How To Deal With Chess Frustration
Frustration is often the name of the game.

How To Deal With Chess Frustration

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The member KBToys7 wrote:

I am writing to you out of frustration. I’ve bought several books on chess; on openings, middle games, endgames, tactics, strategy and more. I’ve completed dozens of lessons offered here on And I try to play games and tactics on a daily basis. And yet I find myself stuck at relatively the same rating I’ve been at all along.

Today has been extra frustrating, as I’ve lost several games, many of which I felt like I had the better position at times throughout the game. I don’t even know what question I’m trying to lead to! But I feel lost, as if all of my work was inadequate, and I can’t seem to figure out how to put it all together. Any advice for a struggling chess enthusiast on how to bring my game to the next level?

JS: KBToys7, rated in between 1400 and 1600, shows us some typical problems that lower-rated players often have to deal with.

frustrated person

Very Little Endgame Knowledge

Basic endgames are very important. Notice I said “basic endgames,” not difficult endgames. Here are those basics:

  • Overkill mates (queen vs. lone king, rook vs. long king, etc.).
  • Using your king in the endgame.
  • Basic opposition.
  • King and pawn endgames.
  • The Lucena Position.
  • The Philidor Position.

If you own my endgame book, Silman’s Complete Endgame Course, then master parts 1-4 and then move on to other areas of chess. If you don’t have my book, don’t despair! There are many other excellent endgame books that discuss these basics.

Here is an example of what can happen if you don’t know your ABCs of endgames.


If a low-rated player (1700 and below) notices a threat, he will often freak out. In fact, when he sees it, all his plans and dreams vanish and his main thought is “How can I stop his threat?”

Pushing aside panic (you can’t do anything if you bow to panic), when a threat worries you please do the following:

  • Remember some threats are tiny things. In many cases the developing (or building) move you intended to play will also stop the threat.
  • Make sure it’s a real threat! Quite a few so-called threats are all bluster, and in many other cases a false threat actually hurts the player who created the threat!
  • Many threats are actually bad moves that hurt the player who created the non-threat.
  • If possible, do not rush to protect against the threat. And this takes us into the following game.

Again, not all forced, but it demonstrates:

  • Grabbing the initiative and ruling the game will win many more games for you.
  • Black was going after White’s b2-pawn, but that’s actually a bad threat which will leave White with a better development and better pieces.
  • Make sure that an enemy threat isn’t an enemy blunder! Instead of running from a fake threat, challenge it IN HIS FACE!
  • Always know what pawns and pieces aren’t protected.

AFTER 5.f4


The Pill That Offers Either a Tasty Meal or Suicide


In the actual game Black went for the gold (I like courage, so applause for Mr. KBToys7). So he played:


Actual Game





  • Basic endgames.
  • Fear of threats (real or imagination).
  • Greed.
  • Playing “yourself.”
  • Make sure your pawns and pieces are protected (a HUGE problem for everyone under master).
  • Always look to see if your opponent’s pawns or pieces are protected.

All in all, you are making the same mistakes as everyone else (in other words, you have nothing to be ashamed of). Fortunately, after lots of work and perseverance, you will see serious improvement, though understanding the stuff you are studying will take time, repetition, and lots of practice.

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