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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. Melaleuca.com offers Unforgettables supplements, which promote cognitive health. There is also a Melaleuca Peak Performance Pack with a blend of vitamins and minerals designed specifically for brain 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.

A Good Way To Practice Checkmates

A Good Way To Practice Checkmates

Practicing checkmate patterns

If you’ve played much chess at all, you have probably gotten to the point where you understand that being a piece down (or even a couple of pawns down) means you’re probably going to lose. Unless there is some strong edge or the possibility of an attack, being significantly down in material means you’re going to lose. And you resign.
And your opponents feel the same way. You win a Knight; opponent resigns.
Or you get to an endgame with a good passed pawn. Winning ending; opponent resigns. You Queen a Pawn; opponent resigns.
And so it goes. Most games played with long time controls end with either very simple mates (Queen and King against King) or one of the players resigns in an obviously losing position. (Unless, that is, the game ends in a draw.)
In any case, relatively few games end with checkmate or the impending threat of checkmate.
So how is the average player to get practice with checkmate patterns when the opponent always resigns long before checkmate?
One solution is just to get a book with checkmate patterns (such as Reinfeld’s book 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate). But that isn’t quite the same as practicing against an opponent.

The solution – Play Speed Chess

The solution to the problem of practicing checkmates against a live, resisting opponent, is to play speed chess. Preferably 5-minute games or shorter.
A much higher percentage of fast time-control games end in checkmate than longer games do. The reason is because of the time control. With a short time control, your opponent knows that though you may be a Knight ahead, turning that Knight into a win might be difficult — it might not be obvious what to do to win with that extra Knight, and you end up losing on time. A lot of speed chess games end with one of the players losing on time, but a lot of them end with checkmate. The reason is because players are less likely to resign when behind by a Pawn or even a piece. The possibility of winning (or drawing) the game because the opponent’s time runs out keeps players playing in positions that they would otherwise resign.
The way to use this to your advantage is to take advantage of the increased possibility of studying interesting mating patterns. If you play even a few speed games, you will likely have one or more games end in checkmate. After the game, review the game, especially the checkmate, and see if you can learn anything about the pattern.

Bonus tip

When you play with a nice chess set with high-quality pieces, make sure your hands are clean. The oils and dirt form your hands can damage wooden pieces over time. If you have to wear lotion to keep your hands from getting dry and cracked, then use a quality skin therapy like Melaleuca Renew Lotion. It leaves your skin feeling softer and healthier without being greasy, so you don’t have to worry about it getting all over your chess pieces.

Clean Your Chess Set With Melaleuca Products

Clean Your Chess Set With Melaleuca Products

When it comes to cleaning your chess board and pieces, we’ve found that Melaleuca products are the best. Melaleuca makes several safe, environmentally friendly, toxin-free cleaning products, and we’d like to highlight a few of them here.

Though we specialize in online chess software, nothing beats owning and using a beautiful chess set. Whether you go for the classic, wooden look or something more modern, you want your chess set to last a long time. That means you have to take good care of it.

If you use your chess set as often as we do, then there’s going to be inevitable wear and tear. That’s to be expected. But regular cleaning and conditioning will extend the life of your chess set for many years. And if you happen to be a clean freak/germaphobe, you’ll want to regularly disinfect your chess pieces, especially if they come into contact with many hands.

That being said, what’s the best way to clean your chess board and pieces? Well, that mostly depends on what they are made of. If it’s all plastic, that opens up a lot of options. Heck, if that’s the case, you can throw the whole thing in the dishwasher.But we’re assuming here that you love chess like we do and have paid for a really nice custom set.

Now, if your set is made of a more delicate material, say wood, or if it is painted or decorated, you need to be more careful. That’s why we like Melaleuca products. Here are four products we highly recommend for cleaning your chess set:

Tough & Tender is Melaleuca’s all-purpose cleaner. It’s great at removing grime that accumulates over time, but it’s gentle enough to even use on natural stone. For those of you who have granite and marble chess sets, this is great news. The great thing about Tough & Tender—as with all Melaleuca products—is that it doesn’t contain any chlorine bleach, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals, so it’s safe on your chess set, in your home, and around your family.

Clear Power is Melaleuca’s go-to glass cleaner, but it works wonders on any smooth surface including stainless steel. It doesn’t leave any streaks, so if you have a stainless steel or glass board, this is definitely a product you’ll want. Like Tough & Tender, Clear Power is super concentrated, so it will last you a good long while.

Sol-U-Guard Botanical is a disinfectant spray that uses natural thyme and citric acid to kill germs, as opposed to bleach or other nasty, fume-producing chemicals. If you use your chess set as often as we do, you’ll want to disinfect your pieces on a regular basis, and we think Sol-U-Guard is the way to go.

If you have a wooden chess set, then it’s all about the polish. Rustic Touch is Melaleuca’s furniture polish, and it’s perfect for polishing up your wooden chess set to a perfect chine. It contains carnuba wax and has a great orange scent.

Melaleuca.com has a lot of other products, but when it comes to taking care of our chess sets, these are our favorites.