Chess Plan for Improvement.

| 16 | For Beginners

Study plan.

Your strength as a chess player is in close ratio to the time you can play and study the game. Certainly allowances must be made for talent and age but these, if they are a handicap, can be overcome by spending more time on the game.

"I have so much to learn about chess; there’s just not enough time for me to cover everything."

"I feel like I waste so much time on one part of the game that I neglect the rest."

This is what one often hears from people who talk about their time problems. Behind each statement is a wish that things could be different.

Please remember: there is no such thing as lack of time. We all have the same amount of time to do the things we really want to do. If, like so many players, you’re ‘too busy’ to study or make that weekend tournament, keep in mind that there are other players who are even busier than you, who do manage it. They don’t have more time than you. They just use their ‘chess time’ to better advantage.

Many players seem to have difficulty planning their time because they regard it only as ‘thinking’ – which too often translates into either ‘staring into space’ or ‘daydreaming’. It is much better to conceive of planning as ‘writing’ rather than ‘thinking’. Put your plans down on paper. Here is an example:

Study Plan
  1. Play games every day on the net.
  2. Play every day against a computer (e.g. Fritz or the computer at this site).
  3. Enter as many tournaments as possible.
  4. Analyse and annotate all played games.

Download the FREE software ‘Chess Position Trainer’.

Gradually build up your opening repertoires into the aforementioned software for training.

Book for study: The Ideas Behind the Chess openings by: Reuben Fine.

  1. Study one book on chess strategy per month.
  2. Make daily use of the facilities: ‘My Tactics Trainer’ and ‘Computer Workout’ on this site.

Books that should be near the top of ones list are: My System by Nimzowitsch. Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by John Watson. Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis. All books by Dvoretsky. Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman.

 Endgame Books for study and reference: The survival guide to Rook Endings by John Emms.


In all of ones endeavours one should have the following attitude: Say to yourself: ‘Come heck or high water, I am going to do the above – I want to – and I will find the time.’

‘Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it’.

Improving results at the board

Before each game, write down on your score sheet: PFCC, standing for PINS (skewers included), FORKS, CHECKS and CAPTURES. Then when you have decided on your move write it down on your score sheet, but before you make it check ALL possible PINS, FORKS CHECKS (especially checks) AND CAPTURES (ALL captures, even Qx protected pawn!).

  1. For yourself - before you move to see if you've anything better and
  2. For your opponent after your planned move to see if it is really a blunder.

When satisfied and only when satisfied on points (1) and (1) make your move. Half the games in weekend tournaments are decided by blunders, so eliminate them once and for all. Also remember: Keep your queen off the same file as an enemy rook or the same diagonal as an enemy bishop even when there are pieces in between and watch for opportunities if your opponent neglects this rule.

Each time you lose a game in a tournament or league match (i.e. a game you have presumably taken seriously) ANNOTATE it - find out where you went wrong - SWEAR NEVER TO REPEAT THOSE STUPID MISTAKES AGAIN.

You will find that the reasons you lose are depressingly consistent, but playing through your losing games frequently enough will disgust you so much that you’ll stop making the worst mistakes and that is what ‘improving’ is all about.