Progressing Up the Ladder

How should you play if your rating is at:
1, Class D 1100 - 1299 ELO or (1200 - 1399 USCF)

Let's say your playing a game against a patzer who likes to develop his queen early to try to quickly win the game. As a much better player, you know that it is usually a mistake to develop the queen early in the game, and if you were rated 400 points or more higher than him you may set out to not only punish this opponent for this mistake but there is a good chance you will not only take his Queen but win that game as well in not to many moves forcing him to quickly resign.

However if you are at close to his level of play you may make the mistake of doing everything possible to threaten his queen with out being successful to take it, including developing your pieces to awkward weak squares to attack the queen instead of the key squares that they should be on, pushing pawns to attack his queen and therefore you not only create structural pawn weaknesses, weak squares and outposts but you create imbalances that he may take advantage of.

The result, more often than not, is that you end up incurring more mistakes and weaknesses than your opponent has! So when this sort of thing happens to you, rather than immediately trying to punish your opponent for his mistakes, you should instead calmly play chess and adhere to the solid basic opening principles of chess that you learnt and develop your pieces to good squares, castle to safety, create an environment to continue on to a solid yet active middlegame position, and only THEN set out to punish your opponent and threaten his Queen who by then will very likely have a significantly poorer position than you. You have outsmarted your opponent by sticking to the prudent and more logical approach to playing chess by adhering to the basics of solid chess fundamentals.

If you want a good example of how to improve in chess then follow in the footsteps of those who become professional sports players.

Professional people in sports who demand millions of dollars in their salaries each year got to be professionals by adhering to the same basic principles of advancing to that level of play that you should adhere to.

How did they do it? How did they get to be the best in the world in their profession?

It's not a secret of how they did it. It's just a logical approach to how to progress up the ladder to that level of play and become Grandmasters of their sport.

They have been using the same type of program to be the best since they started in their field, probably for many, many years.

They simply break the game down to its basic individual components of needed expertise and then they proceed to become experts and masters in each of these separate components.

In baseball they can practice doing most of these components with out playing a game of baseball at any time they wish using machines that don't get tired.

In baseball you can go to a area where there is a machine that can be programmed to throw any kind of ball at any lighting fast speeds that you choose. They can then spend hours if they choose to keep trying to hit curve balls at progressing increased speeds until their arms and whole body hurts. Then on other days they can face professional pitchers in their team and do the same until eventually they become so good that the pitchers tell them to go back to the machine and crank it up a few notches to speeds far greater than any pitchers are capable of throwing balls at.

Sure they are going to miss most of the balls this way but they know that over practicing at this level of expertise will in time, if they persist give them a big edge over their opponents if they keep up this kind of practice.

They also can use the machines to pitch balls at them in the outfield and practice catching balls on the fly and grounders by the hundreds until they can do so with out missing a one, and with out any errors.

They practice base running, throwing, catching, pitching, etc, over and over and over until they can do each component perfectly, error free and they have become masters of that component. Then they put all those skills together and actually play entire games.

Do you think learning how to play chess should be any different?

This method of learning how to become more proficient and gradually progress up the ladder is at the fundamental root of my training page called, My Method

The worst mistakes that the amateur's make is to study chess in a fragmented method. They study with out any plan of study and then proceed to study a little of this and a little of that, and the end result is that they never master any of it. How many chess books do they have that they have read a few chapters of, and then moved on to another book, without finishing the first? How many openings have they studied for a short time and then moved on to others because they don't get instant results. How many unorthodox openings have they tried to learn because of their surprise value thinking they can win game quickly using these unsound openings.

Have you thoroughly learned any opening, or defense or do you know the first few moves of many openings, but aren't really knowledgeable in any of them? For most of the amateurs, the answer is the latter.

The second mistake amateurs make is in studying the wrong things, or at least material that's inappropriate to their level of play. You've got to have a good understanding of the basics before you move on to more advanced concepts. It's a poor use of study time to try to work your way through more advanced opening play books if you haven't learned the basic theory of opening play first, or to try to learn more advanced subjects if you haven't learned basic tactics, strategy and endings first. For the same reason you take algebra first before you take on calculus The same thing applies in chess. Learning the basics first gives you a framework around which you can integrate all your future chess knowledge.

