Suggestions for Self-Study (draft)

There is no easy way to master the challenging intellectual sport of chess. There are, however, some proven methods for working toward this goal, and there are some useful books to read.

Chess performance depends primarily on four factors:

The following suggestions may help you improve in one or more of these four factors.

General Advice

  1. Improve your tactical ability by solving thematic tactical exercises daily. Because tactics play such an important role in chess, strategic and positional knowledge of chess cannot be successfully applied without a strong command of tactics.

  2. Deeply learn the positional elements of chess and their relationships with tactics.

  3. Thoroughly learn basic practical chess endings. Learn how to estimate and play these endings accurately. Learn how to win won positions, draw drawn postions (including fortress positions), and resist tenaciously in lost positions.

  4. Study complete games of the masters.

  5. Play serious games against strong competition---at least two such games a week. Analyze your games, thoroughly and objectively.

  6. Select a set of related pawn structures, and select three or more instructive games played at the highest level that illustrate the strategic ideas of these structures. Thoroughly understand and memorize these games.

  7. Thoroughly learn how to play typical endings that arise from your selected pawn structures.

  8. Play training games from carefully chosen practice positions (rather than from the initial position). Play each position several times from each side. For example, practice postions can be chosen to illustrate strategic ideas connected with important pawn structures.

  9. Develop your sports character. Understand the psychological elements of chess competition. Be in control of your emotions.

  10. Train physically with aerobic activities such as swimming, jogging, or cycling.

  11. Learn the basics of selected openings. Be careful, however, not to spend much of your time on the opening; many players (especially Americans) spend too much time and effort on the openings. Choose your openings to head for your favorite pawn structures and strategic plans.