Monthly Archives for February 2018

5 Most Effective Chess Training Techniques You Have to Try

5 Most Effective Chess Training Techniques You Have to Try

Have you ever felt like you have reached the top of your level? Times goes by and you see no improvement in your play? In this article we want to give you 5 training tips that could change this situation drastically. Each one of us has different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different amount of time available for chess. However, there are general and tested methods that guarantee improvement within months. Here is a list with what we consider the most effective exercises.

  • Analysis of your own games

We want to emphasize the importance of this habit because, as simple as it sounds, not everyone does it and if they do it, most of them do it wrong. For example, it’s quite common nowadays that after a game, the first thing people do is run the engine and find out where they could have played a stronger move or where they committed the losing move. This is the first BAD HABIT you have to avoid.

Instead, analyze your games using your own thinking, writing notes with your own thoughts from the game and seek improvements by calculating moves in what you think the critical moments were. Only after doing this you can check with your engine the accuracy of your play in the game and post-mortem analysis.

  • Solve complex exercises

Solving tactical exercises when the first move (usually a sacrifice) is quite obvious and you have to calculate the winning lines after is fine, but then comes a point in which you will solve them with ease basing only on your intuition. In order to rise your level you have to solve more complex exercises, the kind of situations that appear in practice. There are even supplements to help you maintain brain health. offers Unforgettables supplements, which promote cognitive health.

The search of candidate moves in a position, moves that are not necessarily winning, but just the right moves in that moment. Sitting at the board and think, evaluate and asses the pros and cons of several possible moves in a position is what we do in a tournament game. Therefore, it makes sense to do the same at home in order to get better. The only drawback of this method is that the adrenaline and tension you get from a tournament game is impossible to reproduce in the peace of your home. Nevertheless, this is one of the most effective methods to improve your play.

  • Learn your book

Focus only on the few opening systems that you will play with white and black. Dedicate one training session to learn the theory; don’t do anything else that day but learn theory.

  • Live Practice

Playing training games with a friend of similar or superior strength is a very effective way to rise your level. However, this is not possible for everyone due to the obvious limitations set by our everyday routine. Fortunately nowadays you can play training games online, but this is tricky, so beware of the traps you should not fall for. I will give you an example.

Playing 1-min games for many hours will not take you far; neither will playing blitz games without working on TIPS 1-3. In order to make the most of playing blitz you need to test your abilities in remembering the theory and calculating under time pressure, so make sure you try hard to play the best moves in a fast time control. Make sure to analyze those games in which you failed to play the opening correctly.

  • Endgame knowledge

In these days, when most players are so well prepared, we suggest you take a look at the most important endgames such as rook endgames, as this knowledge could definitely give you an edge. Those who have a training partner can play blitz games starting from a specific endgame position and try it from both sides until the endgame is learned and understood.

This is quite useful, but again, not all of us have someone to train with. We suggest you take one endgame at a time and learn it by heart, learn the conclusions in order to remember the main ideas during your own tournament practice. There are several endgame manuals that can help you on this task.

These 5 points, if managed regularly (some more than others), will improve your play significantly. All tips are of similar value, but if you do not have time for all, we suggest you to use number 2 and 3 as the most important to keep sharp.

Planning in Chess

Planning in Chess

Two equally strong armies have gathered on opposite sides of the river. One commander evaluates the pluses and minuses of his and the enemy’s armies’ dispositions, comes up with a plan while taking into account possible counter-attacks, and chooses the correct time to launch an attack. The other couldn’t care less about all this and just relies on the strength of his troops. The outcome of the battle is rather predictable, isn’t it? In chess the same things happen all the time. A player who simply makes the moves he likes and hopes to win by random tactics usually succumbs to the opponent who has a plan behind his moves.

A plan is a set of interconnected actions performed on the board, and an essential component of each chess game. Based on the evaluation of the position, it helps one play on, find the right moves, save time and energy. Following a plan is important at all stages of the game, especially in the endgame.

As I have already mentioned, a plan depends heavily on the evaluation of the position. At this stage the first difficulties occur. Some positions are easy to evaluate, some are quite challenging. That is especially true for crazy irrational situations where the trickiest nuances may change everything, and relying on basic strategic and tactical principles isn’t enough. Speaking of the latter, there are a couple standard positions (“lighthouses”) that one should be aware of: weak squares, hanging and badly located pieces, pawn advantage, interaction of pieces, etc. The more proficient the player, the more details he sees in each position, and the better he/she feels which ones are the most critical at a certain point.

After the position has been evaluated, one should create a plan. That is, a goal and actions needed to attain it. For example, your opponent may have a weak central square (just like d5 often is in the Sveshnikov). The goal could be to get hold of it, actions – relocate the figures to the center and try to capture the square. Or, another case, your pieces are aiming at the opponent’s king. In this case you may want to try to initiate an attack. The actions will consist of advancing pawns and getting your pieces closer to the opponent’s king, preventing counter-threats, eliminating the king’s pawn shield.

The plan should be realistic, possible to implement. One shouldn’t plan something the opponent can quickly prevent. It’s also very important to remember there are two players in the game and watch out for your partner’s activities. If his threats are superior to yours, you should neutralize his plan first and only then, when there is no danger, perform your own plan. For instance, you are attacking the enemy’s king, and he/she comes back with a mighty counter-attack in the center. His/her counter-attack looks very dangerous, so you have to switch your attention and forces to neutralizing it and only then proceed with your own ideas. Or, on the contrary, there are some quiet positions when both partners have a lot of time to improve the location of the pieces. You may go on with your plan, but also still keep your opponent’s actions in mind.

During the game the position and its evaluation usually changes a few times. New opportunities and threats appear. One should react adequately and modify his/her plans in accordance with the changes. To sum it all up, here is an algorithm:

  1. Evaluate the position
  2. Create a plan based on the evaluation
  3. Prophylactics: consider your opponent’s plans and decide what should be done: neutralize them or proceed with your own plan
  4. Modify the plan in accordance with the position (in most top-level modern games there is no THE plan – from move 1 to last – you have to come up with new ideas along the way)

If the plan comes from the essence of the position, ignoring it may be disastrous, as you could see in that game. It is one of the examples that prove how important it is to pay attention to chess planning and stick to your plan during the game.

As you can see, White has opted for a plan to centralize and attack the black king. Black didn’t play accurately enough, so White could have put a serious pressure on her opponent. However, my opponent deviated from her plan due to time trouble and reached a more or less equal endgame. Had she not made a mistake later on, the game would have been drawn.