Case Study: How to Increase Your Online Rating from 1100 to 2400+ in 4 Years

·

Table of Contents

This is a guest post by Adriano, a Chessable user, who shares his interesting chess journey so far… We love his enthusiasm, his passion for the game, and that he packs a deadly Muay Thai kick behind that innocent smile. Hope you like his story as we did. 

Highlighted course

Thinking In Chess: A How To Guide

Introduction

Hi, there! I’m Adriano, a young chess enthusiast from Brazil, but I’m a university student and a fan of random hobbies, full of dreams! What I’m about to share here is my experience with chess… but also including experiences from outside of the board. Even though it’s just a hobby, chess brought marvelous things to me, such as travels and great friends! It changed my life, and it will change yours too.

This blog post can be seen as a case study and a short biography. I give details about my first steps in chess, my training as a self-taught player, my development, my work with Chessable and how it translated to my general strength, achievements in online and OTB play and a few other things. It must be emphasized that I’m not trying to establish the ultimate methods for chess improvement; different people have different needs and you’ll have to filter some things that I shared. For some people, what I did so far can be seen as not really relevant, they might have chosen different paths to attain their goals, which is completely fine. I’m not a grandmaster, I’m not even FIDE rated at the time of writing, I’m just like most of you, an amateur who wants to improve.

But more importantly, I want a “personal touch” in all of this. No rating, no title or trophy in the world will be more valuable than the friendships and the experiences. In my first tournaments, even the U17 nationals, I had very poor performances, barely making a point, but I wasn’t thinking only about the competition… If you’re able to “live the life” when playing chess, or any hobby for that matter, your joy will be bigger, regardless of the results you get in the tournaments.

By the way, make sure to have some time to read, it might be a long ride for some of you. I want to thank Chessable as a whole, staff and fellow users, for the opportunity. I hope you enjoy what chess can bring as much as I did and will still do!

———————————–

Hello, everyone! What I’m about to share with you is my history with chess, I want to show you how a little chessboard that I started to use in my school changed my life forever. The places I’ve been and I’ve yet to visit, the people I met, marvelous experiences… Everything, it changed the way I see the world. First things first, let me introduce myself: I’m Adriano Nunes Cavalcante, a 21 year-old chess enthusiast from Brazil. I’m also an amateur designer, a martial arts aficionado with competitive experience in Muay Thai and Capoeira, former swimming athlete and Just Dancer, and currently I’m also a law student. As you can imagine, I have a lot of interests and I went through many hobbies, chess being slightly above all the others. At the time I began to play the game, I just wanted to beat all of my colleagues and… here I am, writing about this quite long ride, you might be wondering how things went so far.

That’s me ;-D

It all began in April 2017. I was 16 years old, my 17th birthday coming up in late September. At the time, I was in my last year in high school, and the classes started early in the morning and went to the evening – almost everyday! We had quite a long lunch break, so many students started to bring some games to combat boredom. There were card games, table tennis, draughts, electronic games and chess. I decided to buy a small foldable chess set, I learned half of the rules on Youtube, and I began to play. We often put the king and queen in the wrong squares, we didn’t know the en passant and castling rules properly. One night, in the end of the month, I registered on Lichess under the nickname “AdrianoNunesFX” (“FX” in my username stands for “effects”, reference to image and video editing) so I could play chess when I was in home, then I learned the rest of the rules properly, and I started around the 1100 rating mark. From this point until the end of this text, I’ll use Lichess ratings as a reference (rapid, because it’s slower and where I improved the most, eventually reaching the same rating in blitz when climbing the ladders), as I have no FIDE rating at the time of writing.

My first chess set… Yes, it was new when I bought it! Later on, I acquired a standard tournament chess set, but kept my first one as a “trophy” in my bedroom.

