Now you can hold back time on tricky puzzles

By Leon Watson / On / In Features

You may not have noticed, but we’ve been working around the clock to find new ways to improve your chess training.

Yes, quite literally around the clock.

That’s because our new feature allows you more freedom to fiddle with the time you have for each puzzle or variation you want to learn.

We are pleased to announce our latest new feature: the unlimited time button. Because time can wait for a chessman, or woman.

You can find it here:

Our new feature: the unlimited time button
Our new feature: the unlimited time button

Can’t find that page? Simply click “browse” to go inside a book and see these options:

How to find the timer button
How to find the timer button

This neat little addition designed by our developer Simon Wuttke allows you give yourself as much time as you need on any book chapter or set of variations. It is easy to find – on the right of the screen – and easy to toggle.

And remember, you can still set the clock for whatever time you want – it doesn’t have to be left on the default.

The point of this is if you’re finding a particular book tricky – and some of them really are – or you just don’t like being hurried along then this new addition can effectively turn off the timer so it doesn’t hurry you along.

It’s only a small change, but from the feedback we think it’s clear that often it’s these fiddly little things that make a big difference.

Coming up we’ve got more book launches and some grander features in the pipeline (more on that next month!), but in the meantime we hope you like this new bit of control you have over your chess learning.

And, of course, we are keen to hear any more ideas you have to make this site better.

Have a good day.

The Chessable team.

The pause study session feature is here, here is how to find it

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

The pause study session feature is finally here. It’s a simple concept and a seemingly simple function, yet it took us a while as we had to polish up a few different things under the hood before it was possible. So without further ado, here it is, while studying, click on the pause icon to pause your study session. Then, simply click the play icon to resume when you are ready to do so. We look forward to hearing your feedback about it, so that we may add more improvements wherever possible.

The Pause Button:

The Resume Button

We hope you find this useful!

PS.- As an unwanted side effect we’ve had to remove a setting to disable the “focus mode view”. Only 30 active users were affected by the removal of this option, and if you were one of them and really miss it, you can get in touch and let us know. You can also keep up with all changes to Chessable in our change log.

5 Essential Chess Tips for Beginners

By Bryan Castro / On / In Chess improvement, Learning chess

So you’ve learned the basic moves of chess and have played a bunch of games, and you’ve decided that you want to get better at this beautiful game. Where do you start?

Over the last few years, I’ve taught and observed new and beginning players as they develop in chess. More recently, I’ve had the joy of watching and teaching my children as they start to take up the Royal Game. Of course, with this comes many learning opportunities as I see my children and students make many mistakes along the way.

I will be discussing several specific chess tips you can use to improve quickly. If you are a beginner or casual player and want to take your chess improvement more seriously, follow these chess tips!

Learn How to Count

Although the ultimate goal is to checkmate our opponent’s king, there are a lot of pieces that can get in the way. This leads to us exchanging pieces to eliminate our opponent’s army and get at his or her king. Sometimes, it’s a mutual trade – a knight for a knight or a queen for a queen. Other times, we get something for nothing or for something of less value. One of the easiest ways to improve as a beginner is to make sure that your trades are even or better more often than your opponents.

This involves two aspects – understanding the value of the pieces and counting out the exchanges.

Although there are no actual “points” awarded for capturing your opponent’s pieces, over time players have developed point values to the pieces which help us compare the relative power of the pieces.

  1. Pawns = 1
  2. Knights and Bishops = 3
  3. Rooks = 5
  4. Queens = 9
  5. Kings are priceless as they can’t be traded, but some writers estimate a king’s “fighting” power to be about 4 pawns.

 

Now armed with this information, the next step is to count out the potential exchanges in order to decide whether or not it is beneficial for you. Let’s look at an example.

In the position below, it is White’s turn and White’s rooks are attacking Black’s pawn on d5. To count in this position, we can add up the pieces that are exchanged. If the rooks are traded off first then the sequence adds up as follows:

  1. White rook captures pawn on d5 = +1
  2. Black rook captures rook on d5 = 1 -5 = -4
  3. White rook captures rook on d5 = 1 -5 +5 = 1
  4. Black rook captures rook on d5 = 1 -5 +5 -5 = -4
  5. White knight captures rook on d5 = 1 -5 +5 -5 +5 = 1
  6. Total value of the trades = +1

In the above position, we can use the short cut of counting how many attackers there are – three – and how many defenders there are – two. When there are more attackers than defenders (and the value of the pieces is equal) then we can win the exchange.

