Chess Training – A new series of blog posts

Pushed by an eager chess fan, wanting to improve, I am starting a weekly blog post on chess improvement. The idea is that we discuss a subject each week; I will come with some inspirational text and maybe a game fragment or similar. Then we discuss it and hopefully all become wiser.

As this is something just decided and as I am going to London Wednesday to look at the candidates, I do not have a lot to say today. Also the meter on the car is running out in a four minutes and I have to pick Rebecca up from nursery…

Thus I will start with a simple question:

“Why do you want to improve in chess?”

Please give your honest reply, especially before seeing other people’s replies. Here we are talking about answers that can take any form.

I will give my answers to why I want to write a novel here: because I just cannot imagine a life where I have not done this and the mere fact that I have not yet achieved this feels unnatural and painful. Maybe this is stupid, but this is the way it is.

After you have written your comment, you could read the following very interesting article by Hollywood success coach Michael Neill: The loaded goal

73 thoughts on “Chess Training – A new series of blog posts”

  1. I can tell you why I want to improve in chess. I have always been a goal-driven type of person.

    I feel like if the goal isn’t achieved, the job isn’t done. When I refer to “goal”, I don’t mean the object of individual games, to checkmate the King, but rather long term things. For me, I always use a reachable stairstep approach. I had started this approach since I was 1400, trying for 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, etc. They are levels of achievement. It’s like when a Basketball player hits his 1000th point, and his 5000th, and 10,000th. Kobe Bryant recently hit his 30,000th point (He won’t pass Jabaar’s record of 38,887)

    The fact that I have never hit 2100 and remained over 2000 for 88 tournaments straight over the course of almost 3 years (last time that I dipped below 2000 was August 2010 with a rating of 1999), and having hit 2000 for the first time 11 1/2 years ago in August 2001, implies that I’ve been on somewhat of a plateau for a while. I’m ready to get off of it and move on higher!

    While I’ve had peaks and valleys, I usually sustained a rating of about 2030. After reading “Chess Lessons”, 4 chapters thus far of “Calculation”, and currently on the 2nd chapter of “The Grandmaster Battle Manual”, I’m sustaining a 2060 to 2070 rating now-a-days, with my current rating to date being 2083, but still trying to cross that 2100 barrier, which hopefully will finally happen this year. (This is referring to USCF – My FIDE is 2064, which was over 2200 back when I was provisional from simply having a monster tournament in my first FIDE rated event, the 2002 US Open, but to me, provisional doesn’t count).

  2. I like to improve in chess because I feel like I can improve (maybe even improve substantially). Sometime I can play a solid chess with relatively strong opponents (especially if game goes as I like – opening is known to me, type position suits me, I successfully spot combination motive, I analyzed given ending before, …). But sometime I play like amateur (unknown opening variation, unknown type position in which I can’t find right plan, technical ending I which I simply how to draw,…). So I like to somehow start to work on weak points in my game.


  3. I’d like to improve mainly because after every tournament, the overwhelming feeling is one of wanting to play better in the next one.

    Playing at the limits of your ability is a high, a wave that carries you well after the game has finished. Playing well below your ability (sometimes even if you win) is a low that often ruins an entire day. My wish to improve is really a wish for more of the highs and less of the lows…..

  4. I want to improve because I want to start winning tournaments consistently. At this time I am very inconsistent. I’ll play a good player (1900 – 2200 range) and play really well. I may play another player in that same tournament (1200-1600 range) and play horrible. My play is just not consistent at all. I feel there is much I need to work on from tactics and Strategy to time control.

  5. Javier Castellote

    I want to improve my chess because, in part, have struggled for most of my life to get it. My father has struggled financially, has led me to match at the best championships in Spain, etc. I think how much time I’ve devoted to chess, how long I think about it, how many books I bought, etc., and inevitably I get sad. I have 21 years and much effort behind and have only reached 2190.

    I’m sad, I honestly believe that I can not give more than me. I can not keep improving, I feel, somehow, that I’ve reached my limit. I am looking for someone, someone give me a guide, for I have lost the strength, the saddest part of all this is that I have only 21 years.

    I have a constant question in mind: why do not you let Javier? Why not quit chess? Too much time and frustration. I do not see a way, I see no one.

