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roland_l 20 ( +1 | -1 )
Question for the experts ... If you had a solid 2 hours a day in which you could study chess, and say .. just say you were stuck around ... I don't know ... intermediate 1550 level :-)

what would you study? How would YOU break up the time?
More: Chess
marxisgod21 559 ( +1 | -1 )
What are your Strengths/Weaknesses? I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I was where you were a short time ago. Overall, it depends on what you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. Look at games in which you lost or had losing positions. How did you get there? Was it an error in the opening, a mishandling of the position, a tactical oversight, an endgame error, or simply a blunder??

If you find yourself getting worse positions after only 10 moves or so, perhaps it is your opening repertoire that either needs to be studied more carefully or needs to be changed. While I won't go into detail on how to select openings (that could take up a whole topic), let me basically just say that you're at the point where you've probably played mostly the same openings since you started seriously playing chess. First, make sure the openings you play fit your style: if you an aggressive player, you probably want to play 1. e4 instead of 1. d4 and should pick sharp, counter-attacking defenses with black. If you are a positional player, 1. d4 or 1. c4 is probably best for you and you want to play solid defenses with black (ie Caro-Kann, Slav, etc.) If you like the openings you're currently playing but still find yourself worse out of the opening, look into books on that opening which will explain both the theory and ideas of that opening (I'm sure myself or others could recommend books if you tell us what openings you play). No matter what, the kind of time you have is a great opportunity to expand or enhance your openings because it gives you the ability to go over things repeatedly and thus memorize the theory and get a feel for the ideas of an opening (whereas tactics and the other stuff can usually be done in shorter blocks of time less frequently such as 1 hr. a day 2 or 3 days a week).

I'm going to jump around a bit and move on to endgames. While the endgame is probably the most neglected area of study by players of all types, the truth is that up to about 1800 or 2000 rating you really do not need extensive endgame knowledge. I would recommend GM Glenn Flear's book "Improve Your Endgame Play" which will teach you the basics of endgame play plus some important more advanced concepts which should be sufficient at least until you hit 2000.

Next are just straight up blunders. I don't mean missing a 3 or 4 move combination that nets your queen, I mean stuff like missing free material, giving away free material, walking into mates, and other obvious stuff. Blunders are usually caused either by lack of concentration or lack of experience. If you play chess while tired, depressed, angry, drunk, high, or any other altered state of consciousness, it will definitely affect your ability to concentrate and play accurately. Always try to be in a positive mood when playing. Secondly, the more you play, the less you become prone to blunders. In addition to the fact that playing chess games reinforces every part of your game that you study, it will also help you see things better in a position. You'll notice forks, pins, and discovered attacks much more quickly and that will help prevent you from making blunders.

Lastly, positional judgement and tactics. While tactics puzzles and exercises certainly help you recognize common tactical patterns, I don't know if it's something I would necessarily devote a lot of time to, certainly you needn't put in more than 3 hours a week, if even that, until you hit at least 17 or 1800; though you want to make sure you know common mating patterns. Reviewing annotated Grandmaster games is a great way to help your tactics/attacking prowess, as well as your positional game and many major newspapers today publish a weekly chess column (usually on Sunday) For positional play, books such as IM Jeremy Silman's fantastic book "How to Reassess Your Chess" or Aron Nimzowich's classic "My System" are both excellent guides of how to "read" positions and how to create and subsequently exploit positional advantages. Both are equally great books and if possible I would recommend getting both, but if you have to pick one I would go with Silman's.

As far as how to break up the time, I would probably do a little bit each of openings, positional study/GM games, and endgames each day. Once you finish the endgame studying, you can move on to just openings and positional/tactical skills. Also, remember that, especially with openings and endgames, it is very helpful to, on occasion, go back and review what you have learned to refresh your memory and reinforce what you have studied. For openings, try to review your openings at least once every week to two weeks, even if it's just a 10-15 minute overview of your repertoire or lines you have been working on. This is a great thing to do on days when you feel tired or just don't feel like learning something new because it allows you to study in a more relaxed manner while reinforcing your studies. Also, as a final note, I would make sure that with all your studies you make sure to continue playing, while reviewing material can reinforce it, playing chess games will allow you to reinforce what you have learned, and it will show you your progress as well as what you still need to study

Best of Luck to you!!
cairo 44 ( +1 | -1 )
I would lock myself in with a wooden board, pieces and a copy these two books:

-My Sixty Memorable Games by Robert J. Fischer

-Basic Chess Endings by Reuben Fine

After 14 days and two hous study everyday, I would say your opponents should look up for you!

Enjoy this wonderful game!

Best wishes
chrisp 38 ( +1 | -1 )
Great suggestion from cairo.

I too have read these two books many times, and they are a wonderful insight into two totally differetn areas of the game - both equally valuable for the improving player.