However, consider the position below, which is just a slight variation from the first example. In this case, because of the order of the exchanges, it is no longer safe to take the pawn as the queen will be exchanged by a piece that is less valuable.

So in your games, make sure you take your time whenever you’re going to exchange pieces. Make sure you understand the value of the pieces and count out the value of the exchange before going for it!

Here are a few ways to develop this skill:

  1. When studying games played by masters, count the value of exchanges and see “who won” each one. Do this when studying your own games as well.
  2. Regularly practice tactical puzzles. One excellent resource for this is the Chessable e-book 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners. Except when the problem ends in checkmate, counting is an essential aspect of judging whether a tactic works or not.

Be Careful

Have you ever made a chess move and almost instantly kicked yourself because you saw that you made a big mistake? This could include missing that your opponent was attacking your queen or that the piece you thought was en prise – a piece that seemed free to take – was actually protected by a bishop or rook across the board. If this happens to you often (and it happens to everyone sometimes), you may need to be more careful at the board.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about from one of my son’s games. He had a position that any experienced player would have won easily. However…

Chess is a game between two players. This means that not only must you decide on your move, you must also consider how your opponent might respond to your move. Likewise, your move should somehow take into account the intentions of your opponent.

If you want to get better at chess, you will want to improve your board awareness and develop the habit of being careful when you make your moves. Here are a few important points to remember.

  1. Try to identify your opponent’s checks, captures, and threats. You intended move should be able to account for these “CCT’s.”
  2. Every once in a while, try to take a “big picture” look of the whole board. What is your opponent trying to do? What area of the board is he attacking? Are there any targets that you should be attacking?
  3. After each of your opponent’s moves, try to understand the purpose of the move before you consider your move. It’s a bad habit to make your move instantly after your opponent makes a move.

 

Taking care when playing chess doesn’t mean just playing conservatively or passively. What it does mean is taking into account your opponent’s plans and threats. The more you can do this in your play, the more you will avoid those “beginner mistakes” that you kick yourself for after you make them.

Activate Your Pieces

One thing that strong players do very well is get all of their pieces working for them. If you look at the games of classic players like Morphy or modern players like Magnus Carlsen, you will notice that nearly all of their pieces are doing something important on the board. The ones that aren’t get traded off.

Here is an example of a recent game I saw between two beginners demonstrating how to NOT use your bishops.

Paul Morphy – one of the greatest players in the late 1800’s and perhaps one of the greatest ever – was a master of piece activity. He made his chess pieces work! Below is his famous “Opera Game.” Notice how every one of his pieces play a role in the victory. Conversely, notice how several of his opponent’s pieces are still sitting on their initial squares in the final position.

If you think of your chess pieces as an army. You want to make sure all of your soldiers are doing their part. Here are some ways to apply this to your games:

  1. When there aren’t any immediate threats from your opponent, you can take a moment to see if you have any pieces that aren’t active. Make them work!
  2. See if there is a way to prevent your opponent from activating his pieces. This might include taking control of open files and diagonals before your opponent can or playing a pawn move to deny your opponent a square for his pieces.
  3. Trade off your opponent’s most active pieces. Try to preserve your own active pieces.

Convert Your Wins

Have you had a game where you had a big advantage and then just couldn’t win it? Maybe you had an extra piece or even an extra queen but eventually the game just fizzled into a draw?

Here is an example from a game between two beginners.

This is not an uncommon occurrence for beginning players. Fortunately, there are a few simple techniques and methods you can learn which will help you turn those winning positions into actual wins!

“Overkill” Checkmate Patterns

These are positions where you have a large advantage over your opponent. Most of these have specific methods to win that don’t require you to calculate. Here are a few you should learn.

  1. Queen and King versus a long King (see the example above)
  2. Rook and King versus King
  3. Two rooks (or queen and rook) versus a king
  4. Queen and king versus Knight (or Bishop) and king

 

Once you learn the winning method, you can practice against your friends or against a chess engine. These positions come up often in beginner games, so learning how to play them will help you rack up many points!

