Current Theories

At the beginning of this book, I discussed the various chess improvement methods that are aimed at class players. Before outlining what I believe is necessary to become an Expert or a Master, let us examine what the prevailing wisdom is on how to become a titled player. IM Ignacio Marin has an excellent web page which can be found at There he identifies three key ingredients to becoming a Master 1) Play as frequently as possible and against strong players. I broadly agree with these three...

Postmortem

After every game you should analyse it with a chess program and produce charts such as those shown in Figure 30 and Figure 31. These graphs show how the computer program evaluates the position after every white move during the course of the game. With one quick glance at Figure 30 you can see that White had a significant advantage early in the game shown above which he then frittered away and had to regain in the endgame. You can also see that Black made a 1.5 pawn error on move 45. Figure 30...

Alternatives to CTART

If you do not have access to a computer you should make every effort to get one. New computers can be purchased with a monitor for under 400 and used computers can be purchased with a monitor for under 200. The money you spend will be immediately returned to you when you start winning prizes at tournaments. Not having a computer may double the amount of time that it takes to get through Seven Circles. Since Seven Circles takes at least 200 hours you are valuing your time at less than two...

Continue to Study Tactics

In my experience, strong Class A players and weak Experts (a range that en compasses ratings between 1950 and 2050) still make significant tactical errors during their games. As such, you will be able to take advantage of the chess vision drills and Seven Circles to continue to improve your play. Here is an example of the tactical opportunities that abound De la Maza (1834) Armes (2108) 1 e4 e5 2 rf3 3 d4 exd4 4 c3 > f6 5 e5 > e4 6 & d3 d5 7 0-0 g4 8 cxd4 Ae7 9 & c3 Axf3 10 xf3 &...

Tactics Get Rid of the Big Squiggly Lines First

Once I understood that many of the beliefs surrounding chess study were incorrect, I wondered if there was a way to study chess that would lead to rapid chess improvement. Improving rapidly was important for my enjoyment of the game. As IM Ignacio Marin notes, ' if you don't improve fast enough the experience will be so painful that you probably will not want to play chess at all after a while.' An interesting exercise courtesy of Professor Fritz (Fritz is one of the world's most popular...

Ctart A Great Program for Seven Circles

I found the problems in the CT-ART 3.0 chess software program (www.chessassistant.com) to be ideal for the Seven Circles program. In addition to possessing the four aforementioned properties, CT-ART is also a great teaching tool and has a built-in chess program. The teaching tool provides hints when errors are made and the built-in chess program is available to analyse alternate variations. I found that CT-ART saved me hundreds of hours since I did not have to enter complicated positions...

How to Create your own Chess Vision Drills

Now that you have seen several examples of chess vision drills, you understand that the essential feature of a chess vision drill is its simplicity. The goal is to strip away the complexity that is usually present on the chessboard and focus on just one concept at a time. Once that feature has been isolated and a chess vision drill is created that captures that feature, the drill is repeated over and over. As long as you follow these steps - simplification followed by repetition - you can...

Other Comments

In addition to the detailed case histories you have just read, dozens of other chess players have written to tell me about the benefits of working through the Rapid Chess Improvement program. Here are some of their comments. 'I would like to thank you for creating your systematic chess I am totally stunned and surprised about this whole new idea - and I will of course try it myself ' True wit is nature to advantage dress'd What oft was thot, but ne'er so well express'd. This applies perfectly...

The Mythology of Chess Mastery

Once while reading a popular Internet news group, I came across an amazing exchange which illustrates one of the most common myths in chess that to become an Expert, you must be specially gifted. A novice had posted a request asking for information on how to improve and said, 'My goal is to improve 200 ELO points during the year of 2001 and another 200 points in 2002, reaching an average of 1900-2000 at end of 2002.' Having done something similar myself, I knew that, although difficult, this...