Soon I became competitive, I wanted to defeat every chess player in my school, so I searched for tutorials on Youtube. I subscribed to Agadmator’s chess channel to follow the classic games (yes, he was beginning to build his channel at the time), but one of the videos I found was the “Scholar’s mate” – This was a weapon of mass destruction for me! However, it was a one-time use, and after everyone learned how to defend it, I needed new tricks. Of course, already by then everyone knew all the rules, as they also registered on Lichess after I did. So the question arose, how would I make progress? I searched on Google and I found an amazing suggestion: GM Yasser Seirawan’s “Winning Chess” series, which was available in my native language as well! I was quite lucky it was cheap in my currency when I purchased the ebooks. It covered all the fundamental aspects of chess, and quoting Seirawan in my own words: “if you don’t have a coach and you’re reading this book, then you can consider yourself as your coach”. Not bad at all! That was my first experience with structured learning in chess, I’ll be back at this topic soon.

My first OTB tournament outside of my school! My opponent tried the Scholar’s mate, but I successfully parried the threat 🙂

I studied Seirawan’s books with care, and I was quite fast. Despite being a beginner, I tried my best to solve the exercises without looking at the board. I didn’t always succeed, but I believe this helped me to improve visualization quite quickly. Soon I climbed the ranks on Lichess (from 1100 to 1400) and at this point I succeeded in my goal to “become the number one” in my school – now what? Yes, after three months, chess lost its hype there, and no one was interested in playing with me because I became “undisputed”. I needed new goals… Ok, time to expand the territory, I decided to play outside of my school! Yes, I started to play in local youth tournaments, and then adult ones. All of them in rapid time control, classical tournaments were – and still are – rare and considerably expensive in my region. I fared well in the youth tournaments, but I was often crushed in the adult ones, where a half point out of five games were a victory for me. It’s hard to not give up in such circumstances, but I’ll explain what prevented me from giving up chess after such performances as we go.

In October, six months after learning the game, I was rated around 1600-1700 on Lichess. My study plan consisted only of Seirawan’s books and daily tactics training, with both paid and free resources (worth noting that I always used “themed tactics”, in order to internalize the patterns), and it paid off quickly. Then my school sent me to play in the state U17 scholar chess championship. I was the underdog, studying in a public school facing boys from private ones, and without a coach. I had my expectations low, and all I wanted was to get at least 6th place out of twelve players. Five games in 15+0 (don’t ask me, I don’t know why it wasn’t in classical time control). Therefore, I was playing for draws, and guess what; I was paired with the top seed already in the first round and I was with the Black pieces. I employed the Petroff defense with the clear purpose of drawing the game and… I succeeded! This boosted my motivation, I won the second, the third and the fourth game. Being the only player without a loss, all I needed was a draw in the last round. I faced the second top seed, and he had a plus score against me in previous local tournaments. One more time I played the Petroff, and after a very tense game, I was able to force a threefold repetition, securing the first place. I can’t even describe how I felt at the moment I stopped the clock!

Facing the top seed in round 1 in the U17 state chess championship! You can see the Petroff on the board. Maybe I should play that opening again at some point?

So the next step was the nationals, in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, 2000+ kms away from my hometown. Chess literally took me very far, right? To my surprise, there were three titled players (one CM and two FMs) and strong unrated players above 2000 FIDE. I didn’t know there was any U17 player above 2000 FIDE in Brazil, I thought this was a Russian rarity! Anyway, my expectations were even lower and I knew I was going to be crushed, the plan was to enjoy the trip the best I could, and so I did. I had one of the most amazing experiences in my life, despite having huge losses in the tournament itself. This is the point where I return to the part of not giving up chess despite having poor results: You have to see that life exists outside of the 64-squares world. Ok, I lost almost every game, but I got to know marvelous places, made friends for life, and I had my experiences that can’t be easily described in these pages. It was at that time that I made my biggest goals in chess: keep having chances to enjoy my life at the most! You need high goals in order to not give up: aim at the moon, and at the very least you’ll have good chances to land among the stars!

In the U17 nationals, the “Jogos Escolares da Juventude”! In the picture you can see my opponent, a teacher/friend from my school and myself!