  6. Two reasons:

    2. Because if I don’t improve I will get worst as the general level of play keeps getting better and better.

    2. Because the chess board is there!

  7. Let me start with a question: What does “improvement” mean? Raising the rating or deepening the understanding of chess in general? For me it is the latter and I try to improve because the more I understand about chess the more fun I get out of it e.g. when playing through grandmaster games. Actually I just recently dropped out of playing serious tournament chess after having reached my all-time rating high. I just realized that I no longer enjoyed chess because I was focusing too hard on winning games. I’ll still continue to “improve” by studying various aspects of the game. In particular I decided to go back to the basics and to finally read some of the classics like Lasker´s manual of chess. Previously I never had time to do that because I was always busy preparing for the next game.

  8. I want to improve in chess because

    – I like to improve in general in whatever I do.
    – I like to expand my accurate perception of reality (in chess, this means a correct evaluation of positions and possibilities on the board).
    – I like to improve specifically in human chess (as opposed to chess the abstraction that computers are so good at) because I like to expand my perception and control of my psychological states and limitations, and those of my opponents.

  9. My goal is not to improve. I am happy to just slow my decline (will be turning 60 this fall)!

    I was once a pretty good player (around 2350 USCF circa 1980-1985) but rarely play competitive chess nowadays. Perhaps out of inertia, I do still buy and read chess books. It’s cheap entertainment.

    I enjoy some opening books (liked the Tarrasch book and am awaiting the French ones), but my favorite kind of chess-book is, and always has been a collection of a strong players games annotated by that player.

    I hope Quality chess will do some books like that – (the Polgar books are a great step in that direction).

  10. Chess is one of many activities that I have enjoyed during my life – I have turned 50 and the clock is ticking and I am not so sure that an increment will be added.

    I loved playing rugby when I was in my twenties ( Welsh dad so thoroughly enjoyed the final Saturday of the 6 Nations) but the body is long past tackling anyone larger than my granddaughter.

    I have always enjoyed music, still go to concerts but discovered after a few impulse guitar buys and some very sore fingers that I can listen and enjoy but will never have any musical ability beyond very basic fretting.

    I used to love to draw, not at the chess board particularly, but with pencils or pen and ink, even won a local competition in my youth, but photography is just much easier and quicker!

    I learned how to play chess when I was 11, with a fractured foot, in plaster and feeling sorry for myself, no sport for months! A friend showed me the move and I fell in love – I have never had any tuition and now 40 years later am becoming more and more intrigued by the beauty of the game as well as becoming aware that the more solutions I uncover the more questions I find in front of me.
    I have started playing for my County this season and have had a few good results otb however I am consistently inconsistent and know that I could improve by at least 25 ECF points in the next couple of years.

    So to cut a long ramble short I want to improve at chess because although I know I can, I have no idea how much I can improve by

  11. Obviously I am reading all of this as it comes in, I just do not want to prejudice anything by comment or judge people on their honesty in public. Neither do I believe anyone else should do this. Writing your reasons here should be cathartic and helpful in a lot of ways, not make you a target.

  12. Javier Castellote

    Hi all again.

    With this post, I decided once and for all, quit chess. I can not follow the dynamics that I am following, is too much for me. Too much enthusiasm and vitality for fruit’m picking. Sorry, I’m sad and partly depressed. I can not, it’s impossible. The feeling of being excited, studying, so you will not be reflected. My head is going to explode.



  13. @Javier Castellote

    You are young and talented, explore the world, my guess is that you will not quit chess forever
    Remember that when even a grain of sand falls into the deepest lake, one day, some day the ripples will caress the shore and you will feel inspired to play our beautiful game again. Until that day enjoy whatever you do and do whatever you enjoy

    au revoir

  14. I simply want to understand chess better. I strive toward mastery and completely understanding the game. Since that’s not going to happen, given the complexity of the game, it gives me a goal I can always work toward and every small piece of improvement is a step closer. Winning is simply a side benefit to me – what I really want is understanding.

  15. I am a pretty weak player (1020 Australian chess federation rating). I just enjoy learning more and hopefully becoming slightly better, understanding more.

  16. Hmm interesting question, why do I want to improve? Coming from a sporting background and always being competitive I want to win more is the honest answer!! The aesthetic answer is to enjoy the game the more and gain more pleasure from seeing the beautiful ideas hidden in this wonderful game. Actually I have been improving in the last year and this is very true. The better I play and understand the game the more enjoyable the experience of chess becomes to me win lose or draw.

