Çakır's Guidelines to Chess Improvement


This is an outline of how I believe you should go over your games, if you want to become really good at this game sooner rather than later. You might think it is better to have a grandmaster as a coach who knows how to teach, but this is cheaper and can help you become the best coach you will have for the rest of your life. You can use this method to develop opening lines that fit your personality as well as to improve your opening, middle and end game performance.

  1. Turn on your chess engine
  2. Set the engine to a multi-line analysis mode (minimum 4) with the opening book on
  3. Think about the move for a few minutes until you are satisfied with your candidate moves--some positions will take longer
    • find several candidate moves (minimum 3 but as many as you can to get you out of your comfort zone--in some cases there will be six or seven good moves
    • in each case, when you are satisfied with your candidate moves, close your eyes and visualize the board and try to visualize what could happen within one or two moves (if you are good at this, try to visualize as many moves as you can)
    • write them down in your order of preference together with your reasons such as the variation --find a short hand notation, e.g. A for attack, E for exchange, D for defense, P for position, etc.
  4. Check the engine analysis of the move and mark your choices (X  o or chess notation !, ?, ?!, =) based on how well they match the analysis lines
    • √ mark if > +0.5 pts of previous move’s analysis or if it corresponds to the computer preferences as the top or equivalent lines within no less than 0.5 pts
    • X mark if <-0.5 pts of the top or equivalent lines
    • o mark if within ±0.5 pts of the top or equivalent lines
    • reduce the margin of error as you get better--unless there are strategic or positional reasons for the move
    • use larger margins if evaluation is high (about 10-20% of the evaluation, e.g. ±1 or ±2 pts if evaluation is at ±10, etc.)

      The goal here is to help you figure out if you are finding good moves but ending up making inferior ones or if you are making your moves in the optimal order. In some cases there are several good moves and you may have found some of them. Now that you know this, you need to figure out a way to make good use of it.
  5. Discuss your games with other players, stronger or weaker ones. Discussing moves is a great learning opportunity for all participants.
  6. Keep a log of your games (decide how detailed you want to be)
    • Time, date, season, tournament, round, opening, kind of endgame (e.g. minor pieces, rooks, pawns, etc.), kind of game (e.g. length, open or closed, etc.)
    • Opponent including rating
    • Your mood relaxed, stressed, worried, disappointed, confident, over-confident, etc.
    • Total number of moves
    • Total number of X  o (classified by piece, e.g. K, Q, R, B, N, or pawn to figure out which pieces you use well which you do not)
    • Number of X  o per 40-moves (or choose any other number)
  7. When are your most mistakes: opening, middlegame, endgame, mood, opponent and his/her rating, anything else you find relevant.
  8. What are your most common mistakes, tactics, strategy, space, tempo, sacrifice or lack of it,
  9. Use this information and study your areas of weaknesses to figure out when you play better and worse.

    It is the wisdom that is of value not just knowledge.  Knowledge without wisdom can easily become detrimental to any improvement and can sometimes be as bad as ignorance.
  10. Do the same with others' games and any grandmaster games you go over.  Use grandmaster/master games as if they are solitaire chess (do the same with Chess Life Solitaire games).  In this case, the grandmaster’s moves are the alternatives to the ones suggested by the computer.
The better you are, the harder you have to work to get better.  If you want to ease your work-load and make your studies more effective, use critical/scientific thinking and wisdom in your studies.