Chess Improvement in 6 Easy Steps

Chess Improvement in 6 Easy Steps

kbcbishop
kbcbishop
Dec 24, 2007, 12:00 AM |
25 | For Beginners

Let me say upfront: there is no "magic pill" or "easy button" to chess improvement. I wish there was. But I want to offer six easy-to-understand steps that will result in better play--if you will only follow the steps. Write down responses to each of these steps and then begin working through the plans that result:

(1) Evaluate/assess your game. Be honest. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Is your opening weak? Do you lack concentration? Do you have difficulty deciding upon a plan? Written annotation of some of your games will help. Programs like Chess Mentor may help. If you need help honestly assessing your game, ask for it from friends, coaches, and others.

(2) Identify needs. From the evaluation, where do you need to work? You may want to ask some friends to review some of your games (wins and losses) to tell you what you need to work on. Be thick-thinned at this point--accept their suggestions without negative comment or attempt to defend or justify yourself. If you hear a suggestion more than once, take it seriously. Coaching may help you to see specific areas of your game which need work. Part b of this step is to identify dreams. Where would you like your game to go? What would you like to be able to do with your game? This can create needed motivation to keep you stretching toward the finish line when you are going through moments of difficulty. (Doing this with a friend can bring positive reinforcement.)

(3) Determine your priorities. Where should you start? I am a decent juggler. I can juggle one ball all day, but if I begin juggling three I drop them more frequently. Be careful not to work on too many areas of your game at once and risk failing at all of them or only being mediocre at all of them. Work on one until it is second nature; then begin working on the second highest priority. Then the third. Then you may need to reassess your game before working on the fourth--because your priorities may have have changed.

(4) Set goals. What do you want to accomplish? On what do you want to work? What specifically do you want to improve? Where do you want to be? How much do you want to improve? Determine your goals--again, in writing. Each goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (deadline).

(5) Make action plans. How will you accomplish your goals? For each goal, what steps do you need to take to get there? For instance, your goal might be to learn thoroughly two new openings by March 31. Your action plans for this goal might include the following: (a) read a book on each opening--in January and February, (b) play 10 games each week using this opening, (c) annotate each game in which you used this opening, (d) find a partner with which to learn this opening, and (e) read 10 online articles about this opening.

(6) Implement your plans.

Evaluate. Identify needs. Determine priorities. Set goals. Make action plans. Implement. Six steps which with time and implementation will result in improvement in your game. Where do you need to start? Have you followed a similar process? Have you found one of the steps to be helpful in the past? What do you think is your priority for 2008? Leave a comment and help someone else take a step toward improvement this year. Or even better, join the ChIP Forum to be a part of a group on chess.com that is serious about improvement:  http://www.chess.com/groups/view/the-chip-forum-chess-improvement-plan-forum.

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