My Journey To Getting Better At Chess

My Journey To Getting Better At Chess


I know, I know, the title is generic, so I will need to come up with a better one! Welcome to my blog!  I used to use this blog primarily to document my study plan with the goal of getting better at chess. I halted it awhile ago, but I think I'm going to resurrect it! If you want to know more about myself, you can read my profile

I'll begin by mentioning that I have hired a chess coach. If you are any of my former coaches reading this, please know that I have the utmost respect for you and your work! I do believe that a good fit is important. I won't name who my coach is, but if you happen to be reading this, you're welcome to give yourself a shoutout, and if you're a reader curious who he is, feel free to message me, and I can tell you! 

During our first meeting, he indicated that I had some natural talent for the game and that my pattern recognition was good, the main thing I need to focus on to get better is calculation. Let's clear some air here, and define what calculation is, versus regular puzzles. 

Generally, puzzles are either easy or not hard to find the answer to. If you know the pattern (anything from Knight fork, deflection, pawn breakthrough, etc), you can find the tactic. Calculation is generally about using multiple patterns to see several moves in advance. You have to consider what does he do if I do this, for multiple moves. In a nutshell, it's hard work

Coach gave me some very useful calculation tips during the session. I believe for readers who want to focus on their calculation, don't worry too much about your accuracy. What matters it that you're working hard over the board to find the solution. However, if you are rated under 1400, you might benefit from doing puzzles and picking up patterns. Puzzles are a great resource! I started realizing that calculation would be beneficial once I got to 1500 USCF. Working hard on my calculation helped me get from 1500-1800 USCF.

So what am I going to be studying? One thing that attracted me to my current chess coach on his profile is that he got good at chess during college, and being a college student myself, I feel that his advice very well could be beneficial for me. He told me that with limited time, the most important factor is not how much I study, but the quality of my studying. For this reason, he recommended I read chess books, and use a real board if possible. He wants me to read Jacob Aagard's book Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation, and Shereshevsky's book Endgame Strategy.

Why these books? The calculation book ... is ... well ... for calculation training  Why the endgame book? Coach told me that the endgame book helped him get from 2000-2100 USCF or something like that ... so that sounds like a good endorsement! 

Otherwise, I will be working on some openings, playing rapid and slow games online, analyzing those, etc etc. 

So about my training plan... I'm not going to be super elaborate about my plan... I think it's more important that I actually do the work and write about that rather than romanticizing about "what I'm going to do", and odds are I don't get it done. This might even be a bi-weekly post, but maybe weekly if I feel inspired

So here is my plan: coach recommends I start with 1 calculation exercise per day to start. I'll probably do a chapter of the endgame book through the week. Play through the game(s), and try to understand what's going on. Play rapid games, also try and get a slower game in this week, and analyze.  There we go! My training plan in 1 paragraph, not 5! 

A couple more things before we go. Feel free to recommend a name for the series! My past names (from years ago) were "Path to Chess Prosperity", and "Mounting Mastery". For some reason, those titles make me cringe now!  

I will leave you with the puzzle my coach and I worked on during the lesson. I don't expect you to entirely get this one if you're not using an engine. Use the comments section to discuss, and I will post the answer in a few days!

White to move. Good luck!