7 Effective Ways To Improve In Chess Without A Coach

7 Effective Ways To Improve In Chess Without A Coach

A lot of people are fascinated by chess on their first encounter. They see the beauty and develop a passion almost instantly. On their journey, they pick up a lot of things that help them improve in chess, but a lot of people don’t quite get to where they want to be in terms of achievement and even rank. They get stuck on a particular spot and just keep playing probably until the passion drastically evaporates. Many people are okay with where they are even though it’s below their true potential. They forget that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Some try to get tutors but find that they are unable to afford the charges and sometimes the task gets majorly difficult to help the trainee unlearn the ineffective style of play they’re already very used to. Hence, tutors are best effective for an individual still new to chess. Below are ways in which a chess player can improve in chess without the services of a tutor.


chess books
Chess books are great materials to aid improvement. Image via chess-site.com

This is the first and best way that comes to mind when someone thinks of improving their gameplay. Studying materials is usually seen as an extremely daunting task for many chess players and get discouraged when they see the volume of what they have to study to improve. A major attribute of a successful person is being self-disciplined. A lot of people are looking to reap where they did not sow. It isn’t required to gulp all the contents of a chess material into one’s brain at a go to improve in chess. Understanding one’s self and creating a study routine helps to make the task a lot easier. Chess materials come in a lot of forms.

There are books in both hard and soft copies, videos on a lot of things like tactics, strategy, and even analyses on classic quality games by chess legends. While studying, a player has to know where to focus at a given time. Some focus a lot on openings. Trying to master all openings without knowing how to proceed cannot help a player improve in chess. Cramming the lines and then getting confused when a movie doesn’t follow the usual line they crammed. Memorizing lines can prove very useful, but it’s advised to study them one time. Pick one, and get acquainted with it before picking up another.

A player who has mastered one opening and its variations can best a player who has studied many lines without implementation because no matter what, all those lines cannot come into play in a single game. Players also have to remember that studying chess isn’t restricted to a level or title as even the best players in the world still study to improve their gameplay.


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Paul Morphy was an unofficial World Champion in the 19th century. Image via vmaritime.com

This is probably the most looked-down-upon way to improve in chess, but what players usually tend to miss is that the best way to motivate themselves is to study those who have been there and done that long before you emerged. Studying history offers exposure to a lot of things like tournaments, records, achievements, and so on. If a chess player is unaware of the level of respect and culture surrounding a particular tournament, he might fail to see the true value of that tournament and hence, neglect the need to put in enough work to make it high enough to participate in those tournaments.

Grandmaster Abhimanyu Mishra holds the record for the youngest Grandmaster in history and prodigies in today’s generation would set their sights on that achievement because records like that command respect wherever that individual may be present. Even outside the field of chess, the respect would remain intact. Studying history also allows studying classic games between top legends and learning a thing or two from them.


Classical time control. Image via chess.com

Chess players of this generation seem to believe that real chess is speed chess while classical chess is stressful, boring, and not necessary, but that is highly untrue as classical is the best way to improve in chess. It’s a fact that speed chess packs excitement because most people tend to enjoy activities that raise their nerves and have to do with a certain level of speed such as rollercoaster rides, sky-diving, and sports like football and basketball.

In chess, speed chess is what raises that feeling of urgency and hence, a lot of players are drawn to it. The importance of classical chess is to provide more time for an individual to think well and look for the best moves or a collection of moves best suited for a position. Always remember this quote “when you see a good move, look for a better one” because there’s often a better one, but if you’re rushing, as is the case in speed chess, you might likely not find it.


Bobby Fischer was known for his aggressive playing style. Image via SFGATE.

Most players don’t understand their style of play and that’s why they struggle to come up with an appropriate study routine. It’s true that players, sometimes, use different styles in different games but a particular style must be dominant over the rest. Find a role model that matches your style and observe them closely. Study their games, and their moves and see how their motives relate to yours and adopt some of their advanced techniques into your play.

For instance, players that love to sacrifice and attack with so much fierceness can consider having the Latvian legend, Mikhail Tal, or the American superstar, Bobby Fischer as role models while players that like to play with a higher sense of conservativeness can look to American-Italian Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana for inspiration.


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Time to shine!

This is a great way to implement all that have learned from studying into the gameplay. Physical competitions like huge tournaments and mini-tournaments OTB(Over The Board) are a great way to learn and improve in chess. A lot of ethics surrounding the game of chess would be picked up such as touch-play, illegal moves, and so on. Another advantage of physical tournaments is that cheating through means of engines and sandbagging is practically very difficult and impossible respectively to carry out.

Of course, online chess is also a very good alternative because it brings the tournament directly to you wherever you may be at a certain time, but it mainly presents itself in speed chess time controls and hence, more for fun rather than improvement. Playing competitively presents a certain sense of urgency to the passion of a chess player. It also presents an opportunity of playing against players of higher strength and learn, first-hand, things a player didn’t know before such as traps and tactics. Of course, playing without studying is pointless.

One would remain at a certain spot or might show very little improvement if the player does not study. No matter how many games are played. Take, for instance, german11 of lichess.org, who has played over four hundred thousand games (400,000) without ever reaching the 1800 LiChess Elo rating milestone in any time control.


People viewing a chess match in a Tata Steel Tournament. Image via Quora.

Studying is one thing while applying what one has studied is another. Apart from playing, watching the games of top players slog it out on the chessboard can spark a lot of development in a growing player. In case a player isn’t privileged enough to spectate chess at the highest level at event centers, they shouldn’t neglect games of individuals that are better than them in their local tournaments. Online platforms like lichess.org, chess24.com, and chess.com also provide very good opportunities for developing players to spectate freely from the comfort of their homes.

Although, playing ethics that involve physical contact with chess pieces will not be shown and these ethics are almost as important if a player is willing to reach that level themselves. Imagine losing a game in a winning position not because of a blunder but due to an illegal move or a violation of the touch-play rule. That would be catastrophic and might have devastating psychological consequences on a player that could lead to a terrible form that might take a while to recover from.


No pain, No gain.

A lot of people get too comfortable when they reach a certain level in chess, even when that is not the highest level. They win local tournaments both physically and online and no longer see the need to improve. They fail to realize that even the players at the highest level strive every day to improve in chess.

Some feel that they might be too old, and their mind is no longer as sharp and vibrant as it once was. Beliefs like that would only serve to deter a player from possibilities that, although appear slim, remain possibilities. It is achievable if only one is determined enough to reach that goal. Grandmaster Enrico Paoli achieved the title of Grandmaster 12 years short of a century-year-old, while some people in their early 30s consider themselves too old to improve! If a player is to improve in chess, they must first work on their mindset.

If these ways do not prove effective to a particular player, then the services of a proficient tutor might be required, but bear in mind that there’s little a tutor can do for a trainee that doesn’t put in enough personal effort. They talk the talk and have you walk the walk. If you found this article helpful and interesting, kindly drop a remark below.

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  • This is really insightful. I love this

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