Effective Training for  ambitious players and students

Welcome Fellow chess players, fans, parents, and students!

One of the toughest issues in chess is knowing on what are the next steps to take your game to the next level? The answer is always tricky! But one thing for sure is that you will have to spend plenty of time studying and practicing. Not just small fun practices but practicing a lot and correctly. So what are some effective training regimens that can always build up your skills over time and take your game to the next level?

1. Solve a lot of puzzles

This is one of the most essential training tools that can help you get your game to the next level if done correctly. Solving a lot of chess puzzles through books or online courses works out a lot of the most essential skills that are important to master to get your game to the next level. It works out your calculation, visualization, ability to gather ideas, finding candidate moves, prediction of your opponent's next moves, and a lot of more. If this training is done correctly then you can immediately see the fruit of your labor in your games as you become sharper and rarely blunder. However, how should it actually be done  to get maximum benefit?

First, focus on the quality of your solutions and not the quantity! Make sure you take your time to solve most of the puzzles correctly rather than speeding through them and have a mediocre result where you get as much wrong as your correct answers are. This is one of the biggest obstacle for developing youngsters. Sometimes they get flustered and instead of slowing down for the next puzzle, they blitz through it hoping that they can gain the points they lost on their favorite tactic server.

Next, if you get a puzzle wrong make sure you study them thoroughly on why you didn't get it correctly instead of moving on to the next one right away. Determine what the pattern is and try to recall it. If you're not quite sure why your solution is incorrect, then most tactic servers such as lichess or chess.com has an option where you can analyze the position with the engine and identify why your move in not the best option in the position.

Recommendation: 50 to 100 Puzzles correctly solved weekly with an 80% correct rate. If you can do more even better!

2. Identify your weaknesses and have a plan on how to attack it

One of the benefits of having a very experienced chess coach is that they can identify your strengths weaknesses by looking at some of your previous wins and losses and going over them thoroughly. Once the weaknesses have been revealed, have a plan to set materials connected to them and work through them sincerely. It can be coming from books, hand outs, or even videos that you can find or be provided by your coach. Make sure you do it right and try to work through it. Considering that they're your weaknesses that will mean that it will be a struggle at first. However, work on it sincerely rather than considering it just more tough work that might not even show up in your game. You'd be surprised on how many new ideas you can come up with during your games once you start fixing your weaknesses.

Recommendation: If your coach provides that material, you need to go over it, do it! If you don't have a coach it will be much tougher and a slower process but don't despair because their are ways to identify your weaknesses by yourself. It will not be as effective as a strong coach and player telling you what you should work on but you can get your game computer analyzed and see what part of the game you are struggling with the most. Once you've identified them find materials that you can work through and get to it! A lot of us know what our weaknesses are already however we do not put in the work because the work is tedious and boring. Unfortunately, it has to be done!

3. Make adjustments in your game every time you practice or play in a tournament

One of the easiest and most fun training tool in chess is playing online. If done right, it can be a very effective tool. That means every time you play, you should have a specific idea of what you're working out on that particular play sessions rather than just barbarically trying to beat your opponent without any concept or adjustments in mind on why you're practicing. This also includes tournament plays. A very successful player not only aims to win tournaments and win games but also tries to apply the adjustment that they want to make to better themselves as a chess player. For example, in one tournament you keep missing the consequences of your move- try to understand why you missed the consequences, and try to reduce the amount of consequences you are missing in the next following games until you can build a habit of just getting one or two missed consequences or even zero.

Recommendation: 5-7 15 minute+ or longer  games weekly with the adjustments in mind every game and not just playing random games! If you just force yourself not to just play without an aim you will feel the difference in your games right away in a few weeks or even days!!

4. Read books and Watch videos to keep increasing your knowledge every time 

Chess is a strategy game. To be an effective player and competitor we always have to supplement our knowledge. The best way is to learn from as many books and videos as possible as you can. Tackle topics that you need to work on or have never learned in the past. It can range from your favorite chess opening to the most thematic endgames. You should have a goal to finish a certain book in a span or 2-4 weeks or watch as many classical grandmaster games to improve your chess understanding.

- International Master  Joel Banawa

If you have any questions regarding this article please email risingphoenixacademy@gmail.com especially to my kabayans and I hope that your journey becomes a success and that you achieve all your goals!