I have been doing tactics training quite regularly since the beginning of the year. However, I haven't really been playing a lot (for obvious reasons). On average, I would say that I spent 10 hours per month on tactics since January (except for June, as I was really busy with other things). I also did some additional training in other areas of the game, but that was limited to mainly 2 months. Now, despite my efforts, I don't think I have improved. Chesstempo estimates my rating between 2150 and 2250 Fide (for context: my current rating is about 2100), but I don't see that in my Blitz games (I have been rated between 2200 and 2300 on lichess since January with almost no change. If anything, I got slightly worse). I find that pretty discouraging, and I'm wondering if all that training has just been a waste of time because I didn't play OTB games. There a lot of other things I could do with my time and I'm honestly thinking of dropping chess completely if all my efforts are in vain. Any help is appreciated.

  • 2200 is not bad. Perhaps you cannot do any better, but that would be no disgrace. How high do you think you can go?
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 15:09
  • My original aim was to get to 2300 Fide. If improving beyond my current rating requires more work than I'm currently putting in, I'm gonna focus on other things and will stop training chess. Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 15:22
  • So then my question is, why are you playing chess at all? It seems to me that the fairly small difference between two ratings, 2200 and 2300, both very respectable, should not make much difference to your self-esteem, or to your enjoyment of the game. If it actually does, then ten hours per month is not very much. However, people do often make progress in spurts, when some aspect of the game suddenly makes sense. You might ask, how long am I prepared to wait for my next spurt?
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 15:32
  • I think you have misread my post a little. My actual rating is 2100. Chesstempo estimates my rating higher than that (2150 - 2250 Fide, depending on my form), but I don't see any difference in my play since this estimation has changed. Why do I play chess? Because I enjoy the depth of ideas you can produce. Still, I find that ideas at my level are often guided by wrong assumptions or are pretty shallow, and I'd like to change that. Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 15:44
  • 1
    Fair enough and good luck.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


Thank you for sharing your very discouraging story. I've been an IM for years and recently I've tried to become a grandmaster, did a lot of tactics but: I failed, and now with corona and 0 OTB games it feels a bit silly anyway. So I started to learn code, which is fun haha and very off topic here.

The biggest difference you can make to get from 2200 to 2400 is understanding of pawn structures and having a coherent repertoire. Especially facing 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 becomes more important. But apart from a broad coherent repertoire I would say start learning openings 20 moves deep, and in case you have some forced line, start memorizing 30 moves, take research seriously, try to get some great books to guide you. And then in the main lines, try improving on the book.

Another great help is to take Dvoretsky's endgame manual and go through it a lot. That book is pure gold. Especially online a lot of games end in some kind of endgame. And making rabbits appear out of hats is great.

The reason for focusing so much on openings is because that's probably your bottleneck right now. You don't have the strategic insight to make your tactics work. e.g. different players need different things. Try to identify where you're weakest.

One trick to do that is to study the topics you most dislike in chess. For me that was opposite coloured bishops, and that has helped me a lot getting better at positional play.

You can still do the tactics, but I am 100% sure you would regain your motivation when you would work on something you need more!

Last but not least: chess progress is a bitch! The rating always comes too late, when you lost motivation and think about quitting.


  • Thank you for your comment, I really apprecciate an understanding response. I will focus on endgames and openings instead, then. However, I also made a decision that I'm going to take chess a bit more lightly in the future. As you said, there are other things than chess, and it so happens that I also started coding about a year ago for my degree in artificial intelligence. Originally, I had planned on doing chess during the summer vacation, but I will instead focus on developing my Python skills and take online maths courses. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 12:49
  • Speaking more broadly, I think it is important to discuss failure and the relation between effort and outcome in the learning and improvement culture. This can help prevent people from getting discouraged but also encourage them to scrutinise their ambitions. One thing I did not realise until recently is that it is not a sign of weakness to adbandon a goal, but a sign of insight and strength. I can still play chess and train it when I feel like it, but I cannot deny that other goals and interests are now part of my life as well. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 13:04
  • Well, don't forget chess! It can be really rewarding if you actually do manage to go up. On the other hand yes, what we're doing is fun. I guess you're into data science as well :) Good luck on your endeavors! Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 19:10
  • I won't :) I'm just gonna take things a bit more lightly from now on. I will take an introductory datascience course in my master's, yes, but it's mostly gonna be AI otherwise. I'll see how I like it. Thank you, and good luck to you too! Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 8:01
  • While opening preparation is great, if you can't calculate forced lines on the board at 2400 level, you won't reach 2400 level. Studying theory comes after that
    – David
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 9:25

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