Alright, with new goals and 2018 coming, I also needed plans to improve my game, and not let my personal life aside. It was time to prepare to apply for a university (public universities in Brazil are free, but you have to pass the admission exams) and look for ways to compete in chess again. Because I was studying for the admission exams, I quit competitive chess almost 100% in that year, only playing in a local youth tournament. But I didn’t quit chess, I started to study heavily and train online, thus climbing the rating ladder, establishing 1900 on Lichess at the end of the same year. I also found IM John Bartholomew’s Youtube channel, and I always heard him talking about “Chessable” and I didn’t know what it was. His videos helped to improve my game, and his always polite way to treat his opponents was a huge inspiration to me. Also, a certain opening started to make appearances in my games because of his influence… ;-D

I succeeded in my application for the law school, and since my classes would start only in the second half of 2019, I had the first half absolutely free. It was time to dedicate myself very seriously to chess, as I wanted to join my university’s chess team and get a chance to play in national (even international) events. I studied some chess books, notably “Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide”, one of my favorite chess books ever. Around that time, I was already struggling in the early 2000s on Lichess. In April 2019, I finally understood what Chessable is about, because I saw a video of John Bartholomew drilling some variations, and decided to give it a shot. I used its free resources for a few months, eventually stopping when my university classes started. I didn’t spend anything because I knew I would barely have time to make it up for the investment. I made it to 2100 Lichess just after the classes started and simply stagnated there for the rest of the year, even falling back to the 2000s on the first day of 2020, due to the lack of study in chess.

One of the youth tournaments that I played in 2018, pretty much the only ones I played in that year.

Then 2020 came, I was able to sort everything out and I had a small schedule for chess because I successfully joined the chess team and started to be “sponsored” by my university, meaning extra income to invest in chess. The pandemic broke out and quickly I was at home with all of my other hobbies and personal studies completely frozen. You guessed it, one more time I had a lot of time for chess, and many other people too. Since I had interesting results with the free 3… Qd8 Scandinavian course, I decided to try the full version, in order to acquire full confidence with the opening. It didn’t take me long to be convinced by MoveTrainer. My results in the opening stage skyrocketed, because I was able to recall almost every move, and more importantly, to explain why they were played. I’ll give more details about specific opening training in a moment, but what I want to emphasize here to the reader is the importance of not simply playing out the moves, you’ll see that repeating will be a way simpler if you know the logic of chaining the moves to each other.

Around July 2020, I was just drilling the 3… Qd8 Scandinavian course and studying game collections, notably Tigran Petrosian’s. It was at that point that I noticed that I was often failing to save half of a point/convert to a full point in many endgames resulting from the 3… Qd8, which made me realize it was time to start more advanced endgame study. Almost immediately I heard about the Lifetime Repertoires Caro-Kann and Chebanenko Slav, the former is my top choice against 1. e4 and I was a bit unsure about the latter (I previously tried only the Classical Slav). I exchanged emails with GM Alex Colovic to ask about the opening and I was convinced to give it a shot when it was released. I wanted to patch every repertoire hole I had, so I grabbed the aforementioned courses AND the famous “100 Endgames You Must Know”. I also got a nice number of endgame courses in the beta-testing process, and I’ll return to this soon.

I worked daily on these courses, and in late August I reached a new peak, 2200 on Lichess. You might say “maybe this was because of your previous work”, and I would say it was both. As you face stronger opponents, their opening play improves, and you need to be a bit updated, they won’t hang pieces so easily back when we learned chess. Chessable has been instrumental in my chess studies mainly for two reasons: it skipped the need of setting up the board and pieces over and over again (also allowing seeing the variations via clickables), and even more importantly, it allowed me to grab the books converted to courses where I wouldn’t need to cover extra costs like shipping. My university provided me with a budget for chess materials, and I decided to make some investments on Chessable, and it paid off really well.

I kept track of my Lichess ratings, imagine the fireworks when I crossed 1500 and later 2000! Always celebrate every achievement!