Escorting Your Pawns

Besides learning the patterns above, learning basic king and pawn endgames are important as they also occur quite often. Most of them are simple, but they often require precision.

Here’s a position that would have been easily won by White had he known the winning method, but he played quickly and his opponent knew the drawing technique.

General Principles When Winning

Not all of your winning positions will involve the endgame. Sometimes, you’ll be ahead by a piece or exchange in the middle game. Understanding a few general principles should help you turn those winning games into won games.

  1. Think safety first. Often, winning material involves giving your opponent some other type of compensation, such as room for his or her remaining pieces. Make sure your pieces (especially your king) are safe.
  2. Coordinate your pieces. In winning a piece through a tactic, sometimes our pieces need to be redeployed to work together again.
  3. Trade down. It is often beneficial to trade pieces when you are ahead in material. The reason for this is straightforward – the advantage in force is amplified when there is less material on the board.

 

You will get a lot of practice in this as your opponents will make many mistakes for you to exploit. Here are a few ideas to help you practice converting your won games.

  1. Learn the basic endgame and mating positions mentioned above. A great resource is the Chessable e-book 100 Endgames You Must Know.
  2. Find positions in master games where a player resigned. Play the winning side of these positions against a friend or against the computer.
  3. When you lose a game you should have won, try to find out where you made your mistakes and learn from them.

Study Opening Ideas

There are many strong players and coaches who advise against studying the opening at the beginning stages of one’s chess development. I understand the reasoning of this advice:

  1. Beginners often blunder, and thus should spend more time studying tactics and learning to exploit their opponent’s blunders and avoid making them.
  2. There is a danger of spending too much time studying opening variations that will never show up in play, and thus a beginner may be wasting a lot of time.

 

However, I think that there is a great value in studying the opening phase of the game even for beginners.  Here is my rationale:

  1. Opening systems teach you how to develop your pieces. At the beginning of the game, it can be very confusing where you should develop you pieces. For beginners, a common problem is that the pieces can often step on each other’s toes because the player doesn’t have a plan for each piece. By studying specific openings, you can learn efficient ways to develop your pieces so they all work together.
  2. Learning specific openings will teach you strategy. Different opening set-ups will lead to different types of strategic plans. For example, openings like the Queen’s Gambit Accepted and the Caro-Kann sometimes lead to isolated queen’s pawn positions, which have many common methods of play. Other openings, like the King’s Indian Defense or the French Defense often lead to locked center positions, where learning the timing and use of pawn levers can be practiced.
  3. Learning openings helps you conserve your energy for the middlegame and endgame. Setting up a playable position in the early stages of the game will give you a fighting chance later in the game. Without a clear opening plan, you will spend much of your middlegame fixing the problems you created in the opening.

 

Here is a particularly instructive game from my opening repertoire. I play the Rubinstein Variation as French, which can often lead to endgames with pawns on both wings. In this game, GM Grivas demonstrates how the strategic element of the two bishops can be particularly effective in this structure.

I’ve written before about how to learn openings, and I suggest you check out my previous article. However, here are some tips for maximizing the time you spend learning the opening.

  1. Understand the general ideas behind each move. Many of the e-books on Chessable written by masters such as IM John Bartholomew and IM Christof Sielecki (aka ChessExplained) explain the general ideas behind the key moves of each variation.
  2. Study whole master games within your opening variations. You might want to pick a “hero” whose games you can analyze deeply and understand the plans and strategies behind your opening repertoire choices.
  3. Study the common pawn structures that result from your opening systems. Although some openings have many different structures, some lead to very specific ones that you should understand. Again, well written books such as those mentioned above will help you with this.

 

You don’t have to spend a lot of your time on openings. However, some focus in your selection of openings and consistent use of Chessable in addition to your other chess studies will strengthen your game immensely.

Don’t Give Up (Bonus Tip)

When masters gain an advantage of a piece or more, it is nearly impossible to come back from. However, in many of your games you won’t have this problem. Even if you find yourself in a losing position, with some energetic play and a tough mental attitude, you can often come back to draw or win the losing game.

Why is this? The main reason is that beginners don’t know how to finish games. Having attained a winning position, they will often squander their advantage.

Here are a few tips to remember when you find yourself in a not-so-great position.