  17. 49yrs…USCF ‘Expert’ for 20 years (2000 – 2199), been playing trash openings, casual study, just a tournament or two a year…then decided this year it was ‘now or never’ to try and reach master. I toyed with the Rumania (?) International Chess School, took 3 months of ‘lessons’…too much for people newer to the game so I just gave that up. So…YES, I very much want to improve and become a Master level player, not just a ‘permanent expert’ who gets by on some measure of natural talent takes the occassional point and half point off the masters…but does so regularly!

    Currently going thru GM Prep: Calculation and a smattering of Positional Play at the moment.

  18. I would like to improve my chess for two reasons:

    1) Because I like the game a lot, and think I can appreciate its beauty even more if I am better at it.

    2) For competitive reasons: I want to get the most out of my abilities (given the time I have available) in order to win more games. I simply like winning games :-).

  19. I love the game but was far from being among the best in my teens, well may be among the best 50 in my country at my age bracket. I went for high education, postgraduate, research, so haven’t plyed or studied chess for about 30 years. Now, in my fifties, I have reached my (very low)ceiling in real life and I have returned to the fairy land of chess. But I also somehow don’t want to win games against weaklings, I want to play a real good chess and improve my understanding of what goes on when playing it or watching the best play chess.

  20. I like the game and I like to study it. I play max. 1 Tournament a year (married, job, already 38, Elo 2260), so it ist diffiult to improve without playing.
    There were times I liked more looking in chess then playing , but after reading some goood books by an unknown danish player I started also to play better. Now I have a goal to reach 2300, but beside that I also like to play a good Game, this is very satisfying.

  21. Marco van Straaten

    I like to improve in chess, because when I improve, the game (or rather my understanding of the game) gets richer, thus giving me more pleasure playing it. It’s a bit like making a vague picture clearer, zooming in, seeing more details.

  22. Why do I want to improve in chess?


    -chess is fun,

    -winning is funniest than losing and it’s good for my ego,

    -the best you understand chess the more interesting chess is,

    -chess is logical especially endgames and I like logical games,

    -I want to beat 2 times an IM – or someone > 2400 – (1 time could be a coincidence) and for that I need to make real progress.

  23. I’m not quite sure. First, I like to play chess, but I like winning much more than losing. Losing a chess game is very frustrating, since it’s my own fault, usually. So there’s the hope (probably unrealistic) that playing will become more consistently fun and less frustrating once I’m better. Bit of a negative reason.

    The more positive reason is that the more you know about chess, the more interesting it becomes. It becomes ever more amazing. If chess is fun, then being good at chess is more fun.

    But there’s also fascination with the learning process — how come others are so much better than me? How come I am on a plateau? Surely there must be some way for me to reach the same level as they are? Each game you’re in completely new positions, how to train that?

    But, since three months, I’m trying to improve by doing Yusupov. I bought three of the books, but I’m still in the first one, only 10 chapters done. I try to do a little bit every day, because that was recommended here. During the winter I’ve had a lot of flu problems, I have a family, I haven’t really been able to play a lot of chess. But doing daily exercises has been wonderful! I’m really enjoying it.

    So now I’m just addicted to solving exercises. Maybe I’ll stop playing the game some day, to concentrate on my new hobby: setting up a few chess positions to solve them each day 🙂

  24. Improvement has two meanings:
    -better understanding
    -better results
    In order to justify the time we invest in chess, we need to experience at least one of the two options.

  25. FREDPHIL :Why do I want to improve in chess?
    -chess is fun,
    -the best you understand chess the more interesting chess is,

    People want to do the best they can in whatever they do.

  26. I will give an unusual answer. Right now, I don’t want to get better at chess.

    I don’t like playing on the Internet. Since I prefer to play face-to-face rather than on the Internet, I only have a small group of people to play against. If I get too good, I am afraid the people I play against will lose interest in playing against me. I’d rather keep the social interaction, than stomp them all in chess.

    In other words, I’ve come to the realization that chess is just a game. It’s not that important, in the bigger picture of things.

  27. Jacob Aagaard :Obviously I am reading all of this as it comes in, I just do not want to prejudice anything by comment or judge people on their honesty in public. Neither do I believe anyone else should do this. Writing your reasons here should be cathartic and helpful in a lot of ways, not make you a target.

