The First Step to GM

Recently my chess regiment has not been working. I'm putting in a good 25 hours a week but haven't been getting any better, but possibly even worse? At my last tournament, I went 0 for 3 all because of blunders although playing in a short time control (G/60) didn't help either.  My last game was the most reasonable, although I was always a little worse after 16. d5?! and was eventaully outplayed during mutual time trouble.


I'm now going to try out something a little more formal and take you along with me.  I'll be blogging at least twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays), and hope to start uploading a few video lessons as well. Before I start making a new daily/weekly plan I need to decide what weaknesses to focus on. I luckily have a strong coach (IM Shankland) who's been able to help me pinpoint weaknesses.  It's often helpful to have a friend of equal or greater strength to find these weaknesses.

One of my biggest weaknesses is opening theory.  I'm out of preparation very quickly, and sometimes confuse the move order and lose to simple tactics.  I've only been playing competitively for 2 years and I've just started to play stable openings (instead of my favorite trick - The Polish 1. b4!).  Rather than trying to be competent in all these new openings at the same time, I'm going to focus on them one by one and spend a couple weeks (maybe months?) mastering a single opening.

My other large weakness is calculation.  I tend to rely too much on my positional understanding and completely miss tactical combinations.  But not all weaknesses have to be this generic.  Problems could include an over-appreciation of the bishop pair or aversion to closed positions.   Many of these can be controlled once you recognize them and are consciously aware of them. 

Now that I've chosen a couple things to focus on, the next step is to set up and implement the plan.  Let me know if you have any ideas!  Next: Planning towards GM.


  • 6 years ago


    @JeeniousChess ....1st - Schaakmongool is right ! Chess is just playing to win and using what works ! , its not just principle and what opening is solid

    Advice ...use what works best for you , do lots of tactics - these easily help undersstanding ,do basic positions e.g. endgames so you can convert wins and lastly ,no opening is weak ..its just the strength of the player playing it . And give me a link weekly , I too am getting stronger .


    @ Schaakmongool sound like a very strong player , give me a link .I could surely use your help !

  • 6 years ago


    It might be worth it to set a slightly lower goal first, say reaching a rating of 2000 or becoming a candidate master, and only have attaining that GM title as your ultimate goal...

  • 6 years ago


    I do not think you should be listening to anybody who doesn't have some kind of title in front of their name. You don't ask people in the street how to become a professional athlete. They do not know. You need a COACH! ( Mentor, instructor, whatever.) I am an air traffic controller. I train people all of the time. When I see new poeple in my job asking other new people for advice I tell them to stop! I tell them to ask those of us who have been doing it for 15 or 20 years. New people can not train new people. People with a rating of 1800 hundred can NOT teach you to be a GM. GM is not just a better chess player. A GM is a DIFFERENT kind of chess player. Get off of the internet. You won't learn anything from anybody on here.You will have to spend time a some real MONEY to get seriously better. Go find a GM (or at least an IM) coach. Stop all of this  other stuff.

  • 6 years ago


    Strong opening for white, I don't like Bb2. I would rather prefer using my Bishop on c1-h6 diagonal instead of a1-h8.

  • 6 years ago


    Don't be discouraged by an initial drop in performance after taking things up seriously. Especially if you have a new coach, and in particular a high-caliber player. You've likely got a lot of new ideas to integrate, whether particular opening moves, or new concepts, new doubts, etc. It takes time to integrate those things, and in the meantime your game might temporarily suffer. I won't give you specific advice, since you're coach is certainly much stronger than me (whether he's a good coach, I don't know, have his other students increase in rating through a similar range?). But be patient. Thought integration takes time.

  • 6 years ago


    well........u don't need 25 hrs of study to see that Ng4 is coming.....normally people see this move FIRST becuase of the danger to your king. Simple as that.

  • 6 years ago


    whisper me to play 60+5 game here in live chess. I`m on my way to gm too.

  • 6 years ago


    4. nbd2 is bad decision as for me.

  • 6 years ago


    well........u don't need 25 hrs of study to see that Ng4 is coming...... you need systematic thinking..... your thinking is sporadic.... almost as fragmented as broken glass...

    missing Ng4 - means you are not yet acquainted with the full range of possibilities over the board.... you need to play MANY more SLOW games vs 2100+ players...

    Ng4 type moves will kill u in every game till you learn:)

    Then u'll have +150 ELO:))

  • 6 years ago


    @j-pax: Why not just play here on And I just meant focusing on improving my opening one at a time - I have many openings I play, but it's hard to work on them all at once.

