Ole, ole, oleeeee!!!
First of all, congratulations!
You’re in the 1%, who ever crosses 2,000!
Maybe, inside, you still feel like a weak player. But come on…
99% couldn’t achieve what you did!
Now let’s go forward and do a terrific job, but not losing the fun part. Please!
To go further than 2,000 is challenging.
Here the competition is fierce. People watch courses, read books, and some have coaches.
And to go from 2,000 to 2,400 is often tougher than getting from 0 to 2,000!
As a result, most people get stuck here.
They get confused in the chaos of information. They start jumping from one source to another, from one land to another, looking for that magic pill.
Some even resign and think they reached their peak.
The good news?
There is a way. A beautiful way.
You’ll need to show respect for the game.
What do others do that is wrong?
Here are the 10 most common mistakes people make on this level.
- They play too much and study little.
- Or just the opposite. They study too much, but avoid competition and playing. As a result, they study but don’t LEARN what they’ve studied.
- They don’t analyze their games and don’t fix their mistakes.
- They don’t learn the openings in the right way. As you’ll see, memorizing the sequence of the moves will not work. Especially after the 2,000 level.
- They get lost in the middlegame. Often it happens because of blindly memorizing the opening moves sequences. Then they don’t know what the middlegame plans are. Then they think a lot and get into time trouble. Then they blunder and lose the game :)
- They don’t have enough strategic and theoretical knowledge for the endgames. The more you advance, the more often you’ll get to endgames. If for below 1,500 level the endgame isn’t so critical, after 2,000 it is.
- They jump from one source to another, aimlessly wandering, trying to find that magic pill to improve their chess further.
- They don’t follow the right people. In this Social Media and Twitter era everyone is a guru. Including 1,000 rated players who just became 1,100. They get hooked in the noisy chess world and they often follow not the most effective recommendations.
- They don’t give enough attention to psychological factors and mindset.
- They focus too much on raising ratings. They focus too much on numbers. They lose their passion and love for chess and they get a huge disadvantage compared to someone at their level who still is in love with the game.
What will you do differently?
- Maintain the right balance between studying and practicing.
- Study precisely what you need and focus on the most effective activities, and not just the useful ones.
- Analyze your games and fix your mistakes.
- Learn your openings fundamentally. Understand them and not memorize. So that you’ll cross the opening-middlegame bridge comfortably and know what to do later.
- Improve your middlegame.
- Improve your endgame. Both the strategical and theoretical aspects of it. And I don’t mean learning all endgame theory and being like Averbakh (The absolute world champion of endgame theoretical knowledge!) But you need to know the must-know.
- Create a training system and keep disciplined.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people and people who’ve done what you want to achieve.
- Improve mental strength.
- Take care of your passion and do not let numbers screw you.
How do you do all of this correctly?
Let’s go step-by-step.
This will be your game-changer.
1. The Right Balance
Please read the following article and come back.
Now you know the key to chess growth at every level!
The question is, what’s the right balance for your level?
After 2,000 things change.
Here you should spend more time on studying than was recommended for those below the 2,000 level.
You should keep around this ratio:
Study - 60-70%
Practice - 20-30%
Fix - 10-15%
It doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep this ratio everyday or every week.
You can play around.
You can spend a week creating a new opening repertoire without playing a single game. But the next week you start playing a lot and “digesting” the information.
So it might look like something like this:
Study - 100%
Practice - 0%
Fix - 0%
Study - 0%
Practice - 70%
But in the long term, the overall balance should be around the mentioned Study - 60-70%, Practice - 20-30%, Fix - 10-15%
The 2 key rules
- You shouldn’t play (digest) when you don’t have newly acquired knowledge (food).
- You shouldn’t study (eat) more before you practice (digest) the acquired knowledge.
99.99% don’t follow this guidance.
But if you follow these 2 rules, you’ll see a new level of improvement.
A new depth of learning what you’ve studied, and your rating will also be surprised and confused with what’s going on with it 🙂
Here are the 4 essential areas to master.
- Tactics and calculation
Let’s go one by one?
1. Tactics & Calculation
Go through the Tactic Ninja Course, if you haven’t yet.
As you’re rated 2,000+, you can skip the first 14 sections, and start from the 15th.
But before doing that, I would recommend solving the quizzes of sections 1-14, which you’ll find at the end of each. Just to make 100% sure you don’t need them. Otherwise, go through those sections too.
And pay more attention to sections 25-28, where I share the technique on how to notice tactics in real games, and not only when you solve puzzles at home.
Go through the Mating Matador course.
Each section has 5 examples.
