How To Improve at Chess

Sep 16, 2013, 4:10 PM |

Hello chess friends,

I'm not much of a writer, but i just want to share a great favor that was done to me.

I was recently watching the 1st Sinquefield Cup on Livestream (which was an absolute joy) and on the chat I met this guy by the name Max. well, as we chated a bit, we exchanged account info and I noticed immedietly that he is way above my level so I started a online game with him.

He played white and opened 1.d4 and wrote on the chat and I quote:"Hello! It's d4 the best by test, good luck. :)". Hmm,I said to myself, he seems friendly enough, maybe I can ask him for some tips. What I got was the most pleasnt surprise any chess player can wish for. I'd like to share that with you guys. Here you go:

I don't know if my message got thru, so i send this twice.

I hope you don't get bored, but i though it would be nice to tell my relationship to chess and hope my minimalistic approach would help you on your way to get better at chess. :)

I got my first board at age 7, none of my friends played but i played with mom sometimes. Ever since i have been interested about chess but i haven't had enough time for the game because of other hobbies and lack of chess friends. My total experience about chess as kid is something like 3 years, forgot the game for over 15 years and started again at age 26. Now i have been playing for few years at various chess sites and some otb games for fun at local club. I haven't took any paid lessons, mostly self-taught player, driven by interests and pashion towards the game.

When i started playing again i played with my friend over the boad, took a while before i started playing online and once i started i got trashed pretty bad day to day for long time. When i signed here like 4 years back, i played 10 minute blitz games at live chess and had rating just above 1000 points. It took about 6 months and i got from 1000 to 1300. I didn't communicate much at that time, simply learned from my own mistakes when i repeated those enough and reviewed the games after i finished them.


Then one day an american player gave me few tips, we played dozens of games and he told me when i made a mistake. With little help i passed the 1400 mark within couple weeks. I continued playing without help and passed the 1500 mark couple months later. I kept myself busy with chess and kept my goal to reach to another hundred after i passed my previous goal. Though things got really tough after i got to 1500. Fortunately i got a friend at the site who helped me for free, he gave lessons to me and we played games and analyzed them. He coached me for 6 months, i jumped from 1500 to 1900 about in 7 months. Simply fantastic!


However my friend got busy with new job and i didn't have much time either, our ways got separated and we both had like 2 years break from chess, though we have shared mails time to time. For now i am a little rusty after the long break but i am trying to make the best out of it and i am truly enjoying chess more than ever. The spark i got at age 7 is on fire at age 30. I play the game because i love it, i know i am not going to be an grandmaster, but that doesn't mean i should give up and stop playing the game. :)

mikipu28: What's a good way for me to teach myself chess? I read books. But i don't think I give myself enough time to dedicate to chess. Hi much time a day would you suggest I dedicate to chess? And what should I focus my study on?


With interests and pashion you can accomplish your goals, you have to have will, it all starts from there and it is the only way to go.

Honestly, there is no shortcut! We all have seen a lot of questions at chess sites and forums from people who want to get better at chess, it is very hard to answer the question because people are different and have different kind of ways to see and understand things in general. I recommend to start from yourself, review the games you play, try to find your mistakes by analysing the game from both sides. I know that is tough, it takes a lot of effort and time from playing, but it is very much indeed the part of the game. You can't have success by analysing your own play only, opponent's moves counts as well. Chess is very dynamic game, it is very important to know yourself as player, put feelings a side and be able to overcome your ego.


Books are good, though if you have limited time and you are not exactly a reader type, then why bother and do it while you can focus to other methods. I haven't read a single chess book, just random articles from this site time to time. Depends on goals, if aiming to be a master, books would be necessary.


I have seen recommendations about 3 hour plan, which goes similar to this: 1 hour tactic puzzles, 1 hour playing games and 1 hour analysing the games you played. However 1 hour is quite long for startes so go with 30 minute plan.


Though i am almost certain that you need to know openings, so i recommend you to swith the tactics off for now and go with something like this: study single opening for 30 minutes and try to remember the moves, play games with that opening for 30 minutes and then analyse the games for 30 minutes.

Endgames are also very important to know, so on top of that plan study endgame puzzles for 15-30 minutes too.


I recommend you to focus to the basics, like know your opening, take control of the centre, develop your pieces and keep eye on for your opponent, castle king to the safety and continue to develop your minor pieces to fit into your long term strategy in the game. Find tactics in the middle game, because this is hard for amateur players like us, you need to know how to play endgames because most of the games are being fought there.


mikipu28: Also what's the best process of studying chess? (e.g. playing out moves in the board, playing in you head etc. )

All in! Study, play and analyze! Watch masters games to get depth. It is good to know theory to get slight advantages out of openings. While you play, try to analyze further and further, it's better to lose with good moves (even with time), than lose with rushed moves without purpose.

mikipu28: One more. How do I avoid blunders?

Cause and effect! Blunder which means stupid or careless mistake, is usually a matter of focus, if you don't keep your focus what is happening on the board, you will most likely play poor moves and get what you deserve. Of course good players can take advantage from mistake which causes sequence of forced moves and the opponent has to just suffer by giving material.

mikipu28: Thanks you in advance :))))


No worries! As my friend did to me, i try to repeat and put all the good out there to cycle. :)


I didn't want to paste links above so you wouldn't get distracted by them and rather read my tips in full before taking further step on your learning process. Please don't rush things, take it slowly at first. All links provides free material, though you have to sign up with email address into two of the links which is not a big deal.


List of chess openings with a quick brief about it.


Free chess opening explorer and game database.


Free tactic and endgame puzzles waiting to be solved.


As additional tip i recommend to surf around at that because there is plenty of useful information to help you to get better at chess.


You are welcome and the pleasure is all mine. :)