Take care
baseline 24 ( +1 | -1 )
The first thing you should do is to get some help to analyze all your recent games with the idea of uncovering your weaknesses. Once you have your weak points mapped out you can develop a program to eliminate them.
v_glorioso12 46 ( +1 | -1 )
not an expert but here's my suggestion... when i started tournament chess i went from 700uscf to around 1500 uscf, then stalled for about a year, then i just took a break, came back to chess after mabye 2 or 3 weeks, and that was a year ago... im about 1850uscf now... my suggestion is to take a break, dont even think about chess for a few days/weeks, then come back... it might help, idk, it worked for me...
roland_l 15 ( +1 | -1 )
well I .. .. recently took a break for about ... 3 months. :-)

Don't think I need a break, just solid, consistent and constructive study time for a while.
pascalnouma 4 ( +1 | -1 )
study much as possible.
premium_steve 40 ( +1 | -1 )
i'm no expert, but lately i've been watching online videos at
they're fun to see, if you haven't seen them already.
like watching tv!
there's a board there that will play out the moves of a game for you and have the commentator's voice in the background.
good for a lazy chess player.
so..... they're really fun, and you might learn something too (usually GM commentators and they seem ok at teaching).
ccmcacollister 112 ( +1 | -1 )
IMO Once you understand the basics, the mechanics of the game, can analyze properly to whatever depth is "required", then to study GM games until you understand them. I've been looking at the WC games, thinking, heh I dont understand these. So Ive perhaps lost more from my game than up to date openings. Definately dont take a 6 year break like I did and come back 1733 from 2233 :)
But I was devoting a LOT of time then. And pretty much "living" Chess, like a teenager or something. OTB, POSTAL, ONLINE, SKITTLES and STUDY,STUDY,STUDY.
Above all to be able to analyse properly, ala Kotov. I feel this is paramount at any level. (and precisely the BIG problem area for me right now. Because, I am NOT) And comes even before understanding priinciples. It IS your game. If thats okay....then to address specific weaknesses or deficiencies. Then to expand understanding with GM games, which are very good for showing you "How" to do things. How to react in different type positions.
Most importantly, never take advice from someone who has dropped 500 points in rating!! }8-) ...Regards, Craig
dysfl 158 ( +1 | -1 )
From a patzer to another roland_l,

I'm no expert, but I want to share what worked for me.
I became 1500-1550 in GK from 1400-1450 in about 6 months.

First, I re-read Logical Chess - Move by Move. It gave me glimpse of ideas behind opening moves like control of c-file. This book needs multiple revisits, not a thing to swallow at once.

Second, I download the PGN of all the games played by me in GK and run 10-second full analysis and then 10-second blunder check in Fritz. When I review the moves, I spend more time in opening lines and check only blunders from each side.

Third, I try to read one or two of the annotated games a week. Chess FM is good, also. It gives me fresh look on how to think about a situation.

I believe having a tutor is the best way to go, though I didnít have that chance myself. I would suggest you to find the weakest link in your chess. In my case, I found that I donít have solid openings and too many blunders, especially against Bishop skewers.

So my strategy was to get a grip on opening and review my blunders in my own games. For openings, I went extreme. I play only London System as White and Modern Defense as Black. Both openings are not top-5 popular ones, but have solid lines. Blunders at my level are so stupid ones that solving tactical problems might not be that helpful. I just try to find what I often forget to do by reviewing my blunders.

Good luck with your study and let us know your progress in the near future.
baseline 53 ( +1 | -1 )
Roland For you and all players under 2000 here at gameknot I would recommend the study of tactics, tactics and more tactics. Most games between players under 2000 here are decided by basic tactics. I know you use the "Ct art" tactical program keep working on it and push your self to solve the problems more quickly. You actually learn a lot of positional skills by solving tactics, start working endgame problems into your studies this knowledge will also serve you well.
i_play_slowly 225 ( +1 | -1 )
Raymond Keene's answer Would you consider Grand Master Raymond Keene an expert? Coincidentally, he recently posted a note to Kibitzer's Cafe at that answers your question:
"i think for intermeidate players there is nothing better than playing thru games by top players with good readable and accurate notes and plenty of diagrams. if you absorb the diagram structures and know who stands better in certain patterns it will help you recognise the underlying skeleton of any position . for example when i was a kid i looked thru all the diagrams in golombeks book on reti and examined his comments. it became clear to me that by and large in KID situations where white cd exchange his b on the long a1 diagonal for blacks b on g7 -it wd be advantageous to do so.
this is just one example-another reason that best games books help is that you can take over the entire repertoire of a strong player whose games have been anthologised.and if they are still alive and active then they are constantly producing new ideas and theory=for you!!"
Several days earlier, Keene had posted a list of books, "a top ten list for people starting out," which presumably contains the kind of well annotated games that he is recommending:
"i recommend the following books for anyone who wants to improve their strength and their chess culture-all are available on amazon i think
my system nimzowitsch
my 60 memorable games fischer
alekhines best games alekhine
petrosians best games clarke
all of the my great predecessrs books by kasparov
retis best games by golombek
500 master games tartakower and dumont
larsens best games by larsen
masters of the chessboard by reti
capablancas best games by golombek
few of these will teach you how to play a modern sicilian but in my view any player who is starting out on a competitive path shd avoid those any way-first learn to think-then learn the theory of sharp variations. "
Presumably, when Keene is referring to "games by top players with good readable and accurate notes and plenty of diagrams," he is referring to the games in these books. He notes, "for example when i was a kid i looked thru all the diagrams in golombeks book on reti," and golembeck's book appears again in the top ten list.