Training and Grandmaster Evaluation

  • GM arunabi
  • | Aug 8, 2011

Dear Mr. Prasad;

My friend refers me to this website as he told me I can ask questions to a grandmaster and they will answer in their article (very nice idea!). I had achieved expert strength last year. Then I took a break to study chess (daily schedule: 0.5 hr on tactics, 0.5 hr on going over master's games, 0.5 hr on either specific opening or endgame= total of 1.5 hr per day) to get to master's level. When I came back to tournaments recently, I suddently felt like I do not know what to do and at the end kept blundering. As a result, I lost many rating points. My questions are the following:

(a) Do you think there is a problem to how I study chess? Can you give an ideal chess studying program to expert/class 'A' player?

(b) How does a strong player recover from a bad result? After a bad tournament, I fear to go back to the tournament and suffer this experience.

(c) How can one improve on their focus on calculating chess lines? Also, I want to improve on my planning skills in chess. What would be the best approach to improving planning skills?

(d) I am known to play very bad in time trouble. How can one improve their thinking in time trouble (at least, not making easy blunder)? 

(e) I would like to know how does a grandmaster evaluate a position. Is there someway for an average chess player (like myself) can improve their evaluation of the postion to grandmaster strength.

Thanks in advance! Look forward to your answers, GM!

John Yan  


Dear John Yan,

Blunders happen due to several reasons. Usually the reason is lack of concentration during the game. But in your case I feel it is because of lack of practice. I myself have a similiar problem when I dont play tournaments and train for about 2-3 months, and when I get to play in tournaments I dont perform so well. It is because we are not mentally prepared to face the tournament tension. I personally know a player who trains a lot but ends up playing only very few tournaments. When he plays in tournaments, he does not perform to his potential. It is simply because of lack of practice. I would recommend you to play practice games along with your training sessions and also solve tactical problems as much as you can before the tournament. This will help you get into the tournament mode and increase your alertness level. 


a) Chess training: Begin your training session with a couple of tactical problems. Study opening, endgame and top players games. End your session with a couple of practice games. This will be an ideal chess training method.


b) Tournament Fear: It is not important that you perform well or not, it is much more important that you give 100% and at the end of the tournament you feel that you played well. I think this feeling is more important. If you end up having a bad tournament, go back and analyze your games and figure out the mistakes. Every player will have some weaknesses and if they are eliminated, their game strength will improve manyfold. Find out your main weakness and rectify it before the next tournament. I feel that, when we train ourselves well before a tournament the past tournament fear will not have its effect. It is just important that you feel confident before you play a tournament. So train yourself well till you get the confidence.


c) Planning and Calculation: First know the type of game you are playing. A tactical and open position or a safe and closed postion. Figure out the ideal plan. It may be initiating an attack or exchanging a vital piece etc. It differs across different openings and different positions. The best way is to study top players' games extensively. The more and more games you study the more ideas you get, and when you come across similiar positions in tournament games you already know what you have to do. Every opening has different game plans and if you know them it will be much easier to play. So when you study openings, figure out the ideas that are to be executed in the middle game as well. Calculating ability can be developed by solving tactical problems. Analyze your tournament games without computers initially and note down the ideas. Calculate long variations and then check them with computers.

d) Improving Time Pressure Play: Play a lot of blitz and rapid games in your pratice sessions. Also try to play fast in your tournament games before getting into time trouble. In order to do use your time efficiently, you need to improve your intuition. Intuition is nothing but knowing what to do in a given position. Instead of calculating several long variations, try to grasp the basic information from a position and do what you are supposed to do. Let us say, in a typical sicilian position with kings castled on opposite sides, it is quite obvious that you need to initiate an attack on the enemy king. So you can make all the necessary attacking moves like advancing the pawns and placing the Major pieces on the open files. These kinds of moves can be played quickly. To improve your intuition you need to study a lot of games by top players. You will automatically grasp the ideas and execute them with ease. Good opening knowledge will also help you save a lot of time. So prepare your openings well and learn the ideas to be excuted in the middlegame.

e) GrandMaster's Evaluation: In any given position a GM will have ideas. He knows what has to be done. This is because of the vast experience and knowledge. First he will find the strengths and weakness in the position. This will include the pawn structure, piece position etc. Every opening will have its own game plan. So he will know what has to be done in that specific opening. He will know the important games in the opening he plays and also the problems the players faced in that game. I would again recommend you to study top GM games. Try to figure out the moves played by the GMs. Calculate and assess the positions yourself and compare it with the GM's analysis.


  • 23 months ago


    Thanks for sharing your views.

  • 5 years ago


    Wonderful article on how to improve in chess... loved it!!!  I will definitely implement it.

  • 5 years ago


    Chess comprises of three stage Opening, middle and end.To win a game make sure these stages goes according to the plan of yours same time not being an advantage to the opponent.

  • 5 years ago


     Quite an instructive article from GM Arun covering the overall aspects of how to study.Remarkably simple style of guiding us -the intermediate level players.

