So... How to get better at chess, maybe even become a professional chess player?
Here is my "study program"; firstly to say i am returning to chess after 30 years away on my 50th Birthday. So... how do i study chess? frankly it is very informally, i read about some intermediate concept and try and incorporate it into my games.
I review my games to identify why i lose games. Frankly it is simple; if you want to get better at chess you need to play less chess and spend more time looking at fewer games with an aim to identify and remove your mistakes. I am only new to chess but simply it is the worst error to study your opening in-depth and expect to increase your rating.
We all have lives worth living and there is not enought time to consider finer points of chess theory lines to seek an opening advantage. This is because there are so many areas of chess that people must study to improve, so time spent on 'perfecting' your opening is time better spent doing more productive things in life like basket-weaving. Why basket-weaving? because it would give you a small break from chess so you can focus better on your fewer games when you are playing...
I assess my progress by simple math. i look at each of my last ten games and add up the number of analysis BLUNDERS i make in my last ten games, this average tells me if i am getting better or not over time.
The better this average of Blunders means my overall skill is improving. So why am i NOT following a more orgnised study program? Simple logic; i occassionally drop a minor piece in the late middle game. This is my ERROR that i must eliminate from my games before i can hope to make use of a more formal study program.
So how is one to know when they are becoming a solid chess player ? It is again simple logic; look at your percentage of games won or lost, regardless of your ratings. Overall i "win" 55 % for White and 45% for Black this is exactly what i should achieve since this tells me my WHITE and BLACK games are EQUALLY AS STRONG as they should be; since WHITE wins 55% of games due to the "First Move Inititive".
So this wonderful simple math shows me i am playing both colours well enough for my lowly rating, your rating of wins to defeats should be 55%-45% split, otherwise you need to FIX that (by reviewing your opening and fixing the problem).
A word about your 'opening-style' chess to me is about improving myself, making my decision making and memory etc better so i become a better person all-round. If you are playing an opening because a top flight player uses it then you are assuming you are similar to that player; thus you are most likely wrong...
You just need to choose one solid proven opening and use it for almost everything. My openings work for me no matter what the enemy throws up, then i give away a minor piece for free and then i make a few moves to decide if the end-game will give me good basic practice or i just give away more and lose faster...
BUT I NEVER EVER resign, if i think i can come up with a workable plan i fight and i die but i never ever ever draw or resign. I play out each game to the end since this gives me practice; to me it is kill or be killed.
So my 'habit' of giving away a minor piece gives me a 50% overall games win. This allows my lowly rating to climb slowly (sort of like walking up a slippery slope; TWO steps forward, slide back a step...
Thus my AIM is to move this 50% of overall wins up to 60% or 65% of wins so i will advance more with less back sliding... Once i get to 60% i will 'reassess' how my progress is going and my games will tell me my 'middle-game' or strategy sux so i will work on fixing that.
If anyone bothers to read all this way, regardless of your rating if you think or maybe wish to become a professional chess player? How can you tell if you are good enough. Here is simple way to tell if oyu need more detailed help to make that decision.
1) You need to have a lot of recent games,
2) You rating should consistently be improving slowly without any 'dips',
3) You need at least a 70% or 80% overall win rating from recent games; since this will climb your rating it means your enemy is harder to kill and more dangerous to you...
But my opinion is if you have this win rating of 75% with slowly climbing rating then you need to investigate it a bit more.
If you play chess just for 'fun' or other superficial reasons then you will not have the "drive" to make the sacrifices into professional chess. Regardless chess should mean something to you no matter what your rating is, to me i enjoy the board trying to tell me what it needs and then me making a plan and trying to kill or be killed.
Never give up but do not play 'useless' positions either, remeber you want fewer longer duration games against stronger enemies and to stop making mistakes. Enjoy your reasons for playing chess...