The third mistake that most amateur players make is devoting the majority of their study time to study the openings. There's a term for players who do this: they're called "Perpetual Novices." They know tons of opening lines but don't have a clue about the underlying ideas of the lines and why they were developed they way that they were. They don't even have a cue as to what the basic difference is between good opening and bad openings and why bad openings are considered bad. They don't know how to play an opening so as to enter into a playable middlegame. They are tactically opening ignorant.

Getting to the Nuts and bolts of learning.

First of all you need a logical plan of study. And what could be more logical than to start at the beginning of basic chess learning. Do what the Russians do and start with basic endgame study with the intentions of knowing it well. Then do the same with basic tactics, go on to strategy and opening principles. You then will have studied all of the most important basics of chess.

What is about to be said here may seem redundant, obvious and overly simplistic, but it works, just because it is such a logical and obvious plan. Do you think you can come up with something else that will work for you that could be a better plan, and change what you have been doing in the past? The basic outline of a good plan is this: Master basic tactics, then basic endings, then study basic positional play and strategy, then learn basic opening principles, and finally bring it all together by analyzing the classical games of the past masters. Those games can show you how the masters used chess basics in winning games.

If you do decide to do all of this I don't have to tell you that you will succeed, that is obvious just from the logic of this plan. You must work this plan in the same way that you just read about how the professional baseball players practice before they play games.

Next you will want to put together a basic opening repertoire, and for this you should look over our page of;
Building A Opening Repertoire In that page are recommendations of openings for your level of play. Trying to learn an opening that is far too advanced for your level of play is foolhardy and nonproductive to the progression of your skills. Trying to lean the Sicilian defense for example before you have learned the King's Gambit or the Italian Game, (Giuco Piano) is something that an amateur may try to do thinking he can win games quickly with such a powerful defense, but all he has accomplished is to waste a lot of valuable time that would have been a lot more productive in more prudent opening studies.

Don't jump from one opening to another thinking that maybe the opening you have selected to master will not win games quickly for you, All openings have both good points and bad points and no single opening is going to provide you with any more wins than another if you don't study it and try to understand the basic underlying principles behind it. If you are going to outplay your opponents in the opening you should know that you'll never succeed unless you know just a few good openings better inside and out than does your opponent. Choose a few good solid openings that adhered to recognized sound opening principles and stay with them until you know that you know them better than does 75% of players you play chess against. Only then should you consider taking on another slightly more advanced opening to learn. Then repeat the process with that opening and soon you will have a good opening repertoire that will hold up to most anything your opponents can throw at you. Also don't forget that all this while you need to keep up your studies in tactical problems advancing upwards as you skill level permits you to.

The Unorthodox Openings

One note of importance here is to not be fooled like so many amateurs are in thinking that some strange, unconventional, unorthodox chess opening is going to kill your unsuspecting and unprepared opponent quickly because of its surprised value.

The lazy patzers who use these opening are doing so because they know they don't have a clue on how to play chess well and their only hope of winning a game quickly against more knowledgeable players is to use such unsound openings.

Do you know why unorthodox openings are called unorthodox?

After hundreds of years of playing chess the professionals have worked out general guidelines for good opening play that are based on a number of sound principles that are agreed upon by nearly all the experts that if followed give the player following these guidelines an advantage in opening play using these guidelines.

Although most of the popular openings conform to these basic solid guidelines, they may violate one or two of these principles. But most unorthodox openings have not only more violations which are generally condemned than non-unorthodox openings but the violations are more of a egregious violation and of a more serious nature that do not conform to the accepted principles of sound opening play and so this is what usually makes an opening named a unorthodox opening.

