How to Succeed in Chess?

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Carlsen title

Recently, I reviewed the questions that students sent me over the last few months. There’s one question asked by a lot of people……

 I’ll provide one of such messages, as it came to me:


Hi Igor,

I wonder how many people became so young a title player and U also , and why for many people its still so  hard. I winning a lot of nice games playing better by study your  courses . get more  rating points. But I have still no luck with  my biggest chess  dream in my life   to became a title player  I keep fail , maybe U can make  a blog article  or sometime  about it.?

Really thank u so much!



To sum up, the questions are:

How to get stronger in chess?


Why some players make huge progress while others don’t?

Although you may have heard various explanations, in reality the answer is very straightforward. There are three main factors that determine your fast/slow chess progress.

 FACTOR #1: Your desire


Strong aspiration for improvement matters a lot. Even the best tutorials and coaches will not help without your readiness for diligent study.

In order to move forward, you need to learn and train yourself in unknown (difficult) topics. It may be hard from the beginning. It requires some discipline to do what you SHOULD do instead of performing familiar/easy tasks.

I’ll provide a few typical examples:

Passive learning vs Active learning 

     It’s easy to watch chess video lessons (“passive learning”). It’s harder to train your skills: solve strategic & tactical puzzles, analyse games, etc. (“active learning”). While both methods are useful, active learning should have a higher priority. However, a lot of players choose the easier way instead.



You should focus on all the aspects

     Some players keep learning attacking games and keep playing gambits. They are familiar with this topic and it’s easy for them to work on it. At the same time, they ignore other topics that seem more complex to them.

gambt attack


You should be universal in studying openings

     A lot of people tend to play openings they are familiar with, even if they can’t progress with this opening repertoire. Learning new chess openings will certainly require some time and effort; however, it may be essential.



The list can go on and on, but I hope that you have got the idea. Serious results are impossible without serious study. If you like the game of chess and have a desire for improvement – this will fuel you on your way forward.


FACTOR #2: Investment in time, effort and money

      As is the same with all other facets of life (education, health, career, etc.), in chess your outcome depends on your investment. When you look at modern 13-year-old IMs and GMs, you may think that such great achievement is determined by their talent.

    It seems they simply didn’t have enough time to learn a lot about chess. Nevertheless, let’s have a closer look at this situation.

Personally, I know quite a few such “young talents” (Karjakin, Radjabov, Ponomariov, etc.). They all spent A LOT of time on chess daily during their childhood.

A simple calculation proves that the two players below invested the same time in chess:

Player-1: learnt chess 2 hours daily over 8 years.

Player-2: learnt chess 8 hours daily over 2 years.

That’s the “secret” of strong young players 🙂

– as you can see, there’s no magic here – everything is very straightforward. Outcome result depends on investment of time.


    Investment of money is also obligatory for achieving serious results in chess. I hate to say it, but it’s a reality and we have to face it.

     You can reach a certain chess level by using free resources available to everyone. However, those who invest money in their chess development get access to the BEST tools: strong tournaments, best coaches and tutorial materials. The best weapons will bring victories in competitions.

FACTOR #3: Proper training methods

I know some players who invest a lot of time, money and effort into chess, but their progress is still not that great.

Why does that happen? Let’s say you are now at point “A” and your goal is to reach point “B”.


     Obviously, if you choose the way presented on the left image, you’ll reach your goal much faster. Hence it’s not enough just to go, you need to go in the right direction.

     Unfortunately, a lot of players have used ineffective training methods for years and can’t develop any real progress. They end up concluding, “I don’t have enough talent for chess”, while in reality they simply need to change their training methods.

I’ve provided a few examples while describing “FACTOR #1”.

What are the proper ways of learning chess that will bring you good progress?

Well, it’s a vast question. You can find a lot of lessons on this website and in my complete training courses: LINK


There are three factors that determine your chess progress:

  1. Your desire
  2. Investment in time, effort and money
  3. Proper training methods

I hope this clarifies the question “Why some players make fast progress, while others don’t?” Now it’s your turn! 🙂


To end this lesson, I’ve selected a few cool positions from the recent World Team Championship.

Wang – Kryvoruchko
Wang - Kryvoruchko
White’s turn

 Petrosian – L’ami
White’s turn

     After you come up with a solution in both positions, please download the entire games and check yourself: LINK

P.S. Please write your opinion about the lesson in comments below.

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