I started chess 2 years ago at 500 ELO and have climbed up to 1900 ELO (chess.co) recently. I have fallen deeply in love with the game and have made it a life goal to achieve eventually a mastery title.

Unfortunately, I started chess very late (20 years old), an age where one usually is in university and starts or has started working. Very soon I will have to move to my apartment, work full time, cook food, etc. I fear I will not have enough time as I currently do to dedicate my self sufficiently to chess; a lot of time is required to improve in chess. I was wondering how does one balance chess serious improvement and work/life responsibilities ?

In conjunction with this question, what would you consider an optimal training time regime? Is 1 hour a day sufficient time to gradually improve, or will that be pointless?

  • 8
    20 years old is not "very late"
    – David
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 9:05
  • 3
    As cliche as that may sound, you probably want to try do a few tactics puzzles every day. Even if it's only a few, the consistency helps you stay sharp. As for the rest of the hour, dunno maybe play some games and then analyze them. (that last analysis part is important if you don't want to make the same mistakes over and over again)
    – koedem
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:36
  • 2
    soft questions re career advice (or like semi-career advice or whatever) are allowed on chess se? eh, good for you guys i guess
    – BCLC
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


There is a lot of argument over the 10,000 hour rule, which is said to be the amount of practice required to attain mastery of a skill. With today's tools, learning can be accelerated quite a bit. But even if we knock it down to 3000 hours it would take you nearly a decade at 1 hour a day.

You say you love the game, so I say just go for it at an hour a day. Any time spent won't be pointless. If you can afford to work with a professional you can further accelerate your learning; A weekly lesson with a GM or similar.

As for a regime in a tight schedule I recommend:

1 GM game annotated by the player. There are numerous game collections by World Champions going over their games. Play through the game as if you are playing!

X puzzles. You should always be solving tactic and endgame puzzles. Find an amount that works for you, at least 6 day.

Once your brain is done for the day you could consider overloading it with some chess videos.

Noticed I didn't say study the opening. Memorizing variations doesn't make you a better player. You will learn each phase of the game from the games collection; so plan on playing whatever the guy you are studying plays.

  • I would add that some study of endgames and openings (say, maybe carve out half an hour for learning new opening theory on one day a week, and a hour for learning endgames on another day each week) will prove beneficial
    – pulsar512b
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 0:59

20 years old is not that late to start. Any amount of time spent can help improve or maintain skills. Consider how much time you would like to spend and commit to it. Adjust to ensure you are enjoying your chess time. Easy to improve when having fun. An hour a day is fine to start.

How you spend you time is also important. There is much good advice on this site, for example this

You will not get a title playing on chess.com. Consider playing in tournaments that lead to titles. Probably your rating will be different then chess.com so that will give you a better idea how close you are to your goal.

I learned to play when I was 7, but in my teens I did not have anyone better than me to play so I could not improve. Once I started university it was easy to find folks better than me and I started playing and studying chess much more. Most of my chess improvement was during university.


20 years old is still young and you have a good rating. 1 hour a day is very good for a hobby, and unless you want to be a competitive professional, that should be more than enough. I admire that you would choose chess over other games, but real-life skills are more important IMO, unless you join chess social circles and advance your job through that. For example, there are a lot of chess players in Tezos community and you may find something related to your job where you see a lot of chess players. If you do not yet have a job, I think you may want to be more social in chess circles with your real-life identity, which could be helpful for your job search.

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