Do you struggle to improve faster in chess? Then well, this article is for you. It is very difficult to improve in any sports. It’s not like studying, you to go school, prepare for exams and get the mark sheet. Chess is really very tricky when it comes to improvement. I have spent 1000s of hours practicing chess and even I cannot say the exact procedure to increase rating. Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri both worked very hard but somehow Magnus become world champion and the strongest chess player in the world. In this article, we will see how to improve in chess quickly.
Take this as a tip. If you are a beginner player, then definitely these pieces of advice will help you. The best way to improve as a chess player is to hire a chess coach.
How to improve at chess – Opening Techniques
When you start playing chess, the first thing you learn is chess opening. A chess opening is a very essential part to prepare. My personal opinion is that you should work on chess basic chess openings as a beginner. This will help you understand different positions. Here are a few tips which you can follow.
Stick to one opening from each side
I see many players try to learn multiple chess openings and that will lead to confusion. I would recommend you to stick to only one opening as a beginner. By playing only one opening, you will slowly understand about positions arriving from that opening and you can focus more on middlegame and endgame. This will also help you to save a lot of time to prepare different openings. Here are a few best openings which you can play if you are confused in selection (These recommendations are useful for any player below 1400)
Best chess openings for white
Best chess openings for Black
- King’s Indian Defense (Against 1.d4)
- Grunfeld Opening (Against 1.d4)
- Caro Kann (Against 1.e4)
- Pirc Defense (Against 1.e4)
This is also the best way to trick your opponent. Always ready with some sidelines. Usually, sidelines are not a great way to play chess. It is very important to know a few sidelines. Preparing and playing sidelines are very useful in rapid and blitz games where you have very limited time and in most cases, your opponent will get time pressure. Another advantage of the sidelines is that you will get a better position in most cases. Usually, no one prepares sidelines and you can easily take advantage of that. But remember, in a longer perspective, you need to prepare the main lines.
- Check out my course – Qe2! against French Defense
How to Improve at Chess – Middlegame Techniques
As a beginner, you should focus on the middle game rather than the opening. The opening plays just 10-20% part of your game. Middlegame plays a big role.
Solve a lot of chess tactics
Solving a lot of puzzles will help you to improve your understanding, tactics, calculation, etc. This will definitely be going to help you in the tournament. You have to focus and solve tactics on daily basis. I would recommend going with a particular book or chess.com puzzles. I have recommended a lot of chess books in these articles which you can read from here. Also, you can check out this membership where you will get thousands of chess puzzles in less than the price of a restaurant meal.
Resources for chess tactics
- 1001 chess puzzles for beginners
- Chess.com puzzles
- Membership with more than 5000 chess puzzles
Analyze your games
Analyzing your own games can give insights into your weaknesses and strengths. You will also notice problems with your openings, middlegames, and endgames which you can rectify with analyzing.
Analyzing is a very deep procedure. Whenever you start analyzing your own games, first analyze by yourself and then only use the engine. Analyzing with your coach can also help you to get a boost. The coach will help you to understand your exact mistakes.
Tools to analyze your games
- Decode chess
- Chess.com game insights tool
- Lichess engine
Watch top players’ games
Following the latest games and trends will help you not only in the middle game but also in openings. This will help you in understanding elite-level opening trends, how they think, and sometimes their insights. There are various tools available where you can watch games of top players. Following are some of the tools to get started
How to Improve at Chess – Endgame Techniques
Endgame is not very essential for a beginner. But is also very important to know basic endgame positions. Most beginner will find the endgame boring. In reality, also, the endgame is very boring to study. Sometimes you have to do boring stuff to get better. Following are a few tips to improve at chess.
Understand basic endgame positions
Learning basic endgame positions is essential. You can learn easily by watching youtube videos or learning through articles. Chess.com also provides a drills feature where you can play that position with endgames. Following are some basic endgame postions any beginner must know
- Checkmate with king vs king and rook
- Checkmate with king vs king and two rooks
- Checkmate with king vs queen
- Checkmate with king and queen vs king and rook
- Checkmate with king vs king and two bishops
Study a lot of endgame books
If you really love working on endgames then you are better than 99% of people. There are multiple chess books that will help you to get better at chess. Whenever you will start studying through books, you must try to solve each and every position. I would recommend you to buy a boom through chessable which will cost you almost the same. But chessable has a move trainer technology which will give you added advantage.
Best chess endgame books:-
- 100 Endgames You Must Know by Jesus de la Villa
- Silman’s Complete Endgame Course by Jeremy Silman
- Endgame Strategy by Mikhail Shereshevsky
- Mastering Complex Endgames by Adrian Mikhalchishin and Oleg Stetsko
- Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings: 60 Complete Games by Irving Chernev
Get outside of your comfort zone
Studying the endgame is very boring for every chess player. But if you want to improve your strength, You have to study endgames. It is important to get out of your comfort zone. If you usually hate studying endgame then you can find a sparring partner who can help you in practice. You can play some endgame positions with him.
How to Improve at Chess – Tips for general improvement
All the above tips are for Opening, Middlegame, and Endgame. However, there are a few tricks beyond this. I have classified them as general improvements.
Play a lot of tournaments
Playing a lot of chess tournaments can definatly help you to get motivated. Usually, we need the motivation to do chess practice and chess tournaments are the highest level motivation booster. There are many organizers who are organizing online as well as offline tournaments. For beginner players, you must play atleast 6-8 over-the-board tournaments in a year. For improving players, 10-12 tournaments are fair enough. Many players don’t get time to play classical tournaments due to jobs and other commitments. They can play in rapid tournaments which usually last for 2 days. When you play any tournament, play seriously. Play for the championship title. Analyze your games immediately after the tournament.
Here are a few major chess tournament calendars which can help you in finding tournaments
- Chess Mix
- USA Chess Calendar
- Indian Events Chess Calendar
- European Chess Tournament Calendar
Read a lot of chess books
Reading a lot of chess books opens your thought process. It also helps you to gain knowledge and insights into chess players. In general, you should read atleast one chess book every month. Here is the list of a few excellent chess books which can be read by anyone
- Finding Bobby Fischer
- Mind Master: Winning Lessons from a Champion’s Life
- Vladimir Kramnik: The Inside Story of a Chess Genius
- The Anand Files
Hire a chess coach
A chess coach can help you in building your chess career. It is very important to choose a perfect chess coach rather than a rating. Many parents think that a good rating is equal to a good chess coach. This is not true. A good coach is positive, enthusiastic, supportive, trusting, focused, goal-oriented, knowledgeable, observant, respectful, patient and a clear communicator.
Finding a chess coach is quite difficult. Recommendations can be a very good tool to find a chess coach. You can also search for chess coaches from the following websites
- Chess.com Coaches
- Lichess Coaches
What is the 20 40 40 rule in chess?
20-40-40 rules state that as a beginner you should work 20% on openings, 40% on the middlegame, and 40% on the endgame. This is a very famous rule. If you want a real result then you should focus 60% on the middlegame and the remaining 40% on endgame and opening.
As your strength increases, you can focus more on openings.
Is chess good for your brain?
Chess is a very good game for the brain. By playing chess, you reduce the risk of brain diseases. Also playing chess is beneficial for children’s brain development.
What happens if you play chess every day?
Playing chess every day will improve your concentration, mental stability, thinking power, thought process, etc. It also helps if you have anxiety or depression issues.