The most obvious features of unorthodox openings are a reckless disregard of the center, awkward positions for minor pieces, giving up the right to castle and creating weaknesses and unsound pawn structures. In other words most of these opening are opening that no strong player would ever think of using and only reckless patzers try to use such openings with such obvious opening defects to surprise their opponent and try to catch unprepared opponents. But any player who has studied using the plans put forth here to study the basics will have no problems defeating this lame opponent with such a obviously poor unsound opening.

Tackle your weakest areas first.

Next what is important is to find out in what specific areas you need to work on, and then try to bring up your skills in that area to match the other areas you are skilled in. One mistake many people make is to put in more time in study of those areas that are the easiest and the most fun to do and neglect other needed areas of study. Much like a kid would do at suppertime and eat his ice cream first before his meal.

Following the Plan

Now let's look at the plan again in more detail from the beginning:

What is recommended first is that you layout a plan of study to follow. And that means to learn the basics first and then religiously follow it.

1. Basic tactics, Basic strategy and Basic endings first, just like the professionals do at baseball. If you wish to purchase a good solid program to do just this I have found one of the best is the Personal Chess Trainer that gives you a complete program of tactics, strategy and endgame, all three subjects in one program

PCT (Personal Chess Trainer) Demo
The PCT Demo contains a great deal of free exercises in, Tactics, Strategy and Endgame. Don't pass up this golden opportunity to get a lot of great free chess training exercises just for the asking. Download it here:

  • PCT (Personal Chess Trainer) Demo

    2. Next is to go to our page; Building A Opening Repertoire and choose a good opening and a good defense to study. Stay with those openings and study the basic underlying principles behind each of them. Study the important variations to them. Practice doing them using the tools in our Opening Training Tools page so that you will know them well, even in your sleep.

    Keep up your studies in tactics at your skill level progressing upwards as your skill permits you to in the various areas of opening tactics, strategy tactics and endgame tactics. You can find sites that will give you tactics for free like the Tempo site to try as well.

    The Tempo site is free to solve 2 problems a day. If you want to solve 20 a day it will cost you $20 a year for the Silver subscription, and $35 a year for unlimited problems a day subscription. You also get with this subscription a Rating Graph history, Performance Stats, Tactical Motif Performance Stats, FIDE Rating Estimates, Tactical Motif, and a lot of other stats, graphs, options and bells and whistles that could be useful and interesting. I am not so sure that this is a good idea because for $25 you can buy a training Cd's with over a 1000 problems. But then it would be nice to see all of those stats and have all of those other options. So I guess it just comes down to what you can afford to do and actually $35 a year is probably less than what you spend on soda a year.

    From ChessOK CT-Art 3.0 has 1217 exercises that are classified according to thee criteria with a level of difficulty, ELO 1600 to 2300.

    This is the description for CT-ART 3.0: Program contains nearly 1,217 main examples with over 1,000 supplementary ones classified by tactical methods, combination motifs and difficulty (from amateurs to masters). Numerous text and visual hints to help the student find the solution.

  • Buy Chessassistant CT-ART 3.0 and download the free Demo here

    Chessbase has George Renko's Intensive Course Tactics 1 for $28 and has over 4000 tactical problems. His Intensive Course Tactics 2 CD for $28 has close to 3000 training positions and over 6300 training questions to be solved, all classified into three group levels. Intermediate, Advanced and Master level.

  • get your ChessBase Tactics CD's here

    The nice thing about CD's are that unlike internet site training, you are able to go back to your problems and do them over as much as you like and with the many thousands of problems on those CD's there is enough work there to last you for years and train you at you own pace.

    What is important here if you want to improve is that just like any endeavor that you want to excel in you must study your chess basics and tactical problems every day, Even if only an hour a day then you will be advancing and wont get stagnant or lapse into a period of decline.

    How much you improve and how fast is going to be determined by your desire and motivation to keep at it diligently every day no matter what. The best thing you can do here is to not get into a tenuous program of study with some unsound program of unsubstantial substance and then think you are involved in some firmly based program of chess improvement.

    There are many such programs on the internet that charge substantial monthly fees for that which you can do your self for considerably less money. Their hype is that they have professionals that are going to guide you along the path to success, but the only thing that they are going to guide you to is to empty your pocket book into their hands.

