10 steps to raise your game – part 3

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Continuation from 10 steps to raise your game – part 2

8. Practice, practice, practice

Like in any other sports, practice makes perfect in chess also. At least, it will embed in your mind whatever you have learnt in previous steps. But try to play with opponents who are of equal or greater strength compared to you. If you join a chess club which are now available in most towns, you will certainly find opportunities to sit opposite strong players. Try to participate in whatever tournaments come your way as this also gives you valuable practice (and stronger nerves!) plus opportunity to play against some good players. These days, you can play on line with players in different parts of the world. Many sites allow you to play free games with their computers but here you should check the quality of the software running behind the computers. How you fare will give you the idea in this respect. It should also be possible to choose different levels of difficulty and a facility to download the record of the games played by you (remember tip 3?)

If you cannot afford to be on line for long, you can think of getting chess playing software many of which are offered free on the Internet (though I cannot vouch for their quality as I have never used such software – I like to play with someone I can see!). I have seen some software which have selectable difficulty levels and a capability to record the moves also. You have to download and try out. This will help you to practice as long and as often you may want. Playing through the games of masters (tip 7) is also a valuable practice.

9. Build up self-confidence

Confidence in yourself will help you to achieve more wins. You have nothing to be ashamed of when you lose to a better player and even top grandmasters have lost games through silly moves a beginner will not make. If you lack confidence, you will be nervous which will cause you to make mistakes. There are many tournaments which are open to all and not restricted to players of certain levels. Utilize these open tournaments to build up your fighting spirit.

10. A final thought

I have refrained from naming books as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great books on chess strategy and techniques. But I found one book that takes a completely different approach to teach amateurs. The book contains 25 simulated games played over 25 days between an amateur and a master. Each game takes some different opening variation with an explanation on the underlying theme of that opening, and then continues to show whether the play is consistent with the theme or not. Most moves are annotated with reason for such play, good and bad moves are identified with reasons and tactical situations are analyzed when they arise. The amateur continues to gain in strength though losing the first 22 games. In the last 3 games, the tables are turned and the amateur defeats the master. You will get valuable insight in different aspects of chess and I am sure it will improve your game also. The book is titled “Road to Chess Mastery” and written by grandmaster Max Euwe who was world champion during 1935-37 and regarded as one of the best writers on chess.  As far as I know, the book was published in a paperback edition also under the title “Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur”.

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