How to Be Good at Chess

If you want to be good at chess, the advice below is probably the :
  • quickest,
  • most convenient, and
  • cheapest way to grow as a chess player.
In the last couple of months I've improved my chess game a lot and I'm happy to tell you exactly how I've done it. I expect you'll have similar results.

In addition to the below info the five strategies in chess page on this site will probably also be helpful for you, especially if you're relatively new to chess.

This isn't a Sales Pitch.

I'm not trying to get you to buy a chess book or join a program or anything else that costs money. I'm just sharing my sincere advice on how to be good at chess.

Here's the one sentence answer that's all you have to do:
  • Play more chess, challenge yourself, and learn from it.
That's it.

Bold statement: As far as I'm concerned that's the single best piece of chess advice anyone can give you.

It's easier said than done and obviously doesn't happen overnight, but if you're doing something that you enjoy, then it's a labor of love.

What do Poker and Chess have in Common?

I think there may be similarities between how online poker changed the world of poker and how online chess is changing the world of chess.

Accomplished veteran professional poker players like Phil Hellmuth and Doyle Brunson have noted that in their day in order to reach the exclusive ranks of being one of the most elite poker players in the world a player would have to play poker for decades to accumulate the requisite amount of experience to be able to hang with the pros.

With the advent of online poker all of a sudden 20 year kids were able to rack up more poker games under their belts than seasoned pros that had been playing in cards rooms for decades. Thanks to the internet, poker players could play 10 games at a time 24-7 from the convenience of their computer laptops.

Chess could be going through a similar renaissance. This is a major game changer for a game that's been around for centuries.

The 10,000 Hour Rule

There's something called the 10,000 hour rule that economist Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his best-selling book Outliers. In a nutshell the theory suggests that logging 10,000 hours of experience or practice may be required to reach the top levels of certain trades and skills, i.e. music, sports, computer programming, etc.

I've found that the more I play, the more predictable the games become. I can play faster and more efficiently because I recognize circumstances I've seen before. The games become more routine in a good way. To some extent working through games starts to feel like second nature.

The reason my play has improved dramatically over the last couple of months is because I'm playing a lot more chess and I'm learning from it.

I'm able to play way more chess because I've started playing on my iPhone with an app called "Chess with Friends."

I've probably played as many games of chess in the last two months as I had in the previous twenty years.

Before I started playing chess with friends over our phones, any time I wanted to play I had to find a time when a friend could sit down with me for an hour or two to play a few games.

Unfortunately, I've never really had too many friends that lived close enough and had similar enough schedules where we were able to play often.

Playing over the our phones allows us to move whenever we have a free moment, even if it's just for a minute.

The other reason I've been able to play so much more lately is that I'm now able to play different games with numerous people at the same time.

In the past having multiple games going over extended periods of time would have required keeping several physical chess sets straight. Now, all of that information is conveniently stored in my phone and I can easily pull it up anytime. I'll often pull up games even when it's not my turn just to think about how things might play out.

It's Easier to Learn from Online Chess

Another advantage that the electronic version of chess has over it's conventional counterpart is that it's easy to visually scan backwards and forwards through a game as it's being played or even after it's over. This allows you to quickly understand how you wound up in both good and bad situations.

Whether you're pleased with how well a game is working out for you, or you're frustrated with the direction a game is going, you can easily analyze how you got into those situations and hopefully learn from it.

Breaking Through Your Chess Ceiling

If you go from hardly ever playing chess to playing all the time you'll probably get better as you shake off the rust. But, if you don't actively work on getting better the improvement you enjoyed will quickly plateau or flatten out.

The same thing happens in all sorts of facets of life, i.e. learning a language, playing a musical instrument, writing, or pretty much anything that requires a learned skill set.

If you haven't used Microsoft Excel in a long time and then all of a sudden you have to for a project you'll probably be rusty at first before picking up your old skills as you spent time using the program. However, after a certain point you won't become any more proficient in Excel unless you actively try to get better by learning new functions and keyboard shortcuts.

Personally this sort of thing happens to me all the time when it comes to playing golf.

I used to play golf all the time when I was in high school but since then (for numerous reasons) I've typically only played a couple of times a year at the most. It usually takes me lots of balls on the driving range and several holes on the course to get back into the groove of striking the ball consistently. At that point I enjoy an improvement in my golf skills.

However, I quickly hit the ceiling of my golf abilities and in order to break through that ceiling to be the best golfer I can be I'd have to devote time to working with a golf coach on my form, short game, etc.

Without proper analysis my golf game quickly peaks because I just begin to further cement bad habits that are ingrained in my untrained game.

The same thing happens with chess.

If you don't challenge yourself against tougher opponents or more importantly analyze your chess game you won't maximize your chess skills and become the best player you can be.

Fortunately, it's never been easier to improve your chess game.

All the Tools you Need are Described on this Website

A big part of the reason my chess game has grown leaps and bounds in the last couple of months is because in addition to playing often I've been working with the chess "cheating" techniques explained on this site.

Simply cheating your way through a bunch of games of Chess with Friends on auto-pilot probably won't help you become good at chess.

You'll see the most improvement by actively analyzing the games while you play them.

Here's what I mean by this:

Before every move that you're not sure about, go through the following checklist:
  1. Find a good move
  2. Look for a better one
  3. Decide what move you'll do, but before doing it ...
  4. Open the Chess Cheats app and see what move it suggests
  5. If Chess Cheats suggests a different move, then
  6. Think about why the Chess Cheats suggested move might be better than the one you'd chosen.
  7. Make the move that you think gives you the best chance of winning
This is essentially like having a chess coach with you offering expert advice on every single move.

The main different is that you won't have a coach to actually explain to you why he's suggesting certain moves over others, particularly in terms of long term strategy projecting several moves out.

However, being forced to figure out on your own why certain moves suggested by the Chess Cheats app are better than the ones you originally chose, probably adds to the learning process.

Over time you'll better understand how the chess software approaches games.

Mimicking that style of play will eventually become second nature. Your brain will adapt to think about how a top computer chess program approaches particular moves and certain predicaments.

The biggest things I've learned from computer chess simulations so far is that the computer does a much better job of staying on point about getting the opponent in checkmate, whereas I used to play more of a defensive game wherein I struggled to win the war of having more quality pieces before eventually bleeding my opponent out when the board was practically empty and I'd march a pawn to the other end to exchange for a queen.

If you can play similarly to the best computers you'll not only be good at chess - you'll be unstoppable.

"If you're not cheating, you're not trying." - Quote from: Lots of people who cheat