To study or not to study?


Yes this is the question for many chess players......What to study???  Openings?? Middle Game?? End Game???  I guess alot could be said for all of them, I am no expert for sure ( rating 1704) but I have no Idea what to do to take my game to the next level or higher.  Not sure I patiance to read and study a perticular opening, even though I should.  So tell me what you think is the best way to study and which one would you work on.


Can't go wrong studying entire games. Try an annotated game collection, or even playing over master games without annotations online.


I recommend not studying at all (as can be deduced from my rating).  When I learn something new from a game, I experience the joy of discovery, even though "everybody" knows that already. Turning a delightful pastime into work is "something up with which I will not put!"


There is new chess book that guides self-study players:

Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis


Sorry, guys.  I thought the question was "To Choose to Study" vs. "To Choose NOT to Study," and I guess my Choose Notters Group is pretty small; so as Miss Emily Littela would say, "...........Never mind."


Much depends on what you've already learned.  The only area of the game you really must spend a little time studying is the ending.  You absolutely need to know the basic pawn endings and Rook endings.  You can put off working on minor piece or Queen endings for later, but they must eventually be studied too.

You can learn the middlegames by playing, tactics training, and playing over master games.  The one area where specific study can help most is central pawn structures and the strategies they dictate.  The best book I've ever seen on that is by Euwe & Kramer - The Middle Game, Book I:  Static Features, but I'm not sure if it's still in print.

You don't need to do much on openings until you reach a higher level.  Basic prinicples will mostly carry you through, plus what you learn by playing and studying master games.  If a particular opening is causing you problems, check it in a database of games and play over a good selection.  You will then see what strong players play that you don't, and also see how the game plays out through the middlegame and ending.  You will learn openings far easier this way than by attempting to memorize lines from an opening book or video.


I am curious, top players, how many moves do they see ahead? Because I can only see about 2-3 moves ahead if I am really thinking.


Over the years I tried reading books, and it helped a little but not much considering the amount of time and effort.  I became a Diamond member here on and my rating shot up over 300 points.  Here's how I did it.  

First, the Tactics Trainer is fantastic at getting you to learn tactical patterns and ideas. You make a move then the computer makes a move.  If you make a wrong move it will tell you and you can either try again or ask for the solution, which will be played out on the board for you.  You only have a certain amount of time to make all the moves in the problem, which forces you to focus, and you get a Tactics rating, which keeps you motivated.

Then there's the incredible videos where you gave GM's and other experts explaining ideas move by move.  GM Khachiyan is particularly good at explaining positional ideas.   A GM would probably charge you about $50 for one hour, and here you can access these videos and watch whole series on a given topic by a top notch instructor.  

Then there's Chess Mentor, which I started with a couple of months ago. Use the Adaptive option and it gives you problems with answers explaining why your move was correct or not correct. I'm telling you that you will improve quickly and with not too much effort like trying to get through a chess book.  It's ridiculously inexpensive.  Do it and you will thank me.



There is nothing wrong with using videos or DVDs in place of books - it's the modern technology, where everything is going, and fast.  But there are some very good books that will never be put in those formats.  Say, that might be a market niche . . .

"Study" is an awful term.  It sounds like work in school, when you had to learn something you really didn't want to know.  Chess is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, interesting, intriguing - not boring drudgery, and if it is you are doing it wrong.

"Practice" is better.  You practice skills in games you enjoy, to hone them.  You practice tennis, or golf.  Even bridge and poker players need to "stay in practice."  Approach it that way.

Tactics are the best practice until you aren't losing every game to some one- or two-move tactic you should have seen coming.

Going over master games is good practice, too, but not in the sense of "studying" them.  Go through them quickly, no more than 15-20 minutes maximum on each.  If there are things you don't understand, think about them for a minute but don't obsess - move on.  Just as a good amateur tennis player might watch Wimbledon on TV, mainly to enjoy great play but also to pick up any tips he can, although that's gravy.

Do play over the whole games, from opening to end, even if they are draws.  Your mind will gradually absorb a lot, and as you improve things will make ever more sense to you.

A great thing about chess is that almost the whole history of the game is available to us "on demand."  I can't see Joe Jackson or Ted Williams hit, or Walter Johnson pitch, but I can see Lasker and Capablanca and Keres and Tal playing in their primes, any time I want to.  Cool


if you really wont to learn ,well here is your first lesson.