4 Ways To Revamp Your Chess

IM Kostya Kavutskiy offers 4 different training plans to kick your chess into full gear going into 2021. Questions? Post them in the comments!

Timestamps:
(0:00) – Intro
(1:10) – Overview
(1:47) – 1. Calculation
(4:07) – 2. Positional Understanding
(6:52) – 3. Endgames
(10:59) – 4. Openings

My full list of recommendations (no paywall) :

1) Calculation

Resources/apps:
– Chess.com Puzzle Rush/Survival Mode
– ChessKing Apps (iOS/Android) : CT-Art 4.0 / CT-Art (1400-1600)/Tactics for Beginners
– Chessable Tactics Courses/Visualize Course
– ChessTempo

Books:
(0-1400)
Polgar – Learn Chess the Right Way series,
Seirawan – Winning Chess Tactics,
(1400-1800)
Alburt & Palatnik – Tactics for the Tournament Player,
Vukovic – Art of Attack,
Blokh – Combinative Motifs,
(1800-2200)
Manual of Chess Combinations,
The Woodpecker Method,
Edouard – Chess Calculation Training,
2200+
Volokitin & Grabinsky – Perfect Your Chess,
Aagaard – Grandmaster Preparation Series,

2) Positional Understanding

Books (drill by examples):
Silman – Reassess Your Chess,
Gelfer – Positional Chess Handbook,
Hellsten – Mastering Chess Strategy,

Game Collections:
Alekhine, My Best Games,
Capablanca, Endgames,
Rubinstein, Life and Games,
Bronstein, Zurich 1953,
Botvinnik, One Hundred Selected Games,
Tal, Life and Games,
Fischer, Sixty Memorable Games,
Karpov, Karpov’s Strategic Wins,

3) Endgames

Books:
Practical Endgame Play –
Shereshevsky – Endgame Strategy,
Hellsten – Mastering Endgame Strategy,

Theoretical Endgames:
Silman’s Complete Endgame Course,
De la Villa – 100 Endgames You Must Know,
Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual,

4) Openings

Resources:
Chessable, Chessbase, Chess24 all have great opening courses, depending on the topic. But whatever you do, try to play training games and analyze them carefully!

Free tool to save your opening prep: lichess.org/study

Good luck!

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63 Comments

  1. Kostya is an alien. Look at that Saturn rings on his glasses! Great stuff Kostya, looking forward for a year full of educational content from chessdojo. Keep up the great work. Best wishes in 2021, and a GM norm for you personally!

  2. Hi Kostya,
    HNY!

    I'm curious about your experience, especially with students, on how to profit most from playing over games collections. Some of of the more distinct views I've heard are:

    1. You must cover up and guess each move of the "hero" playing the game. I believe Nimzowitsch and, for example, also Purdy advocated this.

    or

    2. You must play over all variations, and squeeze all you can out of a game before going on to another. Maybe Yusupov suggested this type of study.

    or

    3. Just spend 15 or 20 minutes per game, mostly on the main line, only occasionally going into variations for specific questions. Try to pick up patterns on how various positions are played, then go on to another game. In other words try to learn the most "per unit time" of study, rather than "per unit game" of study, because the supply of annotated games these days is huge. I think Heisman advocated this approach.

    Of course the "correct" answer could depend on the student and the timing, and in fact I'm sure a combination of approaches can be used. I realize that.

    But… if you had to advise on one for a beginner to intermediate level player, which might you choose as most likely in your experience to help such a student?

  3. The added value of studying endgames is that the value and capabilities of the pieces are truly highlighted. This type of knowledge helps your entire game.

  4. My goal for 2021 would be to force a resignation from a titled player in a rated blitz game. Or to checkmate one if they refuse to resign.
    No more losing from completely winning positions.

  5. Great and instructive video!

  6. Happy New Year ChessDojo! Thanks for such great content! Hey Kostya I am often confused that which classics games should I be studying, is it Capablanca or Karpov, Alekhine or Fischer and so on. Could you please suggest me a master whose games I should be studying? I am around 1400 FIDE

  7. Public Declaration: "I am starting and most importantly would be finishing the book by Johan Hellsten: Mastering Chess Strategy"

  8. Merci beaucoup Kostya. I wish you and everyone a good 2021. Bonne année 2021 à tout le monde.
    It's always good for my inspiration and the motivation when i look your videos. I really appreciate your books suggestion.

    For myself presently, i'm working on the Tarrasch defence and i just found out a really good pedagogical teacher … Alexey Bezgodov with the book (The art of the Tarrasch Defence) Have a great year everyone.

  9. Your channel is the best. I am keeping a notebook on many of your recommendations on how to improve. This disciple will be following you on the road to GM.

  10. Hey Guys! This is the comment about my chess related Goals in 2021. I'm going to come back in December and I'm also going to tell you every month my short term goals and what I have achieved.

    I startet playing chess in January 2018 and I had several low points(getting checkmatted several times with the fools mate or a pause for 3 month) But 2020 due to the pandemic I started playing far more often and I improved my rating to 1500. My long term goal is to reach 1800 DWZ(DWZ is the national rating in Germany).
    Therefore I started on 25th December with the Woodpecker Method and I'm working on it every day for 90 minutes. This month I'm going to finish the first cycle and I'm also currently reading "Pump up your Rating" by Axel Smith sothat I get a more clean plan how to make a good Trainingsplan. I'm also watching many chess related videos from good channels for improvement like Chess Dojo or Hanging Pawns.
    Last but not least I'd like to magine that I already have over 50 chess books and I'm going to spend at least 2 hours a day playing chess and I'm really excited how far I can get.
    Btw. sorry for my bad English…^^

    Note to myself: Hello future me! 😉😊

  11. Very nice video! I think it was a great idea to wrap up the method of improvement in a 10 min. video. All expert videos on chess improvement are either not covering all aspects of the game (as you did), or they are hours long. This is a really cool guide, thanks a lot! I'm currently doing the Woodpecker training (my brain is melting already, cycle 5), and waiting for the Reassess your chess book 🙂 Do you think it's fine doing two of the chategories, like calculation+positional understanding at the same time?