  1. Try to make sure each of your remaining pieces are doing something useful. This could mean using them to grab an open rank or file, attacking an opponent’s weak pawn, or just making sure that your pieces are safe.
  2. Try to find out what your opponent needs to do to win, and try to pose as many problems for him as possible.
  3. Ask yourself if you are up to the challenge. If you are alert and feel like fighting – play on! If you are tired and feel you can’t put up much resistance, it might be a good idea to consider resigning and resting up for your next round. Before your resign though, remember that your beginner opponents are very likely to make a mistake if you can stay in the game.

 

Final Thoughts

If you are a beginner, I hope these chess tips have been helpful for you. Chess is a complex and deep game. Of course, that is part of the enjoyment of it. It can be hard to know where to start. If you follow the tips given here and use Chessable and other resources regularly as I’ve described, you will find yourself moving from a beginner to a seasoned player in no time at all!

Review as “whole variation” is Chessable’s new default setting. What does this mean for you?

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news

This is a short blog post to announce a site-wide change, from today on the default setting for all Chessable books is to review variations as “whole variation”. For most of you, this should go unnoticed, and the site will continue to work the same. However, for some of you, if you have noticed that “Overstudy” is coming up a lot more often, or you seem to be reviewing more moves than before, then this post is for you. It’s very easy to switch back to the “old way”.

Whole Variation Review
In this mode, the moves you need to review will always be part of the entire variation they belong to. In other words you will be quizzed on the complete series of moves leading up to the move you need to review. You will not always get points for this. In the cases you do not get points, you will see “Overstudy” pop up. Whole Variation review is the most popular setting on Chessable, and most books and members already have it on by default.

Random or Randomized Position Review
This is Chessable’s original study mode, where every position can be shown independent of the variation it belongs to. This mode is considerably harder to study with as you always have to stop and re-assess the whole position. This mode is useful if you are very confident in the book you reviewing and want to quickly solve positions. You can even get Chessable to serve you up to 100 moves in one study session if you are using random mode.

How to swap between the two?
The setting is available on a per book basis. Meaning that if you change it on a book, it won’t affect all of your other books. So feel free to play around and experiment with each mode, so you get familiar with what they do. To find the setting navigate to the chapter or variation list inside a book and on the right side (or bottom on mobile), find the “Book Defaults” box. Here, you can change between the modes.

The section highlighted in yellow is what you need to use to change book default review.

If you were one of the few(ish) users affected by the sitewide change, please accept our apologies for the inconvenience, but once you’ve changed the setting to your preferred option, it will remain there and work as you expect it.

 

John Bartholomew tops group but narrowly misses out on second GM norm

By Leon Watson / On / In Chess news, Chessable news

He almost did it – but Chessable’s own John Bartholomew fell just short of winning a hard-fought second GM norm today.

The Scandi king put in a phenomenal performance on the final day of the Charlotte Chess Center’s GM/IM Norm Invitational tournament to top his group above three GMs and the much talked about Indian super talent Ramesh Praggnanandhaa.

But when his final game ended in a hard-fought draw, he just missed out on the norm.

John Bartholomew at a chess club
John Bartholomew at a chess club

Unlucky John, it’s only a matter of time!

Going into rounds 8 and 9, John was out in front on 5/7 needing to hit the 6.5 mark to pick up the norm.

In round 8 John faced 2430-rated IM Denis Schmeliov, and picked up a vital half-point with this quick 24-move draw in the Slav Defense, covered in his 1.d4 Repertoire for White:

That left John with everything to do in the final round – an all-or-nothing win with black was needed against the teenage IM David Brodsky (2405), a player he hadn’t faced in classical chess before.

Going into it he tweeted:

So #finittiwinit it was and John received a host of replies urging him on. Among those wishing him good luck were the Ginger GM Simon Williams:

The English IM Lawrence Trent also pitched in along with the host of the Perpetual Chess podcast, Ben Johnson, and yours truly.

Here’s how the game went:

Afterwards, John tweeted:

John has been made to wait for his second norm. He picked up his first GM norm in December 2013 at the Saint Louis Classic so when it does happen we expect he’ll be very pleased.

