10 ways to improve in chess
There are thousands of the chess tutorials including chess books, DVDs, courses, video lessons, etc. As I often say, it is practically impossible to follow them all to make an improvement in your game. Remember, ‘Less is more’ – that’s why I’m going to keep it short and simple for you.
Today, I’ll give you 10 best tips to follow in order to make your training simple and yet achieve better results. Let’s get started!
1. Set a GOAL
You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see. Yes, setting a target/goal is the first thing you have to do. It can be the target of attaining a norm, increasing ‘X’ ELO points within ‘Y’ time, beating titled players, or even becoming the World Champion!
Be aware: set and work for one goal at a time. Overloading yourself will not be productive.
2. Play against the stronger opponents
Please, don’t get this in a wrong way that I’m scaring you. You cannot make an improvement unless you increase the benchmarks and fight for it.
Of course, you could keep winning against the weaker opponents but, honestly, will that help to improve your progress? It can be fun – everyone likes to keep winning without being afraid to lose or to face a stronger opponents.
3. Prepare an opening repertoire
The exact definition of an “opening repertoire” is the set of openings a player is specialized in. This might be a bit boring because there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of opening variations today – thanks to ECO code for making it easier for us to identify them.
You may go through the games of top GMs who play your opening line, check the short games in your opening to know and to avoid the mistakes in the early stage of the game.
You can learn more about the opening stage, opening repertoire from our opening courses.
4. Analyze your own games
It is very important to know yourself. For this, you have to study yourself – you should analyse your own games to know your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I’d insist that you analyze your lost games first. It can be hard for you to do so but I believe no ‘medicine’ that cures the disease is ‘sweet’.
Only if you analyze your lost games, you will be able to find your mistakes so you will correct them and avoid repeating them. Although, you can keep analyzing your won games (to know your strengths) as secondary while, analyzing the lost games is PRIMARY.
5. Have a training plan
Planning is one of the most important skills in chess. Having a neat and effective training plan (or training schedule) will boost your training, and you will make a steady progress.
If your question is “What to study?”, “How to train?”, and “How to get the best out of your training?”, you can find answers to all those question in my FREE mini-course “Chess Training Plan for Rapid Improvement”.
6. Blindfold chess
Imagination (the inner vision) plays a vital role in the game of chess. In simple words, imagination makes it possible to experience a whole world inside the mind. But how can this skill help you? Well, calculation and visualisation plays a major role in chess, too, right?
You can achieve this through the blindfold exercises – solve puzzles without a board, go through drills, and even play a game without a chessboard. It might be hard in the beginning but, remember, practise makes a man perfect!
7. Flip the board
This is quite similar to the previous tip. Flipping the board (reverse) helps you to think as your opponent. This way, you will virtually play against yourself and this improves your calculation/visualization skills as well.
You may even solve chess puzzles by flipping the board. For instance, you can try to solve the puzzle from the Black side if it’s White’s turn. Additionally, an advanced training of this method would be having an ‘imaginary flip’ – trying to think from the opposite side without literally flipping the board. You usually do this as the “Anti-blunder check” when playing a game.
8. ‘E’ for Explore!
Every chess player has his/her own playing style. A player might like to play attacking chess (like Tal/Fischer) and some have the style of playing positional chess (like Kramnik/Karpov). I’d advise you not to limit yourself to one particular style or the way of approaching a game.
Try playing different openings, different style of playing the game – just explore. This is something the World Champion Magnus Carlsen recommends, too! If you stick to one particular opening or style, you will not learn much.
9. Cut yourself some slack
Too much of something is not too good. Don’t dump yourself with loads and loads of training materials. Remember, it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the QUALITY.
Relax, practise yoga or meditation, warm yourself up by solving simple chess puzzles, have your favourite drink/food when playing a tournament/game. Take regular breaks, get enough sleep (8-9 hours) – you may even do physical training.
10. Never Give Up
If you gave up, it means you never wanted it. When you feel like quitting, think about WHY you have started (your goal in tip 1).
Always fight till the end and no matter whether it is playing for a win or fighting for a draw!