5 Game-Changing Boosters to Speed Up Your Chess Growth

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  • GM Avetik Grigoryan GM Avetik Grigoryan

5 Game-Changing Boosters to Speed Up Your Chess Growth

Discover the 5 boosters that can enhance your chess skills and find out the one thing that is absolutely mandatory for success!

Improvement Hacks | 11 min read
5 Game-Changing Boosters to Speed Up Your Chess Growth

They didn’t have any Grandmasters. They didn’t even have an International Master.  

The average rating of the team was around 2,200 and then there was this 11-year-old kid hanging around. He was about 1,600. It was the Thailand National Team. I was the coach. 

That kid is Prin. The skinny one standing next to Prin is me 😊

A month in, I went to Sahapol, their secretary, who was determined to change the future of Thai chess (more about him in Booster 4), and said: “Mark my words. This 11-year-old kid is going to be your first Grandmaster.”

Fast forward six years, Prin, whom you might remember from our Success Stories articles, became Thailand’s first International Master at the age of 17.

Look at this handsome… Hollywood doesn’t know his address, haha 😊

Recently, Prin also won a Grandmaster-Robin tournament, and was just half a point behind for making his 1st Grandmaster norm. 

But I can bet 100 boxes of my favorite sweets - Rafaellos, that he’ll become a Grandmaster in 2 years. 


This year, when I went back to Thailand, Sahapol organized a dinner with the same team I was working with, including Prin.  

I raised a toast to Prin and his 5 boosters, and explained why I had predicted, so many years earlier, that he’d be their first Grandmaster.

With my favorite team. 2024. Missed them for 6 years…

2018. We were still young 😊


Myself, I became a Grandmaster at 19 and I have since helped many to achieve it. 

I have many Grandmaster friends and have met many during my career.
We all had at least four of these five boosters. 

In Prin's example, I’ll explain what they are.

Even if the Grandmaster title isn't in your wishlist, just knowing the five Boosters will help you to know what you are missing, how to fix or compensate them, and speed up your growth.

Booster 1 - You

Your biggest booster is, well, you.

How talented are you? How much do you love chess? How strong is your character? How much work will you put in?

Prin had them all! 


If I had a chance to clone someone’s brain and replace mine with it, Elon Musk would be the first to come to my  mind. Richard Branson…
But anyway, in  the end I would choose Prin’s brain to clone for myself 😊


He would pretend he was  sleeping and would play chess on his mobile. 

At school, he would have one schoolbook to take notes, and on his left, he would be reading chess books. And he would play chess during lunch times 😊

When Sahapol organized the dinner a few months ago, Prin didn’t know I was in Thailand and that I would be there 😊

It was a surprise for him. He came there with Kasparov’s book in his hands.

“I didn’t want to waste my time in the taxi”, he explained.

A very unprofessional selfie, but the vibe compensates it, I guess

Hard work? 

Toodoo, toodoo… Skype is calling.
Prin: connected to tubes, lying on a hospital bed, sweaty forehead. 

“Prin??? What’s this? Are you at the hospital?”, I was looking at my screen and trying to understand what was happening on the other side.

“Yep… I got a terrible fever. Just had injections. But I asked my Dad to bring my laptop, so I don’t miss our lesson.”

At the hospital, during the lesson


When the national team would play (often rapid games), I could easily see their Character. 

How they bounce back after blunders. How they focus on the next game when they painfully lost the previous one. Are they more determined than ever? Or do their faces look discouraged, in pain, adrift?

Prin was… I was so impressed!!! He would blunder in a winning position, shake his hand for a second or two, resign, and then start the next game like absolutely nothing had happened. With the same concentration, with the same focus to win the next game.   

At the end of the chess training, we would go to the nearby stadium to run for a few kilometers, and then do push-ups, planks and everything else. 

A Navy commander would be proud of how I was squeezing their juices. Prin always stayed till the end!

You become a Grandmaster in your mind first

Prin's awesomeness knew no bounds. With his infectious playfulness, unlimited energy, and heartfelt gratitude, he was impossible not to be loved.

It's no shocker that doors swung wide open for him; his vibe was a universal key. 

What if you don’t have the Booster 1?  

I have been there. I wasn’t a prodigy. My memory always sucked. I wasn’t that cool and loved as a kid as Prin. But I compensated with my deep love for the game, with my hard work (often with 80-hour week training), and my character. At age 12, I stopped playing chess for a year and was practicing MMA!

Getting punches in the mouth, finding yourself on the ground and then finding the strength to get back on my feet definitely helped with chess.
(More about it in my upcoming book) 

So… If you don’t love chess, just quit it. Talent isn’t in your hands. But the good news is you can compensate it with your hard work, mental strength and awesomeness! It’ll open so many doors you’ll be shocked. 

Booster 2 - Family

So many parents ruin the careers of their kids… Without realizing they had a “World champion” material. 

As a parent, you have so many choices. Will you support your child's dream and passion? Will you notice his/her talent? Will you invest time to find the Right coach for your child? Will you be smart enough to let the coach do the job, not interfere, and be there whenever help is needed?

Will you support your child during his/her dark periods? Will you yell at him/her when he/she loses a painful game, or will you be supportive and be next to your child?

Many parents fail here. And having a supportive and smart parent is a huge boost! 

Prin had a bingo!

With Mom and Dad

His family saw the fire in his eyes whenever it was something about chess and were super supportive of  Prin’s strange passion. Chess? In Thailand you at least play Go. 

(Off the record. “I’m a chess Grandmaster” was my ace in the pocket if I liked a girl at a party. In Thailand it didn’t work. Most girls didn’t even know what chess was. Lol.)

His father never interfered in our relationship, never questioned my methods of working with Prin. But he was always there to carefully listen and take action, whenever I advised something. 

