how to progess past 1200



I'm looking for concrete advice on how to get better. I can't find books I like. The topics are usually either too brief with tons of moves or too fast and advanced. I would like good resources mostly books and otherwise. I just don't know what to study and practice and then how to go about doing those things. thanks.


Opening Principles:

  1. Control the center squares – d4-e4-d5-e5
  2. Develop your minor pieces toward the center – piece activity is the key
  3. Castle
  4. Connect your rooks


The objective of development is about improving the value of your pieces by increasing the importance of their roles. Well-developed pieces have more fire-power than undeveloped pieces and they do more in helping you gain control.

Now we will look at 5 practical things you can do to help you achieve your development objective.

They are:

  1. Give priority to your least active pieces.
  • Which piece needs to be developed (which piece is the least active)
  • Where should it go (where can its role be maximized)
  1. Exchange your least active pieces for your opponent’s active pieces.
  2. Restrict the development of your opponent’s pieces.
  3. Neutralize your opponent’s best piece.
  4. Secure strong squares for your pieces.


Don’t help your opponent develop.

There are 2 common mistakes whereby you will simply be helping your opponent to develop:

  1. Making a weak threat that can easily be blocked
  2. Making an exchange that helps your opponent to develop a piece


Pre Move Checklist:

  1. Make sure all your pieces are safe.
  2. Look for forcing moves: Checks, captures, threats. You want to look at ALL forcing moves (even the bad ones) as this will force you look at, and see the entire board.
  3. If there are no forcing moves, you then want to remove any of your opponent’s pieces from your side of the board.
  4. If your opponent doesn’t have any of his pieces on your side of the board, then you want to improve the position of your least active piece.
  5. After each move by your opponent, ask yourself: "What is my opponent trying to do?"

Change your approach. If you keep doing what your doing you will stop improving. You can try chess coaches. Expensive. Books can help, but most are too technical and say the same rules you here all the time. I suspect you’ve tried tactics.....  

a different approach is to try It is unique in its approach


1199 rapid rating (at the time of writing) is just...


Sooooooo close...



Two words: chess coach.


To get over 1200 all you need to do is give nothing away for free and wait for your opponent to give something free.


I looked at your most recent loses - every single one of them involved giving stuff away for free. Give nothing away, not even a pawn and you will win loads more.



If you do 3-4 hours of tactics everyday, then you should be 1800 in about one year. As simple as that.


Not qualified to answer but I am finding great results by using my full time of the game. Blunders and this house being occasionally like Kings Cross station aside!, ie I was rushing moves I think, worried time would run out. Still get that mindset a lot of the time. But making duff moves renders time at the end null and void anyway. 


@Maradonna  this reminds me of that scene in 300 from Leonidas:  "Give them nothing!  Take from them everything!!"

Also this thread lead me to IMBacon's thread which as someone just getting into the 1100 to 1200 range myself I'm finding is pure gold.  Priceless stuff in a couple pages worth printing out and keeping safe in case there's no internet after the apocalypse.



"... for those that want to be as good as they can be, they'll have to work hard.
Play opponents who are better than you … . Learn basic endgames. Create a simple opening repertoire (understanding the moves are far more important than memorizing them). Study tactics. And pick up tons of patterns. That’s the drumbeat of success. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (December 27, 2018)
"... In order to maximize the benefits of [theory and practice], these two should be approached in a balanced manner. ... Play as many slow games (60 5 or preferably slower) as possible, ... The other side of improvement is theory. ... This can be reading books, taking lessons, watching videos, doing problems on software, etc. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)
"... If it’s instruction, you look for an author that addresses players at your level (buying something that’s too advanced won’t help you at all). This means that a classic book that is revered by many people might not be useful for you. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (2015)
Here are some reading possibilities that I often mention:
Simple Attacking Plans by Fred Wilson (2012)
Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (1957)
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (1965)
Winning Chess by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld (1948)
Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman (2007)
Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006)
Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
Chess Endgames for Kids by Karsten Müller (2015)
A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman (2010)
Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis (2009)

Seirawan stuff:


Play people who you have fun playing that are a little better than you. Ask them after the game what you did right and wrong.


Get Winning Chess Strategies for Kids by Coakley. It will help your opening,middle games and endgames.




Be aware of all the possible moves of all your pieces, not only some of them who look better. See what could happen next for everyone of these moves. Count these moves to practice. See if all your men are protected by another piece or pawn. Look at all the moves the opponent can do, and all the way across the board for long range pieces.

Just that will make you ready to learn more and you will stop losing by beating yourself.


If you contact me I will try to help you improve your play.  My inactive FIDE rating is 2250.


Analyse a few of your games everyday with this!!



1200 is better than most people my rating think it is. They actually play pretty decently for many moves.

It's just they're not consistent... suddenly they might blunder (even willingly) a whole piece, or multiple pieces.

So my first piece of advice is to be greedy! That should be your highest priority. Don't lose even a single pawn.

Second piece of advice is just keep playing, reviewing your games, and solving puzzles.



The paperback is out:

Get "The Fine Art of Chess" - "Logical Chess" for the 21st century.

You won't be sorry.