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Thoughts on chess improvement, after gaining 600 points in 6 months (mbuffett.com)
331 points by marcusbuffett on Oct 7, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 192 comments

Pedantry alert: As ELO ratings follow a logarithmic curve, "gaining 600 points" is a dimensionless metric.

These are good tips for beginner to intermediate growth. The things that definitely help the most are:

* Pattern recognition - the best courses for this level are things like "Common traps in <some random opening>", applied with Woodpecker method. Once you've memorized all the mistakes in the Scandi or London system, you can really crush a lot of people who play haphazardly.

* Study your own games and games of people at or just above your level. Four simple methods:

1) during the game, write down (Lichess has a notes section on the left) 3 candidate moves for every move in the middle and endgame, why you're making a particular move, and what you think the opponent's response will be

2) use the "Learn from your mistakes" button after each game during analysis

3) check the most common moves in the opening that are different than yours, play through a couple of masters' games to see why those positions are preferred.

And my last tip which helped me a lot just with the "meta" of playing chess ...

* Use more time. Be okay with losing games because you run out of time thinking. Always, always, always try to play the best move, even if it means spending a lot of time.

Doesn't gaining 600 points mean that you are able to beat the "old you" (or more precisely, people who you used to be even with) with 99% probability? (Or perhaps more meaningfully, you can now beat someone who could beat someone who could beat someone who could beat someone who can beat the old you, all with 80% probability?)

(I made up the exact numbers, but the idea is there.)

That seems like a meaningful interpretation of "600 points" that applies to anyone -- though the difficulty of actually making this improvement definitely varies with your starting rating.

> That seems like a meaningful interpretation of "600 points" that applies to anyone

It does apply to anyone, but it is more or less meaningful depending on where you start, so the meaningfulness isn't equivalent.

It's as if you say you can double your money, but it only works once and with a value < $1.

The idea that, say, Magnus could increase his chess playing abilities in 6 months (or even 6 years) to be able to beat the current version of himself 99% of the time would be insane.

I often wonder if chess players have a natural "peak"/"optimal" age range in the way that professional athletes do. Being a thinking game that requires strong brain functionality combined with accumulated experience, I wonder if there is an age range that is best for most players.

Trade offs may be something like in yours teens and early 20's your brain may have the most plasticity and ability to visualize (plan 10+ moves ahead) but you might not have accumulated enough experience.

I'm purely speculating here and just wondering aloud. (I bring it up in response to this comment because Magnus' prodigious talent is so noteworthy I wonder when Magnus will stop being able to "beat" Magnus of 1 year ago.

Someone posted some basic analysis with mild QC on elo vs age for FIDE rated players as of 2014: https://www.chess.com/blog/LionChessLtd/age-vs-elo---your-ba...

I think there are a lot of confounders to consider. Though GMs like Anand show a drop in standard rating (https://ratings.fide.com/profile/5000017/chart), his blitz rating is near his all-time-high (ie. is his standard rating drop due to decreased mental performance or a shift in interest/focus to blitz?). Similarly, I suspect a lot of strong players who fall in the `2000<FIDE rating<2300` realize they may not be the next magnus and shift focus when/if they make the decision to pursue a career outside of professional chess.

> I wonder when Magnus will stop being able to "beat" Magnus of 1 year ago.

While this doesn't answer your question, it's interesting to note Magnus's peak rating was actually 7 and a half years ago, when he was only 23.

Then again with how ELO works it doesn’t necessary mean that it was Magnus’s peak only that that the point when the gap between him and the rest of the chess world was the largest. I think others became stronger and he had more competition. Still Magnus himself seems to think he is past his peak in interviews.

I mean, he himself wouldn't necessarily be able to tell the difference of him getting worse or the rest getting better. To him it's just getting harder to beat people. At his level how can you judge yourself unless you played against a fixed-version AI chess program?

Here's some data for your question. A list of the world's top players (over 2700 Elo) is maintained here: https://2700chess.com/.

With the exception of Anand at 51, they're all quite young.

Hey, I'm not 51 yet!

I watched a YouTube video recently that talked about how difficult it is to go from 2350 FIDE to 2500. It seemed to imply if you don’t make 2500 by age 20, you will probably won’t ever get there or it will require years of study. The video was just an opinion, no data to support it was presented.

Hikaru claims it's 25 when he and many others peaked.

It's worth noting that chess grandmasters can burn up to 6000 calories per day while competing in tournaments. It's an absolutely exhausting endeavor, and I imagine sheer endurance can play a huge role.

So yes, performance does fall off with age, though not as intensely as something like hockey.

Is that true? I thought that the difference between deep thinking energy expenditure and rest expenditure of the brain was not a huge % of the rest energy expenditure. I couldn’t find any source to the 6000 calorie figure, and this article seems to support that the chess player’s calorie deficit was likely due to skipping meals and stress https://www.livescience.com/burn-calories-brain.html

The brain is an organ like any other and gets fatigued more easily with age.

Someone who is just learning chess will likely be able to beat the old them with 99% probability after a few days of playing and learning.

Someone who is ranked at around 1200 and really commits to improving can likely beat the old them in a couple of months by memorizing a few common openings and practicing drills/working on fundamentals.

Someone who is a dedicated chess player and ranked above 1800 may never be able to beat the old them with 99% probability.

So if someone says they improved by 600 points, certainly that is meaningful to them as an individual and it means they can basically beat their old self, but it won't be very meaningful to me.

Doesn't gaining 600 points mean that you are able to beat the "old you" (or more precisely, people who you used to be even with) with 99% probability?

I don't know what it means in theory. In practice I win and then lose 200 points in lichess in a few days.

Some time ago I used to win and lose 100 around the day in a cycle. Maybe ratings aren't adjusted around the globe, so for the same points there are different skill levels as you go through time zones.

There's a fact that really annoys me: for my 2+1 bullet, it's harder to be at 1500 than at 1600. Once I'm at 1600, I can reach 1700 with a winning streak. If I fall into 1500, I tend to get stuck there.

Yeah this is exactly right, as far as my understanding of elo goes.

It means he can beat me with overwhelming odds. That's not nothing.

I love that HN hyper-focused on your 600 points observation. However, 600 points means you went from 1500 (the start) to at least 2100, which is almost universally recognized as "pro" or at least semi-pro for chess.

So yes, logarithmic curve and dimensionless pedantry and all that, I'll grant you; but that's missing the trees for the squirrels in the forest, since 600 points means "I went from noob to pro." No one expects Magnus to gain 600 points, since that's quite impossible.

I guess you could argue that it's possible for someone to start at 1500, then really suck at chess and drop to 900, and then merely become average again (1500), and claim a 600 point improvement. As with the other observation, I agree, that would be impressively misleading. I'm not sure that's the claim, though.

