61

I am 25 years old. I have been interested in playing chess since my school days but I never played seriously. One year back I realized that I want to become good chess player and I started. Most of the time I play online games on chess.com. I am a very poorly rated player, about 1100 on chess.com. I have two concerns here.

  1. Am I too old to start chess? I have been playing for almost 1 year but I didn't find much difference in my chess rating. How many days will it take for me to become a good player like 1800+?
  2. Whenever I lose my game, I lose my confidence and I am very afraid to play the next game. I sometimes feel bad after a loss, especially if I lose against a lesser-rated player than me. Does anyone else get this feeling?
  • 2
    One appreciates the several happy answers below. I have no answer of my own to add, but your question is well asked. Age indeed makes it harder to learn many things, almost certainly including chess. I do not know at what age the brain is most receptive specifically to chess learning, but some things (like spoken accents) become hard to learn or unlearn as early as the age of 10. Other things (like history) are better assimilated after the age of 30. My own experience is that, after the age of 50, few of us really improve very much at anything; but 25 is hardly 50, is it? – thb Sep 16 '14 at 21:32
  • I suspect that what you seek are the names of two or three grandmasters who first started playing seriously at your age. I don't know of any. – thb Sep 16 '14 at 21:33
  • 3
    The answers to an earlier question give Chigorin, Steinitz, Staunton and Tarrasch as examples of world-class players who didn't play chess seriously until their twenties. @thb – ETD Sep 18 '14 at 3:06
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    As a rule of thumb, if your muscles aren't degenerating for natural reasons, it's not too late to learn something. – Kroltan Sep 19 '14 at 8:54
  • 4
    I am 44 years old and have been playing for 1.5 years. I have improved my rating from about 1000 to 1500 in that time. I watch youtube videos and solve puzzles in addition to playing chess. – user6964 Mar 2 '15 at 9:50

15 Answers 15

60

There is never too late to learn anything (chess, phd, new job, skateboarding). Also you have really small chances of being new superGM :-).

  • Analyse, not just play. Each game you lost you should review and try to understand why exactly have you lost. Your analysis should depend on your chess level.
  • Learn standard openings (first starting moves and be sure that you know how to reply to them as well as easy traps to avoid and exploit). No need to go too deep (trying to memorize 15 moves if you are on 1100 level), start with 5 moves and try to understand the reason with them. While doing this look how to reply to standard opening that people use against you.
  • Solve puzzles
  • Learn standard endgames like mating with Q or R, to be able to win in easy situations

And do not be scared (you aren't in a boxing match where you can have some problems if you lost). All you are losing are the imaginary points on the imaginary server to an imaginary guy whom you most probably will never see again. There are things in life more scary than that.

  • 8
    Such a cool web site. Registered here just to give you +1. – oleksii Sep 16 '14 at 14:36
  • @oleksii thank you and I am really glad you liked it. It just started, so there might be a shortage of players. I also have huge amount of ideas, which I am working on and I listen to people - so if you have ideas as well - just write me an email and I will implement them. – Salvador Dali Sep 16 '14 at 19:36
  • Thanks for your valuable answer. I just registered in that website and started solving puzzles. – Venkatesh Goud Sep 17 '14 at 4:47
  • @VenkateshGoud glad that you found my answer helpful. If you have suggestion about my project, you can write me an email. – Salvador Dali Sep 17 '14 at 6:10
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    Disagree about the opening part. IMO at a level of 1100, you will not gain anything from memorizing opening lines. Instead learn and apply general opening principles (occupy center, develop pieces, castle, ....) and focus on tactics puzzles. – user1583209 Jan 10 '17 at 22:19
32

You can still improve, 25 years is not old. At 40, I'm rated about 300 points higher than at 25, and I hope to improve further (although that isn't realistic as I'm not spending any time on the game...).

This article in Dutch is about a (strong, 2200 or so) player who started playing again at 60 and scored an IM norm with a huge overscore a few years later, and I know several people who went from 21xx to 23xx or so later in life.

But, 1) You have to work seriously at chess, and play serious tournament games, and 2) you can't really expect to go up more than 100 points per year, or maybe 200 early on. From 1100 to 1800 will take five years or so, it's not a matter of days.