    It is easy to procrastinate if you are truly not really interested in improvement but only want to think you are. It is all too easy to find other things to do that you may say that these are necessary things to do that are more important than my studies at this time and as soon as I can find the time I will get back to my studies.

    I am saying this because of the many times that I have asked friends to join my club and I have heard them say that although they thought that my club would most surely help them improve, that at this time they have many other important commitments that prevent them from joining at this time. And then I see them go back to their chat group and get involved in all kinds of inane chatter. These people are so transparent; it is easy to see that they are procrastinators of the highest level.

    The good news here for you to know is that there is probably well over 80% of the players on FICS that are thinking much the same way. You will hear many of them say that they play like patzers and would like to improve, and they would like to know more openings and know more theory better too, but the facts are that they just don't have what it takes to do so, they are just too lazy and don't have the motivation to do it. That is good news for you to know because that should give you the motivation to think that you really don't have to try all that hard to out play these people but with only just a little study. But just think what you could accomplish and do with much more study than that? To prove my point that you don't really need a lot of study just read what one of our newbies had to say with only a couple of hours of study in our testimonials that you can find at our log in page.

    What are the good books to read

    Every one wants to know if there are good books to read that can help them improve, but the problem is that they don't have a lot of money to spend on books and so want to know what books are the best and most practical for them to study. For anyone to recommend books they should look to see what others have recommended time and time again by experts in the chess-training field. These people know that most of the books available simple don't have the substance to lean how to play chess well and are only written by so called experts to quickly make a lot of money.

    Many of these books are just filled from one end to the other with boring chess games and not much else that pretend to teach you how to learn certain concepts that are found at the title of each chapter. After a few hours of wading through the games and endless variations most simply throw the book down in disgust and never pick it up again.

    This list of recommended books has been sorted by level of play. The first group may for some seem to be a repetition of what they already know but, then no one has perfect recall and if you want to form a solid base for more advanced studies you must be sure that you know this material because it is the fundamental knowledge that more advanced concepts come from and then you can progress with confidence that you have that sold base into which now you will understand the more complex material.

    1, Class D 1100 - 1299 ELO or (1200 - 1399 USCF)

    Note that some say that they think that the USCF rating is roughly equivalent to our FICS rating. See SurveyBot to see what it thinks you are at.

    Weapons of chess (Bruce Pandolfini
    Pandolfini's Endgame Course (Pandolfini)
    Logical Chess Explained Move By Move (Chernev)
    Everyone's Second Chess Book (Heisman)
    Winning Chess Tactics (Seirawan)
    Play Chess Combinations & Sacrifices (Levy)
    Winning Chess Openings (Seirawan)
    Best Lessons of a Chess Coach (Weeramantry & Eusebi)
    The Game of Chess (Tarrasch)
    Lasker's Manual of Chess (Lasker)
    New Ideas In Chess (Evans)

    Intermediate Level
    2, Class B 1300 - 1499 ELO or (1400 - 1599 USCF)

    My System (Aron Nimzovich)
    Comprehensive Chess Course Vol.I & II (Alburt & Pelts)
    Chess Tactics For The Tournament Player (Alburt & Palatnik)
    The Art of Defense in Chess (Polugayevsky & Damsky)
    The Inner Game of Chess. How to calculate and Win (Andrew Soltis)
    The King In Jeopardy (Alburt & Palatnik)
    Chess Strategy For The Tournament Player (Alburt & Palatnik)
    Just The Facts (Alburt & Krogius)
    Chess Training Pocket Book (Alburt)
    How To Reassess Your Chess (Silman)
    The Reeassess Your Chess Workbook. How to Master Chess Imbalances (Silman)
    The Amateur's Mind (Silman)
    The World's Great Chess Games (Fine)
    Teach Yourself Better Chess (Hartston)

    Advanced Level

    3, Class B 1500 - 1699 ELO or (1600 - 1799 USCF)

    Now you have a more through understanding of the basic principles of chess and will be able to understand these more advanced concepts.