    Apologies if my comment was interpreted as being targeted on any of the previous people posting their motivation to improve. This was not my intention by any means. My statement “amazing how easy it is to lose track” was actually targeted at myself. I should have tried harder to indicate this in my humble English.

  28. Hi Jacob,

    Thanks for giving us this opportunity to reflect a bit on why we so much want to improve at chess. As far as I’m concerned, improving at chess is a heavily loaded goal, to use Michael Neill’s terminology.

    To be honest, my goal is not really to be better at chess but to earn some kind of recognition from my peers. Unfortunately, though I love this game, I don’t have the feeling that I’m playing for the sake of it. I’d very much like to improve but, more importantly, I’d like to find back the enthusiasm, the passion and the curiosity I experienced when I started playing!

    In other words, I’d like this goal to be much less loaded and much more enjoyable. To put it differently, I’d like chess to become a game again! I’d like to stop worrying about rating points or opening repertoires and start enjoying the sheer process of thinking and of being creative.

    I’ll follow your new series of posts with great interest Jacob!

    Kind regards,


  29. Why I want to improve? Three reasons:

    1) Glory — I want to win tournaments, starting with local swisses and strong club tournaments. I’ve had some success so far, but not enough. Ultimately, I’d like to be a contender, if a longshot, in regional/national tournaments. (I’m in the US, where regional tournaments invariably attract several GMs.)

    2) Creativity — I get a kick from digging up hidden ideas or tactics. A good “Eureka!” moment can make up for several all-too-common blunders.

    3) Perfectibility — OK, so chessplaying isn’t perfectible, but for me virtuosity is its own reward.

  30. The reason I have for wanting to improve at chess is quite simple…I want a higher rating. The reasons behind this, however, are largely psychological. I place a lot of confidence in the rating system, which I consider to be an accurate estimator of the differential between my intelligence and my stupidity. How well I can contain my flaws as a human being, my overconfidence, my inattention to details, and my dismissal of the validity of the ideas of others are usually on display for all to see in my current ELO. I want a higher rating because I cannot help but believe that this will represent to some extent an overall improvement in the parts of myself that I wish I could suppress more efficiently, and that success at the board will follow as a natural corollary to overall improvement of the self, and vice versa.

  31. Nearly losing my job because of two chronic illnesses and remarking problems in my attention, chess was a good mean of measuring the progress of my recovery as there was no real task on the job wanted by my new chief, which would have been better imo.

    So I started playing tournament after two decades and training. And the fun of learning got me. When I retire from job out of age I will have the time to take over some training tasks for the young people. The better I understand chess the higher will be the probability of being a better trainer is my assumption.

  32. I want to improve in chess…

    – because I love competing, and chess is deeper and more interesting than any other sport I’ve been exposed to (this is what I tell myself whenever heretical thoughts about the pointlessness of pushing wood around creeps in).

    – because I want to reach a rating level where I can enter the top group in my national championship whenever I want, and play with the best there.

    – Because I believe I have a good idea of how amateurs should train to get good. At the moment a lack of discipline and time is holding me back, so breaking down those barriers to finally find out if I’m onto something is a personal battle for me.

    – Because I do some training work, and a title would give me a bit more authority (and allow me to charge more) in that capacity.

  33. + Playing real chess against a live opponent and a clock is one of the few situations where I sometimes experience “flow”. But a flow state won’t last long when wins are thrown away due to poor technique or well-played games are marred by time trouble. So the quest for those satisfying times of total immersion also entails a quest for more consistent play (read: improvement).

  34. I’m really looking forward to this series of blog posts. And I think it’s an interesting start.

    I want to improve my chess, not because I think being a *current rating*+200-player will make any essential difference in how I enjoy chess, but because trying to improve is what makes playing chess worthwhile. (Or doing anything complicated and creative, really.)

    Of course I sometimes just hustle a bit, typically online, but I’m usually quite quickly fed up with it. Only putting in real effort allows me to play somewhere close to my optimal chess and everything else feels like a waste of time.

    And standing still really means going backward. That feels particularly true in chess. And if there is one thing more frustrating than playing significantly below your optimal level, it’s playing slightly worse every year.

