So how does one actually become a chess master? It seems that the things I have done in the past don’t really contribute to my current level. I am a steady 1800-player, which is not bad at all. For a moment I was 1900+, but that was a fluke. A stronger player missed a simple move and that one game gave me a higher rating than I should have had. The graph above says it all. So I steadily declined all the way to 1873, where I currently am. How do I move forward?
Obviously, there is no single book that will guide me all the way to chess master level. That being said, to be honest I used to read the stories of the chess players, not so much the games they analysed. There lies a first mistake, but that one I will correct this year.
Secondly, I have decided to throw out a lot of books, and just focus on four of them. One opening book for Black and White each, a book on tactics, and one on strategy. My aim is to read these books thoroughly and study all the motives, ideas, and patterns that occur in them. This way, I can be sure I at least will gain a deeper understanding of just 2 openings.
Tactics can be practiced everywhere (again, the aforementioned websites come to mind), but I prefer to use the software (Hiarcs) I have on my Mac. Good, easy to use, and more than enough fire power to calculate through the more difficult lines.
I reckon playing chess on platforms (www.chess.com or www.lichess.org, to name a few) will give me a chance to practice my opening repertoire. That is something to keep in mind once I have finished the books. But for the moment I will focus on the basics (books and tactics).
The one thing I will make time for, is looking over older games of former chess giants. Capablanca, Lasker, Alekhine – these illustrious names I know from the stories, but it’s time to take a closer look at their games and the ideas they found. These and other champions inspired others to play chess, and while their stories are intriguing, I need to dive into their games to understand the real depth of their thoughts.
An afterthought, but Tata Steel is being played right now. The commentary by GM Robin van Kampen is very good. You can hear he understands the positions, and although he hasn’t been playing a lot lately, he knows what’s happening on the boards. Very insightful commentary, and I highly recommend you watching it!