    My Greatest Games of Chess (Alekhine)
    The Chess Of Bobby Fischer (Burger)
    Modern Chess Strategy (Pachman)
    The Art Of The Middle Game (Keres & Kotov)
    The Art of Defense in Chess (Soltis)
    Endgame Strategy (Shereshevsky)
    The Most Instructive Games Of Chess Ever Played (Chernev)

    Although there is no doubt that there is a lot more books that could be recommended that would be excellent to read this list represents a good overall package for this level of play.

    Class A

    4, Class A 1700 - 1899 ELO or (1800 - 1899 USCF)

    Here is a list of recommended books that will help you get there.

    Attack and Defence (Dvoretsky)
    Opening Preparation (Yusupov)
    The Art of Attack (Vukovic)
    Think Like A Grandmaster
    The Art of Sacrifice (Spielmann)
    The Games of the Classics.

    One of the things your now going to have to master is how to make plans and how to calculate candidate moves, and there is no better way to find out how to do this than to study the past classic games of the masters like those of Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tal, Morphy, Steintz and Fischer.

    No master ever got to his lofty position with out doing this and if you decide that it's not necessary to do so then there is going to be a big wide gap in you overall chess knowledge database. You may have gone over all the basics and now think you know such things as basic strategy, basic endgame play and basic opening game play, but what you don't know is how the masters use these basic ideas to put them all together to make them all work in harmony, much like all the instruments do in a great symphony orchestra.

    Remember in playing a game of chess you are that symphony orchestra conductor and its up to you to conduct your play to get all the pieces working together in harmony to make beautiful music or your going to get disaccorded play that will make harmony dissension with harsh conflicting play. Its important to use all of your pieces in any attack or it may fail. Just like in any military battle you can't win the war with just using the Generals or just a few pieces. This is the classic play of many amateurs that try to win quickly in the openings with just their Queen.

    The classic games will show you much in Middlegame strategy and play that is very hard to explain in any text and then master. For it's in the middlegame that your games will either forge ahead to win or lose. Also you were told that one of the purposes of the opening was to try to plan a opening strategy such that you get a decent and playable middlegame position. Well now you should know that the same is true of the middlegame in that one purpose of the middlegame is to try to plan a strategy such that you can get favorable endgame play. For if you have been diligent in your endgame studies and your opponent has not then it's a safe bet that you will surely gain a distinct and significant advantage over him in endgame play.

    1. How to use the Classic Games in Planning Strategy

    The way to get the most out of these games for planning strategy is to try to figure out the plans that the winner had in mind and the planning that went into that plan.

    2. How to use the Classic Games to hone your skills in finding candidate moves.

    In looking over the classic games there is no better way to improve than to take the side of the winner and play solitaire chess. With out looking ahead try to guess the next move. This is the kind of study that will teach you how to use chess analysis and how find candidate moves, see how plans are constructed, how good sacrifices are made and begin to understand such complex subjects as compensation. This process will greatly increase your overall understanding of chess and show you how all of the other subjects of chess are used to play chess at this level of expertise.

    Klick Classic Games, after you install Chessbase PGN Reader, then save it to a file to unzip.

  • Chessbase PGN Reader Lite 7.0

    The Games of Robert James Fischer
    Fischer Games

    In particular you should study Fischer's games. These games are very important because they will show you how to think like a master should think. You will see logical moves that are in most cases easy to understand. Fisher did not make any wild crazy moves just for its shock value, like some masters sometimes do. See Tal's games for some wild positions that just explode into a game of chaos. Fischer's moves were designed to give him some significant advantage either immediately or else in his longer ranged endgame plans that you will eventually see.

    To help you in your analysis of using Fischer games there is a database of 2086 Fischer games in PGN format to use with all of the opening tool viewers and trainers that you can put to use. See our page.
    Opening Training Tools

    In looking over the classic games of Fischer there is no better way to improve than to take the side of Fischer and play solitaire chess. Then with out looking ahead try to guess the next move.