  35. I want to improve my chess to get the full pleasure of following the sportl. Most of the times, I don’t understand the moves made by Super GMs unless they are well-annotated. I want to get the pleasure without someone annotating the games. Achieving better results and rating in tournaments is just another motivation but not the primary one.

  36. I know that in most fields people say that “the more you learn, the less you know,” I just don’t see it that much for chess. Even after doing a book and a bit of Yussupow’s orange books (and many other sources at random), I see that nowadays I feel more in control and understand more chess positions. I can make workable plans and judge more easily. Feeling clueless is painful, and of course that will never go away but it will reduce a bit and that will feel good. I hope…

  37. I want to improve in chess, because chess help me in my everyday life to develop my mental and psychological skills and it should help us to succeed in other facets of life as well. Chess gives a deep strategic understanding. Both of which are valuable in everyday living and decision making. Thats why for me, a good chess player should see the relationship between chess as a brain sport and life. I strongly believe that chess players should be wise personalities.
    They should have developed this habit of thinking, analyzing the situation and finding the right solution (when most people make impulsive decisions often).
    They should be able to predict the consequences of their actions for many “moves” ahead.
    They should have good concentration and think effectively.
    They should create long-term plans, based on their strategic understanding.
    All in all, chess players should have a habit of thinking. This should make them “modern philosophers”, successful in chess as well as in any other area.
    Lasker said “chess is like life , a continuous struggle”. We can consider chess as close to philosophy, about thinking process. But philosophy is made of words, whereas chess are made of spacial thinking. We can consider chess game as spacial philosophy.

  38. I want to improve only because of one reason: I believe that the pleasure of playing chess is the higher the better you play.

  39. What I want is to get back to playing at the same level as I did when I was working seriously on my own game – that was over ten years ago.

  40. I want to improve for two reasons:
    1) Personal achievement. I like setting myself challenges and overcoming them. The GM title is the obvious goal right now. (For those that don’t know, I am currently rated 2438 with one GM norm.)
    2) For competitive reasons. Simply put, I like winning!

  41. I want to improve at chess because I know that I love the game and I know that I have it within me to play at a much higher level that the level I currently play at.

  42. Shurlock Ventriloquist

    brabo :
    Vanity, definitely my favorite sin

    ah yes, but humility is the worst form of conceit, so what is one to do?


  43. I wasn’t going to respond to this, but decided to do so since it is a strangely hard question for me to answer. I’m 42 years old, about 2400 fide and pretty much stopped playing after the age of 23 except for 30 min tourneys were I play maybe every other year at best. I’ve always liked chess but I never loved it. Growing up, I barely ever did any work on my own – I’ve never analyzed my own games or anyone else’s games, never studied or played mainline theory. I did go to a “young pioneers” place for group training in Russia. I didn’t do any “homework” – I new I was good enough that they wouldn’t kick me out. To give an example of my “dedication” – in the 90’s, I bought Dvoretsky’s program for well over 1000 bucks; to say that I solved maybe 5% of the puzzles would be really pushing it. The only thing I enjoyed doing once in a while was solving studies – I’d solved them quickly no matter how hard they were. I can still do it but much slower – I’m completely out of shape now.
    And now, I’m having a midlife crisis of sorts. I’m starting to regret that I never put any effort into chess. It’s bothering me more and more. I feel that even now, if I put some serious work in, I can become a grandmaster. I think I have way too many glaring deficiencies (apart from lack of tournament practice), and if I improve on at least some of them, I’ll understand chess a heck of a lot better. I also need to learn/re-learn at least some theory – to come out of the opening with a playable position against 2400 or higher, I need to know some theory. I really don’t enjoy playing when I’m completely out of shape. I can allocate a few hours per day for chess work. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. I’m slowly working through your calculation workbook – I really like it. After working 2 hours every day for a few weeks (and I’ve done it a number of times), the shear magnitude of my undertaking dons on me, and I give up. I can’t even justify this undertaking to myself. I don’t think I’m lazy – I’ve done plenty of hard work in my life, especially when I had to. Just not on chess. And then there’s my main problem still – I like chess but I don’t really love it. I’d still much rather go play soccer than study chess. Maybe I’d like the process better if I felt that I was accomplishing something – perhaps this is an extremely important issue. Maybe I should just see a psychiatrist. Jacob, if you have any thoughts on this debacle, don’t hesitate to let me know.

