be analyzed by either a computer, or stronger player.Then finally you will be able to compare the analysis with your own. For further help in this area click here. <==
Avoid Too Much Speed Chess!
Blitz chess is what makes many players love the game of chess so much. The ticking away of the clock while considering your next move. The swashbuckling tricks and traps, and the jaw dropping sacrificial attacks on the enemy king are all too addictive. If you want to take your game to the next level you have to temporarily abandon blitz chess, and only play longer time controls! These games will promote an unrushed logical consideration of your next best move during each game resulting in rapid improvement. Once your slow games improve your speed chess will naturally improve without any attention given to this format of play! Blitz chess forces you to play “good enough” moves in a short period of time per game that in most cases would not even come close to working in a game of classical or longer time controls.
Consider the fact that former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik did not play speed chess even though this format was very popular during his time and he still managed to become world champion through constant improvements in slow time controls while having other career distractions!
Improve Your Chess Tactics!
If there is any skill in chess that will greatly increase your ability to improve in the shortest amount of time it is hands down the study of chess tactics! Many players below the master level have heard this advice for years, but will turn a deaf hear and swear that this information is completely wrong, and that you should straight away study positional chess to reach the master level. While you should definitely study positional chess (advice that we will cover later) you should first study tactics since they are a fundamental part of chess and all positional plans will crumble if they are not tactically sound. In order to improve your chess tactics dramatically you should strive to not just solve easy problems that you can do in seconds, but preferably solve tactics that are gradually more difficult than you are used to. Once you have solved a problem with a wrong answer you can learn from your mistakes by comparing your thought process and solutions with that of the correct answers. Keep in mind that players such as Hikaru Nakamura, Loek Van Wely, and Garry Kasparov have all stated that the intense study of tactics will definitely get you into the master levels of chess if studied the right way! You will always hear lower rated players discourage this, but if advice given by strong players work tremendously for them then the advice should not be overlooked.
Only Study Basic Positional ideas!
No doubt in order to improve in chess you have to have at least a basic understanding of what to do when it is time to formulate a plan and there are no immediate tactics on the board. As many masters have stated, positional chess teaches you what to do, while tactics teaches you how to do it. Even so this should not be overdone as it is very possible to reach at least a master level in chess with only the fundamental basics of positional play and middle game knowledge. You do not have to possess the technical skills of Jose Capablanca or Akiba Rubinstein in positional theory in order to play a strong game.
Study Games Between Strong Chess Players vs. Weak Chess Players!
The only better way of learning from your own losses is to study the losses of other players so that you can avoid the constant pitfalls that they fell into against stronger opposition. Choose a player around your same level and study their losses against a player of much greater strength. Review the game carefully, and study how the losing player’s moves and plans were immediately dashed to the side when facing the stronger player. This can be a greater learning tool to the improving player as opposed to studying master games against other masters, because when reviewing these games sometimes the advanced concepts of strange moves are expected to be understood leaving the weaker players confused about why the moves were made. This will only result in not learning much of anything. Some good examples of very stong opposition versus very weak opposition would be Paul Morphy’s historic games against amateur players, Wilhelm Steinitz versus common masters, and some of the current grandmasters like Magnus Carlsen crushing low ranking players in simultaneous displays.
Stop Wasting Time Watching Thousands of Chess Videos!
With the explosion of online knowledge, it is easy to learn how to improve your chess game for free online. Platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Bing Video, and downloadable programs and software to name a few. This is a great way to learn any aspect of the game, however this is a form of passive learning. Players often watch hours of entertaining videos, because it is “easy to do”, and never actually implement the lessons. Set a time limit for daily lessons to avoid wasting too much time. Then try your hand at some actual chess games to implement the lessons that you have learned.
Complete a Whole Chess Book Before Moving On To Another!
It does you no good to start learning from a chess book that you believe will improve your game, only to leave that book after reading eight pages because another book has enticed you into reading it also; then after reading this book for a chapter or two you decide to read a third book on chess on a different subject. This method of learning is absolutely counterproductive. It’s better to completely finish a whole course before moving on to another subject. This prevents the reader from only learning part of the ideas contained in the books. Pick one book on that subject, finish it, then move on to another one.
Play Serious Games Against a Chess Computer!
Play serious chess games against a rated chess computer with the strength adjusted around your current level. This will have tremendous benefits on the overall accuracy and strength of play. Computers tend to avoid the typical mistakes human players make when playing a game. This makes a chess computer a very formidable sparring partner when it comes to not only improving tactically but in all aspects of the game. By constantly competing against good chess computers you will gradually become more accurate during gameplay. Without this you can’t expect to defeat a strong chess computer. While even masters may make the occasional oversight. Improving your accuracy against chess computers will not only make you hard to defeat but more confident over the board. Once you start beating computers enough and improve your accuracy you in turn will also be very hard to defeat!
Take Immediate Action!
Immediately apply what you have learned. If you take these tips seriously without delay success in future games are sure to come! Without immediate action to implement what you have learned, you will surely always stay at your current playing strength.
For additional help in learning how to improve at chess try out the recommended products list below. These recommendations will definitely lead you down the correct path to improvement with the above tips in mind.
Recommended Products for Chess Improvement
David vs Goliath Chess: How to Beat a Stronger Player
Attacking Chess for Club Players: Improve Your Skills to Overpower Your Opponent
Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition: Key Moves and Motifs in the Middle game
Chess Strategy Workbook: A Blueprint for Developing the Best Plan
Computers, Chess and Long-Range Planning
Soviet Middle game Technique
Techniques of Positional Play: 45 Practical Methods to Gain the Upper Hand in Chess
Chess Pattern Recognition
New In Chess: Chess Training for Post-beginners: A Basic Course in Positional Understanding
Chess Tactics from Scratch: Understanding Chess Tactics
Sharpen Your Tactics: 1125 Brilliant Sacrifices, Combinations, and Studies
Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur
The Seven Deadly Chess Sins
F.A.Q. About Improvement In Chess
How much time will it take me to improve?
Not long if you have the ambition, and time aimed at serious study to avoid old habits at the board.
Am I too old or young to improve?
Not at all. As long as you still possess passion and ambition to improve your chess ability. Improvement is for old and young alike!
What is the best book or chess course software that will help me improve fast?
There are literally shelves of books to choose from when considering taking your game to the next level. First only focus on the improvement of your middle game, chess tactics, and basic positional ideas. For good recommendations please consider the list above.
What are the best ways to study chess tactics?
Learning with chess computers and software is definitely one of the best ways to improve in this area of study. Do not underestimate chess books as they contain valuable problems and courses. Check out Killer Chess Tactics, Chess Tactics From Scratch, and Learn Chess Tactics by John Nunn for more help.
What are the best ways to study positional chess?
For help in this area you can try Chess Strategy Workbook: A Blueprint for Developing the Best Plan, Chess Training for Post-beginners: A Basic Course in Positional Understanding, or even Techniques of Positional Play: 45 Practical Methods to Gain the Upper Hand in Chess. These recommended books will definitely lead you down the correct path as far as positional chess is concerned.
Can I still improve at chess with a full time job?
If chess improvement is really a top priority for you than with prioritization of time this goal is still achievable!
Can I still improve at chess as a full time student?
This depends on your daily schedule as a full time student. Rigorous focused study of chess material for at least one hour of day should be a good starting point.
Which media is best for improving at chess game?
Currently there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to learning how to improve at chess effectively. Start with one media course until you’re able to implement the ideas in your games. Study chess books, online courses, software, etc.