    The Openings

    Previously we said that the study of the openings was not as important as does most amateurs think it is, and at their level of play it definitely is not. Only when you have thoroughly learnt the basic fundamentals of chess and put into practice those fundamentals does it then take on a more serious significance. At levels at and above intermediate play you may want to start thinking about a opening repertoire that you can spend time with to develop openings that suite your style of play. Previously we said that all that was necessary was to find a few good openings for white and the same for Black at you level of play as is suggested in our page;
    Building A Opening Repertoire
    In that page are recommendations of openings for the various levels of play.

    But now you may want to progress to more advanced types of opening such as the flank openings that can really be a challenge even for the most advanced levels of play. The English for example can be a very hard opening to play because of all of the choices that Black has against it and to try to master all of those variations could be a very time consuming job.

    The best advice here is that you should take up a opening and then try to first understand the underlying ideas behind it. Why was it put together like it was? What are its goals? Why does is have the sequence of moves like it does? Look at the variations and see if one seems to offer more of an advantage than the others do? What is the trade off of one over the others?

    5. Expert Class 1900 - 2099 ELO or (2000 - 2199 USCF)

    Trying to go beyond the Class A level into the region of Expert (1900 - 2099) ELO is really going to require a whole new approach. Your now beyond the understanding of the basics of chess fundamentals and here is where you enter into much more advanced concepts.

    Before you can train to get to this level of play your going to have to first form what is call a conditional base line. The aim at this stage is to acquire a playing skill of approximately 1800 ELO. At this stage a chess player must have a successfully tested opening repertoire which includes 2 openings as White and 2 openings with the black pieces. The chess player must master tactics (60-70 per cent of a success rate solving problems of an intermediate difficulty), acquire a firm knowledge of the basics of chess strategy. How a position's evaluation is developed and what are its components,

    To get to this level you will need a more detailed training plan designed for players who wish to attain the Expert Class norm. When starting a battle for this high title a chess player must realize that this road is long and thorny. From the very start the stages must be well defined and set, as well as the means of achieving the final and the intermediate aims. Only the correct definition of all the aims and tasks will allow successful progress over the various stages.

    So for this training you will do well if you follow our plan of study found in our page:
    Increase Your Rating With Free Aids

    Even if you don't use the free aids you will at least find a plan of study that must be used if you ever hope to achieve a rating at this level.

    You may also want to take a look at:
    Become Master Rated in One Year of Less

    After you have spent some time with these flank openings you may want to take on the granddaddy of them all and that is the Sicilian Defense. For this Defense many chess players spend a lifetime in trying to master its intricacies. This defense will be hard to master because of It's many complex variation in which each one has complex sub variations. For example the most complex and least understood by amateurs is The Najdorf Variation that is called the Rolls Royce or Cadillac of chess openings.

    Developing Your Repertoire

    At this point you may want to do like the Masters do and begin a plan of developing your repertoire specifically for your style of play. They use a variety of tools and methods for doing this including backsolving as is explained in the BookUp download, to find novelties and weed out weak moves that others may have found solutions for dealing with that line of play. They then find stronger answers and advantages that may not be found in regular opening books such as Nunn's Chess Openings and the Modern Chess Opening's.

    ChessBase Magazine ($140 a year)

  • E-mail:magazine

    For this more advanced type of opening knowledge you may subscribe to the ChessBase Magazine at $90 a year that will give you a small book and a CD that has over 3000 games and 500 up to date annotated games from around the world, and in depth reports that is published every two months. Also interesting video clips on current events from around the world.

    Chess Life ($42 a Year)
    For advanced play you may also subscribe to the monthly USCF's Chess Life for $42a year. Full membership. Includes 12 issues per year of Chess Life, and the right to earn a chess rating in the official USCF national rating system.

  • USCF Web Store

    Informant books ($216 a Year)
    Subscribe to the Informant books and CD's that are published three times year with the best GM games. Each informant has about 400 games which have been selected and annotated by the worlds best. Each opening is arranged by opening variation and subvariation. A subscription for three consecutive volume books and CD's cost approximately $90. For a whole year it can be had for approximately $216 saving $54.00. Many buy a whole collection of past yearly informants for approximately $100 to get more games dealing specifically with their opening repertoire.

