I am doing tactics 30 minutes a day, practicing end games for about 90 minutes and analyzing 1 GM annotated game a day.

I can understand the logic behind why the move is played, but I can't apply it in my own game. I can't understand what the position is asking. I can know my opponent is making a mistake but I can't find a way to punish it.

My Elo rating is 1335.

Are there any books to solve these problems?

  • When you say "I can know my opponent is making a mistake but I can't find a way to punish it" you are referring to strategic mistakes, not tactical mistakes, correct?
    – D M
    Oct 7, 2018 at 16:47
  • 3
    Based on the info you give in this post you spend at least a bit more than 2 hours each day on studying chess. This makes me wonder how much time you spend on actually playing the game, which is a very important factor in chess improvement.
    – Scounged
    Oct 7, 2018 at 22:09
  • 1
    Also to really improve you need to focus on rapid and/or classical not bullet or blitz.
    – Isac
    Oct 7, 2018 at 23:51
  • Yes they are all strategic mistakes
    – reshma
    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:18
  • 2
    There many similar posts that have previously been answered here, use relevant tags to find them (such as "learning" tag) or just search for similar titles. Here are some examples: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/15741/… , chess.stackexchange.com/questions/6125/… , chess.stackexchange.com/questions/18162/… ...
    – Ellie
    Oct 10, 2018 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


Not any good books, as most use tactics as the only guide. however you can practice yourself. Solitaire chess, where you try to guess the move--and the reason--before reading it from the annotated game, is the best practice, yet has the major flaw of not considering every style of play.

A must read for everyone is Nimzovitsch's My System. Botvinnik's game are useful for showing how to maneuver, which is useful for exploiting positional mistakes.

Thinking Techniques (written by Dr. Ferguson ~ 1982)


  1. What new threat(s) has my opponent's last move created? How can I answer it(them)?

  2. Is my King safe? Is my opponent threatening to checkmate in the next few moves? Can I checkmate my opponent?

  3. What threats can I set up? How?

  4. Have I seen this position or a similar one before?

  5. If so: who stands better, and what is the best plan for continuing?

  6. If not: what are the outstanding features and elements of this position, and what plan(s) and method(s) of achieving it are available?

  7. What is my plan? What specific position would I like to obtain? How can I achieve my goal? How can I improve my position?

  8. Which move is best? Can I capture material without penalty? Can I employ an tactical device?

  9. Is it safe to move my piece to the square I'm thinking about?

  10. Did I remember to start my opponent's clock and write down my move?

Not as useful as I hoped, but without a game example or more definite problems, it's hard to provide a specific answer.

  • My opponent made a square mistake and I make use of the square for a piece and i am better but I can't convert it into win
    – reshma
    Oct 8, 2018 at 16:26
  • 2
    @Munna How do you know that you're better and that you're not missing some important detail? Your rating is not very high, which indicates that you will be prone to making errors in judgement of a position. I think it would be good if you were to give an example of a game where you think your opponent made a mistake and that you were better afterwards but despite this failed to win.
    – Scounged
    Oct 8, 2018 at 20:46

This is the training regiment I did to go from 0 to Master level in 2 years.

  1. Watch/Complete all the Josh Waitzkin Chess Master Lessons. Vital.

  2. 10 Tactics a day on ChessTempo on hardest difficulty, standard no time limit. Take a minimum of 20 minutes for each tactic. The goal is to train your brain to calculate accurately. That involves being patient, vigilant, disciplined and careful with each move you make. I often take +1 hours on a single move.

  3. Have exactly 1 correspondence chess game on chess.com or lichess.org with a 3 day per move time limit. Every day work on playing 1 move in this game as accurately as possible.

Iron Rules to follow for all the above.

  1. No Blitz, NEVER, Blitz only serves to reinforce bad habits.

  2. If you don't see the solution DO NOT MOVE. When you see the solution, look for a better move, ask yourself what can I see/learn from the position that I did not see before. Sit there until you learn something new about the position.

  3. Develop a challenger's mindset. Make everything into a challenge.

  4. All time spent on chess has to be focused on developing good habits. It's not about winning, it's about learning. If you did not learn you failed, wasted your time.

  5. Your only goal is to be better then you where yesterday, if you're not, you lost. This is the game you're now playing.

Vital Questions/Reminders to keep in mind.

  1. Ask high quality questions, at key moments. Example: Before making a move you spent +10 minutes calculating. Pause, ask yourself, what can I learn about this position that I don't already know? Don't move until you see/learn something new. This is one of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself in chess or in life. This will train the brain to see the possibilities. Eventually this question will become rooted into the subconscious. Where it's being asked constantly (... THE GOAL, THE POINT).

  2. Chess is a game against yourself. Chess shows you the limits of your mind. The only way to progress is to identify bad habits and vigilantly replace them with better habits. This involves developing high levels of honest self awareness.

  • 1
    If you do 10 tactics a day with a minimum of 20 minutes per move, you spend at least 3 hours and 20 minutes in tactics a day. But you also state you often spend more than one hour per move. “Often” translates to me to be more than 50% so calculating that in, you spend at least 7 hours a day on these tactics? Otherwise good advice though. Unfortunately I only have 24 hours in a day.
    – Tommiie
    Oct 18, 2018 at 6:00
  • @Tom Yes thats about right, spending as much of the day as possible on tactics. This is the routine i used to reach master level in 2 years. Wake up do a tactic before getting out of bed, dedicate the day on tactics, then go to bed with a tactic in mind to dream about. Oct 18, 2018 at 8:24
  • "Blitz only serves to reinforce bad habits" Um, no, not really. Blitz reinforces habits, yes, but both bad and good. In 60 Memorable Games, for example, Fischer writes of one position that after hundreds of blitz games he had this particular attack down to a science, "pry open the h-file and sac, sac, mate."
    – Arlen
    Oct 22, 2019 at 14:18
  • perfect practice makes perfect. playing blitz before you are ready to stop improving will make you stop anyway and fall short of your goal.
    – yobamamama
    Jan 10, 2020 at 1:57

Spending more time definitely helps, but I do believe the most important thing is to think.

When you mention that you analyse 1 GM annotated game, do you try making a move first, before seeing what the grandmaster has done? That would be really effective.

I understand that you have difficulty seizing the opportunity of mistakes your opponents make. If it’s a blunder, I presume that it is rather simple to convert it to a win.

What if it’s a strategic mistake? Even as a 2000 Elo player on chess.com I am still prone, occasionally to overlooking such mistakes in a game. Subtle things like isolated pawns and overloaded pieces are what can be taken advantage of. However,any often overlook this, giving the opponent the time to correct himself; it’s usually easier to see how you can win in your opponent’s shoes.

Hence, you should practice, playing maybe 20-30 minutes rapid games, and train yourself. Over time, you can get better and develop faster instincts.

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