Now I want to talk specifically about Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual 5th Edition, Chessable’s most ambitious project so far, in my opinion. It was released in January 2021, and I was quite tempted to grab it, but I didn’t because I somewhat lacked self-esteem to study it – I always heard “rating requirements”, or that I would never be strong enough to “deserve” to study it. However, a very kind “semi-anonymous” fellow Chessable user decided to give it to me, as he knew I was dedicating myself to the endgame study. After seeing it on my dashboard, I decided that I would “honor” the gift by completing the whole course. Even using the method that I described above, I took around six months to complete it (it must be said that I slacked a bit on the way). You can read more about my experience with the course by checking my review there (or novel? :-D). What I want to emphasize about this specific material is how important it was to me, and I owe it to it to quickly climb in my Lichess ratings: In February I quickly made it to 2300 rapid, and in May I was at 2400! I took a bit longer to get to the same ratings in blitz, as I feel the opposition there is considerably stronger. While I find such quick climbs pretty common at U2000 (Lichess or OTB), I would never expect this after crossing 2200, simply because the opponents are way stronger, with more and more subtleties required to win the games. Basically, I surpassed even my rating goals for 2022!

I want to be very clear: I DID NOT master Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual. If I did, I would be at the elite level today. I also didn’t become an “endgame virtuoso”, but I certainly improved my technique and I’m able to hold my own against stronger players. So how can we explain such improvement, especially when we don’t get to the endgame that often in online games? I believe it’s due to the “Soviet backward approach”: You first need to learn how to play with a small number of pieces and pawns, and gradually adding more and more until you see them all in their starting squares. When you have some ideas about possible endgames, you’ll establish some middlegame plans, like which pieces to exchange and which pawn structures you want to achieve and/or keep. This even goes with your opening choices, i.e. “if I reach an endgame with this particular minor piece I’ll not have good chances to hold”. There are many good examples I could quote, but I just wanted to point out more or less how endgame study can help you to improve your play. Also, be very skeptical when seeing “rating requirements” for any material that you’re interested in – never think it’s too advanced or too basic for you, it’s always possible to learn something new. It might be healthy subjecting yourself to some challenges, as long it’s not borderline unsolvable. Quoting GM Jacob Aagaard: “Improvement begins at the edge of your comfort zone”.

Far from home, right? Behind me, you can see the National Congress of Brazil. Chess literally took me very far!

Now let’s move to openings, why my particular repertoire choices were made, and also why this is related to the endgame. During my U2000 Lichess, I used to play 1. e4 mainlines as White, rarely going for sidelines. If you see my games, you’ll see an unusual version of myself playing really wild games. 6. Bg5 Najdorf, 3. Nc3 French/Caro-Kann, f4 systems versus Pirc/Modern, Ruy Lopez mainlines are a few that quickly come to my mind. I can’t even describe how helpful this was for my own development, and despite my sketchy opening knowledge, I often got away with fun games. With the Black pieces, the Najdorf, the Grunfeld and the Caro-Kann were my most common guests. As I started to face stronger and stronger opponents, I noticed that I couldn’t simply get away without studying the openings a bit – even worse, sometimes I could even lose in less than twenty moves if I didn’t do my homework. I started to feel uncomfortable with such a high “punishment factor” and the fact that I always needed to play with full energy against the Sicilian Defense. I didn’t want to go for anti-Sicilians as my main choice (I find them nice for tournament purposes, though), as I strongly believe that considerable improvement can be achieved if you play mainlines, because strong players make strong moves in order to get positions and then win the games. Therefore, I started to study 1. d4 in early 2019, using two relatively old physical books and IM John Bartholomew’s free 1. d4 course. At first, I was worried about the fact that I was facing 2000+ rated players on Lichess while I was a “1. d4 beginner”, but it turned out this wasn’t relevant at all, I actually looted a lot of points! Your general understanding of the game sticks with any opening that you play, don’t feel shy when learning something new, even if you consider “it’s too late” for you.

Not really thinking about chess, but about life. Big decisions in your academic career will be heavier than your opponent’s opening choices.