EDIT: I retract every claim. I am in fact an idiot, since the article does say they went from 1200 to 1800, not 1500 to 2100.

This is what I get for writing something dumb. At least I admit it right away though. Sorry.

At least it's proof that the pedantic-ness wasn't so pedantic.

I also take solace in the fact that the actual title of the article was stripped: the title says 1200-1800, not merely 600 points, which in this case is crucial info. But! It was remarkably stupid not to actually click on the link before writing, and this is rather public proof that sometimes I don't. Perhaps that's a strong signal that in the future, I need to be. :)

> I guess you could argue that it's possible for someone to start at 1500, then really suck at chess and drop to 900, and then merely become average again (1500), and claim a 600 point improvement.

This is showing some pretty serious misunderstandings about ELO ratings. 1,500 is absolutely not the starting point. When you first learn Chess, your rating will be low hundreds (like under 500). It takes a decent bit of practice to work your way up to 1,500, at which point you are already decent. 1,500 is roughly average among people who play Chess competitively. You certainly don't start there. 1,800 means you're good enough to beat most players at an average low level local tournament.

... Oh.

It turns out that watching GothamChess doesn't make me a chess player.

Thank you for that. It's mildly interesting analyzing the source of why I was so wrong:

As someone who aspired to be pro at Dota (but was never too skilled at it), my "competitive instincts" have been calibrated for games where you do indeed start at some baseline, even among competitive players, because you will quickly be balanced out to the proper ELO. For example, in HoN (precursor to Dota 2), 1700 was widely considered pro, whereas everyone started at a baseline of 1500. The noobs were quickly punted down to lower than that. (It could've even been 1300 and I'm misremembering, but the point is, the competitive scene was still balanced around 1500 as a baseline.)

Ditto for Dota 2, back when they had explicit MMRs. (MMR = ELO.) Nowadays they don't have MMR, they have ... tiers? ... since they realized that it kind of sucks having a community obsessing over what your actual number is, rather than what division/tier you're in. So they were like "Ok, congratulations, you've reached Immortal tier, you're now a pro."

Anyway, when there was MMR, it still started at some baseline. Because again, the noobs would quickly be punted down to where they belong. 5k was widely considered pro back in those days, back when 5k meant something. But MMR inflation meant that the benchmark then became 6k = pro, and eventually 7k was top tier (I think?), so this was already a de facto tier system.

Point is, saying "1,500 isn't the starting point" for chess, but yes of course it's roughly average among people who play Chess competitively. The competitive scene is all that matters. Me blatantly not reading the article was based around the assumption of "Of course this is referring to the competitive scene."

As I said, it's interesting just how wildly wrong those assumptions were. :)

It's also worth pointing out that now that the bar to entry for playing online Chess is so low, a lot more players are playing in some form of ranked competition. So the lower end is filling in with unskilled people who hardly ever would've "played ranked" in the pre-Web days.

This is additionally confusing because different prominent platforms use different systems - eg, 1500ish is the 50th percentile on lichess (used in the blog post), but chess.com (which many streamers / online commentators use) has more like an 1100 midpoint for its ELO-approximating system, and 1500 is reasonably high there (it also varies with time control I believe). And USCF+FIDE use other systems altogether.

It's basically impossible to discuss chess ratings or changes in them without "type" information :)

At least on lichess which is where The articles mmr is coming from, 1500 is roughly average among everyone playing not people who play competitively.

I sit around 1450-1500. Myself and others I play against regularly throw pieces away for free. Not fall in to traps or anything like that, or even when rushing on low time, I mean just straight up plonk a Queen down in the path of a bishop during the early/mid game for no reason at all. And then sometimes our opponent doesn’t even realise we did it! It’s certainly not competitive tier play.

Unfortunately OP was right to be pedantic. Consider that you assumed the author went from 1500 to 2100 in 6 months, which would be an absolutely monumental achievement, and yet the actual article says the author went from 1200 to 1800, which is nice, certainly nothing to complain about, but nothing even remotely as impressive as going from 1500 to 2100.

600 points, in and of itself, is almost meaningless.

And not only 1200-1800, but 1200-1800 on lichess, which due to that site's rating inflation is probably closer to 700-1300 USCF/FIDE.

It's a good climb but nothing particularly mind blowing.

The full headline is 1200-1800 on lichess, which has a mean of 1500. So they started below average, trained up to something like 65 percentile on lichess. Its good improvement yes, but as someone at that rating, I'd be a mediocre club player at best (no more than 1600 FIDE, and probably less)

He didn't claim to be a pro. He's talking as a beginner..the improvements to be had.

Your comment is all over the place with assumptions that are odd / incorrect and easily corrected by reading the article.

First of all they went from 1200 -> 1800, not 1500 -> 2100.

Second, just because you are given a preliminary rating of 1500 doesn't mean that you are a 1500. I don't know where you would get that idea from. If my 10 year old nephew signs up for lichess and never plays a game, by your logic he's a 1500 rated player.

Third, an elo of 2100 is definitely not "pro" in chess. Especially not an unofficial lichess rating of 2100. A FIDE rating of 2500 is the minimum to be considered a Grandmaster, which is the beginning of anything resembling pro.

Meh, I'd say you could be a pro at the IM level. Plenty of IMs do lessons and stuff.

But yeah 2100 lichess is not even close to pro.

I'd start considering players to be "pro" at around 2600 lichess rapid, which is a pretty normal rating for an International Master. (Mine is over 2200 and I just consider myself to be pretty good.)

1800 is still in the "learning how to play well" stage but getting there from a standing start in 6 months is indeed nice progress. He doesn't seem to claim it's anything more than that, which I appreciate.

I am struggling to understand your point, as this person did not start at 1500: they started at 1200. Imagine if they had started at 900, not gone down and then back up as you posit for some reason?

That's too much work. All my kids play. I have been playing since I was a kid myself. It's just a game. Getting into memorization and deep analysis makes it less interesting for me. I've been in the 1800 to 2000 range for a while. Spending too much time getting great at chess is, in my opinion, time that could be better spent getting good at something far more useful in life. Exercise is such an example.

My system is very simple: Before I play a game I must complete at least five consecutive puzzles. Yes, this might mean I play 12 or 20 puzzles before I get five in a row. What's interesting about this is that if I get to a dozen or more puzzles and did not solve five in a row, I take it as an indication that my brain isn't in "chess mode" and go do something else. Every time I ignore this indicator I lose games.

Just work on puzzles and keep it simple. My kids have a great time with this simple rule. They don't have to memorize anything and they progressively get better and better. Above all, they don't get worked-up about losing at all. Keep it simple and fun.

I think this is where it really shows that it becomes just pattern recognition. Sometimes our brains are fuzzy and we slowly match patterns. Other times they’re quick.

Though I also think the real value in puzzles is not that they help you win more, but lose less.

I often play a puzzle that the advantage gains a piece over one or two lost pawns, and when I play these I love to go then and try to beat stockfish 9, undoing moves freely. I often still lose, but what I learn is how to defend after you blunder and how to avoid blowing an advantage.

I think just solving the puzzle as if you are the stronger player taking advantage of a blunder is less beneficial than solving the puzzle as if you were the one who made the blunder and what do you hope they don’t see is better.

Where do you play puzzles?

chesstempo has the best puzzles, but worst interface. chess.com and lichess both have ok puzzles and better interfaces.

I prefer lichess, and sometimes go to chesstempo for more focused work, but reasonable people can disagree.

Also there are many books of puzzles.

These days mostly lichess


By "Woodpecker method" do you mean this:



This is why HN is great -- appears to be an amazing book.

Yeah, and you can take an interactive course version of it on Chessable


And most of the Chessable courses can be "woodpeckered" through the interface.

Maybe same method could be applied to solving leetcode puzzles for job interview...

At OP's level (1800 lichess), there are only two rules of importance: "don't blunder" and "don't give up." Here's one of their recent wins [1]: in this game, OP had black and was completely lost, down a rook and a knight. Black played on, white dropped their guard and blundered, black pounced on it, and black gets the full point, having made the second-to-last mistake.

I am 2100 in lichess 5/0. Most of my games are still resolved by blunders on either side. It's rare to get a positional advantage and then grind away; instead someone didn't see that backwards knight or lateral queen move.

1: https://lichess.org/fhnTl1lE/black#72

Extra pedantry: you’re of course right that 600 points is somewhat meaningless, given that it’s harder to improve in the higher ratings, but there’s nothing logarithmic about elo. A 1500 playing a 500 has the same odds as winning as a 2500 playing a 1500, mathematically. You earn the same # of points at higher elo too.

> there’s nothing logarithmic about elo. A 1500 playing a 500 has the same odds as winning as a 2500 playing a 1500, mathematically.

Odds ratios being constant with difference is what you’d expect with a logarithmic scale, with a linear scale you’d expect odds ratios to be constant with the ratio of the ratings.

So, you’ve just explained the way in which elo is logarithmic as your evidence that it is not.

Hm you know what that makes some sense, my bad

Extra Extra Pedantry: Lichess doesn't use Elo, it uses Glicko-2 rating system instead.

No, its scale is directly based on log odds - 10 times more likely to win = 400 points higher on ELO.


Pedantry alert: As Elo ratings are named after a person, they shouldn't be fully capitalized, as they are not acronyms.

> Once you've memorized all the mistakes in the Scandi or London system

What's a good book for this?

Usually each opening has its own book (or several books!), I prefer just starting with Lichess studies and YouTube videos



Memorizing the 20-30 traps and mistakes in those studies is sufficient for beginners; you can use spaced repetition (I use my own private Lichess study to collect positions) and cover the 20 or so most popular openings in a few months.

Again, not enough to win but it helps you punish bad play and learn how to handle aggressive players (since many of the traps are in fact bad play but only with perfect counterplay)

"The ability to play chess is the sign of a gentleman. The ability to play chess well is the sign of a wasted life." - Paul Morphy.

I started playing anonymous games on LiChess, and playing without ELO anxiety is way, way more fun. It's a game, this is all I need out of it.

My only problem with anonymous is you have no idea if the person on the other side is 1100 or 2200 ... I just use Zen mode in Lichess, I know the other person is about my level, but I don't care what the numbers area .....

Yup, that's good to point out. Zen mode helped me enormously when tackling puzzles, because just seeing how I had fared earlier was making me think about my performance instead of puzzles.

And later same thing on competitive games.

I play like 100 ELO better with Zen mode.

I think the effect is actually more that I make fewer careless errors playing worse players than that I am more intimidated by stronger players.

This is a good tip, I didn't know about that mode. Cheers.

I once read 'power of mediocrity' or something like that that I saw here on HN. that article talked about the fact that it's ok to do things just to enjoy them as opposed to getting better at them.

since then I don't worry about my rating anymore, just playing on lichess without loggin in, just to have fun.

I'm not improving much, but i have fun.

The trick for me was understanding that in an MMR system, no matter how much better I got, my winrate was going to remain roughly 50%.

Yeah this is just as valid. I needed something to sink my teeth into, so I’ve been more interested in the improvement and learning side. The bonus is that games get more fun the better you get, until very recently I just found my own play frustrating, hanging pieces and falling for simple tactics.

Huh. I didnt know you could do anonymous lichess games. I've always gotten very anxious playing chess as despite being very very bad, I've wanted to cling to every point of ELO i had.

I found this interesting in the context of the quote: "Returning to the United States in triumph, Morphy toured the major cities, playing chess on his way back to New Orleans. Returning to New Orleans in late 1859 at the age of 22, he retired from active chess competition to begin his law career.[3][4][5][6] Morphy never established a successful law practice, however, and ultimately lived a life of idleness, living on his family's fortune.[7] Despite appeals from his admirers, Morphy never returned to the game, and died in 1884 from a stroke at the age of 47." https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Morphy

That kind of reminds me of Dota 2, where knowing your rating tilts you into playing even worse, when you are below average, or makes you toxic when you are above average (because everyone believes they are so good at the game).

There is also an «unranked» mode, where you can play without showing any numbers, but the big difference is that Dota 2 is a team game, and while some people play unranked to be more relaxed and care less about their rating, a lot of players won't try hard to win, because they don't see a point in winning if they don't see their rating get higher anyway.

It's frustrating that community forces you to play ranked if you actually want to win, but you can't relax when you know you are mediocre.

Agree it's more fun without the elo anxiety. Personally 3+0 blitz hits the spot for me, everyone sucks so dropping a piece isnt a big deal. The popular advice is that blitz won't improve your game, but I don't buy it.

I play longer games to try and improve, and 5+0 or shorter when I just want to move the pieces to entertain myself. It's pretty noticeable in my rating too, haha.

> "The ability to play chess is the sign of a gentleman. The ability to play chess well is the sign of a wasted life." - Paul Morphy.

He also gave that quote when chess wasn't respected like it is today.

Improvement may also matter a bit more. With ELO you always lose half the time because when you improve you get a higher ELO and get to your half-lose rate again. With anonymous, I assume the pool is stable so with getting better you win more. Though your enemies may outclass you sometimes, especially when your prior ELO is too low.

I don’t really get this. Chess isn’t fun if your opponent is much worse or much better than you.

My suggestion is to take advantage of LiChess Zen mode, which hides the ranking of both you and your opponent. This orients me more towards the game rather than rank, while also providing evenly matched opponents.

If you know your opponent is much worse than you, then chess can still be fun because you dare to play stupid moves. Open with Nh3 and then continue stupid development (don't leave obvious blunders). Or otherwise don't make your known best move until the game is more even. Or spot your opponent the queen from the start. Lots of ways to even out a game when you are better.

When you are worse though, you have to depend on your opponent doing the above. And then you have to depend on the continuing until finally you are so much better than even you can win.

I find crushing people consistently in any competition to be immensely entertaining.

> playing without ELO anxiety is way

Absolutely. My games are a lot more relaxed, I find that my gameplay is a lot more bold and attacking. This results in games that are much more exciting.

When I played logged in, my overriding concern was always trying not to lose, rather than to win.

I think by far the biggest improvement newbies can make is just not hanging pieces and blundering, honestly. Literally the majority of games at <1600 lichess level will be decided by mistakes. But apart from that, it's openings and tactics. I largely agree with the blog post.

I used to be quite good as a kid, winning championships and whatnot, and I'm actually glad my grandfather didn't teach me opening theory so much, so I could be trained to think more than memorize. Sadly at the highest level, you do just have to memorize the best opening lines which makes it a lot less fun so I'm not too bothered about not being the best I could be. I think games like Fischer random go some way to addressing this and it's a shame they're not more popular.

Some really entertaining Chess youtube channels I like are:

GothamChess: https://www.youtube.com/c/gothamchess/about I think the number 1 on YouTube these days. He explains games in a high level, really entertaining way. He also has other playlists like guess the elo, etc. He's a really entertaining guy.

https://www.youtube.com/c/agadmator I think he number 2 and used to be number 1 most subscribed until very recently. He explains lines in more detail than Gotham, and has quite a few funny meme-able phrases like "captures, captures, captures", "hello everyone!", "bishop pair fully operational", etc. I enjoy his playlists about e.g. the Morphy Saga, AlphaZero, very much.

ChessBrah: Kind of broey funny with house music, challenges and whatnot, and actually very high quality chess from GMs too https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvXxdkt1d8Uu08NAQP2IUTw

There's some others I don't watch so much but which are also liked by many too, like the Botez sisters, GM Hikaru, Eric Rosen, etc. It's quite a nice community (barring the usual drama all such communities have).

Have to include ChessNetwork https://www.youtube.com/ChessNetworkTV/videos

If people like Gotham/Nakamura/ChessBrahs aren't your style, ChessNetwork is calm and straight forward without all of the youtube/twitch "entertainer" personality I find grating.

To extend your list, I like grandmasters GingerGM https://www.youtube.com/c/GingerGM and Daniel Naroditsky https://www.youtube.com/c/DanielNaroditskyGM

I'm a huge fan of Eric Rosen, who plays lots of gambits and aggressive games with highly instructive commentary.I'd highly recommend his content whenever you feel yourself starting to get tired of traditionally high-energy YouTubers -- Eric is lively and funny but also stays incredibly chill and calm 100% of the time. I've watched hundreds of hours of his videos and have never seen him lose his cool ever, it's impressive.

+1 for Eric Rosen, his calm attitude and lack of memes make it enjoyable to watch. GothamChess and Chessbrah are obnoxious to my ears and eyes.

On the same note I really appreciate Dan Naroditsky and Ben Finegold.

I'd rank them best first: Gotham, John Bartholomew, Rosen, Hikaru, Agadmator, Hanging pawns, others.

The st louis chess club lectures are also very good.

How is hikaru before agadmator - it’s pure entertainment. Watching a super gm intentionally blunder on first two moves for 3 hours probably hurts your chess more than improves it

yeah I felt they ranked about equal but I think the memes and the small talk about other stuff are more interesting in Hikarus streams. I'm also not a big fan of strong non-anglo accents.

So I don’t mean this is to be snarky , but aren’t all chess games decided by mistakes?

Sure, but in chess blundering is more specific in that it means a mistake that is obviously awful. It's the difference between making a poor tactical decision that you might not realize was the reason for your defeat without analysis, and making a move that is so terrible that if you had noticed the issue with it in advance even a low ELO player never would have made it. A hanging piece being given up for no positional advantage is the classical low ELO blunder.

It is thought that if chess was played perfectly then it is probably a draw, but nobody knows. So if by "mistake" you mean "not exactly the best move to force a draw from move 1 to the final move", then yes. But in chess "mistake" usually means "large inaccuracy" rather than "not the best move". I just mean games at a higher elo are usually decided by pressing a smaller advantage, rather than someone hanging a queen by mistake, so basically just avoiding massive blunders gets the most elo benefit, rather than worrying too much about tactics or opening theory.

Perhaps it's fair to say that a "mistake" in chess is a move that you realise is bad as soon as your opponent makes their replying move (or, in some cases, as soon as you take your hand off the piece you just moved).

So if you just realize that move was bad after 3 turns it was not a mistake by your standards.

Inaccuracy, mistake, and blunder are in a sense technical terms related to the gravity of the screw up.

Depending on your definition of a mistake.


failure to see disaster 3 moves ahead is a mistake, failure to see it 10 or more moves ahead is just the limits of human reasoning. In between is squishy

I've managed to progress (over the course of several months) from making dumb blunders like hanging a queen or a rook to blunders 3 moves ahead that are instantly losing according to the engine but completely innocuous to my eye, even when reviewing the game. "Just don't make blunders" is the standard advice but it is not very actionable. Do you have any advice on how to go about this?

The reason everyone says drill tactics is because the tactical motifs become a building block of several moves that you can see as one object; so if you can see that motif arise two moves away and the motif is three-move combination its the same as seeing five moves ahead but you didn't have to brute-force calculate every line five moves deep to find it, you recognized the pattern at a depth of two.

For one move blunders, it is things like:

- Look for checks.

- Look for hanging pieces.

- Be extra careful with knight forks.

- Be careful with pawn forks.

- Look for zwischenzug when doing exchanges.

- Look for what a piece is currently doing before you move it (is it defending something?).

- Apply above reasoning to what your opponent might do in the next move after yours.

2-3 moves ahead is mostly the same, just in a bit more depth where some common tactics come in, e.g. the bishop sacrifice on A2 if the white king is castled and stuff like that.

By the time the bishop comes in to A2 it is usually too late XD. Zwischenzugs in exchanges still get me sometimes, otherwise I've mostly fixed these. Thanks for the time spent answering though, I think the main thing is to remember to take the time to think things through. So obvious and yet so difficult :)

> I think by far the biggest improvement newbies can make is just not hanging pieces and blundering, honestly. Literally the majority of games at <1600 lichess level will be decided by mistakes.

This, in fact, exactly what GM Ben Finegold points out. At anything short of Master-level play, blunders define the winner. "Never resign" is something that he drums into his students.

My biggest issue with chess is that playing chess isn't "fun"--it's hard work. There are a lot of games that I would rather play when I'm against a human socially.

Yeah, I know what you mean. Chess is strange in that it is kind of fun to spot a tactic and crush, but also kind of mentally exhausting when a position in complex and it's so easy for either side to blunder. Sometimes I play then after awhile, I have to check myself and ask: am I actually enjoying this? Is this a good use of my time?

I find Gothamchess very annoying. I like Ben Finegold a lot. Go Ben!

> you do just have to memorize the best opening lines

At that level, might as well just use a computer to play the game for you.

Note that going from 1200 ELO to 1800 ELO is going from 18th percentile to 74th percentile. Pretty much any form of study over 6 months will get you that progress, because you'll have spent more time on chess than ~74% of players.

Going from 1800 ELO to 2400 ELO (74th percentile to 99th percentile) in 6 months would be a lot more interesting, because clearly your study habits are helping you progress faster than others.

A lot of being better than X% of people at something is just about spending more time doing it than X% of participants... Most professional video game players have 5,000 to 10,000 hours of experience in their game.

Source: https://lichess.org/stat/rating/distribution/rapid

I have friends that have played on Lichess for years and never reached above 1400. How you study is much more important than how much you study. Analyzing different modes of study, as done in this blog post, is quite useful.

Yeah I got to 1650 rapid chess.com within 6 months (starting from basic knowledge of chess pieces moving). I was kinda told that 1800 rapid chess.com within a year of playing is kind of expected.

For people wondering, lichess inflates rating usually at lower level (since it starts at 1500 vs 1200 chess.com). Usually lichess ratings are inflated by 200-300 compared to chess.com which is a bit closer to FIDE ratings.

I don’t have hard data to back this up, but I do think that 1200 to 1800 on lichess in six months is very solid improvement, there’s a ton of accounts that have 10x+ my playtime and are rated below. It doesn’t seem to be just a time invested thing.

I gained 200 point when I started practicing blindfolded, also great visualization training! A good way to start this is have someone call out squares on the board and you respond with the color. Next start naming the diagonals. Then start moving around a knight, bishop, and then slowly build up your ability to hold a game in your head. Highly recommend!

Thanks for this article. The woodpecker method seems like a nice opportunity for a slack bot.

chess.com has a really cool vision game for picking out squares and moves by name: https://www.chess.com/vision

It seems silly but makes reading chess books and analyzing games much easier. The first time I played with the vision tool for 20 minutes I felt way faster at it already.

i assume you have a direct mapping in your mind between squares and colors or actually visualize the board but for those that don't you can convert the column letter to a number then add the two numbers together and depending on whether the number is even or odd the square will be black or white. ie: d1 -> 4 + 1 -> 5 -> white.

there are a bunch of tricks you can do if you use number,number notation but being able to visualize the board is probably better than relying on numeric tricks.

At first I used tricks but the more I practiced the better I got.

Wow, I'd have enough trouble remembering which color I was!

I played once on a board where the pieces were red and blue instead of black and white. I was completely messed up... Funny how the brain works. Or maybe it is just me?

Some people believe that learning with a colored "rainbow chess" set improves retention and pattern recognition. http://home.hu.inter.net/~prochess/rainbow.htm

Sort of like syntax highlighting I suppose.

How long did it take you before you could play a whole game blindfolded?

I created a new account on lichess and started playing blindfold games right away. It depends on how long the games are and how complicated the position gets but anywhere from 13 to 50 moves I'll be okay. I won two games so far.

I wonder if this would work for programming. Closing your eyes, then recording yourself describing an architecture or module.

I noticed improvements in general visualization ability from doing this. I was grinding leetcode during this time and noticed improvements visualizing data structures after I practiced board visualization for a bit.

Measuring skill in programming is much harder than measuring skill in chess. ELO is imperfect but you can be reasonably sure a 2100 will beat a 1200 most of the time. With programming, it's difficult to even make a choice between the person who write a sudoku solver in an afternoon or the person who makes a sturdy website which is secure against all known CVEs (but can't make a sudoku solver, or invert the proverbial binary tree on a whiteboard).

I'd say that chess fundamentals is three things: Endgames, tactics, and positional strategy. OP's strategy of studying openings and tactics is a very fun and accessible improvement path for intelligent new players, but it is very fragile, as you become vulnerable the second the opponent gets you out of your opening theory. Studying endgames and positional motifs gives you important decision-making tools in unfamiliar positions. Hiring a chess coach is probably the easiest way to systematically improve in these areas, if you're not a robot immune to the tedium of working through Dvoretsky's endgame manual and Silman's Reassess your Chess.

After getting a handle on the fundamentals, the next step is just the accumulation of ideas. GMs use this word all the time in lectures and their post-mortem interviews. Some are common and obvious -- pressuring f2/f7, or yoloing a pawn storm in oppositely castled positions, or outposting an "octopus knight" on the sixth rank, for example. Other ideas require so much genius to see they become famous -- Fischer's Nh4!! at age 13, or Short's king walk, or Shirov's bishop sacrifice, for example.

Accumulating ideas is why studying openings can be helpful in the beginning -- you will learn common plans as well as the most dangerous ideas and traps by brute force just by looking at enough theory. But rather than this inefficient approach -- since you'll never remember every single possible move -- I would recommend studying books and lectures that cover common ideas in the setups you prefer. Specifically, work through the pawn structures you like from GM Mauricio Flores Rios's Chess Structures book, and then study grandmasters who match your style or otherwise inspires you in some way -- e.g. Fischer/Tal for tactical wizards, Karpov/Kramnik for positional specialists, Carlsen/Capablanca for endgame grinders, or Rapport/Jobava/Larsen if you are a weirdo -- and watch Youtube videos analyzing their games and/or buy a book with GM commentary of their best hits.

Shameless plug: In case you want to track your chess progress and see more statistics on your openings (win rates, etc.), I'm developing a website where you can link your accounts to view stats for all of your games. It's free and currently in Beta: https://www.chessmonitor.com/

Here is an example for the current world champion: https://www.chessmonitor.com/u/kcc58R9eeGY09ey5Rmoj

I'm getting major dotabuff vibes from the UI. I assume you drew inspiration from them?

Yes, I've played Dota myself and always loved dotabuff. That's where some of the inspiration came from.

I use ChessMonitor all the time, it's a great site, thanks so much!

I’ve been watching this YouTube “speed run” by a GM who is a great teacher and have gone from 1000 to 1300 so far. He does a great job explaining some basic theory and giving advice for newcomers.


I was thinking of developing a website that helps you analyze your games vs naroditsky's games. let me know if you have any ideas on what would be useful.

I would love that - been thinking about how to automate Youtube's generated closed captions from positions I'm in based on positions he's in. I typically play Caro-Kann and Danish Gambit so it seems likely I probably see common positions in the first half-dozen moves or so.

Surprised you didn't mention "analyzing games I played to find viable alternatives or understand opponent blunders." The greatest improvements to my score came from reviewing every game and using the "Computer Analysis" feature on Lichess to see other, stronger moves. This helped a lot in breaking out of old patterns and not making the same mistakes twice.

There is a famous series of chess textbooks they use to teach kids in Russia, and two of the important "commandments of chess" if you will, are: be able to visualize the board (seems crazy to me, still) and review/learn from your games.

Interesting article. Wish I had time to try even some of those. I'm nowadays quite casual but still serious player. Have been grinding in Lichess since 2019 but played consistently since highschool (so 15 years now!). I'm bit over 1800 in rapid and around 1700 in blitz. I don't care that much about my rating but it sure feels nice to break my records every now and then. I think my biggest problem is that my work (coding) exhausts my thinking energy and I'm quite tired most of times I play so I make stupid blunders which makes me lose many many winning positions. I don't know what would help here? Lately I've just played mostly 3 minute games. It's not so serious to lose a knight or bishop there because the time factor is there always. I'm dreaming of attending the local chess club once my kids are older but until them, see you on Lichess! Boy I love chess :)

you can play "sound" chess using general rules and get to about master level on lichess :

    * trade a piece (bishop for knight and vice versa) when it's being less effective than the opponent's piece
    * block opponents bishops
    * block opponents pawns 
    * don't give opponent's knights a perch (supported by a pawn) on your side of the board, especially near the middle
    * try to promote edge pawns to the middle or clear the path out of the way of your pawns
..there are many other rules, but you can apply these much more quickly (esp in speed chess) thinking "statistically" to improve your position. The end game is where it gets hard for humans and you actually have to think, especially if there are knights still jumping around, rooks and bishops are easier to visualize and block.

What is master level to you?

being able to defeat latest stockfish level 6 and drawing against level 7 or 8

I think your claim is wildly optimistic. According to Google, Level 6 is about 1900. That requires more than some simple rule following for most chess players. I don’t have any statistics handy but the folks that cross 1900 are in the minority.

I have a genuine question. My long time peeve has been that I suck at Chess and every time I play against anyone/anything, I just lose. It demoralizes me and then after sometime I try again, only to have the experience repeat. I have had decent grades, I code for a living and have been told that the quality of my work isn't bad so I guess I'll risk coming across as arrogant when I think that I'm not absolutely dumb.

So the question is, is there anyone who has had the same experience? If so, what did you do to improve? Mind you, I'm not asking folks who put in moderate effort and got results. I'm talking to the ones that keep failing and failing spectacularly but eventually improved. Is it even possible to have anyone like that? If so, what did you do? Is it about just keeping at it?

I've been playing a lot of chess over the past year or two. One thing that upped my game a lot was watching videos on Youtube about common openings and traps. If you regularly lose right away, you're probably falling for traps. Once you know about them they're easier to spot. You can also attempt to spring them on other people, which is fun (though unlikely to work against anyone serious about chess). Learn about the basic tactics like pins and forks and get better at spotting them.

My advice is to learn maybe 3-4 openings and just use those every time. It narrows the field of possibilities. You'll get acclimated to the different ways they tend to play out. Of course, people will use others that you're unfamiliar with and you'll probably lose.

Otherwise, just play a lot. I like bullet chess (1 minute games). The fast pace means lots of reps and you get good at assessing the board quickly.

I'll reply, but probably not how you want.

I've always been a smart guy at a lot of things, especially math, who never had to try that hard in school.

I went to exactly one chess club meeting in high school, as I knew how to play and wanted to learn more. I was defeated in a few moves by a kid who not only laughed at me, but told his friends about whatever rush I just fell for and they all had a good laugh.

As you may imagine, I never went to another meeting.

Years later I came across Yahoo Chess, and thought I'd give that a try. I was beat by someone from Syria who used his victory to explain to me why Americans are so stupid and cocky.

I learned two things about chess -

1) It's not about being gifted or smart, it takes a lot of work and practice.

2) The community can be toxic as hell, so have thick skin. Or don't, I don't even play anymore. Two games were enough to teach me I don't want anything to do with that club.

Regarding the toxic community, there is a reason chess.com hides chat unless you enable it.

This happened to me. Just get online, play games, and do puzzles and you will improve. One of the tough things is getting started. When you sign up on lichess.org, you start out with 1500 rating which is literally ~50th percentile [1]. You're probably not actually 50th percentile so you're going to loose literally all of your first 10-20 games until you stabilize at a lower rating (it was ~850 for me). It's a little rough, but you just need to get through it. Once your ranking stabilizes, you'll be matched against opponents who you have a chance to win against. From there you'll see improvement over time. Improvement is slow, though. 600 points in 6 months is notably _fast_. I've managed ~800 improvement 3 years.

[1] https://lichess.org/stat/rating/distribution/blitz

Losing is normal. Learning the moves is easy, learning to play not so much. Think of it as any non trivial card game.

Two pieces of advice: 1. Play longer times. This happened to me when I started with 5+3. Play 15+10. 2. STUDY YOUR LOSSES. sorry for yelling. Try to understand what did your opponent that you didn't see, try to understand if it was a tactic you missed or a strategy general loss. (in parallel with those) study endgame (mate with queen, K+R v. K, etc) and the tactics by name. X-ray, what's a fork, what's a skewer, etc. By name only, avoid puzzles. Think of them as the for and whiles of chess.

Similar experience here. Winning at online chess is punishment for me. They immediately start matching me against better opponents in order to make me lose again. I hate every game with these points systems.

I don't think I'm stupid but I do have attention deficit disorder. People told me to memorize chess openings and that was just so boring I couldn't pay attention. At this point, using a computer to break the game starts sounding a lot more interesting than playing the game itself. If it's just memorization, I'm not gonna waste any of my neurons on it.

Your comment resonated with me at least. I don't like playing chess for many reasons. I'm always second guessing myself, making stupid mistakes, and losing. I only tend to play vs the cpu on the easiest setting, and it still stomps me. I hate playing against real people, if for some reason I win I feel like a show off jerk who fluked it, and when I lose I feel like an idiot.

At the beginner chess level, you're likely to face opponents who know a few traps. When you lose to a trap, learn it, and then inflict them upon your opponent!

A bit of an aside, I love chess because it forces you to think several moves ahead including game-theorizing what your opponent will do. I want to teach it to my kid for this reason.

I never got into timed chess but I can see it be valuable because it forces you to trade off between over-thinking and running out of time and under-thinking and making bad moves. This is also a real life skill.

But I know that my personal game will always stay amateur because once you're in the timed game space, you can't get too far without memorizing opening and to me that crosses the line from "fun and overall developmental" to "work."

Not to tell you how to raise your children, but please only teach your kid if you see he likes it.

Disclaimer: I was a kid that lived my mother's dreams/hopes for a time and now I dread every second of that period.

I don't need my kid to live my dreams but it's my job to teach him life skills and chess is a good way for teaching what I just talked about.

Maybe you'd like 960 aka Fischer Random Chess, with 960 starting positions there's no opening theory to memorize, just principles and tactics from move one.

Not as popular as regular chess but usually no problem finding a game.

I wish the author had discussed a bit about what worked and didn't at a higher level. I don't have the time to get into chess, but I'm quite curious about how I could translate his learning into other games and domains.

One that was mentioned as a breakthrough was in learning to think like the opponent. That's quite interesting.

I'm not sure what I can takeaway from the puzzle stuff without knowing more about chess. It seemed like some of the puzzles worked better than others, for whatever reason. I'd definitely like to know more.

I think from a higher level there are some interesting things, you're right that I should have gone into it a bit. One of those is that raising my ceiling of play, like challenging myself with super tough puzzles, was actually totally unproductive. Raising the floor of my play, however, was hugely beneficial. I imagine this generalizes somewhat to other pursuits.

The other takeaway I've had is how different procedural learning is from declarative learning. Among one of the weird features of it is I don't actually know how much something is helping until I get to the board and play some games afterward. There were exercises I thought were helping a lot in the moment, but had no effect on my play, and vice versa.

Also sometimes people that are good at something are the worst to ask for help. For example, if you ask "how can I stop blundering?" (one of the most common questions on forums), common advice (from good players), is to have a mental checklist before making a move: threats, captures, skewers, pins, etc. But nobody actually plays like this, running through some checklist before every move. You just slowly rewire your brain over 100s/1000s of games and puzzles. If my queen and king are lined up now, and there's a rook on the board, that's as obvious as a flashing light on the board saying "hey watch out for pins!", but there's no easy answer to tell a beginner that will get him to that state, so people try to convert that feeling they get into a manual approach, and it just doesn't work. I guess this is like the key feature of procedural learning, that it's resistant to verbal explanation, but that doesn't stop people from trying, so you just need to learn to take it with a huge grain of salt.

Could you describe "raising the floor of your play" a bit more? I'm not fully sure what you mean by that.

Just that it’s less about how good my best moves are, and more about how good my worst moves are. It’s not a benefit to be able to figure out the next 5 moves in a really complex tactical position, when most games are decided by a simple tactic or hanging piece.

Anyone have any tips for someone who's a bit interested in chess but is a complete beginner? As in, I know how the pieces move but I couldn't win a game against a blindfolded dachshund puppy. My ELO would be negative (I'd be so improbably bad that it breaks mathematics). It's just not clear where to start.

1) Learn how the pieces move

2) Play along with some beginner chess tutorials on sites like chess.com or Lichess

3) Watch this youtube series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao9iOeK_jvU

Drill tactics, like practicing pawns-only exercises and others that get you to use a small group of pieces in concert and without the distraction of a full game, to quickly get a feel for the kinds of moves & patterns that are good for them, and the kinds that are bad. Then, in actual games, apply that while focusing on advancing while keeping all your pieces guarded by at least one other, nearly all the time, while projecting lines of attack as far as possible (queen, bishops, rooks). Then focus on getting good at checkmating—it can be weirdly hard to pin down a king in the late game without practice, and getting better at spotting and exploiting early mate opportunities is one of the biggest level-ups you can get, early on.

I wouldn't worry about memorizing openings and such until after you feel like you're hitting a wall with all that.

There must be at least a million "complete chess beginner" guides on Youtube alone.

I'm surprised how smooth the curve is, the author never has streaks where he loses a few hundred rating points. In fact I'm struggling to see he ever dips more than 50.

I've been on a similar journey over the past year, where I'm now around 1500 rapid on chess.com but in that time I've had streaks where I've been down 250 rating from my peak.

I don't know if I tilt super hard or if the author is remarkably resilient to tilt. It might also be a difference in how the different sites do match-making or adjust ratings and k-values.

I'd echo the benefit in learning some basic opening theory. It's not worth rote learning theory but it is worth having a consistent approach to games so you learn from the same patterns and can avoid opening traps.

If you play the same opening moves then over time you build up a memory of moves that you like in those positions and which will get deeper as you get more experience.

Not getting into a downward spiral from tilt is fairly straightforward for me, when you lose two or three games in a row simply don't play more that day. In general, I play at most a few games a day and it helps a lot. If you want to just get practice with a specific opening or play out your frustration there's always computer games, too. When I practice with the computer I usually set the difficulty considerably higher than my own level, it helps me find weaknesses in my own play that I would usually get away with at my own rating level. I also don't mind losing to the computer. For some reason there's no emotion in losing to a computer whereas there is in losing to another human player.

I think part of this is the slow time control, it's hard to tilt for more than a few games on rapid, since games can last up to 20 minutes. The other part is I think I was chronically under-rated, because of my ratio of studying to playing games.

One piece of advice I hear a lot is "review your games", but how do you actually do that without a stronger player? I'd sometimes use an engine and it'll point out moves I hadn't considered before, but without understanding the plan or positional ideas behind them, I often find this pretty opaque.

I found that bit of advice similarly daunting. However, in trying to understand where things go wrong in a game, you might notice patterns emerging after you've analyzed several of your own games, which should give you something concrete to work on for improvement.

At my level, that basically amounted to identifying blind spots I'm a prey to (at one point it was discovered attacks along a particular diagonal). A master, expert, or higher level class player will be concerned with entirely different things when they review their games.

One thing that helps me is to play a better chess engine, dialed down to close to my skill level, and play for a bit until I really get stuck. Then I take back a bunch of moves and figure out where I went wrong and why, and then play the game out until I get stuck again. Or I'll go back and try to see if I can find a better way to accomplish my goals. In general, creating a low-risk environment to learn, where I try to compare my original thinking to my later thinking has been key.

I haven't played more than a handful of games since pre-covid times, so I'm back to being pretty clumsy, and just started "rewinding" games again. It seems to help a lot.

I forgot to add that simply writing down the moves when I play someone else makes a huge difference in my play. I'm much less likely to blunder, for one thing.

Before internet chess it was very common to analyze games either at the tournament with a group, or a club later also with a group, both usually having some stronger players around.

To do it yourself, the best explanation and framework I think is found in Yermolinsky’s “Road to Chess Improvement”. It’s very helpful in systemizing this and also has thorough explanations of his experience in analyzing his own games.

My general strategy is to review with a computer, and if I don't understand the move the computer is suggesting, I follow the PV (principal variation) 3 or 4 moves deep. Generally that is enough to either tell me what I should have seen or "oh, the computer is thinking way above my level and I can probably ignore this"

at least on lichess there is a "learn from your mistakes" button where you need to guess a move that doesn't lose points. Try not to just randomly make guesses but think hard when you don't see it.

I'm quite good at puzzles now, but it doesn't seem to affect my ranking in actual play.

I might be asking for the impossible here, but is there a way to get better without turning this into a part-time job, where I have to read a lot of books, study and memorize openings, and so on?

Search for "Ben Finegold" on YouTube. He has many lectures for beginners and he's one of the funniest GMs. That makes it less boring :)

At 1700-1800 I hit a point where I had to study more seriously in order to improve so I lost interest and pretty much stopped playing. Up to that point I could improve just by playing more (with the occasional youtube video but that was more for entertaintment).

I peaked at 1800 USCF. People above that level could press home an opening advantage that I wasn't prepared for. Below that I could win enough games on a sharp, open game, even if I were technically a bit behind a pawn or fraction from the opening.

It felt like up to 1800, everyone is just better at the same game. Above that level there starts to be more coherence to everyone's game. Above 2000 there seems to be a sophistication to the game that can appreciate when I see it, but can build it myself.

I'm nearing that point as well. My goal is to hit 2000 in a year and it's getting to the point now where I have a book in my cart and some printed pages of matches.

Eh - I'm 1750 and I feel like this is just where people stop blundering obviously as often.

I would meet with a chess tutor every week for 6 months some years ago. The biggest thing that contributed to my games getting better (which the author didn’t mention as a method they tried) was analyzing my own game.

Thinking back on the moves you made, why you made them (ie gaining material, tempo, position), opportunities missed, and blunders made. It did help to have a coach go over my games with me, helps identify what to work on, what to think about when playing and focus on.

The biggest thing I wasn’t thinking about is how the moves I made moved the board into the position I wanted to checkmate in — I was too worried about losing the pieces themselves.

Another apporach would be to focus on correspondence matches, where people make fewer blunders. May be some of the habits learned there will transfer over to shorter time controls.

I think the author is underappreciating end game. Understanding how drive winning pawn promotions informs much of the other strategy. This sort of thing informs when to make a trade or a sacrifice. If you don't understand it you aren't likely making good trades. The other simple idea is control of the center and evaluating your play to ask yourself how much control did you have?

I'm 1878 on lichess rapid, so slightly better than the author.

At this level (at least with my play style) the end game rarely decides games, usually one side or the other will gain a decisive advantage earlier than that.

It's obvious to me that there will become a point where I need to start really studying endgames if I want to improve forever, but it's not yet. Moreover my opponents also don't understand engames well, and engines don't play them in a human fashion, so it isn't easy to get useful practice in them.

do you play speed, blitz, longer? If you want to play expert or master level I believe you should study end game but the format you play may have some impact on how important you think endgame is. Blunders become much rarer as you play higher level players and early advantage may come down to a few 1/2 tempo win/loss moves.

Rapid (as specified in the rating), specifically 10+5.

600 points in 6 months is an impressive achievement.

Related shameless self plug: I went from 600 to ~1100 thanks to my own training method, which I'm transforming into an online service aimed at chess amateurs that want to improve.

It's currently being developed, who wants to check out the free beta can sign up here:


I failed at chess because instead of thinking about my next move I'd be designing a program to pick the next move for me.

I bought a copy of "Chess Skill in Man and Machine"


back in the 70's, and it's descriptions of how a game could be mapped into a program was very illuminating to me. I still have a function in the DMD D compiler named evalu8() as tribute to that book.

Sadly, I lost my copy somewhere. I just ordered another from Amazon, I'm curious as to how it appears 4+ decades later.

Some great tips in there. Will definitely try some of these, I find I'm the best the moment I wake up, I will solve several puzzles quickly and grind a win streak but as the day goes along I get gradually worse, I actually started plotting it to find the best time to play. Any time after 9PM is out tho that doesn't deter me sometimes.

I try to focus on classical then go lower and end my sessions with some blitz. What I hate the most about classical is I will be dominating the game and a silly blunder cost me half hour or more so I've taken the sit on my hands method and absolutely no premoving. I also found the best method to improve for me personally was not to shy away from playing higher rated players, it forces you to take the game very seriously as compared to someone with a ?. I used to sit in the lobby and scan for weak looking players and abort games to try and get white but now I will intentionally find someone 100 points higher than me and go black and see how I do. I also actively try to play moves in my head, hard as hell but it's a good exercise to wind down the day in bed. The daily arenas are a great help as well.

The final trick I did to improve was "master" two openings for each color and learn the traps and tactics they come with. Good old london. Every variant I immediately dropped to my true rating and I really struggled cracking 1300 - 1400 but using the cues above I easily went from 1600 to 1700 in rapid just the other day. Catch me here https://lichess.org/@/llazlo

I have found the ratings on lichess to be easier than on chess.com. For instance I sit around 12-1300 on lichess but have yet to crack 1000 on chess.com for the same game type (5 and 10 minute games)

Visualization is best learned via Chess Vision for iOS https://apps.apple.com/us/app/chess-vision/id1547932501

Great writeup! I just jumped from 900 to 1200 in rapid within two months.

I'll definitely try what he proposed to hopefully get the same rating gain.

I read this as "Thoughts on chess improvement, after gaining 600 pounds in 6 months."

Thought it was the only activity they had left!

What's the equivalent of Puzzle Storm -- rapid drills to improve pattern recognition -- in other domains, e.g. coding?

going from 2100 to >2250 on lichess in a year, I can confirm woodpeckering is the way to go for me.

That’s solid improvement, good to know. I may pick back up with the woodpeckering at some point.

Unpopular opinion: Chess needs an update with more moves or randomized pieces (position, etc).

This is not actually an unpopular opinion but one that many players (including former world champions like Gary Kasparov) have voiced as well.

Look up Chess960! It’s a lot of fun.

lichess.org has really been a game-changer (sorry) for my chess playing. I know some people love chess.com but I think lichess has such a great interface and there is always a large number of players online for games.

When I play online chess I load up a grandmaster AI and input my opponents moves

Isn’t that called cheating?

Does anyone have a similar collection of guides on learning Go?

I keep seeing "after gaining 600 pounds in 6 months"

Does learning chess improve other facets of cognition?

Research on this seems to mostly have settled on “no, maybe some accelerated development for kids”. I just know it’s better for my brain to be thinking about chess for 2 hours than to be on Reddit for 2 hours, which is what I was spending the time on before.

what if you were in r/compsci or r/algorithms

Not every meaningless achievement needs a retrospective blog post. The article starts out:

"For some background: I played chess briefly with my friends in high school,"

No one knows who you are or cares. What kind of person has the time to read that?

Not every meaningless achievement with an unnecessary retrospective blog post needs a derisive comment about its existence, and yet here we are. Some people are interested in the content, you’re obviously not, just ignore it.

I am here for your grievance about pointless backstory, but I think OP got to the point soon enough.

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