I'm stuck at 1200

How do I get to 1300? Just tons of more practise and games? I've only been playing since October. Kings Indian and traditional bishop openings for white only work right now. I shouldn't try other stuff.

I've just looked at some of your games. No, just more playing won't help you at all.

You should read some books or get a trainer. You don't need a GM or IM or FM as a trainer.

Even I could tell you so much things about what you're doing wrong. If you are interested, PM me.

I read chess books, I only get the abstract concepts like "create more than one weakness". Some are solid advice but there's a lot of noodley garbage unfortunately. I practise some online puzzles. I like the stappenmethode ideas a lot but they're mostly books for teachers teaching children. I'm 29.

"create more than one weakness" is much too high level for you. You should read books for beginners who know the rules.

I’m not a coach nor a trainer, but if I were in your shoes I would be focusing most of my time training my tactical eye, (I.e solving puzzles, reviewing tactical motifs like pin, fork, skewer, discovered attacks, deflection, obstruction, ect)and spending a little time reviewing the basic check mates ( K v KR/KQ ect) and king and pawn endgames (both sides! Know when and how a king and pawn endgame is drawn or not), and then ensure each game you follow opening principles (attack the center, develop as quickly as possible, king safety, avoid moving a piece unnecessarily, ect). As for playing games, I’d only be playing 15+15 or longer, or Daily/Correspondence games, because I’d want to avoid developing bad habits and to improve I need time to develop good thinking habits (are there any checks available, are any pieces or pawns not protected that are under attack or that I can attack, what is the worst piece I have and how can I improve it, who has the safer king, ect).

But again, I’m no authority on how to get good at chess. If I was I’d be good at chess. :)


lets take a look at this game for example:

On move 3 you play a3 which just hangs a pawn on e4.
On move 4 you develop you knight to h3 but knights are really bad on A and H files. (although not the best moves at this position, Nf3 and Ne7 are both better because they develop the knight towards the center)
On move 6 you play Qe2 instead of taking a free piece.
From move 7 to move 10 you left your bishop on c4 so black could take and ruin your pawn structure
15. Rxd7 was a free pawn that you missed
On move 18. you played Be7 instead of moving your queen away from the e file (your bishop just got stuck and the queen got stuck behind him defending him)

Saint Louis Chess Club on youtube has a lot of beginner-friendly lectures, a playlist of which you can find here:

also some basic opening principles are good to know

eidt: I also strongly agree with #5, you should learn about tactical motifs and what they are

Go over a beginner book Several times like Susan Polgar’s World Champions’ guide to chess until you can solve every puzzle in that book instantly. And solve other puzzles, really easy ones. I mean REALLY easy oneS, like take undefended piece, mate in 1 etc. That will probably take you to 1600.

@eva_eva1 Take the lichess basic chess course. You really can't get going in chess, until you have "mastered" basic chess. Don't try and do the course in a your way through it slowly and complete the entire course. The value of the course is you will learn basic end game skills and learn pawn play basics etc. If you master this course I guarantee your game will improve. :]

(Daily study and play is taken as a given)

Here are some topics that will help provide a framework for your research into each subject and build a useful study plan and routine you can follow, if you do not have the benefit of a coach or higher-rated friend or mentor and have very limited resources:

If you do not clearly understand the difference between the 3 phases of the game (items 1,2 and 3 below), you should spend a bit of time doing so.

In other words, you should be able to put pen to paper and explain in clear and concise language each of those three terms (as well as all of the following terms in the list, ideally) to the best of your ability.

Then, you should explore the terms you use de define and describe these basic terms and do the same exercise with them. For example: saying " ...characterized by quick and harmonious development of the pieces and King safety" should be followed up by a definition of what "harmonious development" actually means, "King safety" actually means, etc. Because if you can't even do this, your fundamental knowledge base is deeply, deeply flawed.

This will quickly give you a benchmark which should help you understand the depth of your lack of knowledge about very, very basic subjects that are fundamental to your improvement (and enjoyment) of the game.

1- Opening
2- Middlegame
3- Endgame
4- Open games
5- Closed games
6- Tactics
7- Strategy
8- Pieces
9- Pawns

I won't give you an extensive list of things you should work towards understanding but here is an example you might use to work with and draw from when creating your own list for each of the above topics. So, more specifically, you should understand:

1.1- what is the fundamental difference between "open" and "closed" games.
1.2- what characterizes the opening phase of the game
1.3- what are the opening principles
1.4- what is meant by "the centre"
1.5- why is the "fight for the centre" considered so important
1.6- what is meant by "piece mobility" and why is it so important
1.7- what is meant by "development" and "rapid and harmonious development"
1.8- why are pawn moves generally limited in number, in the opening phase of the game
1.9- what is meant by "King safety" and why is it so important, especially in open games
1.10- what is meant by "pawn fortress" in relation to a castled King
1.11- what are the structural consequences of fianchettoing a Bishop
1.12- why is keeping the "Bishop pair" often considered so important, especially in open games
1.13- why is exchanging a Knight for a Bishop often considered a good idea, especially in closed games

Many of the answers to the above questions can be found in the following interactive and free Move-Trainer book, on

Furthermore, at your stage of development you may want to play correspondence chess to evacuate any form of time pressure from your games so you can work on "behavioural issues", mostly "controlling the impulse to make the first move that springs to mind", by finding and systematically using a "pre-move checklist" (checks, captures, threats, hanging pawns & pieces, etc.) which should quickly enough become second nature and serve as your first analytical framework, with the added benefit of cutting down on the frequency of egregious mistakes and blunders.

You may find it extremely useful and beneficial to work with tactics every day. I will let other people try to convince you about the value of "puzzling" out 4-5 move deep tactics problems because, as far as I am concerned, the time spent is not really worth it unless you have vast amounts of time at your disposal. If you are on a "time-budget", I am convinced that daily drilling of simple tactics (2-3 moves deep) and basic checkmating patterns will help you eventually instantly recognize common patterns when they appear on the board. In the immediate, this ability strikes me as far more useful, to the average chess hobbyist intent on improving.

Finally, you may want to consider creating Lichess studies of each of your games and running SF analysis, if only to identify egregious mistakes and blunders in your games so you can begin to understand some of your systematic weaknesses that derive from a failure to pay attention, rather than the more problematic failure to spot complex tactical threats and opportunities which you can focus on when you become much better at the game.

As an added bonus, here are excellent Move-Trainer books, on

1- (Free) (Free, as well as all others in "On the Attack" series) (Free, just do the easiest exercises)
4- (9.99$)
5- (21.95$)

Hope this helps you, going forward.