Free Vs Paid Chess Content

AnalysisChessLichessOff topic
Is it really worth paying for chess content? Or is all the free chess learning content available on the internet enough?

In this article, I will tell you what free content is really worth studying, and when it makes sense to invest some money to save a lot of time and energy.

We All Love Free Chess Learning Content

We love free stuff. And thanks to the internet, we have constant access to it. You can watch millions of Chess YouTube videos, watch streams, and read thousands of articles and free newsletters just like this one.

What sometimes gets missed is that free has a price, too:

Your Time.

Free content usually isn’t as high quality as a paid counterpart. And much less curated. You can scratch the internet for 100+ hours and find some of what I teach in my courses.

But you can also pay $100 and get 12+ hours of highly curated video content.

Free can be expensive, and expensive can be cheap.

In that case, you might spend an additional 90 hours surfing the internet to avoid spending $100, which puts you at an hourly rate slightly above $1. Depending on your location, you can work at McDonald’s for $10-20/hour.

This means if you can work, deciding on the free chess learning stuff costs you between $800 and $1700. Rather expensive!

And there is an even much bigger problem.

Bad Advice Makes Things Worse

Worse than the time you waste is the amount of horrible advice you’ll get for free. For example, this one:


And even if some advice is obviously bad and you might not take it to heart, most of the horrible bad advice isn’t visible to beginners and club players.

You will only realize the amount of bad advice you’ve consumed once you are lucky enough to find something well-curated.

Unlearning is harder than learning something new.

So, in an age with unlimited access to information, your biggest task isn’t getting the best advice.
Your task is to avoid the horrible advice.

Is Free Chess Content Always Bad?

Absolutely not! There just is a much bigger risk that something might not be super well-curated. Even with free things, there are differences.

Social Media = Brain Farts.

Most creators use social media to gain attention with provocative, not-so-thought-through statements. That’s the reason I stopped posting frequently on Twitter (X). You get an idea, write it down, and click post. Then you’ll see if some people like it or not.

Reading chess advice on social media is signing up to be a beta-tester for over-simplified and spicy ideas that might come up when pooping.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound so much fun to me.

Blogs/videos = thought-through content.

Long-form articles or videos are already of higher quality. Of 10 brain farts, 1 might resonate with an audience, and creators start working on it for a longer-form project. This takes way more time, so one wants to be sure it is of decent quality.

Email Free = Usually Premium Free Content

We all get too many emails. So, we are hesitant to give our address to more creators. This leads to a trade: you’ll get my best free content if you give me your email. As a rule of thumb, Newsletters and gifts you get when signing up with your email are the most curated, high-quality content you can get for free on the internet.

What Problem Does This Solve For Me?

At the end of the day, everything we consume or buy is with the aim of solving a problem.
You can easily solve the problem of boredom with a free video.

But if you want to solve a specific problem that annoys you a lot, it might be worth paying a bit of money to solve that problem once and for all. And not make it even worse!

Investing in yourself is generally a good thing. With a limited budget, your main two questions will be:

  • What problem do I really want to solve?
  • Where do I get the best solution to that problem for a reasonable price?

Those are questions only you can answer. Just keep in mind that free can be very expensive at times. Please stop blindly following uncurated trash advice. It really is a big problem nowadays.

Keep improving,

PS: Thanks to Phil Galfond’s (one of the best Poker players) great Newsletter for the inspiration. If you like Poker, check it out here (free but high-quality!).

This article was originally posted on my own Blog, NextLevelChess.
Click here to read more similar articles.

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