Keeping focussed on your journey until you reach your goal is key to personal development. Lose your way, expect to lose your goal. If you have a plan and true determination, no man can deter you. Denzil Washington in the film 'Book of Eli' shows perserverence in following his simple plan through extreme adversity, but nothing or no one is going to stop him from delivering his package.
Book of Eli Imb
As with chess, if you set a plan, stick to the plan and achieve through the plan then improvements no matter how little will start to take shape, but only if your really want it.