About your other question -- completely forget about your rating and the rating of your opponent, and don't focus on results. Focus on playing good moves. After each game, think really hard about what you could have done better, and why you didn't think of that during the game, regardless of the result. The moment you start thinking about the result of the game while playing it, is the moment you spend too many thoughts on things other than finding the best move.

Forget about ratings, focus on finding good moves.

14

It's never too late for you to start or improve in chess. I used to play in several FIDE and USCF chess tournaments. I played against a wide age range, from 5 year olds to 70+ year olds. There are many chess players of all age ranges and skill levels.

I played chess for about 10 years before I actually joined a chess club. At first, I was not able to beat the better players... but I did a few things that made it possible to easily beat even the ones that used to be hard for me to beat.

Back in the 1990s, before Internet access and online chess was widespread, I had one of those roll-up chess boards that included pieces. I got some of Yasser Seirawan's books that taught me about chess strategy and tactics. The instructions are very clear cut. I suggest reading those in order:

  1. Winning Chess Strategies
  2. Winning Chess Tactics

Setting up pieces with a physical board to follow diagrams in the books can take up time. If you have an iPad, you can download apps like Chess Pro and it will let you set up position and take back moves if you have to. There should be programs available for your PC that can do that too.

Getting to 1800+ rating does not usually happen overnight (but can take months or years), unless you beat a lot of high rated players while your rating is provisional. Provisional means there's a number of games you're allowed to play to establish your rating for the first time. Your rating moves up and down faster during the provisional phase. USCF and FIDE have different numbers of provisional games to establish initial rating.

I have never let losing a game bother me too much, even before I knew good chess strategies and tactics. It's a lack of knowledge of chess strategies and tactics that usually causes you to lose when you are new to chess. For example, some chess strategies you may not yet know are:

  • Know the value of each chess piece; don't sacrifice higher value pieces in exchange for your opponent's lower value pieces. You'll lose fast if you don't know the value of your pieces
  • Try to control the center of the board if you can
  • Use your opponent's mistakes to your advantage
  • And more

Winning Chess Strategies teaches you how to do those. Do not be discouraged if you keep losing games. Just pick up one of those books and learn. You'll have an easier time then. There are many good resources out there but Seirawan's books are very straight to the point.

Everyone has great suggestions... you definitely may want to look into joining a local chess club. It's pretty fun to play casual chess or blitz with the other players and having a coach to teach you can also come in handy.

10

I have played chess in my school days and didn't play afterwards for a long time. Then I started playing games on chess.com and the experience isn't the same as playing with a real person. Like you have said when playing on chess.com, since I'm shown a rating, I tend to play the game with the intention of improving the rating. And to do that as quickly as possible. So then I play a 10minute game and get through it quickly and then play another one and so on. This way, the things you learn will be very little.

So I would suggest that you join a Chess club in your area and play with people face to face. When playing at school we didn't use clocks as often and we discussed the game after its finished which helps you to improve. And if you join a chess club you will get good guidance on what to learn at different skill levels etc.

So my suggestion is, join a Chess club and play with actual people (this is in addition to what others have mentioned)

8

There are already great answers to your question - I just want to add a few notes. If you were to begin playing the guitar at age 25, would you expect to play like Eric Clapton within 6 months? 1 year? 10 years? Maybe not impossible, but highly unlikely, and nobody who takes up the guitar should expect this to be achievable. Eric Clapton has probably been practising and playing guitar seriously - and by seriously I mean in the order of 6 hours a day - since he was a kid. Sure, one day you may be able to play like him, if you put in the same amount of time and effort as he did back when he was 6, but it is generally unlikely that you will find the time to do so as an adult with work and family responsibilities.

And so it is with chess. I think many people make the mistake of thinking about chess as a mental trick rather than a skill that requires years of toning, practice and maintenance. The process of learning chess is very similar to the process of learning to play a musical instrument - your brain's neural network needs to be configured in order to produce optimal performance, and that takes years. But don't give up! Many grandmasters have been playing serious chess since their early childhoods - to expect to play like a GM within a few years is just as impractical as in the case of playing guitar.

If you are looking for some consolation after losing a game - I think about Capablanca who said something to the line of: You learn more from losing that from winning - you can only become a master at chess once you have lost hundreds of games. I don't know if it's true, or if he even said that, but it sure makes me feel better.

