10 ways to improve in chess

Comments: 44

There are thousands of the chess tutorials including chess books, DVDs, courses, video lessons, etc. As I often say, it is practically impossible to follow them all to make an improvement in your game. Remember, ‘Less is more’ – that’s why I’m going to keep it short and simple for you. 🙂
10 tips to improve in chess
Today, I’ll give you 10 best tips to follow in order to make your training simple and yet achieve better results. Let’s get started!


1. Set a GOAL


You will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see. Yes, setting a target/goal is the first thing you have to do. It can be the target of attaining a norm, increasing ‘X’ ELO points within ‘Y’ time, beating titled players, or even becoming the World Champion! 🙂


Be aware: set and work for one goal at a time. Overloading yourself will not be productive.


Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” – Bo Jackson


2. Play against the stronger opponents


Please, don’t get this in a wrong way that I’m scaring you. 🙂 You cannot make an improvement unless you increase the benchmarks and fight for it.
weak vs strongOf course, you could keep winning against the weaker opponents but, honestly, will that help to improve your progress? It can be fun – everyone likes to keep winning without being afraid to lose or to face a stronger opponents.


Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield


3. Prepare an opening repertoire


The exact definition of an “opening repertoire” is the set of openings a player is specialized in.  This might be a bit boring because there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of opening variations today – thanks to ECO code for making it easier for us to identify them.


Suggestion: You may like to read about “Best chess openings and how to pick one for you“!


You may go through the games of top GMs who play your opening line, check the short games in your opening to know and to avoid the mistakes in the early stage of the game.


You can learn more about the opening stage, opening repertoire from our opening courses.


4. Analyze your own games

analyze chess gamesIt is very important to know yourself. For this, you have to study yourself – you should analyse your own games to know your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I’d insist that you analyze your lost games first. It can be hard for you to do so but I believe no ‘medicine’ that cures the disease is ‘sweet’. 🙂


Only if you analyze your lost games, you will be able to find your mistakes so you will correct them and avoid repeating them. Although, you can keep analyzing your won games (to know your strengths) as secondary while, analyzing the lost games is PRIMARY.


Defeat should never be a source of discouragement, but rather a fresh stimulus.” – Robert South


5. Have a training plan


Planning is one of the most important skills in chess. Having a neat and effective training plan (or training schedule) will boost your training, and you will make a steady progress.


If your question is “What to study?”, “How to train?”, and “How to get the best out of your training?”, you can find answers to all those question in my FREE mini-course “Chess Training Plan for Rapid Improvement.


6. Blindfold chess

blindfold chessImagination (the inner vision) plays a vital role in the game of chess. In simple words, imagination makes it possible to experience a whole world inside the mind. But how can this skill help you? Well, calculation and visualisation plays a major role in chess, too, right?


You can achieve this through the blindfold exercises – solve puzzles without a board, go through drills, and even play a game without a chessboard. It might be hard in the beginning but, remember, practise makes a man perfect!


A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will is required to become a great chess player.” – Bobby Fischer


7. Flip the board


This is quite similar to the previous tip. Flipping the board (reverse) helps you to think as your opponent. This way, you will virtually play against yourself and this improves your calculation/visualisation skills as well.
flip chessboardYou may even solve chess puzzles by flipping the board. For instance, you can try to solve the puzzle from the Black side if it’s White’s turn. Additionally, an advanced training of this method would be having an ‘imaginary flip’ – trying to think from the opposite side without literally flipping the board. You usually do this as the “Anti-blunder check” when playing a game. 🙂


8. ‘E’ for Explore!


Every chess player has his/her own playing style. A player might like to play attacking chess (like Tal/Fischer) and some have the style of playing positional chess (like Kramnik/Karpov). I’d advise you not to limit yourself to one particular style or the way of approaching a game.


Try playing different openings, different style of playing the game – just explore. This is something the World Champion Magnus Carlsen recommends, too! 🙂 If you stick to one particular opening or style, you will not learn much.


The essence of chess is thinking about what chess is.” – David Bronstein


9. Cut yourself some slack

cut slackToo much of something is not too good. Don’t dump yourself with loads and loads of training materials. Remember, it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the QUALITY.


