Three ways to improve in chess

Nowadays, there are lots of chess tutorials out there, including books, video lessons, courses, DVDs and the list goes on. But it is hard to remember them all; it’s merely an impossible task.


That’s why today we’re here to help you – a guest coach has prepared a lesson for you. Who is he? What’s this lesson about? Continue reading below and find out. 🙂


About the author:
Alexander Molchanov

Hi! My name is Alexander Molchanov. I’m 28. I was born and I live in Togliatti, Russia. My FIDE rating is 2214 (peak 2231). In two tournaments I had a great (for me) performance rating (2506 and 2660).


3 not well-known ways to improve in chess


There are a lot of ways to improve in chess like solving puzzles, analyzing games, studying an opening or an endgame. All of them are very good. But today I want to tell you about less famous chess exercises.


1) Blindfold exercises:



Blindfold chess imitates the calculation. If you can’t play blindfold the whole game, the following exercises will help you a lot.


a) You should choose any square on the board. Then name


  • the color;
  • “brother” square – symmetric square over the center of the board;
  • squares on the both diagonals.

chess boardv b4-square


For example, you choose b4. It’s black. “Brother” square is g5. Squares on the 1st diagonal are a3, c5, d6, e7, f8. Squares on the 2nd diagonal are a5, c3, d2, e1.


b) You have Na1. You should be on each square of the board in a1-b1-c1-d1-e1-f1-g1-h1-a2-b2-…-h8 order.

chess boardv A long journey to h8


Na1-c2-a3-b1 etc.


c) The toughest one. White Na1, Black Qd5. The task is analogous. But now it’s not allowed to be attacked by the queen.

chess boardv A long and dangerous journey to h8


Na1-c2-a3-b1. Now we can’t go to d2 due to Qxd2. So we change the route. Nb1-c3-e2-c1. d1 is attacked, so we pass it and go to e1. Nc1-e2-c3-b1-a3-c2-e1.


If you can complete this exercise, you definitely can play blindfold chess.


2) Memorizing classical games:


After studying a game you should try to learn it by heart through replaying it several times on the board.


You can start with the classical game:


Morphy – Dukes, Paris-1858
chess boardv White to move and mate in two


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.Nc3 c6 9.Bg5 b5 10.Nxb5 cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Rd8 13.Rxd7 Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qb8+ Nxb8 17.Rd8#


Note: You can find this complete game (along with a lesson) here.


This exercise will develop your chess intuition. You will have better feeling where the best squares for the pieces are.


3) Creating your own puzzles:


It helps you to feel the interaction between the pieces.


For example, you decided to create a puzzle on the topic of knight fork. You can start from the end.

chess boardv Knight fork


And then move by move go to the beginning. White’s last move was Nf7, maybe Knight took the pawn. Before it King went to h8. But why? We decoyed him with Rook sacrifice. So let’s add white Rook on h-file.


For example, on h3. But King could go to g7 instead of taking the Rook. So let’s add black pawn on g7. In order to win the final position we append white g2-pawn. And we got the starting position.

chess boardv White to move


The same algorithm can help us to create a checkmate puzzle.

chess boardv Checkmate


The Knight deprives Black King’s retreat to f7 or g6. Also, we could use bishop for it. White’s last move was Qe5. But from where?


For example, from e8. Before it Black King from g7 went to f6. If he goes to h6 Qg6 would be mate. But Black King could go to h7. So we add a piece that can deprive him of h7-square. For example, Nd5 can go to f6. And we got the starting position.
chess boardv

White to move and mate in 2


This exercise will help you to keep good chess fit. Also, it will increase the reaction that has great importance in blitz games.


At the end, I’d like you to solve my puzzle.
chess boardv

White to move and mate in 3


You can find the solution here.


P.S. Did you like the lesson from our new guest coach? 🙂 Have you been following these methods before? Feel free to write in the comments below.




Get the complete and UNIQUE 3-in-1 training system that will sharpen your tactics, calculation, and visualization skills like no other chess book, DVD, or training program could.


Get “Calculate Till Mate” by clicking HERE.


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  • ayush gupta

    this article is useful dear igor thank for this .can we have one video lessons by our new guest coach.??thanksyu

  • Hi Ayush,
    We’ll surely be preparing video lessons as well, thanks for your feedback!

    • ayush gupta

      thankyu for your reply and time you are just great friend and coach of mine i hope that we will meet some day in india.

  • Matej1246

    Hello.It’s me again. I have to agree with ayush this article is very useful. I got your course Self-taught GM and some other of your courses like GM ‘s positional understanding,GM ‘s secrets and GM ‘s opening laboratory 1 and 2. My Question is about the Chess School part of the course self taught gm: What books should i use in order to learn the elements given in strategy,tactics and endgame part. You recommended only a few books on some topics like Positional Sacrifaces.What about strategy and tactics? i don’t really want to use 20$+ dollars for some book i wouldn’t be happy with. Plaese recommend to me some books which can help me to learn those topics. Have a nice day!

    • Hello,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for sharing your impression with me!

      Well, some of the topics are covered in the courses that you own. For instance, “GM’s Positional Understanding” present plenty of strategic principles and rules.

      The tactical motifs, as well as calculation topic are covered in the course “Calculate Till Mate”.

      Also, recently we published a few video lessons about basic positional themes, check out recent lessons (they are free of charge):
      – “The Power of Bishop Pair”
      – “weak squares”
      – “initiative”
      We’ll publish several more in the coming few weeks.

      Enjoy your study!

  • Prabhakar Krishna

    Igor ; Your articles are really nice. I started playing competetive chess at age 61 last year after viewing your video ‘Breaking stereotypes’ by accident on You tube. I was a below average player and learnt chess at age 18 (to be accurate; in 1972; due to Bobby Fischer mania ) and was more of a hobby player. Due to pursuance of my studies I left chess. In between I tried playing Correspondence chess but it was all about whose computer is stronger !? I dabbled online chess and was not doing well. Then I bought your lessons ‘Calculate till mate’ ; GMs positional understanding’; and ‘GMs opening Lab”. The result is that in less one year my rating has gone up from ‘0’ to plus 1300. Just last week in a Tournament ( for players below 1600) I was placed 13th among 222 players !!! In a recent open Tmt ; against an IM having 900+ rating to me, I achieved a winning position by just following your suggestions; but got confused( due to inexperience) and lost on time. All this ,when I have never played on Board for last 35 years and even at present my on board experience is limited only to Tournaments.I thank you for reviving my passion.

    • RCA_moderator

      Hi Prabhakar,
      Here is my reply instead of Igor due to his busy schedule.
      Congratulations on the top tournament finish.
      It is very heart warming to hear your story. We are glad that Igor’s courses where helpful.
      It is fantastic that you were passionate about chess all these years.
      We wish you more success in the future.


    • Hi Prabhakar!

      Your story is very inspirational. Congratulations on pursuing your passion and achieving awesome results. Keep up your study and future nice games and rewarding results will not wait to come.

  • Lara P.

    Why are brother squares important to know?

    • RCA_moderator

      It is symmetrical square on the chess board. Since you will be playing with White and Black and the coordinates change for Black. It helps you remember the chess board better from other side as well.

      Prasaadh | Support Officer

      • Lara P.

        Thank you so much for answering. This is the second time I came across this concept but didn’t understand why it was necessary and no one would answer me until now.

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