For your level, I recommend skipping the first 2 and watching videos 3-5 of each section.
Be sure to solve quizzes after every section.
Watch the BlunderProof course.
As you’ll see, there are lots of psychological factors which will affect your tactical vision.
Also, reducing your blunders and noticing your opponents' blunders will be critical for raising your rating.
You’re going learn:
- 16 practical tips to stop blundering (and the reasons behind the blunders)
- 5 tips to stay hyper-focused during the game.
- How to warm up before a game/tournament and not be rusty?
- Why underestimation and overtrust can lead to blunders.
- How to stay alert throughout the game and not make silly mistakes?
- A simple question to understand the opponent’s ideas.
- How to build your chess stamina?
- A common reason why blunders happen in winning positions and how to prevent them and much more…
Solve puzzles daily. At least 5 minutes. Tactical vision is a skill you must always keep sharp, no matter how good it is now. Otherwise, it’ll get rusty.
Here are a few places I recommend doing this:
Additional resources to improve your tactics
CT-ART 6- my favorite program.
When I was around 13, I worked with CT-ART puzzles so much that I got to the point where I would solve every puzzle (thousands+) in 1-2 seconds!
It’s one of the things that my Tactical vision will be forever grateful for.
Emmanuel Neiman: Tune Your Chess Tactics Antenna
Vladimir Barsky: A Modern Guide to Checkmating Patterns
Arthur van de Oudeweetering: Improve Your Chess Pattern Recognition
1001 Winning chess sacrifices and Combinations: 21st Century Edition
This is a big topic, and a pain for every chess player, from beginners to Grandmasters. Everyone wants to improve their calculation.
However, here is the truth:
90% of your calculation should be improved by solving tactics, over and over again.
At first these should be easy 1-2 moves. And then harder ones, with longer variations!
And only after about 2,200+ level, you should really care about learning advanced calculation techniques.
We’ll have a big course on calculation.
Meanwhile, here are some recommendations.
Perfect Your Chess: by Andrei Volokitin & Vladimir Grabinsky
Charles Hertan: Forcing Chess Moves: The Key to Better Calculation
Andrew Soltis: The Inner Game of Chess: How to Calculate and Win
Michal Krasenkow: Finding Chess Jewels: Improve Your Imagination And Calculation
Improve your chess calculation by Ramesh RB
How to study openings effectively
Most people make a fundamental mistake when it comes to openings.
They try to study an opening and memorize variations (often blindly).
And then they often mess up the opening during the actual game, or get into a middlegame, where they have no idea what the plans are.
Not surprisingly, they spend lots of time, get into time trouble, blunder and lose. And never realize that the problem came from the opening. When they tried to blindly memorize the opening’ move sequence, instead of…
UNDERSTANDING THE OPENING!
Here is the 5-step method to learning an opening. I’m going to write an article about it, but meanwhile…
- Study the opening.
- Create your file. (on ChessBase or Lichess, up to you)
- Practice your openings.
To digest the knowledge and feel better about the opening you need to play.
- Fix the mistakes.
After playing a tournament or even an online blitz session, check your opening notes, fix your mistakes, and update your file.
- Watch Model games
This is a critical step that many miss. You want to watch commented games on your openings so you better understand the upcoming middlegame fight and the plans of your openings. If you’re a PRO Member, and you play ChessMood openings, watching the live training when Grandmasters play your openings is an invaluable step for better learning your openings!
Champions, these all will take time!
But it is worth it! When you LEARN and understand your openings in-depth, you’ll have very easy middlegames.
How to study ChessMood openings
If you don’t play ChessMood openings, and you’re happy with your openings - cool! Keep them. Just make sure you follow the 5-step method.
And if you want to study our openings, here is how to do it.
Case 1: You’re already an 1.e4 player
Super! it’ll be easier. Of course, you can go through all our White openings one by one. But I recommend not doing that.
First, go through the opening courses where you feel you need to improve.
For example, you play 1.e4 and you are not confident playing against the Scandinavian?
Watch the Scandinavian course first. Are you not happy when playing against Caro-Kann as well?
Cool, watch the Caro Kann course next.
And go like this one by one. You can keep your variations, where you’re happy, and in the future learn alternatives through our courses.
But try to fix the holes, the openings where you have issues, first.
Case 2: You’re not an 1.e4 player but want to study
You can go with 2 options.
You go through the Step-by-Step White openings and follow the mentioned 5-step method.
Option 2 (My recommendation)
You watch the WhiteMood openings (the simplified course) first.
Learn the first moves and ideas behind each variation, and then start practicing!
After some time, where you feel you need to know more, only then start going through the main 1.e4 courses.