The final results table from the Charlotte Chess Center event
The final results table from the Charlotte Chess Center event

John, of course, is co-founder of this chess training site and an avid user. The Minnesota master has also authored several chess opening books here including his hugely popular 1.d4 Repertoire for White and his IM John Bartholomew’s Scandinavian opening trainer. The title for that may have to change soon, we hope.

All that remains to be said is another well done to John for getting so close – you’re an inspiration to so many chess players here and we’re proud of you.

Now go and get that norm… make it GM John!

John Bartholomew’s win over Indian wonderkid Praggnanandhaa

By Leon Watson / On / In Chess news

We don’t want to get you too excited, and we don’t want to pile too much pressure on John Bartholomew to get his next norm.

But we thought you’d like to know Chessable’s resident IM has beaten the 12-year-old Indian super talent Ramesh Praggnanandhaa at the GM Norm Invitational in Charlotte.

Praggu, as he is known, is of course the wonderkid everyone is talking about who is launching an assault on Sergey Karjakin’s long-standing record for being the youngest ever grandmaster.

John Bartholomew in action. At the weekend he beat Praggnanandhaa
John Bartholomew in action. At the weekend he beat Praggnanandhaa

Against John though, he came unstuck. Playing white, John essayed a nice win out of the Zurich Variation of the Nimzo-Indian. This opening is covered in IM John Bartholomew’s 1.d4 Repertoire for White chess opening trainer, but Praggu played an early move order shuffle with 3… Nc6 and then departed entirely with 11… a5.

John took full advantage, pressing him with solid positional play before Praggu blundered then wilted in the endgame. It was another impressive win for John at the tournament.

John now needs 6.5/9 to secure his second GM norm. Praggu, unfortunately, is now out of the running for a norm in this tournament, but has the Gibraltar Masters to look forward to.

Here is the game:

After the game, John said: “I’m very happy with this game, I think it was my best game of the tournament. A pretty smooth, strategic win.

“Every game is tough, you can’t expect to enter a tournament like this and beat up on anyone really… I’ll do my best with my remaining games here.

“It’s just cool to play a guy like Praggnanandhaa, he’s a fantastic player and 12 years old just to see the focus he has is incredible. I think this time next year he could be 2600.”

John is currently leading the pack in Charlotte with 5/7, and needs 1.5 from his remaining two games today. But he has two tough games – against GM Denis Schmeliov (2420) and in the afternoon IM David Brodsky (2405).

If you want to cheer him on, the Charlotte page is here.

And if you haven’t already, check out John Bartholomew’s 1.d4 Repertoire for White – we think it is one of the best chess books on this site – it is rated 5-stars by our users, and it is free.

Praggu’s race to be youngest ever chess Grandmaster

By Leon Watson / On / In Chess news

While Chessable’s own John Bartholomew is continuing his quest to get the Grandmaster title, time is running out for another International Master hoping to secure what would be an even more incredible achievement.

On January 10 Indian super talent Ramesh Praggnanandhaa, or Praggu as he is known, was exactly 12 years and five months old, meaning he has just two months left to write himself into chess history.

The boy from Chennai is in the final straight of his race against the clock to become the world’s youngest-ever Grandmaster, a feat that would put him in an exclusive club of chess greats who’ve held the record.

Ramesh Praggnanandhaa at the London Chess Classic. Photo by LENNART OOTES
Ramesh Praggnanandhaa at the London Chess Classic. Photo by LENNART OOTES

If he does it, it will be some feat. The most famous member of the youngest club is of course the American genius Bobby Fischer who became the world’s youngest Grandmaster at 15.

Yet that achievement that now looks rather paltry compared to Sergey Karjakin‘s long-standing current record of 12 years and seven months.

If – and it is a big if – Praggu breaks the Russian’s mark, predictions that he will one day emulate his hero Vishy Anand and become world champion will start looking very serious indeed. The big guns will really start looking over their shoulders.

Norway’s reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, for example, only achieved it at a relatively late-to-the-party 13 years four months.

Right now Praggu has one GM norm (a high level of performance in an elite chess tournament) and needs two more to qualify for the title, and it has to happen before March 10. That is a very tall order.

His next tournament, the Winter 2018 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitational in Charlotte will take place between January 11 and 15, where he is expected to face a certain John Bartholomew, IM. It may be that our own Scandi master has a part to play in this.

He’s not norm-al!

