Stages Of Improvement

In this lesson, I’ll discuss and outline the typical stages of improvement that a chess player goes through. But, why do you have to read this? Simple. By knowing the stages of a chess players development, you can understand YOUR situation better – where you’re at in the hierarchy and what you need to do to realize your potentials more objectively.
This is especially important for those who train rather on their own – chess players who live in a small city; don’t have a chess coach or a lot of chess friends, etc.

If this is true for you, sometimes you may feel confused. Your chess progress isn’t as great as you hoped for and there are many bumps and difficulties along the way.
You may start having doubts: “Maybe I’m not as talented as others?”
“Maybe I’m doing something wrong?” and the list of unclear questions go on.
You think that something is wrong with you, while in fact MOST players experience the same problems :) . As a chess coach, I’ve observed many players’ progress. I can tell you that, while you may be unique as an individual and chess player, your problems are not.
Stage 1: Beginner
You are just a beginner and you are excited about the game. You start reading tutorial materials, playing games with friends, etc.
Most probably your study goes in a haphazard fashion. Nevertheless, you experience a good progress (since your knowledge is almost zero, any new information is valuable for you). You have won some nice games, and that motivates you to keep learning!
Stage 2: Intermediate Player
At this point, you face some stronger folks, who always give you a spanking.
Your progress slows down significantly compared to the previous stage. And you come to realize that your training should become more serious and structured if you want to get to the next level.
At this stage people usually start creating some kind of training plans (split the training to opening/middlegame/endgame study, learn strategy and tactics).
All in all your training becomes more solid and systematized. This leads to rather solid progress – it’s not fast but it’s sure (GRADUALLY).
You obtained some pleasant victories against opponent’s who previously was too strong for you.
Stage 3: Advanced Player
You reached a certain level (which is not that bad, but of course you want to gain much more). Your progress suddenly stopped. You keep training, but it doesn’t change too much.
Perhaps you experience the following problems:
You play quite a lot of moves rather intuitively (based on rules and what you understand), but sometimes, it doesn’t pan out well.
You already know a lot of rules and principles about chess, but rather than help, it makes your thinking random (not well systematized).
These two problems lead to unstable results. Sometimes you can enjoy winning against a significantly stronger player; but on off-days you suffer from annoying losses.
You can get a dominating position, but have problems with a realization of your advantage.
Sometimes you make annoying blunders, which spoil a well-played game.
While facing stronger players, you feel that they play in tougher style. They exhaust ALL possibilities, they start pressuring you right from the opening etc.
First, let me bring up some good news: you are not alone! :)
Most players out there experience similar problems. So don’t worry: there’s nothing wrong with you. Quite the contrary, this is a very typical situation.
At this point, you need to make your game TOUGHER and more DYNAMIC.
Relying on your intuition (understanding) is not enough anymore. You need to calculate variations CONSTANTLY, use all of the chances and opportunities at the board, and always keep an eye on opponent’s possibilities.
Start playing more solid and more aggressive opening.
Your chess knowledge (which is quite wide already) should be well-systematized. Otherwise, they will only confuse you.
Of course, there are other stages of improvement that follow, but this blog post appears to be quite LONG already. Let’s stop here for the moment.
I’ve outlined the most common scenario, while your particular situation can be a bit different. Nevertheless, you might recognize yourself in this description, don’t you? :)
Now, at least, you know that your ‘unique’ problems are not so unique :) . And that means:
1. You are alright! :)
2. Other players could overcome those difficulties and you can do the same!
Plus I’ve given you some tips on what to do within this post.