    If you are paying a high tourney fee to enter a tourney where you may get thousands of dollars in return for winning, you may then justify such an expenditure, but for the average club players such a expense is a waste of their money unless you just want to have the pride of being top gun in your club or chess server. An entry fee can be well over $150, and $300 or more for 5 days, $80 a night for a hotel room, food, transportation costs there and back. So with those kinds of expanses you had better be well prepared in your opening repertoire to be spending big of money to play chess for profit and if you are going to spend close to $1000 just to go to one tourney.

    ChessBase 10 Database. ($210 with over 4 million games)
    No high level player is without Chessbase. The new Chessbase 10 is a stand-alone chess database that has become the standard throughout the world to analyze millions of games from 1560 to the present. You can analyze positions with GM strength modules Fritz and Crafty, included. Generate tournament cross tables and gather statistics of openings and players. Find novelties and new moves. Generate a comprehensive opening report with main and critical lines. Classify games according to opening ECO, self defined middle and endgame criteria. Allow you to have multiple windows open allowing you to search the games of an opening and compare one position in an opening with another.

    The most important feature of Chessbase is its complete opening report of a position in an opening that contains a wealth of useful statistics. This is an invaluable aid to any high level player for the analysis of a desired position in developing his opening repertoire.

    Most high level players who get Chessbase also get the Mega Database DVD for $200 because it has in addition to the 3.75 million games has 61,000 annotated games so that you can find out much more information about a game and its opening from the opinions of professionals. You can even access a training section that has over 1000 games with training questions.

    Chess Magazine ($60 a Year 12 issues)
    Established 1935. Reports and annotate games from the top international tournaments. Opening theory: Main line and offbeat. Double page spread of tactics. Endgame problems. Chess Magazine is much like the Chess Life magazine.

    Deep Fritz 11 ($120)
    This multiprocessor version of Fritz 11 is a program that will run on a PC, which has multiple processors/multiple cores. Harnessing the machine's additional hardware to speed up the program's chess calculation. Running on a Intel Core 2 duo system, Deep Fritz 11 will calculate at roughly twice the rate of a single processor system. This is a great help when analyzing large numbers of position such as researching new moves in an opening variation or when analyzing a single position in detail which has a large number of candidate moves.

    As you can see a high level player who wants to develop a opening repertoire specifically for his style of play and for competition play can spend a great deal of money on strong, high speed multiprocessor Chess Programs, opening CD's, opening books, magazines, databases and CD magazines. How much you spend will only be a fraction of what a professional will spend because if he is to have any chance of winning big money in tournament play he must invest in such helps or the competition will eat him up alive.

    What will your investment be?
    Most of what you need to develop your own special repertoire can be found on the internet and in our chess club all for free, all you need to spend is your time getting it. Lucky you that you belong to our fine club and have so much great help to show you how. With so many pages here on developing a opening repertoire at your disposal there is no reason at all that you can't have a special tailored repertoire much like the masters do, it just wont be of the high level competition tournament type.

    The most important thing is to choose a repertoire and STICK WITH IT! Expect to lose a lot at first, but eventually the wins will begin to pile up as you become more experienced with playing your openings. Later, you can begin to learn new openings and defenses and add them to your repertoire.

    The only way to ever become good at opening play is to find an opening and defensive system that suite your style and level of play and then learn them thoroughly, and then play them until you can say that you are playing them better than are 75% of the chess player who play against you. Then you can think about changing it with different ones.

    Of course just spending a lot of time in trying to play very well in opening play is not going to be nearly as productive as is to devoting most of your time in tactics, at least 50% of your time is going to be required. That is going to be the fastest and best way to improve, because it is in tactics that you and your opponents make the most mistakes and will suffer the most from these mistakes. If your much better in tactics than is your opponent then when ever he makes a tactical mistake it will give you the opportunity to immediately take advantage of it. In fact in the majority of your games you are going to find that the greatest opportunities lie in capitalizing on your opponents tactical mistakes. Well over 95% of the games that you play you will find tactical mistakes that your opponents make that you can take advantage of, which is typical of most amateur games in Internet play.

