I am a beginner and am targeting to become an expert. I see many people who barely takes 4 years to become an expert and many people who take 10 years to become an expert. I don't want to repeat the mistakes committed by players who had slow progress. What are the mistakes committed by players with slow progress? Some of them that I could think of are 1) lack of reading books 2) lack of proper coaching 3) merely playing thousands of games without strategic development. What do you think? Can you please provide suggestions on how to be efficient in my preparation? What is the best way to train?

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    I think already a duplicate to many previous Questions . You can go through them and find out the answers . Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 8:26
  • What is your rating level and what is your definition of an "expert"? Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 8:51
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    I would recommend 2 books by Andrew Soltis: Studying Chess Made Easy, and How to Become a Chess Master (but this is for much later in the beginner to expert journey).
    – user1108
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:22
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    Also, keep in mind that everyone has their own learning rate and cognitive limits. It took me 6 years to get to 2200 elo, but it might take me another 6 years to get to 2250. Or I might have reached my limit.
    – user1108
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:23
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    There is plenty of serious reasons outside of chess. Money, time, health, school, work, people around you, place where you live and be sure that luck is one of the most important. If you are lucky enough, you don't go pro :-)
    – hoacin
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 10:32

6 Answers 6


I can think of three mistakes that a lot of class players who think they're working on their chess make:

  1. They read chess books.

In particular they buy lots of them and then skim them, or study / try to memorize them as if they were textbooks.

Most low level players don't take the time to really get to the bottom of the positions in the books, they don't work with them, only passive consumption.

  1. They memorize openings.

Opening books sell far better than all other types of chess book combined, even though the best they have to offer a class player is a slightly better position against someone who else who had memorized the opening but not quite as far. It's fun to feel like you're playing as a grandmaster, and sure it will lead to some short term improvement, but in the long term this is mostly wasted time.

  1. They don't analyze.

What class player is actually able to take any position and start analyzing it to figure out what's going on? Not many, even though that's what the actual game is about. The best way to improve is just analyze a lot of positions, especially together with a mate (so you can argue and learn from each other), especially your own games. But few put in the work.

I know this because I'm very guilty of all three.

  • I'd add that many players may try to go in for too abstruse stuff or they may be scared into playing openings that don't help them learn. Getting in a rut playing the same thing and not being willing to take risks is a big problem, and it becomes playing chess but not learning.
    – aschultz
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 1:07
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    @RemcoGerlich: I basically agree with you, but I think your 3 points are actually just one point: They don't analyze. Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:47

Each person is different and what works for one might not work for you. That being said, for a beginner, a coach (friend, private coach or in chess club) can make a huge difference in my opinion as he could go through your games, pointing out where you went wrong strategically, which is something that is impossible to do on your own and something that engines will not tell you either. In any case, if you haven't done already, I'd recommend to join a chess club, simply because it is more fun than playing online and also you can get many tips from other players besides formal coaching sessions.

Other factors:

  • time dedicated to chess
  • determination
  • predisposition
  • having a good mix of study, play and analyzing your mistakes

As for your first mistake ("lack of reading books"): You certainly want to do some study on your own (without a coach). Books are not the only source of information though. Also consider videos/streams, chess databases (particularly for openings) and whatever else you find.

  • Great answer! Speaking of time dedicated to chess, I programmed my embedded development board to play chess aganist me.
    – user11939
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:35
  • Agree with this answer. I'd like to add one kind of mistake that I've committed countless times, which is overestimating my own abilities. Constantly thinking of oneself as 'underrated' is a problem with mindset which has a way of seriously impeding progress, if not halting it completely.
    – Scounged
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 19:54
  • natural talent also is a factor. Fischer did work hard but he also had a chess oriented brain which helped him. many club players never make it past 1700uscf no matter what they try to do. starting young is a big help. much harder for older people to come into the game fresh and get much past expert or maybe NM.
    – yobamamama
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 1:20

The most common mistake I believe is the "ATTITUDE FACTOR". Now what I mean from this is all Chess aspirants have some great deal of knowledge nowadays either from Books, Internet, Chess Clubs, Coaches etc.

Everyone works hard but many fail to get the deserving rating or climbing up the ladder . What lacks here is the proper attitude and Systematic way of learning . You must set goals in a respective time period and should keep a "Can do situation to accomplish it " . They say that people who has that spunk they see Chess even in their dreams and analyse their failures . The next morning they cross that level and jump to the next one . You will get many answers to your Questions about practicing puzzles, End games , Openings and tons of advices but it is important that you take the failures into your heart ,work & analyse upon it and stop not till you become the expert .


The biggest things I think are that you need to commit to learn from your mistakes, and you need to avoid burnout.

I spent time off from playing chess and threw my games into a computer engine and I was amazed at the simple stuff I missed repeatedly. Obviously, you don't magically become better just by seeing analysis of your own game, but it helps to say: yes, I continually miss this tactic, or, I continually miss a win in this sort of endgame, or even "I thought I played great but I still missed some stuff." A computer can show you a few immediate patterns. It is no substitute for working with another person, but it is more patient about pointing out the mistakes you keep making. It also points out that you don't have to play anywhere near perfectly to be an expert, which is a relief. You'll want to find a happy medium between placing experts on a pedestal and realizing they make mistakes, too.

I'd like to echo @RemcoGerlich's point about "reading" chess books as if it is studying for a vocabulary or history multiple-choice exam. Knowledge doesn't quite work that way. If you spend 15 minutes on the stairmaster, you will burn X calories, but on the other hand, spending 15 minutes glossing over a book and flipping pages probably doesn't help you learn. I also think many of us fall into the trap of needing to play over advanced GM games from now to keep up to date, when really, games from 1900 or so emphasize basic principles much better, and it's more fun to see all the sacrifices to boot.

Some people don't ask questions about their games--their own moves and their opponents'. Some people don't have resources where they can try a few tactical puzzles per day and track their progress. And some people haven't found a good YouTube site where they can get training for free and even choose what lessons to learn next. There are so many free resources on the Internet, and it's worth taking time to find a few (you only need a few) that work well for you.


Rather than point out mistakes, as the OP requested, consider what you should do (it is a mistake NOT to do these things) Most important, if you can find a way to do it, is simply to hang out with players who are better than you and listen to them talk. If possible, play them, and have a sensible post-mortem (think about what you want to get out of it).


It depends.
One key is having the wrong parents and not being smart enough or being naturally capable of playing at a high level.

Other factors would be when did they start learning? How effectively were the training materials they chose? How determined were they to improve? How much time did they use for their training.

Other factors would also come in but those are major ones determining how fast and how far someone can go with their chess.

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