I have consistently blogged about improving as a chess player for the last three years, and now that I have accomplished my modest goals I thought I will write a series on my methods that I am sure will be of use to other adults as well.
A little bit about my current playing level so you can see if it makes sense for you to read further because I’d imagine you don’t want to read a series written by someone lower rated than yourself.
- Lichess Peak Classical Rating: 2045
- USCF Peak Rating: 1605
- FIDE Peak Rating: 1254
A little bit about my chess life
My earliest memories of chess are playing against my uncle and crying when I lost to him. He started losing on purpose every once in a while, and when I figured out that he was losing on purpose I used to cry. So, it was a really bad deal for my uncle – I used to cry when I lost against him, and I used to cry when I won!
Image credit: Riccardo Cuppini
My grandfather played chess, and all his five sons play chess, so chess came very naturally to me. I don’t quite remember when I started playing chess, but I feel like I have always played it. I played for my college team for my first year. In the tournament at Delhi University – I remember playing six games – winning one, drawing one, and losing all others. This along with the fact that I joined my college’s debating team in the second year, and was far more successful there than in my chess meant that I gave up playing chess, and focused on the debating society. I think I stopped playing chess altogether at around the age of 20.
I picked it up again when I was 33 or so and exclusively played correspondence chess online. I enjoyed the stress free nature of correspondence chess, and I was quite happy doing that. At that time I happened to talk to a colleague about chess, and he told me he was around 2000 rated when he played as a kid, and I asked him about what work he put in and that he must know a lot of theory. He told me that he didn’t and that you don’t need theory to go to that level.
That was really when I started playing 15 minute games with the intention of improving my chess, and the more I played the more I was drawn into the game. I steadily ranked between 1550 – 1650 in the 15 minute pool on chess.com and in 2015 I decided to make an effort to improve my game as evidenced by my online rating. I found some success but was stuck at the same range for two years or so.
I realised that chess is a very difficult discipline and not only do you need to put in the hours – you need to know where to put them in, and have a structure to your learning method. I truly started improving when I got a coach and the one lesson per week with him along with the effort I put in helped me progress steadily.
I also felt that there was no guide or book available to adult players to guide them through this improvement process, so I decided to write one myself based on my experience and the methods that I used which helped me improve.
I think this method can be used by just about everyone who is willing to put in the work, and coming from an amateur it should be more relatable than the books written by professionals who were very good from a very early stage in their life.
I had two goals starting my chess improvement journey – the improvement itself, but also not forgoing the joy I got from the game. If I had to spend hours training on tactics then that would have worn me out and turned me away from chess. Similarly, playing for hours without seeing any improvement would also mean that I would have been turned away from chess. I wanted to balance work and play, and I believe I have been very successful in this. In fact, the more I learned about chess, the more I appreciated it as an art form, and from playing in tournaments to reading chess books – my life has been vastly enriched because of my hobby.
In this series I will describe my methods, and techniques to you with the hope that you will be able to emulate them and improve your own game, and develop a deeper passion for the game. This series will consist of the following posts:
- End Games
- How to improve as an adult chess player – Par 1: Introduction
- How to improve as an adult chess player – Part 2: Swindles
- How to improve as an adult chess player – Part 3: Openings
- How to improve as an adult chess player – Part 4: Middlegames