9 Chess Tips I Wish I Knew in My Teenage Years

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Short and Sweet guide for improvement for Teen age players

When I was 12 years old, our financial condition was not good enough to afford to play in top-level tournaments in India. Hence in those 3 most precious years, I played local events.

In India, 2012, a normal 5-day rating event in a nearby city would cost me $80 for the entire event and at that same time if I wanted to play the GM event, it would easily cost $300-400 at that time. (Including flight, hotel, entry fee, etc). Also if my parents come with me, it’s double the expense!

Slowly because of a few good things, our financial condition got better in 2016 and then I played many good events. But as they say, we cannot get our time back.

Because of this, I feel that I didn’t get much experience playing against good players when I was 10-15 years old.

This is why I thought to write a blog post that is going to help teenage players and their parents.

  • Following are my experiences.
  • I grew up and lived my life in India. If you are reading from Western countries, maybe you will not agree on some things due to cultural differences.

ALWAYS be Grateful for Your Parents

Whether you are playing chess or not. As a teenager or at any age, you should always be grateful and respectful to your parents and try to listen to all the advice they are telling to you. Mom and Dad are those 2 people in your life who will never give wrong advice. They can do anything for you.
In terms of chess, (In most cases) they are the ones who will support you morally and financially.
(In India, we have a culture of touching the feet of Mom and Dad before doing any important task)

Socialise and make new friends

Recently I have noticed that parents are not allowing their children to any other children just because of competition. Really? Is playing chess only for success?
When I was 12-13 years old, I always used to travel with some of my friends for chess tournaments. We used to play with each other, analyze, and whatnot. Even 12-15 years later we are still connected with each other. Now we don’t discuss chess but we still discuss some business ideas, chess coaching, and some other fun topics.
Chess players are more mature than others and if you can make a good friend circle, it is going to be beneficial in longer terms.
If a parent is reading this article, don’t see chess as a competition.

Always Keep a Resourceful Attitude

As a young chess player, you don’t have control over what events you are playing. It depends on various factors such as your school schedule, parent's availability, and also about finances.
The best thing you can do is be resourceful. If your parents can’t travel with you, try to go solo. Maybe start with 1 day event and then you can travel solo to different cities also. I know a few of my friends who started traveling solo at the age of 13-14.
If it’s because of a lack of finances, continue doing chess practice and give your best whenever you get a chance.

Always ASK top players

When you play some event, some players are more experienced than you. Whenever you play against a higher-rated player or highly experienced player, ask him or her about analyzing the game. Ask 1-2 questions about improvement.
The maximum they can say is NO or can say 1-2 insulting statements. That will not affect you much but imagine if some top player gave you good advice, it is going to be a valuable lesson in the long run.
If you meet any GM, just go and ask one question or say something good about him. Maybe you will get some advice. (Don’t ask any good player to play a game, it’s an annoying feeling)

Don’t speak about expenses in front of kids (Advice for Parents)

Chess is an expensive game. Coaching, traveling, stay and entry fee costs a lot. Also performance is not guaranteed. It depends on multiple factors.
It’s always better to not talk about money things in front of your child. It just puts additional pressure on children. If results are not coming or he is not doing practice, find an alternative option. Maybe you can decide on some reward (e.g. bicycle) if he/she wins the event.

Hire a good coach (Advice for Both)

Hiring a good coach is essential. Sometimes we think that it’s better to keep spending money on chess events rather than spending on chess coaches but that’s not true. I have experienced it.
Getting a good chess coach is hard. First, go with some referral, otherwise, you can find one on lichess or on chess com.

Parental Pressure (Advice for Parents)

Some of my friends stopped playing chess because they could not handle parental pressure. I have seen anger in parents when their child loses a game.
The best way to control this pressure is to start playing daily one rapid game. Once you play chess and experience the game, you will notice how difficult chess is.
Chess is very different than studies. In studies, the outcome is guaranteed and you will get some degree or you will get atleast passing marks.
In chess, even if doing everything right, and having good strength, sometimes results don’t show up.

Enjoy Travel and Chess Game

As a child, you should enjoy the game as well as all the travel you are doing. Ofc you should spend more time on chess and preparation during tournaments but this doesn't mean that you shouldn’t enjoy it.
When in a new city, go for a walk, try new food, visit famous places, etc.
Because of chess traveling, it gave me so many new experiences I can’t describe. (Including the bad one where robbers took my bag from the hotel lobby - Read the post on lichess with video footage)
Becoming IM and GM can be an ultimate goal but it’s very important to enjoy the process in between.

Save Every Penny

The last hack - When your chess strength improves, you will slowly start to win cash prizes in rapid and blitz events. If you are planning to spend that money on a party or something, just save it. Sometimes what happens is, that you will feel like you want to buy a chess course or something but your parents are not allowing, you can buy it without further delay.

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