I've often heard people say that, to get to a FIDE rating of 1600, one doesn't need a coach, and that one can do it by oneself.

I'd be glad if you could help me see what one can do to achieve that. Any advice, general or specific, would be welcome, if it helps me get to 1600.

Here is a game in which I came really close to winning, but was let down by my play, especially in the endgame.

(But I don't insist on you seeing it, if it's cumbersome. I'm looking for advice on how to get to a FIDE rating of 1600, and general advice could be very useful. I only feel that if you could see one of my games, it might help you give me more specific advice. But once again, I don't insist.)

I played Black. (Some of the moves are numbered wrong, please correct them if possible.)

 [Event "Let's Play!"]
 [Site " Chess.com"]
 [Date "Sep 21, 2017"]
 [Black "JoshuaFischer007"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [WhiteElo "1354"]
 [BlackElo "793"]
 [TimeControl "1 in 1 day"]
 [SetUp "1"]
 [Termination "PATELAKSHAY won by checkmate"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 e5 
 2. Nf3 Nc6 
 3. d4 d6 {General opening moves till here} 
 4. dxe5 dxe5
 5. Nc3 Qxd1+ {Wanted to force him to undevelop his knight}
 6. Nxd1 Be6 {Didn't send my Bishop further ahead, as I didn't want it rebuffed}
 7. a3 O-O-O {Comfortable to castle}
 8. Ng5 Rd7 {Quite wrongly, I thought that I was at risk of a fork} 
 9. Bb5 a6 {I prefer rebuffing incoming Bishops. Makes my opponents lose momentum}
 10. Nxe6 fxe6 {No choice there}
 11. Bc4 Nd4 {Planning a hopeful fork on his King and Rook}
 12. Ne3 b5 {Pushing his Bishop back further} 
 13. Bb3 Nxb3 {I am never sorry to exchange my Knight for a Bishop} 
 14. cxb3 Nf6 {Development, and attack, too} 
 15. f3 Rd3 {I wanted to bring my Rook deep into his ranks. Plus, it looked like a good attacking move. But I later noticed that it was easily rebuffed.} 
 16. b4 c5 {Wanted to start attacking his pawns, supported by my Rook.} 
 17. Bd2 cxb4 {Thought I'll keep the attack going.} 
 18. axb4 Bxb4 {Felt I had to make a few exchanges, though against my usual idea of exchanging a Knight for a Bishop. Still felt my Rook was  influential.} 
 19. Bxb4 Rxe3+ {Took forward my plans.} 
 20. Kf2 Rb3 {Thought I had his pawn and Bishop forked.} 
 21. Bc3 b4 {Felt I was pushing his Bishop away.} 
 22. Bxe5 Rf8 {Wanted to protect my Knight and give my rook an open file (for later).} 
 23. Rxa6 Ng4+ {Attack on mind, but not a clear one.} 
 24. Kg3 Kb7 {Thought I could scare away the Rook. Bad idea, of course.} 
 25. Rxe6 Nxe5 {I felt it weakened his attacking power.} 
 26. Rxe5 Rxb2 {Planning for promotion, which looks easy(and turns out not to be so) .} 
 27. Re7+ Kb6 {Bringing my King forwards, to help my Pawn(how, I wasn't yet sure) .} 
 28. Rxg7 b3 {The quicker I promote it, the better, I thought.} 
 29. e5 Re2 {Attacking his pawn} 
 30. Rb1 b2 {To restrict his Rook from moving around} 
 31. e6 Re8 {Felt that I had the game in the bag now, my Rooks supporting each other.} 
 32. e7 Rb8 {This, I believe, was a game-ending blunder. My Rook cleared the way for the promotion of his own pawn, and did no good in its place.} 
 33. Rf7 Ka5 {From now on, I'm battling to delay defeat. Nothing much to say.} 
34. Rf8 Rb3 35. e8=Q Rxe8 36. Rxe8 Kb4 37. Rb8+ Kc3 38. Rxb3+ Kxb3 39. f4 Kc2 40. Rxb2+ Kxb2 41. f5 Kc3 42. f6 Kd4 43. f7 Ke5 44. f8=Q Ke6 45. Kf4 Kd5 46. Qe8 Kd6 47. Ke4 Kc5 48. Qd8 Kc4 49. Qd4+ Kb5 50. Kd5 Ka5 51. Kc5 Ka6 52. Qb4 Ka7 53. Kc6 Ka8 54. Qb7#  1-0

Sent from my Android

My thoughts

I've thought of playing against computers (not engines) with increasing levels of difficulty. Of course, I'll welcome any other advice.

  • To answer this question, it would help to know what you already do (books? Tactics puzzles? How much time spent on those per week? How much time for online chess? etc.)
    – Annatar
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 14:10
  • What is your current rating? The general advice is probably going to be the same, regardless, but there may be some specifics that are emphasized more, depending on how far from 1600 you are.
    – Herb
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 15:08
  • @HerbWolfe I currently range between 1200 and 1300, but I haven't played in a while. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 17:56
  • @Annatar I usually play online chess, on weekends, but I've fallen out of the habit of late. Tactics and lessons I do online, as I find them good enough. And I occasionally play against the computer. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 18:03
  • I just noticed that this is the same game that you posted here some months ago, which is not ideal to assess where you are in terms of skill now.
    – Annatar
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 6:13

5 Answers 5


A couple of things not pointed out in the other answers,

First, 6. ... Be6 wasn't good, as it allows Nf3-g5xf6, doubling your e-pawns and giving him the two bishops. You're effectively playing a pawn down, and defending them for the rest of the game. Bd7 or Bc5, or even Bg4 look better.

Next, 13. ... a5, followed by a4, forces the bishop to a2, allowing the fork on c2.

