So I'm Going to be Studying Again

Jul 18, 2012, 11:03 PM |

Whelp, here we go again. After going through Chess Tactics for Beginners a few times, I've once again found myself at a plateau after rising from around 800 to 1300. So I figure now is a good a time as any to continue my serious study.

If any of you have read "The Talent Code" you'll understand the concept of Deep Practice. The easist way I could probably explain it would be to say that there's a decided difference between learning by doing and learning by specific focused practice. I like to call it the difference between study and "miracle learning". Sure, you can get better by just playing hundreds of blitz games, but if you take a moment and learn what exactly to do in certain situations, you'll probably find your play improves much more efficiently.

Now, This is going to be my general plan of attack for the moment:

Dedicated amount of practice a week: 6.5 hours

This by itself will be a big thing for me. Suffice to say, I'm clearly not the most motivated person in the world, and although I'm working on discipline, I still have a ways to go. Regardless, I've decided to make it an element of my schedule to practice more often, as to form a habit and to progress more steadily.

The general way I plan on accomplishing this is to try something brought to my attention by Day[9]'s starcraft show. His suggestion is to do the following:

  • Play at least 1-2 games per day, make sure you play around 7 games per week, just to make sure you're doing it regularly
  • Every so often do 2-hour "Session Days" where you focus on refinement.

I figure this transfers over pretty well to chess also, so I've decided to adopt a similar plan.

I'll be trying to do at least three games a day, most likely 5-minute blitz live chess. Then, after reviewing the games, I'll pinpoint a particular weakness of that day and study that for 30 minutes. For example, if I missed a tactic, I'll study 30 minutes on CT-Art. If I misplayed an endgame, I'll review Silman's Complete Endgame Course. etc, etc.

So in addition to those 30 minute study sessions, I'll be doing two-hour "session days" twice a week. I expect this will be a pretty tough habit to maintain, but I think it'll pay off. In these sessions, I'll do one hour of tactics, thirty minutes of strategy, and 30 minutes of blitz+analysis.

This, in total, ends up with 2+2+(.5*5) = 6.5 hours of practice a week. Which isn't really all that bad, when you think about it!

More Specific Study

Books are in order I plan to read, unless otherwise noted


  • CT-Art 3.0 - without a doubt, most important, and used concurrently with the rest of the tactics practice
  • Winning Chess Tactics
  • The Art of Attack in Chess

I'll do CT-Art every single time I do tactics, and throw in the books every so often (like during 30-minute days)


  • The Amateur's Mind
  • How to Reassess your Chess
  • My System
  • Chess Praxis

Strategy is almost definitely my weakest element. I switched over my openings to allow the most tactical positions possible, but strategy is an inescapable truth that I need to face. Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat - Sun Tzu

Endgames - Silman's Complete Endgame Course

Well that sure was easy. This book is massive.

Although, if this book just doesn't do it for me, I could always go out and get Convekta's Chess Endgame Training, since I'm a pretty big fan of their software.


  • The Blackmar Diemer Gambit
  • Play the Dutch!
  • A Gambit Repertoire for Black

I know, I know, my openings are kind of scrubby, but I plan on only changing them once I've gotten to a cetain point. These openings are aggressive, tactical, and most importantly fun! That's all I really care about for now.

I think that just devouring this material will get me going in the right direction. Its a lot, and I will be playing a lot, so this is really quite an ambitious program.

My goal is to do very well at the next USCF Nationals, since its going to be my last. I'll probably be playing U1600, and so I'll have to Basically improve a few hundred points this year just to get myself to be a contender.

And away we go.