I won’t make this into a discussion about whether 1. e4 or 1. d4 is better, they’re equally good, in my opinion. What I want to emphasize is the importance of going for openings that result in positions that you like, with both colors. I also believe that everyone should start learning how to play “classical openings” (1. e4 e5, 1. d4 d5 with both colors, controlling the center with pawns) before learning “hypermodern openings” (1. d4 Nf6, 1. e4 g6, controlling the center with pieces), after all, you need to understand how your strong pawn center should be handled before you can learn how to demolish your opponent’s pawn center. I also believe that everyone should try every opening (knowing only the basics) just to see which ones they like the most, and then make investments on the chosen ones. My general philosophy is to postpone the battle to the middlegame and endgame, instead of going for direct assaults against our opponent’s king, and my main openings are designed to fit that strategy. That’s why I could harvest more results from endgame studies rather than, say, calculation training. You should definitely start with the latter if you’re going for more concrete stuff in the opening, while tactical training is a must for everyone, because positional play is heavily based on tactical justifications.

My Chessable profile, where I like to show off big courses that I completed 😀

As for chess improvement in general, I feel it can be quite obscure sometimes. There is no clear road for everyone, and if a beginner from another region retraces all the steps that I did, he/she might not get the same results. What I did is not THE WAY to improvement, it’s A WAY, among countless paths. Learning chess is a combination of structured and unstructured study plans, and mine weren’t necessarily based on my weaknesses all the time. Sometimes, we don’t know what we’re missing, which is the reason that ambitious players should look for a coach, if possible. I hear a lot of times that “real chess is only played OTB”, which I partially disagree with. I haven’t played any OTB in classical time control after the U17 nationals simply because there were almost no tournaments in my region, and when there was one, it was expensive to the point it made no sense to play. So what was I supposed to do? Sit and give up the game? Well, if I can’t hunt with a dog, I’ll hunt with a cat, and here I return to what I said earlier about setting up strong goals: I had one of the most amazing experiences in my life because of chess and I couldn’t simply allow missing such opportunities because I can’t play classical OTB. Then I adapted and made my progress online, often thinking about reaching a higher level to make a nice reappearance in OTB classical time control. I’ve been in many spots in the rating ladder, and I always heard it was inflated because it was online… This leaves me wondering when you stop being “inflated”. My suggestion is to ignore such comments, and do your best with the tools at your disposal.

That said, online progress is a reference, the ultimate goal (like a title) is attained in a table, with a real board and pieces, with the tournament pressure and a human being conducting his/her pieces on the other side. Personally, I don’t feel affected by the 2D vs 3D board differences, but I can definitely feel the psychological pressure of having a more “human atmosphere”. As I emphasized earlier, I’ll stick with my improvement plans with the idea of keeping traveling and interacting with people; I might lose my games, but I’ll not miss an opportunity to make new friends. Since I improved considerably lately, I became a bit more ambitious inside the 64 squares and I established some time ago that I would go after a title; initially NM/CM, and later on FM. The most important thing behind all of this is the joy in playing the game and living the life outside of it.

Now here I want to bring up more concrete results. I stated earlier that I see online chess as a way to prepare myself for OTB play, and in 2021 I got nice opportunities to prove myself. You might be wondering how I did, so let me share them:

– In October 2021, I had my first classical OTB tournament after four years, the intercollegiate nationals (Jogos Universitários Brasileiros). I debuted with a fine result of 4/6, with three wins, two draws and one loss. With this result, I finished in seventh place in the individual section and FIRST in the team event, gaining a golden trophy for my university.

The shining gold trophy doesn’t even represent the struggles we had in chess, but the smile does!

– In the same month, I played the state blitz chess championship, in a field of 40+ players including a NM. I won the event with 9.5/11, with nine wins, one draw and one loss, finishing 1.5 points ahead of second place.

Receiving the first prize in the state blitz championship! I hope you recognize the shirt 😉

– In November 2021, I played the state classical chess championship. I finished in tenth place with 4,5/7, with three wins, three draws and one loss. The biggest highlight here: in my first encounter ever with a titled player in a classical OTB game, a NM rated 2172 FIDE, I was able to score a convincing win!

– In December 2021, I played GM Alex Colovic in a simultaneous exhibition on Lichess and I was able to score a draw! I even got hungry for a win during the game, but a draw is completely fine, of course, it means a lot to me!