Relax, practise yoga or meditation, warm yourself up by solving simple chess puzzles, have your favourite drink/food when playing a tournament/game. Take regular breaks, get enough sleep (8-9 hours) – you may even do physical training.


Your body has to be in top condition. Your chess deteriorates as your body does. You can’t separate body from mind.” – Bobby Fischer


10. Never Give Up


If you gave up, it means you never wanted it. When you feel like quitting, think about WHY you have started (your goal in tip 1).
never give upAlways fight till the end and no matter whether it is playing for a win or fighting for a draw!


Winners are not those who never failed but those who never quitted.” – Edward Louis


P.S. Are you already following any of the above-mentioned training methods? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments in the comments below. 🙂 Also, please share this with your friends if you liked it.

7 Best Chess Opening Traps

Comments: 44

Comments 31

  1. Blindfold chess is something I’ve been experimenting with recently. Oddly, it seems easier in the opening than the endgame. The first ten moves of the Queen’s Gambit, for instance, I just know where everything is. Make it a Rook and pawn versus Rook endgame, though, and I get lost. The board is so empty the pieces just vanish.

    I’ve heard that grandmasters can read chess books without even needing a board. They can just visualize every position. I want to be able to do that someday. That’s my goal.

  2. I love the 10th tip. Recently I had such a bad streak that I felt like quitting for good. I was so down, I even thought of selling all of my chess equipment. Then, I remembered reading that you felt the same at some point in the past, and that you explained that in your book “A promoted pawn”. So, I bought it, and the information there helped me continue, and realize what I need to do from here on. It’s a long road. But, thanks to your advise there’s hope again. You’re an awesome coach!

    1. Often times people feel uncomfortable sharing their negative experience. It’s so good you can do it frankly. Thumbs up for it!

      Using my experience (that you’ve read about in the book) you can pass the bad period much quicker than it happened to me.

      P.S. “It’s a long road” but there’s light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

  3. Another great article by Igor.
    I’m thinking whether there is a friendly, printable version of these articles, so we can print them and store in a kind Of “book” 🙂

      1. That’s not what he asked for. He asked for a print-friendly version of this article and not this poorly optimized web version. Also, you link him a page where you say that all content taken/shared from this site must clearly note that it originated from here, while you (the RCA team) are the ones that take various media (pictures) off the internet without even listing the sources from which the images were taken.

        I’d say that’s pretty hypocritical of you and should be resolved immediately.

        1. Hi Jakov,
          We appreciate your views. We normally only use stock images in our blog post.
          This will not happen again in our social media posts.

          Prasaadh Support

      1. Hi Igor. This is the resource I was looking for, I hope it works well, therefore it’ll be a big improvement in your site 🙂

        Kind regards!

  4. Great article. I’m a 1950 player and have employed many of these tips to improve from a 1200 player five years ago. Well done Igor!

      1. dear sir what do you think about the upcoming prodigy program of gm vishy anand on chess.com it fees it 229 dollars for 4 months and more than 14 hrs of training with anand?? is it useful??thanks in advance.

          1. what happened ?? v chuchelov and alexander nkitin are the best coaches among world top players.it would be a great honour to learn form that coaches.dear igor sir please explain my point to jakov thnaks

        1. I am not familiar with Anand’s coaching and can’t comment on that. One thing I know for sure – “magic pills” don’t exist.

          P.S. There’s even a website with Anand’s videos about the rules of chess – LOL. It’s so ridiculous to use the World Champion for such basic stuff.

          1. yes you are right i also see a video of chess24.com a course of anand where he talks about opening principles and other stuffs that was useful but the thing which i am talking about is prodigy program that is going to happen of 21 of january. sir what do you think aobut le quam lie and gm daniel narodiskty ??

          2. Hello,
            I have not attended the prodigy program and they are expensive. I think since they invite high profile players.
            Unfortunately, I have heard about the other GMs coaching.

