How To Improve Chess Skills During Coronavirus Pandemic Of COVID-19 Virus
Photos: Pixabay.

How To Improve Chess Skills During Coronavirus Pandemic Of COVID-19 Virus


Few places in the world are now unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic since the COVID-19 virus was discovered in China in late 2019 and has now exploded across the globe. The World Health Organization has confirmed cases in more than 200 countries, areas and territories.  

Map of Coronavirus Pandemic
Map of Coronavirus Pandemic. Photo: World Health Organization.

School and businesses are being closed—some for weeks. Travel is limited. Cities and whole countries are being placed in lockdown. Going outside homes, even if permitted, is severely restricted. Now is the time to improve your chess skills. What approach should you take? Consider these seven recommendations.

Try a variant of chess

Have you been intrigued by a variant of chess? If you’ve never played Chess960, now may be the time. Starting a game with the pieces scrambled is unnerving and forces you to immediately consider tactics and open with nontraditional moves. Chess960 may help to advance your skills in setting traps for opponents and in improving your perceptive skills. Learning to anticipate unusual moves by opponents and respond to uncommon board positions are benefits of playing Chess960 (as elite players competing in Chess960 events have demonstrated).

Bring more competition into your study of tactics

Rather than just playing Puzzle Rush, join a duel with another player who has a similar rating. After the match, rather than continuing with another duel, review your mistakes and identify the tactics where you need to improve before you start another duel or game.

You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win.
Jose Raul Capablanca

Chess Clock
What is your favorite time control? Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

Try a different time control than you usually play

If you are primarily an over-the-board player, now is the time to play more online games and develop your skills at a faster pace. If you are a strong blitz player, slow down and play in a tournament with daily games.

I play way too much blitz chess. It rots the brain just as surely as alcohol.
—GM Nigel Short

Pick specific tactics in Learning mode of Puzzles

Rather than working randomly on tactics offered in the rated category of Puzzles (and then selecting Training, Rush, or Battle), take time now to select specific tactics where you want to improve. After picking the Learning mode, scroll up and down among all the tactics and find your weak areas. Select two or three, and then click Start. Improving your weakest areas will make your game performance so much better.

Chess is 99 percent tactics.
—Richard Teichmann

Puzzle Learning
Choose specific tactics in the Learning mode. Photo:

Examine the new lessons drawn from master games

Who is your favorite grandmaster? I have been amazed by the chess prowess of 16-year-old GM Alireza Firouza, who continues to impress the chess world, and I have been reviewing his moves in the Master Games lessons. Consider also learning from the games at the 2020 FIDE Candidates Tournament now underway by taking one of the new lessons being developed based on the play there

Lesson from Master Games by GM Alireza Firouza
Take a Master Games lesson to learn to play like GM Alireza Firouza. Photo:

Teach the game of chess to a beginner

Teaching the basics of chess to a new player can only serve to sharpen your own skills. Who knows—maybe you’ll tutor a future grandmaster. When you focus on the fundamentals, show the value of tactics, and emphasize important strategies to a beginning player, you can sharpen your game as well.

Every chess master was once a beginner.
—Irving Chernev

Young Player
Helping a young player may sharpen your game. Photo: Andreas Kontokanis, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Play with someone outside your age range

Match with someone of a different age, and you may break the stale routine of playing the same opening or moving in the same patterns that have become comfortable for you. If you are young, contact someone over 65, who in many areas may be sheltered in place because of the coronavirus. If you are old, contact a millennial (born between 1983 and 2000)—or someone even younger. Help them to develop their chess skills and teach them your favorite tactics and strategies. Do you know someone in a high-risk coronavirus category? Now is the time to reach out to them with a friendly game of chess online or over the phone or internet (Skype, Zoom).

Chess knows no age restrictions. Photo: Ivan Cujic via Pexels.

What else should you consider? Play more games and analyze every one when they are over. Conduct your own online tournaments (and pick a speed and format different from your usual pattern). Start a chess blog if you haven’t already.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are widespread. Even the CEO of has reported that he and his family are on lockdown and have been ordered to stay at home. Although the pandemic has changed almost everyone’s life in unimaginable ways, chess is still being enjoyed, and the surge in online activities has been significant. Now is the time to improve your chess skills.

Chess Users and Games
Chess users and games online from blog of CEO.

Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts? How has the coronavirus epidemic affected you? How are you improving your chess skills while social contact has been restricted?