  44. Answering the question: For me it is a matter of personal challenge. I don’t think I will enjoy chess more if I am a better player but the challenge is interesting.

  45. As a kid I had little contact with my father, who was schizophrenic and was hospitalized many times. Mostly he lived out on a ranch with his parents, while I lived with my mother in the city. My only contact with him came every few months when he would visit. We would take out the baseball and mitt and play catch for a half hour or so, then go inside and play chess on a rather nice old set that he gave me for my birthday. Once when I was twelve, I beat him, and he wouldn’t play me anymore. Now I’m obsessed with chess. Go figure. . .

  46. I realize I have actually answered the question “Why do you play chess?” Why do I want to improve? Perhaps to justify the time spent. . .

  47. @barry
    I know somebody who was going through medical school. He was close to graduation, when he had an epiphany. He didn’t really want to be a doctor. That is, he really didn’t want to practice medicine. He just wanted to be able to call himself “Doctor”.

    I think maybe it’s like that for some chess players. They want to be able to call themselves GMs, as an ego thing, but they don’t necessarily care that much about chess for its own sake. (And that’s not a judgment. I’m the person who recently posted about chess being just a game.)

  48. I guess the whole debate about intrinsic Vs. extrinsic motivation in the context of chess improvement would be an interesting topic for Jacob to tackle!

  49. 8 years ago I finished all my goals I had set in chess. I broke the barrier of 2000 rating. I became club champion for the 4th time, 3 times in a row and was allowed to keep the trophy with the champions on it. I got a title, correspondence chess International Master, in chess. I also was a youth trainer for over 19 years. Helped organizing numerous tournaments. Have been a web master for the cc federation. So now what?

    Then my mother died and a good friend died of cancer, he was only 38. I lost all my ambition and energy. Chess seemed so meaningless. I did not even open the chess magazines anymore. It took me over 2 years to get over it.

    Then I slowly started playing more and more, but not with the endless energy and ambition I had in the past. 1.5 years ago I met my current trainer on the Spa Chess tournament. It started with a question about GM databases. Which lead to a nice conversation which made me think about what I really wanted to strive for in chess. I was 43, had made myself useful and had helped others for over 22 years. It was time for myself for a change.

    I have learned chess by myself. I did start in the youth group of the club when I was 15 but the volunteer stopped the year thereafter. Within 3 years I was 2nd of the club. Although I belonged to the 10 best youth players in the region I never was supported by the federation. Basically we were too far away from Amsterdam and no club in the region was very strong. No club played national competition. There were only a few chess books, Euwe of course, I did Judgment and Planning 5 times and each time I understood more. Traveling to big tournaments was not really possible, too far away or too costly.

    But times have changed. Way more good books, easy access to games/databases, chess engines, traveling is affordable and finally a personal trainer is a real option. So I decided to at least try to see how far I really could get with all these tools. I decided to take lessons.

    The first year has not been so much about chess training but more about reorganizing my life, to adjust it to playing more games at a higher level. Participate in stronger tournaments, traveling. Getting more stamina, changing eating and sleeping habits, losing weight as a result. But also learning how to study, make it a habit. The biggest problem was getting rid of all the other stuff I did. Cause it was not that my life was full of empty hours. Some stuff I just stopped doing but other things I really love to do still. Its not easy to lessen or stop doing these things.

    Slowly I do see progress in my results. I made a new rating record nationally, 2097. I suddenly beat someone over 2200. Shortly after that I got my first title holder scalp: a WGM of 2331 and was close to beating an IM. I still have my ups and downs rating wise though. It comes with disassembling my old habits and replacing them by new ones. The goal is trying to become an IM, although I even would be happy with the crappy CM title and a rating above 2200. I hope to break through the 2100 rating the coming months and set the next step on my wonderful journey.

  50. Why do I want to improve part 2?
    Well after last night I would say definitely to stop repeats of my up and down form. My current rating equates to roughly 2010 (conversion from ECF) So maybe I SHOULD be predictably inconsistent, but I don’t understand how one day I can beat a higher rated opponent with, what seemed to me, a nice attacking game concluding with a mate in 6 – then on another day I can play against a lower rated opponent and have seemingly no plan, no imagination and no idea, and I almost lost on time, so I was at least trying to think, I think! 🙂

  51. As Viktor the great said “chess you don´t learn, chess you understand ” that´s what I´m trying to do 🙂 understanding is the only way to improve

  52. Hi

    Besides to impress women……

    I dont remember the exact qoute but i read an interview with Kasparov once where he said something like “If you dont want to be the best you can be, then why improve at all?” (please feel free to correct if you know the quote). I think I want to improve because I have a feeling I have a lot more potential than my current strenght reflect and I am eager to prove this to myself.

