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How to Improve at Chess – Part 9

We’re coming down to the wire now, with just a few more tips left to discuss. Today’s tip is very important.

Few people are talented or gifted enough to improve without help or feedback of some kind. It’s a rare person who can impassively, unemotionally, and (above all) accurately critique himself; most of us require some sort of outside opinion to identify a path to self-improvement (whether on a personal level or in the pursuit of improved skill in an activity such as chess).

This is why seeking out help and advice from a better chessplayer is a key component of your chess development. It’s also the reason why Tip #7 (“Write down the moves to every game you play”) and Tip #8 (“Go over your games after you play them”) are stressed in this series of blog posts. You need to preserve those gamescores so you’ll know what you played, and you need to review them afterward so you’ll remember what you were thinking during the game. Then you can proceed to today’s tip:

9. Get help from stronger players

This help doesn’t necessarily have to come from a master or grandmaster level player (although it’s certainly great if you have that kind of access). The help also doesn’t have to come in the form of  “$x per hour chess lessons”. If a player at your chess club is rated a few hundred points higher than you wishes to give you some advice, you should certainly listen to what he or she has to say; these players have, in many cases, struggled with the same problems with which you’re dealing now. Never ever refuse to review a game with your opponent right after you play it; your “adversary” can often provide valuable insight into a game, sharing his thoughts, listening to yours, and together discovering facets you both may have missed.

Of course, if you have the opportunity to take affordable face-to-face chess lessons from a master or grandmaster, that’s certainly an option to be carefully considered.

Another alternative is the use of chessplaying software to analyze and review your games. Nearly all chessplaying programs released over the last 10+ years have the ability to analyze any chess game (not just the ones you play against the software) and it’s certainly a valuable resource that can’t possibly be overutilized. For a one-time price (the cost of the program), you can have a GM-strength chess engine analyze as many of your games as you wish and point out the errors you made in them. Over time you will likely see patterns developing, mistakes which appear repeatedly in your games, and spotting these can guide your chess studies — concentrate on the things you’re bad at!

9. Get help from stronger players

There are no “quick fixes” on the road to chess improvement, but this one is certainly one of the quickest.

ChessCentral offers many resources which can help you become a better chessplayer, including a CD on how to use chessplaying software to improve your own chess game.

Have fun! — Steve

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One Response

  1. […] which is also vitally important to your development as a chess player. Just as it’s useful to consult with stronger players and have them critique your games, it’s also quite beneficial to replay the games of stronger chessplayers. Playing over the […]

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