*"Your rating doesn't mean anything. Your playing strength is the only thing that matters; in the long run your rating will follow your playing strength."
"You improve (and your rating goes up) when you 1) learn a new pattern or principle or 2) when you identify a mistake and are able to avoid repeating it - not when you win a bunch of games." = adding positives and subtracting negatives. Figuring out how to identify and avoid repeating mistakes is one of the best things you can do!
*"You have to lose your fear of a rating before you can become that rating."
*"I don't rate my students on whether they win or lose; I look at how much time they used and how well they used their clock as a measure of whether they were trying to do their best."
"Play mostly opponents 100-200 points higher than you - you need to be punished for your mistakes so you won't make them again."...
"...but don't completely stop playing opponents 100-200 points lower than you - they are the ones whom you have to learn to beat consistently."
"If you have a choice of which section to play in a tournament, play 'up' a section most of the time, but occasionally play 'for the money' in your section so you learn how to play under pressure and how to beat players slightly worse than yourself."
"A player who thinks he is better than a higher rated player who can consistently beat him is probably not trying his best on every move. That's why he thinks he is better, but he gets worse results."
"Play as much as you can, especially slow chess - it helps you develop board vision."
"*Don't be afraid of losing. Be afraid of playing a game and not learning something." Losing can be a great motivator if it helps you identify and correct things you are doing that cause the loss.
"A good game is one where you learn something!"
*"If learning chess was that easy, everybody would be good."
"If you are my student, you are doing the work; I am just helping to guide the way." There is no magic fairy dust or pronouncement that will instantly improve your game (but some of the guidelines on this page - if you don't know them - can be VERY important."
"Don't play a game or even a move if you don't feel like trying your best."
Fight hard every move - or resign! Always play your best...
"Chess is good for the brain - even for adults - no one has ever seen a senile chess player!"
"If you worry about your opponent's rating or play to the level of your competition, then don't look at his rating until after the game."
"Having a reputation as a good sport is as important as having a reputation as a good player."
"You don't have to know all the rules but one: If something is happening on your board that is strange, abnormal, or you don't understand, stop the clock and get the tournament director."
*"The worst thing that ever happened to some juniors is the invention of the rating system. Without it, they would just play whenever they felt like playing and would get a lot stronger, instead of protecting their rating, etc."
"Play people who will expose your mistakes (just above you) or those whom you can practice technique (just below you). Beating up players way below you (bully) or getting destroyed by those way above you (name-dropping) is not an optimum strategy for improvement.
"If you are a beginner looking to become a master in a short time, then no legitimate instructor will claim he can do that for you. It takes years of work to become a master."
"It always struck me as strange that someone would study something subtle that could take one from 2300 to 2303, when what they really needed was something basic to take them from 1400 to 1450!"
"In chess, if you learn to consistently (each move) do the little things in chess: take your time, count the material effect of your move, and check for basic tactics, and you will soon find that these are not so little!"
"Instead of playing a five-minute game, now that OTB time delay is standard, play a one minute game with a five-second time delay"
In chess you get better if you add positives (learn new concepts or patterns) or subtract negatives (get rid of misconceptions and mistakes).
You improve the most if you seek out the strongest competition, learn from your mistakes, but always play with confidence, win or lose. (paraphrasing GM Maurice Ashley)
Thinking you are going to lose almost always works - it is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. So play the best you can and assume the best. If it doesn't work out that way, learn from your mistakes and get back and play optimistically next time, too.
Study tactics and then play according to the principles on this page. No matter what happens, when the game hits its tactical climax, take your time and play better at that point and you can often win.
I call an instructive game where you learn multiple things which you are less likely to repeat a 'Three rating point' game. Normally you learn less than a rating point per game (it takes thousands of games to go from 1200 to 2200) but if you get an occasional extra instructive game, you can learn a lot, hence the 'Three Rating Point' game!