            Prasaadh | Support

          3. okk sir thanks for your time and advise but sir 150$ for 4 months is not expensive because igor’s 1 hour coaching is 150$.dear sir i had one request could you please invite gm alexender nikittin and gm v.chuchelov for remote chess academy thanks .for lessons they are very famous coach

  5. Really good to have these reminders! Thank you. It is very much a discipline if one wants to improve. If having a black belt in karate was easy, or having a gold medal in figure skating was easy — everyone would have one. Thanks again for your supportive and informative articles.

  6. Hello Igor! I’m studying task 11 “strategy” folder of practical part of the course GM Secrets, and in 7th game, your game against Abasov Nijat Azad, on the 15th move, why is 15.Bc4 better than 15.Bb5? Bb5 follows the principle of maximum activity and the principle of an attack. After Bb5 black can attack the bishop with Na7 but it’s not a real attacking move, because it decreases the knight’s activity. Computer then suggests for black the response 15…Ne7 which I cannot see as harmful in any way. So, the computer gives Bc4 slightly better than Bb5 and you actually did play Bc4 in your game. So, how did you decide that it’s better than Bb5?

  7. Hello Igor! One important question because I can’t understand it. I’m studying your course GM Secrets and I realized that I need to work on my tactics because that’s usually when I crumble, so I decided to watch again the lesson 1.2 How to play the game(tactics). In the presented example, at the first position, you said that when looking at the line c5, we see that white can make move forward Nd6 which means that c5 wasn’t an attacking move really because attacking move implies that we force an opponent to go back and that we should therefore stop the calculation of the line c5. But okay, say white plays Nd6 in response to c5. We then still have forcing moves to calculate, cxd4 and then the e5 pawn is hanging, and when white recaptures Rxd4 then Bxe5 attacks the rook, also the g2 pawn is hanging and so on. So it could be that Nd6 doesn’t work for white. So why should we stop the calculation after Nd6 and not calculate other forcing options like cxd4 followed by Bxe5 or Nxe5 and/or maybe even Bxg2?

      1. You seem to know bitter truth about Lovro… 🙂

        @lovroglavina:disqus: did you purchase the course? Unfortunately, I could not find your name in the list of customers. Could you provide the name or e-mail you used while making a purchase?

        1. As you can tell by our username surnames, me and Jakov are real life brothers and he, as always, likes to tease me. This time he used this situation in order to create misunderstanding. He apologizes, and says he won’t do that again. Anyways, what the truth is, my best friend, who is an old adult, bought the courses for me as a present because I love chess very much and always wanted to become a strong chess player. Now, I don’t even know his email he used to buy the courses, and my brother used this situation to tease me around. The name of this guy is Božidar Č.(I’m not sure if he lets me disclose his whole surname I can tell you his surname too if you need to, but more privately, say e-mail, just so that it isn’t public).

          I hope we understand each other 🙂

          1. I can confirm, I acted plain mindless and I won’t do it again. I was just pissed at Lovro because of an argument we had earlier this day. I apologize.

          2. Hi Lovro,
            I will contact you privately via e-mail to clarify this situation.

            Prasaadh | Support Officer

    1. Hi Lovro,
      GM Igor may not be able to answer to all the questions.

      Here is my opinion, After Nd6, as you said, you have to check other options to check if it is tactically sound. In this case it is tactically sound.
      If you play c5 … Nd6, and cxd4 will lead to Qc7 and Black will be mated soon and Bxg2 also leads to bad position for Black. So if a positional idea does not have any tactical problems then it is good move in this case.

      Prasaadh | Support

    2. In the “ideal world” you would need to calculate all the lines that you mentioned. However, in a practical game you have to play quickly. Thus, you need to limit your calculation by cutting the unsound lines (the moves that look bad from the point of ‘general principles’ described in the course).

      In the given position, c5 move helps White to increase the activity of his knight (Nd6), and at the same time weakens the pawns around Black’s king. There’s a big chance for Black’s king to appear in danger.

      The better you understand “general principles” the better you can assess if the move is good or bad, even without significant calculation.

      It’s impossible to answer such questions within a few lines of text… Anyway hopefully it makes things clearer for you. Good luck in your chess battles!

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