In his last norm attempt at the Rilton Cup in Stockholm, Sweden, Praggu had a torrid time. But afterwards he was typically sanguine about his chances.

“I am not thinking about it,” he told Norwegian channel NRK Sport this week. “It’s fun to play some good chess. But if I can achieve it, I will be very happy.”

Don’t be fooled by that though – Praggu clearly wants it.

Praggu is gunning for his final two Grandmaster norms. Photo by LENNART OOTES
Praggu is gunning for his final two Grandmaster norms. Photo by LENNART OOTES

After starting out at the Rilton with two wins, Praggu’s attempt to bag a second GM norm ended in round 8 of 9. He finished the tournament with a performance rating of just 2485 – way below what he needed.

In a large part that was due to a final round loss to the English International Master David “Eggy” Eggleston after the chance of a norm had gone, but it has led to doubts over whether the youngster will manage it.

Before Christmas Praggu fell agonisingly short of snatching the record outright at the World Junior Championship in Tarvisio, Italy.

In the final round he had the chance to win the tournament, which is unique in that it carries an automatic GM title for the winner, but ended up finishing fourth (joint second).

It followed a similar close but no cigar performances at the Isle of Man International in September and before that the HZ Tournament in August.

However at the Isle of Man he did play this brilliant 18-move miniature against one of the best players in South America, a 2645 GM from Paraguay:

The other wonderkids

Praggu, who is sponsored by an Indian property entrepreneur, has not been the only wonderkid in the running to beat Karjakin’s 2002 record. But now he is the only realistic chance right now who’s still standing.

Praggu’s international compatriot Nihal Sarin, now 13, and Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan both battled hard to get there.

Grandmaster hopeful Praggu with his mother. Photo by LENNART OOTES
Grandmaster hopeful Praggu with his mother. Photo by LENNART OOTES

Abdusattorov, who is nine months older, had long been considered a potential record-breaker after he beat two GMs in a tournament aged just nine.

But time ran out on him in July leaving the younger Praggnanandhaa in pole position.

Praggu, meanwhile, hit the 2500 rating requirement on his birthday in August at the HZ Tournament in the Netherlands, but just missed out on a first norm when he lost in the last round.

Disappointment then followed again at the Isle of Man International tournament where he missed another chance to secure the required norm.

Next up is the Charlotte event. And then Praggu is targeting the Tradewise Masters, a 10-round open tournament in Gibraltar that starts on January 21.

Gibraltar has a stellar field that includes Armenia’s in-form Levon Aronian, the US blitz king Hikaru Nakamura and the French number one Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

And after that he will have to find another high-level tournament to enter – and do it fast.

After all, time waits for no man – or boy.

Happy New Year! The 2017 year in review + 2018 spoiler.

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Start-up life

Dear Chessable learners,

At the end of 2016, I wrote about how, with your backing, we had a fantastic year. Having been so incredibly overwhelmed by your support then, I lack words this New Year’s Day to express our gratitude for your backing during 2017. Your continued choice to use Chessable as part of your chess training is hugely appreciated. Not only did we want to send you a big thank you from the team, but I wanted to let you know that we will continue to work hard to improve Chessable to make it even better.

Here is our brief year in review:

  1. Our learning community is almost 30,000 strong (nearly tripled!)
  2. We’ve gone from 2,2 million chess positions studied to a staggering 6.4 million positions.
  3. We are now backed by private investors.
  4. We’ve gone from a chess openings trainer to nearly a complete chess training suite, with endgames and tactics, bringing several classic print books to life in the process.

Last year my New Year’s resolution was to help us all study beyond the opening, and we’ve done that. However, you may have noticed I said we are “nearly” a complete training tool. This is not because our endgame or tactics courses are lacking, not at all, you’ve all loved them so much that both those books have impeccable five-star ratings. I’ve said nearly because in my own quest for chess improvement I know there are several things still lacking in the chess world, and we plan to make them, hopefully, you’ll know exactly what we mean by this Spring. We can’t wait.

Finally, I promised you a spoiler so here it is. We plan to have a regular publishing schedule for more great print books that can be brought to life. So far it’s been a bit here and there, but we plan to up our game. We have three print titles almost ready for their interactive release. One great tactics book and two awesome openings books. The titles are: Improve Your Chess Tactics by Neishtadt, The Hyper-Accelerated Dragon by Raja Panjwani and My First Chess Opening Repertoire for Black by Vincent Moret. By letting you know of these books in advance, I hope to start a new trend where you will always know what’s coming soon so that you can plan around it on your quest for chess improvement.