And you can start with the ones where you’re facing more challenges.
You have a choice.
You can study the BlackMood openings. Then take yourself further through self-study and analysis, or wait for the upcoming advanced French and Dutch courses.
Or you can study the main Black repertoire directly.
SLP - The Art of Saving Lost Positions
For your level, it's critical to learn to save as many lost positions as possible. In the long term this results in lots of rating points.
Also, once you learn the basics of SLP, you’ll be much better at WWP - Winning Won Positions.
This is the favorite course of GM Boris Avrukh, and he recommends it to all his students.
In every daily 5-10 minute lesson you’ll learn a new idea.
From “Don’t show your cards in the opening”, “The TV Concept in the middlegame,” to “ A useless piece in the endgame”
I recommend watching 1 lesson a day.
Every experienced coach will tell you the importance of studying Classics.
Not surprisingly every 2,700+ player knows classics super well!
In this section you’ll study:
100 classical strategical games
100 classical attacking games
100 classical endgames
My recommendation: Don’t watch more than 1 game a day. You want to give your neurons time to create connections.
In this section we have many courses to expand your middlegame knowledge. We also plan on adding 1 course a month, covering every Middlegame topic.
Go through all the courses, one by one.
Get into Grandmasters’ minds
We ask Grandmasters to comment on their best games, and explain how they make decisions in every stage of the game!
This is some of the best training you can do, especially after the 2,000 level.
Watch games where Grandmasters comment on their games and explain how they think.
Again, I recommend watching a maximum of 1 game a day.
Often people make the following mistakes:
- Their practical endgames are weak. They just don’t know what to do in the endgames, and then they study a theoretical endgame book.
- Their theoretical knowledge is weak, and they pick “Capablanca’s” best endgames book.
The problem comes from not realizing that endgame play is actually divided into 2 categories.
- Endgame Theory
- Practical Endgames/ Endgame strategy
I’ll tell you how you can improve both of them.
1. Endgame Theory
First of all, I highly recommend going through the Must-Know Endgame Theory U2000 course.
Make sure you know all the basics before you go to advanced endgame theory. And what you’ll often find is that this knowledge is enough for now.
At least please go through the quiz and see if you easily solve all the puzzles. If yes, then we go to the next step.
We have step-by-step advanced endgame theory courses.
Once again, please don’t touch these if you’re not 100% sure you know all the basics.
And if you decide to go through them, keep going one by one in sequence.
You can’t learn Rook endgames without watching Rook vs Pawn endgames. (Rook vs Pawn knowledge is required for understanding Rook endgames).
In the same way you can’t watch any endgame course before watching the 1st course - the Pawn Endgame.
Because from every endgame there might be a transposition to Pawn endgames. So first you need to learn the Pawn endgames.
My friend, you can vary the order of Opening and Middlegame courses but here, in the endgame, please learn them in the correct order.
2. Practical Endgames
Go through the Endgame RoadMap course.
The first sections will be easy for you, but then things will become interesting.
After watching this course you’ll have a very clear roadmap on how to think in the endgames.
Study Classical Endgames
Here you’ll find 100 masterpieces by the best Endgame players!
And all the games are commented on by a GM.
As we discussed already, you should spend about 20-30% of your time playing chess.
Reminder: If you want to LEARN, just studying isn’t enough.
You need to digest the information by playing.
- Offline tournaments
- Online games
- Rapid/Blitz games with training partners
What time control should you choose?
If below the 1,500 level I recommended avoiding blitz games and playing more rapid games, on this level blitz is fine.
Just always try to play with an increment. (Soon you’ll find out why)
Bullet is forbidden 😊
The best time controls will be:
5+3 (my favorite! Especially for practicing new openings)
You can use them while playing with your training partners, and if you don’t have one, those are time controls that many play on Lichess.
So you’ll easily find opponents.
More about what time control to choose, why blitz is okay, and why you should always play with an increment can be found here:
My Golden Method
This is one of my most-read articles:
You’ll learn why I recommend sticking with 9 game sessions.
When you play with longer time controls, you can stick with 2-5 games per session.
The key is always to decide how many games you will play before starting the session.
A few more tips
Your playing mindset is very important. I have many tips to share that will help you play better, maintain the right mood, and ultimately have more fun.
Whenever you find time, read the following articles:
This is not the sexiest step and not the most fun part.
Unsurprisingly, most chess lovers skip this part.
But this is a must-do step for going forward above the 2,000 level.
You should spend around 10-15% of your time fixing your mistakes, including the blitz games.
For blitz, don’t try to understand every small mistake.
