I have signed up to a chess website and there are very few people who are as bad as I am (rating around 800), so I have to resort to playing against people who are much better (1200+) and end up beating me very quickly.

I do analyze the games to see what went wrong but I am wondering if it's even worth going up against players much better than me, since I don't get to even the end game stage.

  • 3
    What 800 rating is this? a USCF 800 is good for a beginner, but a online correspondence 800 is closer to "new to chess."
    – limits
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 1:21

7 Answers 7


As long as you're also playing players of your rating (and lower) along with the higher rated players it's okay. You don't want to be discouraged by losing every single game you play. Ideally you want to play people higher rated than you more than lower rated because it's like getting a free lesson - a higher rated player will be able to take advantage of your mistakes more than a lower rated player.

At a 800 rating, you'll want to focus on basics (basic opening principles, tactics, safety, thinking processes etc.) and review your games for common mistakes to pinpoint weaknesses and then eradicating them.

Of course, you'll also want to play slow time controls more than fast time controls as you want to be able to think about your moves and then be able to go back and correct your thinking. Faster games involve a lot of intuition and at your rating you won't really have a lot of it. So you'll want to develop that by playing slow time controls. Besides, you don't want to mess up games and then excuse yourself by saying that you didn't have enough time on your clock.

Also, you should begin reviewing some (master) chess games. A decent beginners book is Logical Chess by Irving Chernev. Don't review modern GM games yet as those are generally a lot more difficult to understand.

  • I was playing mostly blitz so thank you for pointing out my error -- I was running out of time a lot too. Also thank you for the book recommendations.
    – frostbite
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 16:01
  • @frostbite You're welcome.
    – user2137
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 12:24

Playing somewhat stronger opponents is fine. If they are too strong it does not make much sense. However, there are a few things you can do that will likely very quickly improve your rating so that you have more opponents of roughly same strength.

1) Make sure you do not hang pieces.

The majority of games at the lowest level is decided by who makes the worst mistakes, blunders a quick mate or just hangs too many pieces. You have to learn to avoid this at all cost! So, play slow time controls and before each move make a blunder check to test whether your move actually hangs a piece (or even just a pawn).

2) Work on your basic tactics.

First, also your opponents will likely hang pieces from time to time. So before really starting to think deeply see whether there is something you can easily snatch off. Further, you should become acquainted with basic tactical patterns such as skewers, forks, discovered attacks, double attacks, and also basic mating patterns. There are plenty of books covering these patterns at a basic level. Note that it is not sufficient to just know the pattern, but you have to solve sufficiently many tactical exercises so that you really know it by heart. At some point you will realize that, at least easy ones, you see instantaneously without actually having to look for them. That is exactly what you want to achieve.

If you do a couple of exercises each day (first sorted by tactical topic, later also mixed problems, where the tactic you're looking for is not given), it is likely that you will very quickly see a dramatic improvement in your games.


I don't know what a rating of 800 means since you don't mention the website.

If you're getting crushed every time, you need to play weaker players - it's no fun getting mauled.

That being said, if 800 is a beginner rating, then you'll likely improve quickly if you work at the basics and you'll have more people around your rating.


it helps to play stronger players so 1000 vs your 800 would help

but playing much stronger players wont help at all

what you need is to play over grandmaster games to get a feel for what good moves are in the openings and see how they do middle games

you need to work on solving problems to learn to recognise patterns easily and use them in your games

a few key books would also help start with a book on one openign you like and learn all you can about that

you will need end games but that can come later

a book on positional play and pawn formations woudl be useful

playing weak 1000 players wont help nearly as much as focused study

playing somewhat stronger players when you hit 1800 or so will help you learn to use what the books taught you


Playing against stronger opponents, even much stronger opponents, can be very useful. The key as to how useful depends on what you do during and after the game to allow you to learn and improve. There are two key things can make your thrashings really useful:

  1. After - Get your opponent to go over the game with you and explain what they were thinking and where they think you went wrong. Obviously this works much better over-the-board (always the best way to play your chess) rather than online.
  2. During - Record the game (if you play online then that should record your moves for you) and analyse the game afterwards. Ideally you would play the game out on a real board and write down your thoughts and analysis as you go along. Then get a stronger player (helps if you are a flesh-and-blood member of a real chess club) to go over your analysis with you point out what you got right and wrong in your analysis. Finally (and failing having a real human being to help you) go through the game with an engine and see what it thinks of your analysis and improvements.

Obviously just playing mindless games, whether against stronger opponents or weaker ones, is not going to teach you anything nor help you to improve. You need to do some work afterwards to benefit.


It is always beneficial to play against stronger opponents, even if it feels frustrating to lose a lot. You learn from them while losing, but they don't learn anything at all winning against you, so actually, you are the one who is winning at the end of the day ;-)


One of the best ways to improve in chess is to play against stronger opponents. I do this and it help me a lot. But I always play against weaker players. But, of course, I study endgames. I know people who only study openings for years and never improve. In a 100 hours of study I suggest 50 hours for endgames, 30 for middle game and 20 for openings. Start with 1. e4 at the beginning and let 1, d4 or 1.Nf3 for later. Tactics are very important for a chess player and open games is better for this learning.

And play. Play a lot.

Good luck.

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