Are you stuck between ratings 1200 - 1600?
You are trying to keep your head held high and spirits up. It's hard to because you feel as if you will never get over the hump. You may have played thousands and thousands of games. Maybe you have done thousands and thousands of tactic puzzles because somewhere you heard, "tactics are key to getting better at chess". No matter how hard you try by playing and doing some tactics you can't get over the hump.
No matter if you are rated 1200 and dreaming of the days you will be able to be 1600, or you are 1600 dreaming of when you will be able to hang with the guys rated 1800. Many questions may be running through your mind such as: Why can't I get over this rating hump? Have I just hit my plateau? Will I get any better than this? I've played for years but feel as if I can't see things sometimes. What is going on?
Those questions are easily answered. Yes, you can get over the hump and no you haven't hit a plateau. You will get better at chess! It's up to you on how good you will be at this great game! Furthermore, you can see things! You may have to take a little more time than you want to!
Why am I not improving in chess? I'm going to be honest with you. It's called being lazy! It was for me! When we first start playing the game. We realize if you put the king in check and he can't move anywhere the game is over and you win. That's the object of the game right? Checkmate! We start by learning a few checkmates, opening ideas, some endgames, and so on. How we become lazy is we go for the king at all costs most of the time. Not realizing the board may be telling us to attack in the center or attack on the opposite side of the king.
Let's jump gears for a moment. If I asked you what is a pin, skewer, zwischenzug, double attack, deflection, decoy, decoy sacrifice, discovered attack, or so on? Do you know what all those are and what they mean? Could you give me an example of each? (Before I started reading books I couldn't tell you.) If you aren't understanding the basics of tactics you aren't going to be able to do the complicated ones.
You've read it up to this point thinking where is he going with all of this? It seems to be jumping all over the place. You are right, it has. You know why....you have to look at the whole picture. You can't just look at one side of it. Just like in chess, you can't just look at one side of the board. If you only look at what you are trying to do without thinking what your opponent is trying to do with each of his moves. It's not going to turn out well. See, we become lazy. In a game, you start attacking the opponents king with all you have not realizing you haven't controlled the center of the board, and he marches right down with his counter attack and wins the game. It happens to us all. The reason is we didn't look at what our opponent was trying to do. We don't look at what our opponents goals are. We have this idea in our head, "He won't see what I am trying to do!" That is the completely wrong way to think! Strategy has just as much part in a game of chess as tactics do. You have to have a plan going into a game!
How did I go from 1300's to 1600's? I started studying chess. (As I write this, my daily rating is 1650 but it should be high 1500's to low 1600's. I've had a lot of timeouts.) I began by paying more attention in all of my games. Now, I don't move until I see it, and I started having plans in my games. I look for basic tactics on both sides of the board. I'm paying attention to what my opponent is doing. If he does something I didn't see. I look at why he did it. Remembering to always look for basic tactics and trying to remember everything Silman talks about in his book Amateurs Mind. LOL! Also, I don't react to everything my opponent it doing. I try and create a counter attack or continue with the plan I had in place. Furthermore, I got books which taught me basic tactical ideas. I got Winning Chess Tactics and Learn Chess Tactics. I would highly recommend both of those books for people rated 1200 to 1600. Also, while I am on chess tactics. Be sure to go back over the ones you miss. Understand why you missed the tactic. You need to learn what you are doing and not just go through a book as fast as you can.
I would highly recommend Amateurs Mind by Silman. It has helped me a great deal! I didn't completely understand it all so I'm actually going to go through that book again one I complete the Learn Chess Tactics. Some of the things I have said he talks about in that book. Next, I am going to do How to Reassess Your Chess (by Silman). I also continue to do lessons on this site as well.
Do you go over your own games? Do you do the analysis on each game? If you don't, you need to. I have learned where I mess up, and what I need to do differently. You have to learn from your mistakes if you are going to get better. You may look at a game and see you jumped on an attack to so or you didn't see a simple tactic. You wouldn't believe what all good things you will find in your own games.
Remember your attitude will have a great impact on your games! Don't be lazy in your games. Do not move a piece until you see the move you want to make and what your opponent wants to do. Remember, he doesn't have to do what you want him to. Look for counter attacks as well. The greatest difference in my 1300 games and my 1600 games is I am paying more attention to the whole board.
Thank you very much for reading! I hope this has helped you in some way. If you have any questions leave them in the comments or message me.
PS. If you have any ideas on blog topics you would like me to do let me know.