  • Getting to an 1800 rating is perhaps more like obtaining the guitar skills required to be welcomed into a band. In other words, it is something a fair number of people could achieve even if they started at age 25. Still, it obviously requires both significant effort and a reasonable talent. – Simen S Apr 14 '16 at 19:47
6

Great questions.

1) Is it too old for me to start chess. Because I have been playing for almost 1 year but i didn't find much difference in my chess rating. how many days will it take to me to become good player like 1800+?

25 is not too old at all. Advancement in chess just takes a while. You have to learn the game and learn to think in the game's terms. I don't know what an 1800 rating is on the chess.com site.

2) Whenever I lose my game, I lose my confidence and very afraid to play next game. and I feel bad sometimes If I lose by less rated player than me. does anyone get this feeling?

All the time. No one likes to lose. But consider that most tournaments pair people of equal strength together. So you can expect to lose half your games. Ratings are approximations and people aren't perfect. I have drawn USCF masters on more than one occasion... and lost to "C" players. My advice is not to worry about rating points, or winning or losing. Just play the best game you can. The rest will follow.

Also, playing online is great, but join your local chess club and play face-to-face. It's much better and people will help you learn.

6

It's never too late :)

  1. Becoming a good player like FIDE 1800+ takes time, but in time it will come.

  2. Of course this feeling is completely natural, it happens to everyone, the way to overcome this is to take each game one at a time and analyze your losses. Never lose faith in yourself! Determination, motivation and hard work will ultimately be what will cause you to prevail in the end.

Tips for improvement:

  • Basic Endgame Study
  • Tactics Training
  • Basic Opening Principles

Book Recommendations by Dan Heisman

Chess Tactics Website

Chess Video Site

6

I'll answer by relating my own experience. I started playing chess at 34. It was pretty frustrating at first but once you start making progress it gets really exciting. My recipe for progress is to train in phases. In one phase I do tactics puzzles. Chess.com is decent for that, Chesstempo.com much better. I have subscriptions for both. Then after a few weeks, I get tired solving tactics and stop improving. That's when I switch to the next phase which consists of actually playing games. In a playing phase, I exclusively play fast games, to train fast visual analysis, or slow games to train strategy. And then when I get tired of that, I come back to tactics. Switching phases is always pretty exciting because usually I make a decent jump forward in one phase by applying the stuff that I learned in the last phase. Another phase is the study phase in which I read books -- I love all of Silman's books -- and watch video's on Youtube. But these phases are typically shorter because I have to apply stuff to make it stick. Using this strategy of alternating phases I'm making more of less linear progress. My progress is not terribly fast but fast enough to satisfy me. Am I going to be a GM or win competitions? No. Do I have fun? Hell, yes!

5

You mention "I am 25 years old... Am I too old to start chess".

Emphatically, no. You can resume playing at that age and continue to improve your skills. Chess is not a physical skill; as others have stated, it requires mental training.

I cannot find a page currently due to network blocks, but I would suggest learning the so-called 10 Commandments of chess. 1. Do not move a piece twice when opening (the idea being it is better to develop two pieces that move one twice) 2. Move to control the center of the board. 3. Knights before bishops. I struggle with this one and it is likely a tactical blind spot on my part (we all need to continue learning). I think that it relates to the knights being more versatile when controlling the center, which plays into 2. 4. Trade when ahead. If you ever are up in material (knowing this as stated by other answers is critical), continue to offer trades. If your opponent takes them, you push your advantage. The opponent who refuses must generally spend a move to get away and thus is not able to advance a plan.

I cannot recall the others, but initiative is also key and is an underlying backbone to much of this. If you retain initiative and freedom of movement, you are more likely to succeed. Constantly having to react to an opponents attacks is generally a disadvantage.

As for ratings, once past the preliminary period (as mentioned by others) it becomes increasingly difficult to change your rating. To increase it you must play (and for maximum effect, beat) players who are more advanced than you are. Winning will require you to learn new skills and tactics.

"Whenever I lose my game, I lose my confidence and very afraid to play next game and I feel bad sometimes, especially if I lose against a lesser rated player than me. Does anyone get this feeling?" Yes, I would venture to guess that it is fairly common, but remember, the ratings are not exact and everyone has good and bad games. Don't let yourself become fixated on your (or your opponent's) rating. Learn and practice basic strategy and tactics to improve your gameplay.

