Over the years, chess players often find themselves bumping their heads onto the ceilings of their chess skills. However hard they may try to crash through this ceiling, but it’s just their own head that hurts in the process (Was this a pun!?) I totally understand this situation because I myself was faced with a similar situation in my chess career. It so happens that every tournament you play, your rating keeps tumbling down further, and you can’t see any way to break the bracket.
But you find yourself reading this article because your love for this beautiful game is more than anything.
In this post, I will discuss a few tips that when applied, will certainly improve your game!
1. Avoiding Long Chess sessions
You know that you love the game, and that is probably why you find yourself online on chess.com and lichess up to even 8 hours a day for some people playing chess non-stop. But this is where you need to remember that practicing like that; you are not helping yourself, in fact, harming your skills. This happens mainly due to the fact, that after a certain number of games that you play, your brain becomes more liable to make mistakes in calculation. As you keep making those mistakes, your chess habits degrade and incorrect play-style seeps into your subconscious. The best way to avoid this is by following the 1-1 rule. If you play for 1 hour, you rest for 1 hour.
2. Avoiding Bullets
When the heading says avoiding bullets in chess, I mean it literally. In Chess, with a center of gravity in the online arenas, the most popular formats happen to be 1+0, 2+1, 3+2, 5+0 and sometimes 5+2. Though the chess played in these formats is considerably fun, thrilling and exciting, it has a dark side to it too. Some people may argue that such formats boost quick patter recognition speed. But I would argue otherwise. As we become habitual of these formats, our concentration spam becomes shorter and shorter.
With each passing game, we lose our ability to think and ponder over moves, and hence lose the ability to find the best sequences and combinations that render the game so beautiful. If you don’t believe me, you may conduct this self-experiment to test if what I am saying is true. Play a few bullet games (1+0) and follow with a standard game (15+10). You may realize that you are unable to take your time with the moves. The long term effect is similar, but less noticeable.
The longer the format the better! 15+10 is min for those looking to improve their games.
3. Physical Exercise
“A healthy mind resides in a healthy body”
There is no arguing the conclusion of several researches that physical fitness implies mental fitness. Going for a run on the morning of a tournament is a helpful short term measure. Going for a run daily is a great bonus! Even current world champion Magnus Carlsen is a football enthusiast!
4. Reading books
Reading chess books can often be a daunting task! But if your level of determination knows no bounds, I would be really happy to recommend the following books to you!
My system by Aron Nimzowitsch (About the modern chess elements)
My 60 memorable games by Bobby Fisher (In depth analysis of how the brain of the one of the greatest chess prodigies thought)
Dvoretsky’s endgame manual (Often cited as the bible for endgame chess)
5. Chess Tactics
With the development of online databases, we no longer need books or chessboards for tactics training. There are plenty of online resources that shall guide you to your destination of becoming a brilliant tactician. But when applying this make sure you are thorough and consistent. By thorough, I mean, when you do it, don’t just look up solutions until the moment you are sure that you have the best move in hand! By consistent I mean, do it daily and follow through with a fixed number daily depending on the difficulty level.
Building a repertoire is for when you develop a strength of about 1200-1500 ELO. At these times, you need to have a confirmed response to every opponents move for the duration of your opening. You take a notebook and a chess board. Analyze all possible positions that may result from your style of play until it leads you into a comfortable middle game.