The Seven Circles

Now that you have worked on chess vision, you will focus on improving your calculation and recognition skills. As FM Ken Smith says, 'Until you are at least a high Class A player, your first name is 'tactics', your middle name is 'tactics', and your last name is tactics'.' If you have never worked hard to improve your chess, then over the next 127-day period you will. If you have never worked hard at anything, then you will discover the great pleasure of intense focus and concentration. If you...

Success with Rapid Chess Improvement

Since the first half of 2000, thousands of chess players have learned about chess vision drills and the Seven Circles chess improvement techniques and dozens have written to me about their experiences. In this chapter I share with you some of the experiences of these players. Some have adapted the program to suit their needs, some have supplemented the program with their own study lines, and some have simply followed the program straight through. All have seen their chess abilities improve by...

Shortcomings of Standard Chess Instruction

Devising this study plan, which is based on studying tactics in a particular way, required me to understand why traditional methods of chess tuition were failing. Insight number 1 Chess knowledge is not the same as chess ability When I was researching chess coaches, one comment I often heard from stu dents was 4I have been studying openings endgames middlegames weak squares knight outposts and feel that my understanding of the game has improved greatly.' I would always follow these statements...

The Two Critical Chess Vision Drills

Chess Sights

All chess vision drills have a critical property they are very simple and hence allow your mind to focus on a single idea. By stripping away the complexity of normal chess positions, chess vision drills help you to improve specific skills without being distracted. In the same way that golf players break their swing down into many different components, by doing chess vision drills you will break down your skills and drill each one to perfection. One of the problems of studying complete games is...

Optional Chess Vision Drills

Chess Vision

In this section I describe additional chess vision drills that you can use to further develop your abilities. These drills are very helpful, even for strong players. Use them if you feel that you are missing obvious opportunities or are taking too much time to find simple moves. Knight Flight is the grown up version of Knight Sight. Instead of moving the knight along the shortest path between adjacent squares, you will work on being able to see the shortest path between any two squares. To...

Chess Vision Drills

In this chapter I discuss several different types of chess vision drills and how to use them to improve your chess playing skills. Two of the drills are part of the core study program while the remainder is optional. The primary goal of chess vision drills is to enable you to know instead of calculate. Consider the simple multiplication problem 45x73. Surely you know how to calculate the solution. However, there is a small chance that you will make an error and it will take a bit of time before...

Ackowledgments

Special thanks to Stacy Angle, Neil Cousin, FM John Curdo, Mark Donlan, Larry Eldridge, Mark Fins, Howard Goldowski, Franklin Herman, Alan Hodge. FM Igor Foygel, NM Dan Heisman, Mark Kaprielian, NM Spencer Lower, Robert Oresick, Matthew Phelps, Harvey Reed, NM Hanon Russell, and Severine Wamala. Also thanks to Ames Abbott, Gatumba Abu, Donna Alarie, Robert Armes, Ed Astrachan, Sam Atwood, Barry Ball, Michael Barry, Rob Huntington, Robert King, Menno Koning, Jim Krycka, Paul Mishkin, Jeff Penta,...

The story of Cuzear Ford Becoming a Class B player

Chess Class

Cuzear Ford was a long time Class C chess player see Figure 33 when he came across the Rapid Chess Improvement study program. After implementing just part of the program, his rating shot up immediately to the Class B level. His rating jumped 122 points in just one two month period. As a point of comparison, my rating never increased more than 100 points over any two-month period even though I, like Cuzear, started at the Class D level. Cuzear's success with the program proves that my experience...

How Long Should it Take to Become an Expert

Possibly the strongest argument against the belief that becoming a good chess player requires a special gift is to compare chess to other intellectual disciplines and ask 'What is required to become good in that discipline ' The data on this subject is very clear in every intellectual discipline, from Ar chaeology to Zoology, becoming accomplished is a matter of time, work, and practice, not heavenly intervention. Mounds of empirical data support this claim. Figure 3 Adult class player Chris...