The question that many people might be asking: “How was the translation from online to OTB”? I can assure you that all of your work, studying tactics, endgames, openings and so on will not disappear when touching real pieces, you can calculate and visualize as well as in a 2D board. The differences are more psychological, I would say, because of the human atmosphere that I mentioned earlier and the way you let this affect yourself. In my particular case, I played excessively fast sometimes, often ending the games with more time than I started with, and this cost me some half and full points in the tournaments above. There is no problem in playing fast, the problem is when you’re playing fast in CRITICAL positions. The famous quote “if you have time, use it” never made so much sense as it does now, and I was able to improve in this aspect in my second tournament and I feel I’ll be able to play with more calm in the next ones. Overall, my general advice is to develop nerves of steel for the competitive environment, and this might come only after some terrible defeats, but don’t give up!

Chess can be an individual game, but I was never alone!

My friends and I had the honor of meeting the famous Brazilian gymnast Daiane dos Santos!

In the end of this little history, I want to bring back the concept that I mentioned in the beginning: the “butterfly effect”. Imagine a butterfly flapping its wings… eventually, it might cause a typhoon after a complex sequence of ! It looks a bit weird at first, but the general idea is that small actions that you do can have a huge impact in the future. It was my case when I decided to get a small chess set to play in my school, it literally took me very far (2000+ km so far, and counting!). In that sense, have in mind the people you meet in chess: maybe your opponent sitting across the table might be a friend for life, or even your future husband/wife, who knows? The only way to find out is by interacting with them. Believe me, when I’m in a chess tournament, the last thing I want to talk about is chess. I want the readers to not miss opportunities in and out of the chessboard. Surely, not everyone will be so nice to you, but be cool and patient (good people sometimes are just in a bad day), at least you tried, and the good things that will happen tend to outweigh the bad ones.

After joining Chessable, my circles reached an international level, something I could never imagine happening. I could practice my English and start to interact with people from different cultures. Despite never seeing them in person – at least not yet – many were very kind to me. The Chessable community as whole, users and staff members, gave me invaluable support. It’s always nice to remember how chess connects people from completely different realities like this! I hope I was able to express well enough my personal experience with chess, and somehow gave you reasons to keep spending some of your time in this marvelous game. If you felt slightly more motivated in your goals, then I already made a huge contribution here and this makes me very happy! I’m here cheering for the amazing possibilities in life, for you and me, I can’t wait what is coming next! I want to finish this text with one expression:

THANK YOU!

Chessable rocks!

List of books that I’ve studied, fully or partially, and recommend to the reader:

My System – Aaron Nimzowitsch.

The first chess book I read, but I see it more like a historic than an instructive reference work. It should be an interesting read for intermediate and advanced players, but it’s definitely not essential, especially with so many good instructional chess books available.

Winning Chess Tactics, Winning Chess Openings, Winning Chess Combinations, Winning Chess Strategies and Winning Chess Endgames – GM Yasser Seirawan.

I can’t recommend them enough, they basically cover everything you need to know when giving your first steps in chess.

How To Reassess Your Chess – IM Jeremy Silman.

I didn’t read the whole book, but it’s definitely a good one. In particular, the chapters about exchange sacrifices were enlightening for me, it’s very good for intermediate players.

Art of Attack – IM Vladimir Vukovic

A classic, the title says it all. It was essential in my time as an aggressive 1. e4 player, it’s very useful for intermediate and advanced players.

Chess Fundamentals – Jose Raul Capablanca.

Not for beginners, but I strongly recommend it when you dive in the endgame study. It’s in public domain as well.

Chess Strategy for Club Players – IM Herman Grooten.

Borrowed from a friend of mine, I finished good part of this book. The chapter about “V-formation” (Capablanca – Treybal) changed my way to see closed games, eventually convicing me to switch to 1. d4 as White. Obviously, for “club players” and up.

Chess Structures: A Grandmaster Guide – GM Mauricio Rios Flores.

By far, one of favorite chess books ever. I read it from cover to cover, even in the openings that I don’t see with either color, like the Najdorf. I improved a great deal because of this book. Highly instructive material, useful for a wide array of playing strengths, it becomes even more useful as you climb the rating ladder.

Small Steps to Giant Improvement – GM Sam Shankland.