    So if your not spending the time to study tactics your just wasting golden opportunities to win lots of game. You can easily and quickly confirm these facts by just running past games you played through any chess program and let it pick out all of those tactical errors.

    You can roughly figure this way of spending 50% of your time in tactics, 10% openings, 10% strategy, 20% endings, 10% in solitaire games to guess the next move. But here you would be wise to test your self to see where you are weak and then increase your time in that area, and thus closing the gap in your overall knowledge. If you do it this way until your are at least in the Advanced A class of 1700 - 1899 ELO, you can be assured that you will progress faster than using any other method of study because you are now going to be using a solid logical plan that just can't miss.

    The overall idea for the best way to improve is simple. First of all, stop your bad practice of not concentrating on just one subject and trying to master it. This may be hard to do if you don't have the patience to stick with something to completion. Jumping around from subject to subject and book to book leaves you with a very fragmented understanding of the game.

    Your Plan to Success is to Simply your Studies.

    1. Take one book or CD and study it all the way through on Tactics.

    2. Take one book or CD and study it all the way through on Strategy.

    3. Take one book or CD and study it all the way through on the Openings.

    4. Then play through the old games of the Classics to bring it all together for you.

    5. Then when you feel you have a good understanding of this material for this level of play repeat this process again for the next level of play.

    By working with this systematic and logical process your now going to feel motivated to keep at it because of two important things. One is that you feel you are no longer spinning your wheels and are really accomplishing something and doing something constructive and worthwhile towards some goal you can picture.

    Second is that if you keep at this process you are going to see gains in your play and this will motivate you again to stay with the program.

    This will give you a solid, thorough understanding of the game and help you avoid having major gaps in your chess knowledge. Once you've mastered the basics and your understanding of the game grows, reinforce your knowledge and expand on it by studying master games and playing solitaire chess. Make sure to focus heavily on tactics and spend some time every day honing your tactical skill. Finally, don't forget to play slow games to gain experience putting your knowledge to work and reinforcing what you know.

    You may get discourage with this plan at times and feel its just too much work and too disciplined for you. But don't give up. Just remember persistence always wins in the end. You will eventually see gains if you do but just don't expect too much. Its going to take you some time with this plan because your taking on a lot of different kinds of subjects and some times complex material. Learn from my mistakes. Push through the plateaus and the frustration which you are bound to hit, and see if your results don't improve dramatically.

    The mystical magical abilities of the Masters
    So how do we explain the considerable ability of chess masters? Their memory is excellent, but only for meaningful chess positions. They have the ability to do long calculations in their head, especially in the end game. The view is that the greatest difference in chess skill between masters and amateurs is in the realm of pattern recognition. Highly skilled chess players only need to take a brief look at a chess position to assess it accurately. They can instantly see positional themes like pawn chains, weak squares, and open lines, as well as tactical possibilities like Knight forks, mating possibilities. Patterns of pieces such as weakened King positions and Rook batteries are recognized and evaluated as the player decides what the best move is.

    Lack of pattern recognition is why new players are often the victim of back rank mates, and other embarrassing losses. These defeats are embarrassing because the players know that the loss is obvious and don't need any explanation afterward. They simply fail to notice the danger when the King is sitting behind a wall of pawns while there are Rooks about. In contrast, an experienced player automatically sees the threat in this position and easily avoids it. Calculation is not necessary. The chess master has learned this and a multitude of other kinds of positions and can recognize them instantly. Stored themes and patterns may also be the basis of the chess master's superior calculation.

    For example, if you want to develop a solid understanding of how pieces attack and defend, the study of basic mating patterns and endgames is hard to beat. For the beginner, openings and middle games can be overwhelming and lead to information overload. Breaking those complex positions into their basic components is much more likely to facilitate learning.

    The basis of this whole plan is the same of breaking the basic components needed into the necessary groups to advance up the ladder, once you have simplified it this way your plan to success takes on a whole new meaning.