Two things in closing. One, I find it extremely difficult to focus on an electronic board, to the point that playing online I will often set up a physical board and move the pieces on it to keep perspective. Two, simple algebraic notation (a-h, 1-8) will help you document your games so that you can look over them later, figure out where things turned for the win or went off the rails. This can help a coach look over a game and suggest changes and help you learn more about how you play.

3

Straight answers to you questions in the title

Can I improve my chess? Yes!!!*, cheer up now :)

Am I too old? No!!!, you are young chap.

My guesses, why you might be losing games

  • You are still not playing seriously
  • You might be playing with cheaters. This is hard to conclude but there is a chance.
  • You might playing with same player over and over. Don't play with same player more than 4 games if he is completely dominating you. You should be playing with this kind of people to improve your game but avoid until untill you feel confident out your skill progression

My Tips to improve your game

  • Best way is keep playing
  • Try playing offline with your family members/neighbors/schools mates(online gamers might be cheating you using help of computer/chess engine). May be there is a chess club near you which is best way for improving your game.
  • Read chess books (especially the titles with Chess Openings For beginners, apologize for not suggesting a particular book which I might do later)
  • Understanding Chess Notation is not must but it really helps a lot in the learning by analyzing old popular games or online games or for yourself for post game analysis.
  • Forgot about youtube. (I am bit jealous about the luxuries/technology/resources you guys accessing at your age) there are some good youtube channels teaching chess especially about book openings
  • Solve Chess Puzzles which can be found in some of the News Papers, Online sites etc.,
  • Last and least (yes... not, 'not the least'), Buy/Download a free chess program which can help. May be you can download app if you have access to tablet. There are some good tutor apps which will aid you improve your game. Make sure you play longer formats such as 45 minutes 60 minutes or more.
2

you can always improve as long you keep practicing. The first thing the comes to mind is smartphones apps or online chess websites.

2

We have so many learning tools now. Internet is the first one, you used it to ask this question, why don't you try this website:

http://primamossa.it

It's all about openings (aperture in italian), you will find in the Enciclopedia aperture section more than 2 milion records of the best players in the world. You have quiz as well. I prefer the learn-by-smile approach. XD

Try to play against the computer and find the best response based on the enciclopedia. After 100 games I m sure you'll be at a good level. XD Hope this helps

2

I'm 26 years old. Just like you, I always liked chess but only recently started playing "seriously". 18 months ago my rating on online (turn based) chess was ~1100 and on live chess (blitz) ~850. So I was definetely a very poor player.

Now my rating is 1450+ on online chess and 1100+ on live (blitz). While nothing extraordinary it shows improvement. Just like you I aim to reach 1800+.

The thing is, I didn't improve by just playing. I actually read a lot and solved a lot of puzzles. So, my advice is:

  • Solve puzzles (Try the Tactics mode on Chess.com).
  • Read openings/defenses and through trial and error pick the ones that suit your style. Learn them by heart and build your strategy on them.
  • Play different modes. I found out that playing live chess helped me greatly on online chess as it made it easier for me to notice patterns.
  • Most Important: Set realistic goals. You can't expect reaching a high rating fast. I've said to myself that I'll be a 1800+ player in ten years. This might sound a long time but it's not. We have a lot to learn.
1

Maybe you won't belive this but I have started chess at age of 25, just like you. I was playing in online in the chess.com, my rating at the begining was not more than 800!!! I was very weak. When I reached a rating like 900 to 950 I was feeling great and I was thinking that I have accived an increadible succes. But now Im 26 and a half, and now my rating at blitz chess is 1500 to 1550!!! That means I have earned 700 points in 1 year 5 mounts. But I dont think that I can become a GM. Because Its too late for doing that. But I know If I will play the game like 10 more years I can become a player who is rated more than 1800! So ofcourse you can become a very good chess player if you play as much as I did(I have played more than 5.000 games). 25 is never too late for becoming a serious player. Or maybe you can become a GM if you are talented who knows.

-2

Are you afraid to play chess? Why? In that case you must win yourself first because in your games are more ID than EGO. Take a look at Bobby Fischer personality. He loved to play chess and was very confident. That is the secret.

At this moment the best you can do is read the doctor Freud lessons. Of course I am joking, but think about it.

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