Whats better for beginners, lots of games or lots of study?


Interested in gaining perspective on whats generally considered better for beginners and development?


"... How often should you play? If you are trying to improve that means as often as you can, but playing lots of slow games can be tiring and time consuming, so most people are not able to play an OTB tournament every weekend even if one was available down the block. A minimum of 8 OTB tournaments and about 100 slow games a year is a reasonable foundation for ongoing improvement. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)

"..., you have to make a decision: have tons of fun playing blitz (without learning much), or be serious and play with longer time controls so you can actually think. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (June 9, 2016)

"One of the principal ways in which a chess player picks up knowledge is through reading chess books, or via other media (software, videos, etc.). ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2001)


"One of the great things about chess, as opposed to disciplines such as ballroom dancing, is that you can learn a lot from the right books. ..." - GM Nigel Davies (2010)

"The way I suggest you study this book is to play through the main games once, relatively quickly, and then start playing the variation in actual games. Playing an opening in real games is of vital importance - without this kind of live practice it is impossible to get a 'feel' for the kind of game it leads to. There is time enough later for involvement with the details, after playing your games it is good to look up the line." - GM Nigel Davies (2005)

"... only a good balance of theory and practice yields steady improvement. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)



Thanks this is interesting, my game is improving lots just by playing and I have been reading a bit too, just wondered what other people may have done to get better.


I think it depends on the age of the player.  For older people, study works better than playing; but for young people playing seems to work better.  Of course, both study and play should happen, but if you want to separate them, then that's how I feel about it based on my observations at tournaments.


Studying, but what you study is important!  Below 2000, you should be studying strategy, calculation, tactics, and most important, endgame.  If you are spending your time studying Najdorf and King's Indian theory, at your level, you are wasting your time!


Well put, I agree. Although I don't study anymore. But yes, Endgames (all basics until u can do them in ur sleep).  Pawn structures to teach u strategy. Certainly tactics (calculation is a key part of that). NO OPENINGS just pawn structures. I've known a number of very strong titled players and they've basically said what I and the previous post said.


And go ahead and jump in real over the board tournaments. Don't worry about "getting ready" or "the right time", etc. Just go ahead and play now. It's the best way to improve. Period.


".... Below 2000, you should be studying ..."

"... This book is the first volume in a series of manuals designed for players who are building the foundations of their chess knowledge. The reader will receive the necessary basic knowledge in six areas of the game - tactcs, positional play, strategy, the calculation of variations, the opening and the endgame. ... To make the book entertaining and varied, I have mixed up these different areas, ..." - GM Artur Yusupov

"... For beginning players, [Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms] will offer an opportunity to start out on the right foot and really get a feel for what is happening on the board. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2006)


Lots of games and lots of study!


Chess0fKn1ght wrote:

Interested in gaining perspective on whats generally considered better for beginners and development?

both. balance it. study gives you knowledge, while games-experience


Learn the game well....

Good Chess Books for Beginners and Beyond...


And if you are serious about improving, play longer time controls...



Much appreciated, i have found that rapid and daily is good for me as i have more time than blitz to work out my next couple of moves, but thoroughly enjoy bullet. 

And i have not even considered trying to work out opening theory and complicated lines etc, just working on two opening which are Giuoco Piano and the Reti, and seem to be getting some success with them as im beginning to understand and recognize the patterns they something lead to.


In the beggining I barely studied. I just kept playing games. Then, when I was around 1250-1300 (blitz) I started to study. 

This is not a good strategy, tho.


study, and play. and compare your games with things which you have already learnt. did you use anything in the game, or not and why. and study your games. lost ones to see where was the problem, and winning ones, perhaps more important, to see that you are not "so strong" (particularly if you crushed a guy in 15-20 moves) but your opponent missed his chances or just played worse moves.


Puzzle books with instruction. Cover many tactical themes, strategy, endgames.


Annotated chess games. You study from the experience of masters. Both entertaining and instructional...

Life and Games of Mikhail Tal


Well , it's neither of the 2.

The most important for the beginner is to learn to analyse his games and spot his mistakes.That's the first and maybe the most important step that will allow him to study better the games of grandmasters and benefit from them the most.Learning to spot the turning points and the critical mistakes is so essential that it actually never becomes obsolete.It is something that beginners , and experts , masters and grandmasters do.The better you become , the more the need to analyse your games will be.


DeirdreSkye wrote:

Well , it's neither of the 2.

The most important for the beginner is to learn to analyse his games and spot his mistakes.That's the first and maybe the most important step that will ...

I think it is somewhat easier to analyse one's games after playing some. Reading might help with the learning.
"... If you were a beginner I would recommend Silman as a first acquaintance with middlegame but since you are not beginner , there is nothing that Silman's books can offer you.His endgame book is very good but again there are much better books on this field(Dvoretsky , Shereshevsky , Keres just to mention only a few of them). ..." - DeirdreSkye (October 10, 2017 in another thread)

Printed chess books on endgames were once important. Today you need something that will allow you to learn regularly, efficiently and from to cover to cover. The best tool to achieve these three goals are available in Chessable.com. You will find there some free books on endgames. You have just to register for free and begin to learn.