Thanks so much for your support again, wishing you the best New Year possible, and please stay tuned for more exciting releases…!

Learn chess tactics: for beginners and beyond!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chess news, Chessable news, Features, Learning chess

Today we’ve reached another milestone. You can now learn chess tactics for beginners (and beyond) right here on Chessable. We’ve taken the classic puzzle book, 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners, by New in Chess, and made it fully interactive! Ever wanted to apply the Woodpecker method to an excellent tactics book? Well, here is your chance.

There are plenty of chess tactics training resources out there, so why another one? Here are three good reasons. Every tactics trainer that I know of has lacked at least in one of these categories:

We wanted to offer guided tactics courses with puzzles of the highest quality
We don’t want you to study any randomised tactic set. We are working with some of the most highly regarded chess trainers and authors out there. In this manner, we can bring you some of the best-curated tactics compilations that exist. The author’s teaching experience shines through, maximising instructional value.

We wanted for tactic solving to be all about learning and nothing else
Many of the existing tactics trainers constantly remind you of your changing rating (or unchanging!). In others, you are stuck with a very fast timer. It shows you how much faster others are than you. Having carefully studied the psychology of learning, I assure you none of these things are optimal or conducive to good learning. We want you to be free to take as much time as you need and we won’t give you a tactics rating. Instead, you should care about solving for accuracy, ultimately increasing the number of tactical patterns you know.

We wanted to take advantage of spaced repetition, and the Woodpecker method
In his award-winning book, GM Axel Smith credits the “Woodpecker method” for a large part of his quick improvement.  In a nutshell, it involves selecting a set of chess tactics exercises, and once you have solved them all, to repeat them many times. This is a good strategy, but inefficient. With Chessable’s spaced repetition, you will go over the same set of exercises as many times as you need (the Woodpecker method). However, we will show you the ones you know really well, less often, and slowly phase them out. The ones you struggle with? We’ll give you a nudge!

For those reasons and more, we are super excited to have 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners on Chessable. Of course, there will be more exciting books to come! So for the new year, let us know what you’d like to see. Do you want to learn more chess tactics? Or would you prefer more opening books? Send us a tweet or an e-mail and let us know. Happy holidays, and enjoy your chess learning.

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Chessable’s new study flow is here!

By David Kramaley / On / In Chessable news, Features

At Chessable, our mission is to make learning chess as effective, as fun and as easy as possible. If this means re-engineering part of our core features, then that’s exactly what we’ll do. Today, the long awaited and highly requested change to Chessable’s study flow is finally here. From today on your learning experience should feel quicker, smoother and more natural.

The main goal of this update was to make the study experience more efficient. To achieve this, we have stopped redirecting you from page to page as much as possible. Instead, you will be given an opportunity to complete whatever lesson you’ve chosen while saving your progress on the go!

For instance, if you have 231 moves to review, and you want to do them all in one go without browsing away? Now that’s possible! Want to continue learning things within a chapter of the new book you picked up without distractions? Now that’s possible! Feel like you are in the flow and just want to keep going? This is it!

The new study flow on a phone

We are pretty excited about this update because beyond all that, it is expected to speed up Chessable as a whole, so it can feel even snappier and faster than you are already used to.

Together with a very kind and gregarious group of beta testers (thank you!), we’ve worked hard the whole of last month testing this update for you. We have polished it up as much as we could for the launch date, but already the new ideas and suggestions are flowing! After all, it is a shiny new feature, and it does open up a ton of possibilities. We’ll work on them next year, and make this even better.

However, next year is still some time away, so to begin with, we’ve added five shiny new badges for you to earn. And to put the cherry on the top, this feature will allow us to release a new print book that we are really excited about. Really, really, really soon. Can you guess what book it is? If you’ve guessed it without cheating, we’ll give you a prize. Send us a tweet @chessable!

The new badges.

We hope you enjoy it and if you have any feedback, check the forums, or please e-mail us via the contact us link at the bottom of the site.

PS.- Don’t like it? The old study flow is still available in your study settings 🙂

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