  12. Thanks Kostya! I've been stuck between 1400-1500 for a couple of years now, this year I will:
    * Follow the woodpecker method and get my chess.com tactics rating above 2000 again (currently ~1850)
    * Study the games of Petrosian (I like to play closed, positional games) and maybe switch up my standard QGD/Sicilian Dragon/KID repertoire accordingly
    * Focus more on endgames (I currently only know Lucina/Philidor positions and opposition), I just bought Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual
    With this, my goal for this year is to reach 1600 in classical games (and long term 1800).

  13. Thanks for your channel during 2020! Amateurs rated U1000 like myself face many weird non-book moves in the opening. Even though I have learned to a degree a few mainline openings, the really off-beat moves are not covered in books. I made it a goal for 2021 to review my openings after every online game and fix any mistakes. I’m already gaining confidence in my opening play after just two days, being retired and playing a lot right now. I record the online openings and fixes in a little book I titled, “My Amateur Chess Openings”. 👍

  14. If I am a 1400 player should I read Winning chess tactics, and how far does it take me?

  15. How many hours should I work on chess to reach 2000 I am 1500 rating in fide

  16. I appreciate this channel so much. I’m going to learn that caro kan

  17. Thanks for the advice. I will try to crush each one individually: 1. Winning Chess by Chernev and Reinfeld for Tactics. 2. Smyslov Endgame Virtuoso. 3. Amateur's Mind for positional. 4. Mcdonald's Catalan book.

  18. As always, your videos and recommendations are very useful, thank you, I will follow your advice

  19. Public declaration:I am going to be going to be studying my openings: Kings indian and classical sicillian by looking through games from fischer, radjabov, etc

  20. Hi Kostya, thanj you so much! What do you think about Nunn’s learn tactics book?

  21. Seriously quality advice and much food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

  22. oh my god you motivate me, I gonna crush the Caro Kann until I become invincible with the black when the white plays E4. Then I saw the D4 and D5 peoples who win against me. I will take you later 😉

  23. Please do a review of yusupov build boost evolution 10 book series

  24. This is the best summed up video about chess improvement I've ever seen.

  25. I'm a below average player and one of my colleagues advised that King's Indian Defense is a solid opening and recommended Victor Bologan King's Indian. Do you recommend that it is a good chess opening book repertoire? If not, what do you suggest? Thank you!

  26. Thank you…
    Very useful and practical way for me to set my next 3 month goal.

  27. I really like how you structure your videos, including the timestamps and links, and how you teach/present in your most best and honest way (thats how I perceived it 🙂 ). Just a couple of question though, is it ok to maybe study endgame (one book) and opening (one book) at the same time? I know you said focus on one thing but I think it's ok coz back in school days we learned many subjects at the same time. Have you heard about Hiarcs? You think it's a good alternative to Chessbase?

  28. Thanks Kostya! Now can you show me how to revamp my marriage?

  29. Hi Kostya. I am told by stronger players (I'm FIDE 1500) that I'm tactically much better than my peers. So I was thinking maybe it's a good idea to become a "tactical player". But how to become one? I know this terminology exists, but what does it even mean?

  30. Thanks for this great video!

    I'm currently rated around 1400 USCF (but am probably closer to 1600 in strength).

    I've worked my way up to Woodpecker Mediums and have done about 2 or 3 sets at that level (80% approx accuracy)

    If i had to guess it probably takes me around 5-10 min to solve these problems. Does this sound like an appropriate level of puzzle for me to be working on ? Or would I be better served by some of the books in the 1400-1800 range?

  31. Lol, I'm drilling rook endgames puzzles on lichess now😂 and I read Dvoretskiy)

  32. I have so many chess books. I buy them, go through a few games but get distracted and rarely return. I have now made it a point to make studies on lichess where I put all the games along with annotations…sometimes it’s simply what the author has annotated, sometimes my thoughts are included…but in either case I am more engaged and can actually track my progress through a book. It also helps with endgame books, because I can go right into playing against the computer to drill.

  33. SUBSCRIBED!!
    Love the video,ordering a book tonight!

  34. Best instructions how to revamp your chess. Great and wonderful useful video.

  35. Apreciado Maestro: Disculpa mi pedido, pero no está habilitada la traducción automática y sólo puedo verlo en español. Desde ya, muchas gracias.

  36. came a year too late, hope the advice still holds 🙂

  37. Thank you great stuff!!
    Follow up 5-1-23 – i bought this app and am 300 puzzles into it and i can already see improvement in the way i approach the game, but it is hard, really makes you think things through, and presents new approaches, that i had not seen before.
    So again, thank you!!

  38. I've looked through quite a few of the books recommended on calculation and it looks like they are just a lot of puzzles. Is there a book that is focused on teaching you actual calculation techniques or a method to calculation?

  39. I'm in 1900 puzzles but for some reason those weird 1400- 1500 puzzles

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