  53. @Lars Ekholm

    As far as I remember the story goes like this: Amateur is asking Kasparow “What method to improve at chess do you recomend to a person with lack of time?”. Kasparow´s answer: “Why do you want to improve at chess if you have no time for it?”

  54. It’s nonsense of course. It’s like telling a marathon runner that he shouldn’t try to beat his personal record just because he can’t or doesn’t want to dedicate all his time to training.


    # review from by Brian Almeida”

    “……Botvinnik’s Complete Games 1942-1956, by Mikhail BotvinnikAltogether……these six volumes will present a complete collection of Botvinnik’s game annotations and writings……
    Given the similarity of the titles within the two Botvinnik series and the fact that the covers are identical, this six-volume set competes with Yusupov’s nine-volume set from Quality Chess as the most convoluted and confusing series from the readers’ point of view.”


    REVIEW of Grandmaster Repertoire 13 – 🙂 The Open Spanish 🙂 by Victor Mikhalevski:

    Quality Chess launched their incredibly popular series with Boris Avrukh’s “Grandmaster Repertoire 1 – 1.d4 Vol. 1” and “Grandmaster Repertoire 2 – 1.d4 Vol. 2” and since then kept their high level when it comes to opening books! If a Quality Chess book holds the name “Grandmaster Repertoire” you can expect a twist in current theory as countless novelties are almost guaranteed.

    The Author GM Victor Mikhalevski is an Israeli grandmaster with a peak rating of 2632! He has represented Israel at Olympiads and other major team events, and has won many international tournaments. He is renowned as one of the world’s foremost opening experts!” He has a close relationship with “The Open Spanish” as his brother was tought how to play it when he went to army. His passion for it started when he learned it from his brother and began playing it himself!

    But let’s talk a bit about the book itself! It’s a repertoire choice for black and covers the Open Spanish which arises after

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4

    This opening was an old favorite of Victor Korchnoj who enjoyed playing the black pieces! Black does not wait until white is able to finish his development and start slow maneuvering play as often happens in the Closed Systems, but immediately destroys an important central foothold. In recent times the Open Spanish experienced some new boosts in popularity and is seen almost everywhere, from ambitious club players up to the very top!

    Victor Mikhalevski noticed this development and decided to update the theory of the Open Spanish in literature with his monumental work: “Grandmaster Repertoire 13 – The Open Spanish”. The books are – as the name of the publisher indicates – of high quality! Its design, typesetting as well as the general printing is praiseworthy and belongs to my favorite books! I just like the way Quality Chess is publishing the books and it’s always a pleasure to read and study these books.

    It’s always difficult to decide which content to include and which not! Here the author does not cover “The Open Games” for black, as Mikhail Marin did once for Quality Chess, but covers everything starting from: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bb5 (Spanish opening )a6 4.Ba4 Nf6

    So the reader has to cover the never-dying “Exchange variation” (4.Bxc6 dxc6 ) himself as well as the other opening systems beside the Ruy Lopez, i.e. Scotch Opening, Italian Game, Four Knight Opening etc. But from move 5 on he covers almost everything!

    As you can see the structure is well-thought. Most chapters get an introduction with some verbal explanations on how to handle the resulting positions. When we go deeper into the lines the verbal explanations vanish and more concrete lines and final evaluations crop up. In that way the book differs from Avrukh’s work as well as Mikhail Marin’s work on the English opening but not necessarily lose any of its impact and importance for the current theory!

    Throughout the whole book the reader will find tons of novelties with plenty of new and fresh ideas which will surprise your opponents right in the opening and make sure that you’ll be the one who dictate the game!


    It’s always a pleasure to read these books. The high standard set by Quality Chess ensures that these books will be among the best on the market. Especially the “Grandmaster Repertoire” series is known to change the trend and establish new ideas based upon their novelties included! I still remember how Boris Avrukh managed to lift the Catalan’s reputation with his books and I’m sure Victor Mikhalevski will do the same with the Spanish Opening! I’ll recommend this book for players of all playing strengths, from beginners up to strong Grandmasters. Players starting the game of chess are advised to play 1.e4 e5 and should not miss “Grandmaster Repertoire 13”.

