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.