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How to Become a Better Chess Player


I’m writing this to help you understand what you should be doing if you want to become a better chess player.

The Problem Chess Players Face

In modern times, the problem for a developing chess player is not the lack of information. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. With all of the resources and advice out there, understanding how to improve your game might get confusing and overwhelming for anybody.

It is important to avoid this confusion as much as possible because it will eventually kill the motivation of even the most determined minds.

The Clarity You Need

The first step to avoiding the confusion that many chess players experience is to get a very clear understanding of what you should be training.

To help you get this clarity, consider this very logical train of thought:

Chess is a thinking game–a game played in the mind. Logically then, if you want to become a better chess player, you must improve the quality of your thinking methods.

The 3 Functional Areas of Your Chess Thinking

Focus your training on activities that will help support and develop one or more of the 3 thinking processes:

  1. calculation
  2. evaluation
  3. planning

1. Calculation

A good chess player must be able to calculate their opponent’s threats and the possible outcomes of their own candidate moves. A well-developed calculation skill can have a huge positive impact on your confidence, as it helps you:

  • avoid mistakes
  • find tactical opportunities
  • verify your candidate moves
  • exploit your opponent’s mistakes
  • save time on the clock

On Day 1 of The 10-Day Chess Challenge (link), you will learn the fundamentals of an effective calculation method.

2. Evaluation

Evaluation is the process by which you compare the progress either side has made towards achieving the objectives. Your ability to accurately evaluate a chess position will help you:

  • understand the current situation
  • find good candidate moves
  • quickly discard ideas that are not good

On Day 2 of The 10-Day Chess Challenge (link), you will learn the fundamentals of an effective evaluation method.

3. Planning

The purpose of your planning method is to help you find a useful course of action. The plan you choose will largely reflect your understanding of the position.

In my Free Chess Course for Intermediate Players (link) you will learn about the objectives that you should be thinking about when you are trying to come up with a suitable plan.


It is extremely instructive (an “Aha!” moment) to know that real progress in chess comes out of training a correct thinking process.

The well-known saying goes: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In chess, this idiom relates to the fact that if you are able to think independently, you will also be able to find useful moves, even in positions you have never seen before.

In future emails, I will share some insights on how to train your chess thinking methods effectively. In the meantime, consider how your current training activities help you develop your thinking methods.

Kind Regards,

Louis Holtzhausen