Not just his parents. EVERYONE I met from Prin’s family was awesome. 

After each session with the national team, Prin and his father would wait for me outside to say “Thank you, coach”, bow in the traditional Thai way and only then leave the building. 

I’ll never forget her. After one of the sessions I was walking to my motorbike when an elder woman stopped me. I didn’t understand very well what she was saying at first, but then I realized it was Prin’s Grandma, and she had brought me her homemade Thai cookies!

The proud Grandma with the 1st International Master of Thailand

What if you don’t have the Booster 2 and your family doesn’t support you?

Run from your home!
Haha, no, no, I’m joking. 

Show your family how happier chess makes you. Train, not just play, so they see it’s not just a game for you. Win tournaments. Win some cash. Buy gifts for your parents! 

My father was a huge chess fan and I had 100% of his support. But my mother wanted me to continue to get good grades at school, go to university and become… Maybe a lawyer.

At 15 I started to finance myself. Rarely came home with empty hands. I loved to fill the fridge with lots of juice 😊 

The same year I also became Armenian Champion under 18. My mother resigned me to my father’s hands! Yaay! 😊

What if your significant other doesn’t support your dream?  

Show how happier you become when you play chess. After an online session kiss him/her differently. 

Booster 3 - Coach/es

A good coach can take you to the skies.
A bad coach can ruin your career and make you hate this game. 

Prin had a bingo! A bucket of four awesome coaches! 

Prin was seven when he got his first coach - Surapole Yutithamanon.
Then FM Daniel Causo from the Philippines took him to 1,600 rating. 

His 3rd awesome coach, me (haha) was amazed by the foundation his previous coaches had laid, on which it was very easy to build a strong building.

Malaysia, 2017

After taking Prin from 1,600 to 2,200, I invited the 4th Mr. Awesome, my friend GM Gabuzyan to our team, who helped take Prin to the International Master. 

Now together we’re exploring the skies 😊 

What if you can’t afford to have the Right Coach?

Find a way or find an alternative. 

Your coach can also be a platform like ChessMood.
BTW, Prin has completed all our 500+ hours of courses! 

The other way is to be fully excuse-less!

Rember Kabir from the article “What’s the 'BUT' that is holding you back”?
Who found his way to self-finance and later got sponsored by our ChessMood students?

Booster 4 - Federation   

As I shared in “Our Crazy Story” I was living in Thailand like a King.
My cozy place was next to the beach, and I could even jump into the swimming pool from my balcony.

There was also a small tiger in the jungle 😊

I don’t remember every detail anymore, how then Thailand’s federation secretary, now the president, invited me to a dinner, and persuaded me to become a coach of their national team.

With Thailand’s chess hero, Sahapol Nakvanich, 2017

Remember, Thailand had never even had a Grandmaster, not even an International Master. And here they have Sahapol, a person who was determined to change the future of Thailand’s chess. 

He also invited IM Stokke Kjetil from Norway, who would work with the women’s national team.

The rain didn’t stop the two coaches from finishing their planned 3 kilometers run 😊

Sahapol would always ask me, what else he could do for the team, for the players. How could we change the future of Thailand chess? He was super determined. He did so many things for Thailand. He is the hero of Thailand’s chess, and is a big part of Prin’s success.

The two heroes

He organized many tournaments, took players abroad, as much as he could afford. Often he would even put his own money to sponsor the team.

Federations are often forgotten on the road to success. 

Myself, I was never appreciative. Our human ego wants to credit success to ourselves! We want to feel proud. And I didn’t appreciate how much my Federation had done for me. All the camps they would organize, the chess academy where I  was coached for free, from masters and Grandmasters. The world and European championships they would sponsor… 

It took time for me to realize this and appreciate it. 

If I did earlier and was awesome like Prin, I bet there would be so many new open doors, that I would be a Grandmaster at 15. 

What if you don’t have a supportive federation?  

Find someone like Sahapol, and make him the president of your chess federation. Haha 😊

If you can’t, focus on Booster 1 - YOU. 

Work hard, use the internet and online sources, get some success, be awesome and wait for magic! You’ll never know how someone will come, sponsor you/take your hand and change your future. 

And in the end, good federation is just a booster. Its absence shouldn’t stop you when you’re excuseless and awesome. 

Booster 5 - Environment

Are you in a chess atmosphere? Are you surrounded with like-minded people? Are there people around you who are ahead of you or even have achieved what you want? With whom you spend time is super important.

From childhood, Prin was surrounded by higher-rated and experienced players. When he was 1,600, the other players of the National team were about 2,200 on average. He would play with them all the time, train with them, learn how they trained, what books they read, what courses they watched. He was in a healthy competitive atmosphere.  

What if you’re not surrounded by a chess atmosphere? 

The internet changes everything! 

You can easily find training partners and join good chess communities, including our ChessMood family or “Dojo” guys on Discord.


My friends, it’s not that you can’t grow without those five. YOU CAN! 100% These are just boosters. Things that speed up the growth. 

The only thing that is mandatory to have is YOU and EXCUSE-LESS CHARACTER. The rest you can figure out on your way.   

(Every time I use the word excuse-less I can’t help but recall our student Gian, who at age 74 raised 350 points in 4 months, without knowing English!)

I’m wishing you good luck and leaving you with a question to think about: 
What boosters, maybe, are you missing, and how can you build them in your life? 



With love,
For your growth and fun journey,
GM Avetik (or Avo as my friends call me)


P. S. Feel free to share your thoughts from this article here.

P. P. S. If you’re not a ChessMood student yet, I have three gifts for you:

1. Opening Principles - The fundamentals and beyond in detail

2. My 10 best games

3. GM Gabuzyan’s 10 best games

You can watch all three courses for free, by creating a basic account here.
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Originally published Apr 29, 2024

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