Finally, 23. ... Kb7 first, then 24. ... Ng4+, winning the bishop.

To reach 1600 elo, you obviously need to be able to beat both higher and lower rated players. It takes hard work and study.

As recommended in many other places, you should be studying tactics, tactics and more tactics. When you reach master strength, you can scale back and just study tactics and more tactics. They will help you in every stage of the game. This should take about 40% of your studying time.

Additionally, you should devote a bit of study to openings. Some authors & players suggest picking an opening system, such as the King's Indian Attack, or Stonewall attack, while others say you should always play e4, until you're expert strength or better. Regardless, I think the openings you play should fit your style, and give you a playable middlegame, more than anything. After every game, you should review your games and see where you deviated from book, so you know what to play next time. This could take about 20% of your study time.

You also need to study endgames. Know the basic mating patterns. Work on pawn and rook & pawn endings, as those are the ones you'll face the most. This should also take about 20% of your study time.

Finally, the middlegame should take up the rest of your study time. That should involve working on making plans and calculating variations.

If you can find a coach, or another player of similar strength to work with, that will be helpful as well, to bounce ideas off each other and point out things you miss.

  • Thanks for the advice, I find it very helpful!(+1). I'll implement your suggestions and work on the various aspects of my game! Thanks again! Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 17:31

I really wish that people would talk to each other more after the game. (When I have lived in England or France, this was very common; for some reason in the US it is not. In those countries they make tea/coffee available)

The purpose of a post-mortem is NOT to give the loser a chance for revenge. You need to be clear about what the purpose is. If you got hammered by a much stronger player, just ask their advice, otherwise here are some ways you might choose to go. (Simple one-move blunders are not very interesting, but do signal something to work on.)

Errors in calculation. "I didnt see that would be check. When did you see it?"

Planning. "I was surprised that you let me have the open file. Were you not worried about that? Why not?"

Judgement. "Around here, I felt that I was better, but it didn't happen that way. How did you feel?"

Strategy. "Perhaps I should have let you have that Pawn, and gone for a counterattack with my Rook. Shall we look at it?" Do not get fascinated by some long lines that take you far away from the game. Do not allow spectators to take over.

Planning again. "I wanted to get my Knight to c5, but you wouldn't let me. Did I have a better plan?". "I really wanted to castle on the Queen-side, but I didn't dare"

Psychology. "I coulnd't decide if Rxf6 was a threat. Would you have played it?"

Of course you can go over the game with a machine, but machines dont answer this sort of question.

Besides, if your opponent cooperates, its a nice thing to do.

  • Very good advice. To improve, you have to work on your mistakes and weaknesses, and who is better to discuss them with than someone who had just invested a lot of his brainpower into exploiting them? Btw, that kind of thing is very common in Germany too.
    – Annatar
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 6:09
  • Thanks for your advice! I've upvoted your answer. I'll implement it where I can, but it might be a bit hard while playing online. Thanks again! Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 17:33

This advice is based on your game a commentary without analysis with an engine.

Don't think that you are forced to make a certain capture

In your commentary to 10...fxe6 you said:

No choice there

But you could have created an interesting material imbalance with 10...axb5 11. Nxf8 Rxd1+ 12. Kxd1 Nf6 13. Nxh7 Rxh7

Don't trade material when you have a pawn weakness

When you have those doubled, isolated e-pawns, you shouldn't trade down like you did with 13...Nxb3. I would advise that you learn the 4 principles of trading, which I briefly outline at the start of my answer to When and why should I trade minor pieces?

You keep hemorrhaging pawns

The best way to improve your game would be to think about the safety of your material. I'm talking about when you lose a pawn starting with 16...c5. by opening up the position when you have those weak e-pawns, you help white to develop and win one of them.

Learn to conserve your energy

I don't know whey you played all the way out to mate, but top players don't do that because it's a waste of time and energy. I would prefer to resign and spend the time immediately after the game to study where I went wrong. That way the motivation and the memory is still there to learn something valuable.

In this specific game, it all started going downhill after 6...Be6 and 8...Rd7 when the pieces started to get jammed up.

  • Although your general comments are good, your specific suggestion of axb5 instead of fxe6 is bad - black loses an exchange without any compensation. (Better would be to meet Nxf8 with Rd8, but it still loses a pawn for no compensation after Nxh7. fxe6 was the right move.)
    – TMM
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 19:56
  • White wins two bishops, a rook and a pawn, black nets three pieces. That's an exchange down.
    – TMM
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 21:53
  • Thanks! (+1) I didn't know the game went downhill so early! I'll bear your advice in mind! Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 17:34

A 1600 rating is easily to get by doing one thing: Study tactic puzzles! The site chesstempo has tactics training or get books like "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations" by Reinfeld ( $2 on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/1001-Winning-Chess-Sacrifices-Combinations/dp/0879801115). If you want to get to 1800 add reading "My System" by Nimzowitsch and some basic endgame book. From your game it looks like you need many basics which you will get from the "My System" book.

  • 1
    Thanks! (+1) I too learnt my basics from Reinfeld! I'll look into what you said! Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 8:07

My first rating was 1750 and I had no coach. I read the few books I could find. But that did include BCE, and My System. A few, not many, others.

What helped me most was playing at EXACTLY ten seconds a move every week in the Divan's tournament. That forces you to both think before, and decide not just react, which is good training. First for taking some time to think, and also for not taking too much time which helps with clock management and avoiding time problems.

At mandatory wait ten seconds and then mandatory move at ten seconds you see games playing like they were movies. That helps a lot in analysing what works and what problems you have.

Tactics training and end games are crucial. 16oo can be done without positional training. Some openings are useful but principle are better than variations at that level.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.