Beginners, do you want to be a better Chess Player?

Apr 10, 2013, 9:54 PM |

In the last year I have gone from a beginner (know how to move the pieces, understand checkmate, played the odd game) to..strong novice?..weak intermediate? doesn't matter how I categorize my current ability, the point is I am much better than I was a year ago.

I have enjoyed the process but have wasted a lot of time getting to this point. As a teacher, I am interested in 'best learning' and having just been through this myself I feel I have a good understanding of how to get where I am now, quickly and efficiently.

I have devised a 'learning plan' for beginners and suggest initially you try to follow it as closely as possible. As you develop as a player you will naturally take more ownership of your learning and may want to tweak the plan to suit your current needs. I currently employ this kind of 'learning plan' as I continue to improve as a player.

Learning Chess effectively requires a nice balance of Studying and Playing Games.




  • Learn the basic opening principles well.

Mid game

  • Practice 10 tactics a day in tactics trainer. Make sure you understand each solution before moving on. You will need to be at least a gold member to do this. 
  • Learn basic strategy. I recommend two books both by Yasser Seirawan. 'Play winning Chess' and 'Winning Chess: Strategy'.

End game

  • I recommend Silmans Complete Endgame Course. It teaches you on a 'need to know' basis. You add to your knowledge bit by bit.

As an alternative or accompaniment to the above, work through the excellent Study Plan for Beginners on this site. You will need to be a diamond member to fully benefit from this course.

Learn from the Masters

  • Work through 3 masters games per week.  I recommend 'Logical Chess' Move by Move' by Chernev and 'Chess: the art of logical thinking' and 'The art of planning in chess: move by move' by McDonald. These type of books give the best incite into how great players think.

Analyse your Games

  • Analyse your games using an engine like Fritz 13. Try to work out why you made your first 2 mistakes/blunders (?/??) in each game you play. Ignore dubious moves(?!). Write down for each game what you have learnt.


Playing Games

Online Games

  • Only have 2 games running at a time. One as black and one as white. Play opponents +/- 50 of your rating. Do not use 'game explorer' even though this is permitted as it will slow the learning process. Only make 1 move a day.

Live Games

  • Play 3-7 games a week. 15/10 standard or longer time controls if you can (see comments). Play opponents +/-50 of your rating. Relax, take your time and don't rush your opening moves.


  • Don't get bogged down with one opening. Try different first moves for White 1 e4, 1 d4, 1 Nf3 and the same for black. Whatever you play, try to apply the opening principles that you have learnt.

Mid game

  • Look for tactics and try to apply the basic strategic ideas that you have learnt.

End game

  • Try to apply the endgames strategies you have learnt.

As you may realise, there is  a certain amount of commitment required here. Time (maybe 10-15 hours a week) and Money (maybe £100 in your first year) but if you want to be better at anything then you must be committed.

This is not a chore. This is a fun experience.Smile

If you have enjoyed reading this then please recommend to a friend and/or post the link on your website/group etc.

Please ask questions and/or make comments either here or via the message system here at I am happy to help anyone who was in my shoes a year ago.

Good Luck.