“How to get better at chess?”
If only we know the ever-elusive answer to this question, we would play better chess…so much better actually. We would find the RIGHT plan for the position we have in front of us. We would stop leaving our pieces and pawns en prise. We would develop our forces smoothly in our chess games.
Long story short, we won’t be struggling and we won’t stay as Class D or Class C players.
Unfortunately, the answer to the said question isn’t so straightforward. And it’s NOT the same for all of us. Some of us need to work more on tactics. Others must cut their teeth in king and pawn endgame training. Some chess players just need to expose themselves in MORE tournaments and games to significantly improve chess skills.
HOWEVER, there are 2 tips that would surely help you get better at chess no matter what your skill level, tournament experience, or age is. And to be honest, these 2 chess improvement techniques are my main tools to get better. Studying openings and theory – these are secondary in my list.
Anyway, here they are…
How To Get Better At Chess Tip 1 – The WHAT
Let’s NOT beat around the bush, here’s what I do regularly to help take my chess game to the next level: study instructively annotated grandmaster games.
YES, believe it or not, even top class grandmasters do this regularly (except that opening study takes the front seat in their preparations). The only difference is that what is instructive for them (reams and reams of variations, computer analysis, Informator type of annotations, etc.) may not be instructive for us since we don’t have that level of understanding yet.
HOWEVER, the idea of studying master games to improve stays the same.
Think about it: by studying a game from the first move all the way to the last one (especially if it’s annotated and analyzed well enough for amateurs to understand), you don’t just get an opening lesson. You don’t just understand the plans that the players devised in the middlegame. You don’t just get to see a grandmaster display his technique in the endgame.
You get the WHOLE shebang!
If you are allowed to remember only one idea about this article on how to get better at chess, make sure would be it.
How To Get Better At Chess Tip 2 – The HOW
How to study annotated grandmaster games for maximum benefit and chess improvement – this is where everyone gets confused.
Should you go for FM Ken Smith’s Osmosis Method where you go through one game after another quickly…trying to assimilate the ideas by osmosis? Or do you go for the “Painstakingly Detailed” Method where you go as slow as you can, try to guess the moves and analyze the position before reading the annotations?
Well, according to NM Dan Heisman, both should be taken up and balanced. Both bring benefits and help you play better chess.
Personally, HOWEVER, I think I get the best bang for my buck by going through the games slowly – guessing the move, analyzing on my own before reading the master’s notes, etc.
Doing so allows me to exercise my chess thought process while familiarizing myself with the different plans and ideas that grandmaster’s use in their games.
A Rich Source Of Grandmaster Games Annotated Especially For Amateurs! As I have mentioned earlier, the level of annotation that’s instructive for masters and experts may not work for you. For amateurs, verbal explanation of the thinking behind the move works better than reams of variations and analysis.