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Improving One's Capacity To Improve - Part 1

How do I get better at chess?


This is the question that every chess player asks himself or herself at one point or another. In fact, as a coach, I hear this from my students multiple times a day. Everybody wants to improve - however, most players don't know where to start. Over the course of my career, I've tested many different methods of "studying" (one of which involved 14-hour bullet marathons on ICC), and I want to share my findings with the chess.com community. This is the first part of my four-part blog that talks about improvement. Perhaps the story of my successes and failures will inspire you to look at chess in a new light.


The one quality that every player must have regardless of playing ability is he or she must love the game. Without a passion for chess, playing it is akin to performing a chore. Chess players with a strong affinity for the game don't just play chess - they control armies engaged in a scuffle for victory. They view the game as composition of interweaving patterns, not just notes on a scoresheet. I have a personal anecdote regarding the relationship between myself and chess that proved to be a turning point in my career.


When I was about 12 years old, I hit a plateau. The transition into high school along with the variety of social issues that plague every preteen drastically affected my ability to play good chess. My rating fluctuated around 1900 and 2000 for over a year and I was seriously considering if I should give up chess and focus on academics. The problem was that I didn't know if I had a passion for chess anymore. As I mentioned previously, if one doesn't enjoy the game, chess is a chore. I didn't look forward to the next tournament. I was uninspired.


However, the support of my parents and coach during this point in my life was instrumental in my chess recovery and rejuvenation. My dad, who took me to every single tournament I've ever been to (not in college though. I finally escaped, haha) didn't put any pressure on me to make a decision. It took a while, but I finally realized that my problems weren't rooted in an apparent rejection of chess - I simply wasn't able to handle the fact that my rating was stagnant and that others were surpassing me. It took a heightened level of maturity to face the fact that failing to excel at something is no excuse to break down and turn away from your failures. Instead, I reworked my attitude to how I approached the game, transforming my indolence and self-pity into an ethic of diligence and high self-esteem. My efforts culminated in the clear first finish at the 2008 Foxwoods Open U2100 section which marked the impetus of my ascent to Master.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


  • 2 years ago


    some persons write personal remarks,they insult persons,they insult races,they abuse your relatives.why they play chess i donot know,why should not they be banned.Chess is royal play you win war by tactis,thougts,moves ,strategies,innovations and not by mere abusing others.A person wrote such  dirty remarks  after loosing game . 

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    A very nice topic Andrew, thank you. I am stuck in 1900+ level for a while but haven't lost the lvoe for the game yet. I look forward to your next 3 installments of this series.

  • 2 years ago


    Yes chess is like poetry,when you love chess ,you play chess ,you are a in a new world .Every game increase your hunger.

  • 2 years ago


    Thank you for stating #1.... so succinctly.  I look forward to following your blogs.

  • 2 years ago


    This is very helpful!  Please write many installments.

  • 2 years ago


    great article!  I can't wait for part 2 ... obviously you've learned some important life-lessons here through chess that will help you overcome a lot of other obstacles as you move forward in life ... 

  • 2 years ago


    I look forward to hearing the real story with good and bad! 

  • 2 years ago


    Outstanding!  I look forward to reading your following posts!

  • 2 years ago


    Bravo!! I look forward to the series :-)

  • 2 years ago


    @Matetricks good man I look forward to it.

  • 2 years ago

    NM Matetricks

    @kdougherty2, Please remember that this is the first part of a series. I'll be tackling more concrete chess topics in later posts - this first one was to discuss the psychological approach to the game.

  • 2 years ago


    You offered nothing about improving chess other than "You must love the game." 

    Okay so I love chess now what?

  • 2 years ago


    It's interesting how similar the struggle of chess is to that of entrepreneurship; even with an amazing idea, brilliant team, and ample funding, one needs passion above all to make an idea a successful reality. 

    I'm always intrigued to hear about your story, Andrew, especially considering the mind of a young chess player is such a captivating entity. Give us a glimpse into your first few chess games!

  • 2 years ago


    lets look at the trailer,good way to kids point of view to chess issues.

    you are a leader,but i think that chess is a question of balance between the will that you taulk and self capacitys.

    but dont take this text as a critical one

    for the kind your is one of the best opinions are just opinions

    and mine is one opinion too.)

  • 2 years ago


    Hey man nice blog post.. I'm upset though that you stopped right there. HAHA, I'm looking forward to the other 3.


  • 2 years ago


    Bravo Andrew! Such insightful thoughts and determination from a young master. Great first post!

  • 2 years ago


    Very well said. Without Passion, Why even play the game? I look forward to reading more about this. Cool

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