I read this one from cover to cover as well, just after “Chess Structures”. An amazing book, it changed the way I see my pawns. The only drawback is the low number of exercises, but I believe this doesn’t bring the book down, and I think that later editions will add more exercises.

Secrets of Practical Chess – GM John Nunn.

The name says it all, it gives a lot of practical advice in tournament play. Not an essential book for many, but it was for me, as I didn’t play that many OTB tournaments back then. For post-beginners and up.

Understanding Chess Middlegames – GM John Nunn.

The author is known for being able to give more prose to the casual players and deep analysis for the more advanced ones. The way I see this book: A collection of annotated games. The best part? More text than variations.

Techniques of Positional Play – IM Valeri Bronznik and FM Anatoly Terekhin.

I came across this book in a local library, and I spent some hours reading it. I didn’t finish it, but my conclusion is that is aimed to casual players who are lacking some positional awareness, let’s put it that way.

My 60 Best Games – GM Robert “Bobby” Fischer.

Do I need to say more? Fischer’s games always impressed me, notably his endgame technique. One of my favorite players ever, his objectivity in his games are an awesome example for everyone. The book becomes better for the reader as he/she improves.

Petrosian against the Elite – GM Raymond Keene.

A game collection from another great World Champion from the past. Petrosian’s games made a deep impression on me as well, and this was the reason of reading this book from cover to cover. It almost convinced me to play the French!

Chess Tactics from Scratch 2nd Edition – FM Martin Weteschnik.

Another book that I came across in the library, and to me it looks really good for those who didn’t have a structured learning back when learned chess. If you didn’t learn tactics properly, you’ll learn now. Recommended for those who are stuck in the limbo between intermediate and advanced level.

Kasparov vs Kramnik: WCC 2000 – GM Nigel Davies and IM Andrew Martin.

Annotated games from the historical match. It becomes more interesting if you’ve employed the Nimzo-Indian and the Berlin Defense with either color in your repertoire.

The Test of Time – GM Garry Kasparov.

Did it stand the test of time? I certainly think so. Kasparov strives for a scientific approach in this book, justifying his moves and ideas in many pages of analysis – and this is not for everyone’s taste. It starts to become more valuable when you’re going after the master level or you’re already there.

100 Endgames You Must Know – GM Jesus de la Villa.

One of the first books I studied on Chessable. It definitely lives up to its name. Some chapters are easier and essential for everyone, like pawn endgames, while others can be left for later, like rook and bishop vs rook endgame. Recommended for ambitious players, regardless of their current level.

Chess Endgames for Kids – GM Karsten Muller.

A very underrated book, in my opinion. It’s definitely not only for kids, and it has interesting contents even for the more advanced players. You can also see this book as an introduction to 100 Endgames You Must Know, an easier version to start with. I consider this book good for all levels.

Endgame Virtuoso: Magnus Carlsen – IM Tibor Karolyi.

It can be a difficult book if you’re not patient. The author is more focused in the analysis aspect, but he does give some instructional insights about endgame play. Personally, I learned a lot about how to handle my pawns in symmetrical structures in “drawish” endgames, and Carlsen will show you how that’s not the end of the story. For advanced players, naturally.

Mastering Opening Strategy, Mastering Chess Strategy and Mastering Endgame Strategy – GM Johan Hellsten.

This is an amazing collection, and it’s based more in exercises than in text. I studied them all from cover to cover, and I can say that it would be lovely if I had seen many of its contents earlier. I recommend them to every level except beginner.

Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual 5th Edition – IM Mark Dvoretsky et al.

Perhaps the very best chess book in history. Over the years, it became more of a collective work, with several contributions of strong players, so you can imagine the crazy amount of instructive value you can find here. You don’t have to study the whole book, you can pick certain chapters based on your own level, which is why I consider this book suitable for a wide array of levels. I would point it out as the biggest factor responsible for my amazing results in 2021, in both online and OTB play.

Highlighted course

The Checkmate Patterns Manual

Was this helpful? Share it with a friend :)

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Improve your chess?

Do you want to learn the basics, improve your strategy or your openings? Do it with the world renowned Chessable MoveTrainer®.

Copyright © Chessable