  • 5 years ago


    Hi I want learn the chess game can anyone explain it 's secret formulla at
  • 5 years ago


    Nobody wants to be a loser. But in chess, losing is equivalent to learning. We learn from our mistakes. "Good" habits of chess learning is one of chess' secrets.

  • 5 years ago


    I was waiting for someone to recommend Chess 960 so I'll just go ahead and mention it.

    Try it. It's a cool game and it helps you notice combinations and it also helps you think defensively, as well, since it is possible to mate in 3 moves (open pawn, Queen in front of bishop Bishop, Queen in front of King for mate ... IF !! the randomness allows !! and IF !! your opponent doesn't notice it !!).

    Also, if you are "rating sensitive" and you worry about your rating, you won't have to ... ... Chess 960 isn't an official game so your rating won't matter and neither will the game pairing since both sides experience the same random set-up.

    Chess 960 gives a different perspective on the the game of chess ... in a sense, there is no opening moves ... after you play the game you might see what I mean ... every game begins almost as if you're in the MIddle of the Game ... so the action is immediate.

  • 5 years ago


    Glad you found my comment helpful! I have recently begun to keep an online training journal, which I also find very helpful. It helps me to make the results of my post-game analysis become second nature. The journal also permits readers to occasionally offer corrections or further insights, which helps me even more. 

  • 5 years ago


    If you studied a language in a classroom, but never used it to communicate with others who speak that language, you would not have much ability in that language. Even if you studied it 1.5 hours per day! You need to use that language, and have native speakers correct your accent and your grammar, and so forth, until it becomes second nature.

    Chess skill is like language skill; it must be acquired by use, with feedback for mistakes. My recommendation to Mr. Yan is that he play at least a couple of games per week at a time control no slower than G/30 (preferably G/60 or slower), and analyze them afterwards.   In doing so he will discover his weaknesses (as his opponents exploit them during games), and will figure out how to overcome them (through the post-game analysis). This will lead to real and continuous improvement.

    Expecting that study alone can lead to chess improvement is like expecting that you could become a great football player just by doing drills, without playing games. Or that you could become a great tennis player simply by practicing alone, hitting tennis balls against a wall, without regularly playing matches against strong opponents. Of course, great footballers and great tennis players do spend a lot of time doing the drills; but they also learn how to apply their skills in frequent game situations.

    Mr. Yan is gaining a lot of knowledge, and if he learns how to apply it he could become very strong. Until he learns how to apply the knowledge he is gaining, though, he will not achieve the results he wants. Thus a revised training program might look like this:

    Monday: 0.5 hour each on tactics, master games, and openings/endgames.

    Tuesday: 15 minutes of tactics, 75 minutes online chess game against strong opponent at G/30' + 10" increment

    Wednesday: 0.5 hours on Stoyko exercise, 1 hour analyzing yesterday's game

    Thursday: 0.5 hours of tactics, 1 hour of blitz games (with 5 minutes of tactical review after each game).

    Friday: 0.5 hour each on tactics, master games, and openings/endgames.

    Saturday: 15 minutes of tactics, 75 minutes online chess game against strong opponent at G/30' + 10" increment

    Sunday: 0.5 hours on Stoyko exercise, 1 hour analyzing yesterday's game

    I will close by noting that GM arunabi suggested incorporating frequent practice games and post-game analysis into a training program. The details of how you do it might differ from the program I suggest, of course; the key is that, by hook or by crook, you play practice games and analyze them afterwards on a regular basis.

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    The advice | have read is what I would expect a noble person having a grandmaster ranking will write. I myself am not a grandmaster. However, I understand the patience required in learning the art of chess.

    Graet articleInnocent

  • 5 years ago


    Clear and thoughtful advice. 

  • 5 years ago


    Elemementry watson
  • 5 years ago


    Same thing with golf. 

    Lots of players hit the ball exactly where they wish - when practicing. 

    As soon as they hit the first tee, and a proper round begins - they freeze.

  • 5 years ago


    Good article,

    It hsas tons of common sense, which by the way it's very uncommon Laughing

  • 5 years ago


    Wahh ..its nice to make a plan of yr own bec u know yr weakness ..but as a genral i would recommend ...if yr going to watch GM game ..just learn his best moves and what it does in the game..u wanna follow it fully ..the observe single GM s work fully ;)

  • 5 years ago


    Reply ...

    Thank you! Happy Playing!

  • 5 years ago


    b) Tournament Fear: It is not important that you perform well or not, it is much more important that you give 100% and at the end of the tournament you feel that you played well. I think this feeling is more important.

    This statement contains a lot of wisdom and insight and is well written ...

    but the article is a gem as a whole.

    Nice timing, as well, as interested readers may cross-reference this article with the five-part series dedicated to "Avoiding Blunders" provided by GM Gserper.

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks for the article it's very informative

  • 5 years ago


    MIYAAWE! Cool

Back to Top

Post your reply: