Hello, to all the chess lovers out there! We all agree crossing 1800 even on lichess is no piece of cake. I remember It took me 14 months to increase my online rating from 1300 to 1840! But no matter how hard it might seem it is not impossible. And all of us can do it if we set our minds to it. The following 6 rules were the entire reason I was able to break the 1800 mark. And though there is no set course to success, it is hard to go wrong with these expert verified tips to guide you.
- Stick to one opening
Yes, it is important not to keep changing your repertoire. Instead, it is best to learn one opening thoroughly and wholly. By switching openings you fail to learn anyone properly which results in tilt. And always remember to prepare first and then play. Like this, you are not playing mindlessly and can analyze and learn from your mistakes. It also improves game quality. One question which might come to mind is which opening to pick? And though there are many great ones out there, I consider the Italian Game the best choice for beginners. It is attacking and not very positional or dull. It is easy to understand and has way less theory compared to other openings.
- Tactics, tactics, tactics!
Tactical mistakes and motives are found everywhere from world championship matches to beginners games. Capablanca once said chess is 90 percent tactics. Attack, combinations, sacrifices, give chess its attractive flamboyance. And although they are found everywhere, they are obviously more abundant in lower-level games. And it is guaranteed with basic positional knowledge and a good tactical foundation crossing at least 1600 is just a piece of cake. One of the best ways to improve tactics is to solve this book- The Woodpecker Method.
- Practice daily
Training the mind is like training the body. If you train in bursts instead of every day the effort is useless. Take out as much time as you can: 2 hours or half an hour, solve puzzles, read books, analyze games but remember your playing time is not counted. I have seen many people make that mistake. They will study for only half an hour then play for 1-1 ½ hours. Remember, the majority of your time should go into the study, not playing. Otherwise, your rating will start dropping instead of increasing.
- Study master’s games
The best way to learn openings, strategy, principles, etc is from studying games, for example, Grandmaster games, classics, world championship games, online blitz games, etc. It also improves pattern recognition and intuition. There are many ideas we can take from masters games and try to apply in our play. We learn new positions, how to play them ,and the basic plans and ideas of that position. Some books which helped me a lot are:-
My 60 Memorable Games – Robert James Fischer
200 Miniature Games of Chess – Du Mont
Alekhine: My Best Games(1908 – 1923) – Alexander Alekhine
*Pro Tip: Use a board and study annotated games.
- Play a lot
If we don’t play then it will be impossible to make sense of all the things that we are studying. Playing is like putting to practice all that we have learned. The tournaments might be closed because of the pandemic, but playing online is good enough. Playing provides us with experience. Analyzing our games helps us realize our mistakes, so we can work on improving them. Playing slower formats is good for game quality but playing blitz and bullet for improving time management and intuition.
- Keep in good shape
It might not seem like it but chess requires one to be physically and mentally fit. If you are not healthy you will find difficulty in sitting for a long time and concentrating. Keeping a balanced diet prevents drowsiness and tiredness between tournaments. Exercising regularly keeps one active and sharp.
Pro Tip* Maintain good posture. Craning the neck too much is not good. Find comfortable posture sitting on a chair and desk.
Chess is a tough but beautiful sport. Just enjoy it and have fun. Becoming 1800 is only a goal but it is more important to enjoy the journey. Do not play to increase your rating but only because you want to play. Remember you will never become 1800 if you give up at 1600 or 1700. So, keep trying and all the best!