    @Bromance: I can usually find everything I need here on - thanks for the reccomendation though!

    @edgy_rhinx: I'm not even sure how your comment applies to my game?

    @DraeKlae: I've almost beaten IM Shankland in a blitz game with 1. b4 (he forced a perpetual)- Maybe I'll put it in a future blog.

    @friedandfreaky: It definitely is!

    @Schaakmongool: Interesting story - It's amazing that playing with a "cool head" can have such amazing effects!  I've also heard that you have to really care about the game and result otherwise you won't be motivated to improve. Have you noticed this at all?

  • 6 years ago


    @Chessmaster102: Only if you let me know any ideas you come up with!

    @hicetnunc: Yeah, I usually only ask "Why did he make that move?" which will sometimes come up with a wrond answer; It would be good to break it up into threats, captures, transition squares, etc.  but that does become a little more time sensitive.

    @Kingscrusher: Will do!

    @Wicksta85: 47. Be1 Qxe1+ 48. Kg2 Qf1#   is pretty quick.  I've looked at but I find it easier to just use the tactics trainer here on .

  • 6 years ago


    Chess is fun.

  • 6 years ago


    You certainly won't get to GM playing 1.b4... that's for sure.

  • 6 years ago


    You are weak. You avoided complications and attack the entire game. Your spirit is weak, you will lose more with the coward play like that.

  • 6 years ago


    This is a response to one of the comments recommending chesstempo for tactics training. Another one I've come across, and haven't seen mentioned by anyone much is There are a few other exercises that speed up other game aspects, some may be below your level, but the endgame trainer is great for ingraining patterns that seem to take ages to soak in from books. Might speed up some of the tougher learnings in the game... 

  • 6 years ago


    since you like the idea of corrospondance chess, i have to add that the official ICCF and National federations are (in my opinion!!!) corrupted by chess engines.

    i think this makes playing there useless for OTB- opening practice.

    you can play for free on and  here all liturature and databases are allowed and chess engines not!!!!

    about focussing on one opening... i also do this for white.  but for black i try to play the french against e4 and stonewall dutch against other 1. moves

    for shure you need to also build a repetoire for black!!

  • 6 years ago



    I'm in about the same position as you (About 18, playing for 2 years, similar rating) and I also have a fairly weak tactical vision.  If you're looking to improve your tactics, have you tried  I've found it to be very helpful, at least with tactical pattern recognition.  I'd also reccomend getting Deep Rybka.  I asked for it as a gift, and it is extremely helpful, especially for the game analysis.  I now plug in each of my games after each tournament.  Unfortunately, though, I dont have a great coach such as IM Shankland, so I have to learn it all myself.


    One game note: Since your opponent only had 15 seconds left, did you consider Be1?  Sure, it gives up the bishop, but the mate is relatively hard to spot, especially in time pressure.  Plus, if he doesn't check you, you could go for a perpet via Qd8+.

  • 6 years ago

    CM Kingscrusher

    I admire your dreams. You need to go through all my videos at

    Most people report big rating increases from doing this. 

    In particular I would also get Nimzovich's "My system" as soon as possible, and check out the concept of "Overprotection". Then check out the illustrative games, and my videos, which cover Nimzovich at Carslabd 1929 - which actually is after when "My system" was published (1925).

    The opponent in this game was overprotecting e4 early on, which gave black a very comfortable game. The exchange sac added a lot of pressure. He seemed to know what he was doing. 

    Practical concepts which you need and not just calculation:

    Notions of king safety

    Notions of counterplay removal

    Notion of "pressure" - don't just make excuses for it. Pressure is what breaks opponents. Doing a positional sacrifice to intensify pressure in OTB is much more effective than say correspondence style chess.

    You may get some of these notions from my live commentary videos.

    Good luck


  • 6 years ago


    How would you reccomend working on finding threats/not blundering - as most everyone has it as a weakness to some degree or another.  I'm figuring that it'll improve the more I play, but can't really think of a way to specifically work on it?

    By consciously checking every opponent's move for threats, captures, etc. That's a routine I learned when I was 9 yo. (it was the very first piece of advice in my very first chess book) and I've never forgotten it since that time Smile At first you have to focus on the routine, and then it becomes second nature...

  • 6 years ago


    great i'll be looking forwward to it do talk more about improving your calculation skills cause thats what I NEED TO IMPROVE ON TO.Smile

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