    Lukas Wedrychowski

  57. I am 55 years old. I started playing in junior events in the late 60’s. I had promise I suppose and played at an “A” level when I was 14-15, but I quit improving due to lack of discipline and a mentor of any sort. I fooled around until my early 20’s and learned a bit more about solid play and planning, but looking back I didn’t have any notion how to work on calculation skills. I retired for 23 years from the game. When I came back I found that materials for improvement were much easier to find than when I was a kid. Silman’s books got me back to playing a reasonable game. I finally had the time and the desire to improve and the money to travel to U.S. large swiss events, but I spun my wheels for awhile. A poor halfbaked study of a library copy Jacob book sent me into a meltdown at a tourney in the first round. I calmed down and got my head together and set out to study with the best of habits, solving every problem presented, absorbing books like literature. I had never fancied myself an attacking player when I picked up the attack manuals. There was a real turning point in my understanding many things I wished I had been taught in my youth. Some of the material was damn hard for me, but the fog began lifting. The grandmaster preparation calculation volume was really tough and took a long time to finish, but wow! I know I understand the game better than I ever did as a kid. It seemed like the players in the expert sections I competed in at events were mostly playing badly. I’ve only gotten my OTB rating up to 1941, but that is my peak. I want to improve, as others have earlier stated in this thread, because I can. I am..I have. I will. Keep up the material coach. I’m not going to be one of those sad sacks my age or younger who give up after losing to some kid. Kids can fear me. My work ethic will allow me to compete with them.

  58. @phil
    Thank you for your enduring support.

    I want to point out an important little things to others. Silman, Watson, Hendrix, Rowson, I and others might disagree with some theoretical points about how to learn chess; but there are always many ways to do things and the “best” way is not the same for all, or even the same for one person at different times in their lives. All of this debate should be healthy and inspiring, and it would if everyone accepted that a critique of an idea is not a critique of a person.

  59. Why do you want to improve at Chess?
    Personally, I don’t want to strictly improve: I want to understand.
    It’s like reading Kafka’s “Der Process”, when the abrupt killing of K never happens and you’re kept in a dreamlike neverending search for some deeper meaning.

  60. Seeing these posts has been very interesting,

    I would like to improve at rapid or blitz chess as I find full length games just too much commitment of time, emotion and energy. I would like my rating to reflect my knowledge and interest in the history and culture of chess. If chess were an acadmic subject I imagine I might have a doctorate.
    It does seem to me though it is very hard, even impossible to compete at the standard of people who played competitive chess before their teens if one did not start till later.
    Maybe rather than try to improve playing strength from this position it is better to attempt to write or make chess web site, videos or podcast .

  61. My goal is to become a professional player. I am unemployed but I only care about chess. The passing month I have spent more time on chess than I have ever done before. My goal is to push it to maybe 12 hours every day. Carlsen I will see you soon.

  62. Funny… started with searching for info on “blunders” in Marin’s books on English Opening and landed here (for exmample, the first subvariation and diagram on page 221 in Chapter 18 in the first book: 14… Ne6 loses immediately to 15.g4. Marin suggests 15.Be3. Probably 14… Nf6 was meant. When Be3 makes sense. But, the diagram shows 14… Ne6).

    Regarding the question “why do I want to improve”.
    Because it’s frustrating to stay on the same level for years (in my case – almost 15 full years playing on the same level) watching others advance.
    Because I keep spending too much time on chess which negatively affects my career, social life and even health. I could do so many things instead… But, chess compeition attracts me like a drug.

    On one hand – I spend my every spare minute playing chess (mainly online) and reading chess books. On the other, in spite of over 30 000 online games played in recent years and 1-2 serious chess books read every month I don’t improve. I have enough over-the-board practice (at least 5-7 games during week-ends per month… and almost every day when on vacation). I analyze my tournament games. I write down my thoughts during those games and compare it with engines and stronger players, I do many things. But… I’m doing it wrongly.
    The “weirdest” thing. I tried to give chess lessons to weaker players. And they don’t improve with me either.

    1. Very interesting posting. Could you please send me an e-mail just to see if I can give you some private advice for a few minutes?

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