There’s a popular saying in the English language: Practice makes perfect. This means that to become good at anything, one must put in effort regularly. This saying is not lost on chess either. For anyone looking to get better and improve their chess skill or recover from bad chess form, it is necessary to have a chess training plan.
What is a Chess Training Plan?
A chess training plan is a list of carefully selected methods to improve a player’s chess ability. These plans aim to utilize a step-by-step method that aids in bringing out the best in a chess player. They may differ based on the strength and age of the players.
Methods of Chess Training
Chess training involves different methods, which are all aimed at improving chess knowledge.
Methods of chess training include:
- Chess Engine Analysis
- Studying Grandmaster Games
- Playing Blitz Games
Coaching in chess is a process where a more experienced player, usually a titled player, helps other chess players to improve.
A chess coach is an experienced chess player whose aim is to utilize the knowledge and experience they have gained over the course of their chess career to instill the knowledge of the game into other players, usually amateurs (top-level players also have coaches)
Coaching can be done through a variety of methods, and these methods can range from live coaching, which is a system where there is live interaction between the coach and the player; this can be done both physically and virtually. A player can also learn from pre-recorded videos made by chess coaches.
Chess puzzles are certain arrangements of chess pieces on the board, which create a problem that can only be solved by applying chess knowledge. Chess puzzles have been used by players for a long time, dating back to the middle ages.
Usually, in a puzzle, the idea is to find a specific set of correct moves that achieve the required objective. For example, the objective might be to checkmate (in a specified number of moves) to a stalemate or to gain a sizable material or positional advantage.
Puzzles are an important aspect of chess study, and a good chess training plan should include solving puzzles.
A chess training plan can also include personal efforts to train on your own. While coaching and other methods are excellent, it is also important to learn some aspects of chess on your own.
Self-training is done through research, usually by reading chess books. You should search for books on different aspects of the game, ranging from the opening, middlegame, and endgame. You can also practice playing against yourself using the principles you learned from the books you read.
If you intend to train your creativity, try playing good chess variants that are closely related to standard chess.
Blindfold chess is a variant of chess where the player does not physically see the chessboard and pieces but has to picture and keep a mental image of the positions on the board.
Blindfold chess is a challenging way to play chess. However, it works wonders in improving a player’s ability. This is because it strengthens the ability to evaluate a position mentally. Therefore, your chess training plan should include playing blindfold chess once in a while to sharpen your “mind’s eye.”
Chess Engine Analysis
Chess engines are programs designed to analyze chess positions and determine the best moves to be played. Chess engines should be incorporated into your chess training routine, and this is because using engine analysis is an easy way of figuring out mistakes, blunders, or inaccuracies you may have made in your games.
By using a chess engine, you can easily find out where you went wrong in a game you played and ensure you do not repeat the mistake in subsequent games.
Studying Grandmaster Games
What better way to improve your chess ability than studying games of the best players? The grandmaster title is the highest honor achievable in the game of chess and is second only to the world chess championship title.
Grandmasters are players who have reached the pinnacle of their abilities, and as such, their games contain many lessons on different aspects of the game of chess. These lessons range from the opening and middlegame to the endgame.
You can also learn how to play a certain style by studying the games of grandmasters. For example, if you enjoy playing aggressive and attacking chess with lots of sacrifices, then you should check out the games of Mikhail Tal and Rashid Nezhmetdinov. However, if you are a player that loves positional chess, then the games of Anatoly Karpov will teach you a lot.
Playing Blitz Games
Playing blitz games is another training method that can improve your chess immensely. Blitz games are fast-time formats requiring you to think quickly, formulate tactics and strategies with limited time, and learn how to handle pressure.
Unfortunately, most players get disoriented when the time on the clock begins to run low. This leads to blunders that cost them the game more often than not. By adding blitz games to your chess training plan, you will learn to be calm in time trouble and understand how to win games quickly and effectively.
Aim of Training
The main aims of a chess training plan are:
For strategic and tactical improvement
One of the core goals of a chess training plan is to improve a player’s knowledge of strategy and tactics. Tactics can be referred to as a move or a series of moves that result in gaining a material advantage or, in some cases winning through checkmate. On the other hand, strategy is the grand plan of how a chess game is played. In a nutshell, tactics are short-term plans, while strategy is long-term.
Chess is a game that revolves around strategy and tactics. Therefore a chess training plan aims to educate players on them, and these can be taught by coaches and using chess engines.
For Memory and Focus
Any chess player that wants to get better must improve their memory and focus. Playing a chess game well is difficult without a strong memory and laser focus. Training methods like blindfold chess go a long way in improving memory and focus.
In order to improve at chess, a player must sharpen the speed at which they calculate. This is because, in a chess game, players must abide by usually allocated time controls. Therefore, a player who doesn’t calculate fast will end up running out of time and losing the game. This is why a chess training plan aims at improving the speed at which a player calculates chess positions.
Ways by which a player can improve his calculating speed are:
- Puzzle Rush: A puzzle rush is a training feature where a player is given an allotted time, say 5 minutes, to solve as many puzzles as possible. This training system ensures that a player learns how to calculate fast.
- Coordinates: This is a sort of training that measures how well you know the coordinates of the chessboard by prompting you to click on the coordinate given in standard notation ( like d5, e7, f4), and your score is the number of correct clicks within a given time.
- Trivia: A chess trivia is a chess quiz that helps in improving the speed at which chess players make decisions by providing multiple answers to a particular question that players must answer within a specified time limit.
A very important aim of a chess training plan is to improve a player’s rating. A chess rating is a metric used to judge the ability and strength of a player. Chess players are ranked based on their ratings. Therefore, the higher the rating of a player, the stronger they are. A chess training plan aims to ensure players keep building their chess ratings.
Chess Training Calendar
To ensure your chess training plan goes well, you will need to use a calendar to schedule the days you intend to train. However, since chess is a game that is played by people of all ages, every chess player cannot have the same calendar for chess study.
This is because a particular age group will have more time to spare than others. For example, a young kid or a retiree will have more time on their hands than an older individual with a job.
This being said, a calendar for a kid, a busy worker, and a retiree should look like this:
Calendar for a kid
Monday: 2-4: Opening Preparation
Wednesday: 12-3: Middle game tactics
Friday: 2-4: Endgame techniques
Saturday 3-5: Basic knowledge of checkmate patterns, forks, skewers, and pins
Calendar for a busy worker
Friday: 2-4 Opening Repertoire
Saturday 12-3: Middlegame tactics
Sunday: 4-6: Endgame techniques
Calendar for a retiree
Monday: 3-5: Opening Preparation
Tuesday: 2-4: Middlegame Principles
Friday: 1-3: Endgame techniques
Sunday: 3-5: Basic knowledge of checkmate patterns, forks, skewers, and pins
A chess training plan is the best way to understand how to train in chess. Therefore, any player who wants to get to their desired level in chess must employ a chess training plan.