Instead, focus on big blunders and opening mistakes.
Check out this article to learn more:
In the future I’ll write an article on how to analyze classical games with long time-controls. (This document will be updated when this occurs).
5. System & Discipline
It’s easier to get to a 2,000 rating by doing random activities. Randomly playing, studying, then solving some puzzles etc…
For going further than 2,000, in much fiercer competition, you need to have a system and keep disciplined.
Create a system and hold yourself to it for 3-6 months, you’ll see a big difference in your game!
I used to have a system in chess, in coaching, and now I have one at ChessMood as a CEO.
I have days and times when I write, when I record courses, when I have meetings, etc… Of course, I adjust things during the week, but I try to have a system and keep it!
Now you know how we made 400+ courses, 100+ articles, and all the rest you see on the Website 😀
Even when writing all these study plans I had a system and exercised discipline - Every morning, 8-10 AM, I worked on them until I finished :)
Here are some examples of chess systems you can create.
System 1 - Having 15 hours a week (for amateurs)
Monday - Friday 7 AM (Before work 🙂)
Solving puzzles for 10 minutes, playing for 50 minutes, and briefly checking the games for 10 minutes.
10-12 Study Openings
4-6 PM Study Middlegame & Endgame
7-8 PM Playing
System 2 - Having 30+ hours a week (for professionals)
Monday - Friday
9-12 AM Study
2:30-4 Play + Fix
9-11 A rapid match with a training partner
2-6 PM Study
You have freedom: Feel free to adjust and experiment. You can have days off (I used to have at least 1 day off a week, when I didn’t touch chess at all!).
You can have a more specific system, like exactly what you study, which days you study openings, or when you focus on the middlegame and endgame.
The main point is that you avoid random activities.
And that you hold yourself to the plan you created.
Lack of discipline puts you in danger; it also colors who and what you are. — Seneca
It’s a super important step for achieving anything.
I can write about it, share my tips, but at best I would only be half as good as how Ryan Holiday presents it. 😀
Discipline is the Destiny - is a book I highly recommend.
6. Like-minded people
You can sprint from 500 to 1,000 in rating.
But to go further than 2,000, you need to run a marathon.
And as the journey will not be short, it's better to surround yourself with positive and like-minded people.
Having a training partner will be a very nice shortcut.
Not only will you improve faster, but the journey will be more fun.
It was one of the smartest things I had done in my career when I offered my strongest opponent, with whom I would fight every year and in every tournament, to become my training partner.
Not surprisingly, in a very short period, we both became Grandmasters.
For more about the advantages of having training partners, how you can find them and how to train with them, you can find here:
Another good thing you can do is to join a community of like-minded people. Be in the atmosphere of other chess improvers.
Join the ChessMood family on Discord here:
And if you’re a PRO Member, go through the verification process, so you can have access to all of the PRO Members-only channels.
Another great community is Chess Dojo.
I’m not a fan of their training plans, and many of their recommendations are old approaches. Useful, but not the most effective. (In my opinion.)
However, they REALLY care for their students and the chess world.
Here is where you can join their community.
7. Mindset & Fun
I wish somebody had explained to me earlier the importance of mindset and psychology. This is worth a minimum of a few hundred rating points.
But maybe it’s good that no one explained this to me?
Otherwise, who knows, maybe I would be 2,750 now and there would not be ChessMood, nor would there be this study plan?! :)
Another mistake I made was focusing too much on results and I didn’t have much fun on my journey.
I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes.
Having the right mindset will not only bring more joy, when you do your favorite activity - chess, but it’ll also help you to grow much faster!
Try to spend some of your free time on our Blog:
And here are my top recommendations:
- Many focus on results and lose the fun part.
- The secret to lasting love for chess and how to avoid emotional bankruptcy.
- Don’t just crave results. Deserve it. Often success will come later.
- What stops you? Figure it out and address it:
8. CoGro (Constant Growth)
I don’t know everything about chess improvement and I constantly try to improve.
Anyone who claims they know everything, they’re either arrogant, idiots or liars.
So far, I have shared with you everything that works!
Many of our students who kept up with this study plan managed to improve their chess significantly, raising a few hundred points, as well as achieving FM, IM and GM titles.
You can find them here:
Nothing is an experiment. All of this guidance works very effectively.
But I created this CoGro” part, to remind me about always becoming a better coach, coming back here and adding more stuff.
I will always keep my CoGro (Constant growth) as a coach.
I hope you’ll keep yours as a player.
Wishing you to have the Right Mood, have a fun journey and hit your chess goals soon.
P. S. Your feedback is highly appreciated.
You can share it here: