Hello! Welcome to Better Chess. This site is dedicated to amateur chess players hoping to improve their game and reach a USCF chess rating of 1800 and beyond. If you’re brand new to the game of chess or you’re an amateur player wanting to improve your game, this site is for you! This site focuses on three concepts: playing, game analysis and independent study.
The only way to get better at something is through practice. Playing chess is the same way. The more chess positions you see, the easier it will be to make quality moves. The kind of play depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Generally speaking, the faster the time controls, the less you will absorb. As a beginner, slower games should be your preference. If you play online, choose time controls of 15 15 or 30 0. This will give you time enough to think and absorb new concepts as you experience them.
Playing through your games honestly and objectively is the best way to find holes in your play. To understand Better Chess’s approach to this, please click here.
I love to study chess. In fact, I like it so much, that playing was often a distant priority for me. I was making progress in my chess strength but I felt I needed more help. Therefore, I starting taking chess lessons from IM Jonathan Schroer. We met once a week to review my games and go over a bunch of study materials.
During one session, I remember explaining to him how many grandmaster games I had played through. I also told him about the number of tactics I was studying per day. He listened carefully and finally said, “Do you want to be a master player or a master studier?” That put things into perspective for me. I wanted to be a master player of course, but I realized that to become a stronger player takes a mix of playing and studying – not just one or the other.
Reviewing top quality games will help you develop your own playing style. It will show you the strategies strong players take when playing other strong players. Slowly but surely, your playing strength will improve as you integrate their ideas and make them your own. All books featuring grandmaster game collections are generally good. Just make sure they contain quality annotations. This will help you understand what the player was thinking and why he chose the move he played.
Tactics and endings are parts of the game that amateurs need the most practice. This cannot be overemphasized enough. The vast majority of losses by amateurs are the result of a simple tactic, which is usually hanging a piece, losing a pawn or getting mated. Training yourself to calculate forces you to look at both sides of the board. Instead of thinking, “How can I mate this guy?” you ask yourself “Am I in trouble? What am I missing?”. It sounds elementary but it’s true. Many games of own games have been decided because I refused to look at what my opponent was planning. Don’t let this happen to you!
Some other things to note:
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The opinions expressed on Better Chess are based on personal opinion or experience. There is no single approach to getting better at chess. Do what makes sense for you.
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