How our 74-Year-Old Student Raised 350 points in 4 months!

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How Our 74-Year-Old Student Raised 350 Points in 4 Months!

He improved his tactical vision, overcame age and language barriers to raise 350 points in 4 months! Learn valuable lessons from his inspiring journey.

Success Story | 6 min read
How Our 74-Year-Old Student Raised 350 Points in 4 Months!

When we saw the 5-star review under the Tactic Ninja course, it felt great as always.

When we saw his significant increase, it made us smile.

When we saw he made it at 74, we knew we needed to interview this person!

And when we learned he doesn’t speak English – what the heck? How did he even watch our courses?

We stopped everything. We reached out to Gian Carlo, and with the help of our Italian student Claudio Thoux, made an interview with this excuseless and inspirational person!

Gian Carlo's review of the Mating Matador
Posted by Gian in February 2024, after he had only gained 100 points.

“I am a 74-year-old retired Nuclear Engineer living in Sicily, Italy. I have two children and a wonderful 8-year-old grandson.”

Improving chess at his age is difficult. You have a fuzzy memory, less mental energy, among other issues.

For Gian, tactical oversight left him helpless.

“I solved chess tactics from books, on and Lichess. I thought it would be more than enough. But even though I solved hundreds of puzzles, I was blundering just as much.”

“I said to myself: ‘How the hell is this possible?’ The problem remained without a solution. I put my soul at peace believing I had done my best anyway.”

On the other hand, the starting phase of the game left him clueless.

The mystery of openings

“I read books on openings ... to conclude that they must be studied.
But how to study them, practically? Where to start? Which ones to choose?”

“I realized my main challenge was the absence of expert advice, which only a Grandmaster could provide. I was also missing a detailed training program to follow.”

“How can I find such specialized guidance and support here in Sicily?”

Finding ChessMood

“After discovering ChessMood in December 2023, I immediately realized I had found what I was looking for – real lessons from Grandmasters and the possibility to change my learning methods.”

So, Gian became a Yearly Pro student.
However, before jumping into the courses, one huge challenge remained.

“I didn't understand spoken English.”

Then how was he going to understand the videos in the chess courses?

Beating the language barrier

For many, the language could’ve been a valid excuse. Age? As well!
But not when you’re resourceful and excuseless!

“I used Chrome → Settings → Accessibility → Real-time subtitles (English) (as a member of the forum kindly suggested to me) to watch the videos with subtitles. I can manage to understand written English.”

“Also, with the help of Google Translate, I’ve read some of the ChessMood articles, which are always full of useful advice that I didn't know before!”

Quote on excuses

Raising over 350 points in 4 months

A few months after becoming a ChessMood student, Gian raised over 350 points, going from a low of 1477 to touching 1831 on Rapid!

Gian Carlo's Rating Increase Chart
Gian’s Rapid Rating Graph

So how did Gian, at 74 and learning from video subtitles, manage to raise 350 points in a few months?

You’ll soon see the adjustments he made to his chess training.
However, the biggest change came from within.

The golden question: How to get out of his comfort zone

“If I want to improve something that always goes wrong, there’s no other way than to change my attitude and behavior.”

“I have to get outside my comfort zone, and ask myself ‘How can I behave differently from how I always have?’

Why you should step outside of your comfort zone

Changing his approach, he structured his training with ChessMood’s chess improvement formula, dedicating two hours every day.

  • 1 hour: Learn from the course (Study)
  • ½ hour: Play 15+10 Rapid on (Practice)
  • ½ hour: Game analysis (Fix)

With a mindset of change, he battled his old challenges.

Uncovering the mystery of openings

After discovering our simplified courses, Gian found clear answers to his questions about choosing openings, where to start, how to study them, etc.

“Currently, I am creating pgn files of the WhiteMood and BlackMood Openings to feed into a chess training software for repetitive practice.”

“Every day, I train the variations to memorize the responses, and the reasons for the responses, to every move of the opponent.”

“I also review and compare the games I’ve played with respect to the chosen opening.”

(By the way, once we launch the Opening Fixer, you can compare your games with the ChessMood repertoire at the click of a button!)

While Gian was building his knowledge of openings, the most significant difference came after he fought a painful old challenge.

Battling tactical oversight

“I lost most matches due to oversight or missing tactics. I realized that minimizing tactical errors is absolutely essential.”

So Gian made two changes.
First, he added the 3rd ingredient (Fix) of the chess improvement formula.

“Before, I never analyzed my games, especially the ones I lost, because I considered watching them an extra pain. I simply told myself – I made an oversight…”

“However, the one habit that has helped me the most has been analyzing my games, discovering and classifying the blunders I made (as shared in the BlunderProof course) and doing the necessary work to reduce them to a minimum.”

The BlunderProof course

By classifying his errors, Gian could take concrete steps to fix the mistakes instead of ignoring his “oversights”.

Improving his tactical vision at 74

Second, his old approach of solving hundreds of mixed puzzles was ineffective. This is a common mistake many players make, as discussed in the guide on chess tactics.

We advise you to master the tactical themes one by one before solving mixed puzzles. Gian did exactly that.

Tactic Ninja and Mating Matador: Two courses under the Rating Booster section to improve your tactical vision

“I solved tactics from the two courses Tactic Ninja and Mating Matador (under the Rating Booster section).”

His efforts have paid off, as you can notice from his rating and the tactical combinations he finds in his game!

A beautiful combination from one of Gian's game
Black's Queen, Knight, and Bishop are hanging, and yet, Black is winning!

So you see, getting better at tactics isn’t reserved only for the youngsters. Yes, it’s much easier when you’re young because your brain is sharp.

But Gian’s journey proves you can improve at any age if you work on it and have the right attitude.

The two ingredients of a winning mindset

Detachment from the result, mixed with the willingness to step outside the comfort zone, powers the 74-year-old’s chess journey.

“I simply put aside my doubts and think about moving forward on the path of improvement, no matter how difficult it may be at my age, no matter how many defeats I still have to endure.”

Kobe Bryant's quote on constant improvement, results and detachment

“The outcome — whether you arrive or not, win or lose — doesn’t matter. What truly matters is your desire to improve.”


Rapid Fire

Your Right Mood ritual.

I think of the laughter shared with my grandson!

Your favorite ChessMood course.

BlackMood Openings

BlackMood Openings course

If you could switch lives with one chess player (current or past), who would that be and why?


His approach to chess wasn't just about winning; it was about realizing the beauty of a sacrifice; a sacrifice that was uniquely his.

What’s the favorite memory chess has given you?

Participating in various Italian Team Championships with friends.
The car trips and sandwiches we enjoyed in Catania, Palermo, Messina, Enna, Trapani... across all the major Sicilian cities, are unforgettable.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received in chess?

“Hey, Gian Carlo, you're a monster at chess. We really can't compete with you.”

The one thing you love about chess.

The high educational value for personal growth... Playing chess has made me smarter😄😄

What’s a life lesson you’ve learned from chess?

If I want to improve at chess, I must change how I’ve always played and thought about chess.

The same is true in life.

What advice would you give to your grandchildren if they take up chess?

Play and have fun.
But my little grandson already knows this, since for him, his whole life is a game!


You can share your congratulatory messages with Gian under this forum thread.

We did a written interview with Gian in Italian to present this success story. A big shoutout to our ChessMood family member, Claudio Thoux, who helped us translate the questions from English to Italian, and later proofread Gian's answers from Italian to English.
Thank you so much!❤️

Originally published Apr 12, 2024

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