Chigorin’s famous epigram “Even a poor plan is better than no plan at all” is a bit of a cliche in chess.
But for Chessable member Andrzej Krzywda, aka andrzejkrzywda, it is the gospel – because Andrzej is a man who has found having a plan really, really works.
As chess learners thirsty for inspiration, you may already have read – or heard – about Andrzej.
In the last few weeks he’s had a post that topped Reddit for several days and had a fascinating interview on the (wonderful) Perpetual Chess Podcast.
Both are well worth a look or listen.
But for the uninitiated, Andrzej is a 38-year-old software developer from Poland who runs his own business and has two kids, aged four and seven. As you can imagine he is a busy man.
Until recently he was a strong chess player but one who, by his own admission, had stagnated around the 2100 mark for some time. Decades, in fact.
It is a common story, if you are a member of a chess club you will have met many people plateauing like that. Andrzej, however, is different: he did something about it.
2258 and rising
After spending years setting himself modest goals he struggled to achieve, Andrzej decided to really go for it and target getting something we’d all love – the IM title.
He put in the time and the hard graft and in the last couple of years he’s put on more than 100 points. That is hugely impressive in itself, but last month, Andrzej had by far his most impressive result yet.
At the Katowice Spring 2018 he finished first scoring 7/9 and secured his first IM norm with a 2579 Performance Rating, putting on 95 points. Wow.
Andrzej is now 2258 Fide and rising.
How did he do it?
We caught up with Andrzej, who has been a member of Chessable since July 2017, and asked him to boil down his plan to the bare bones so us Chessablers can get some inspiration.
Some of the ideas will be obvious, some may not apply to you, but some may really, really help.
So without further ado, here’s Andrzej’s plan:
- Make time to study! I get up very early because it’s the only time I have
- Calculation with endgame studies – I like the Kasparian books
- Tactics, obviously this is very important
- 100,000 Chessable points a month is a must!
- Blitz online is OK but only if I immediately review the line played
- All in the cloud – all my chess tools are cloud-based, no desktop software needed
- Make sure all exercises can be used on my iPhone/iPad
- The importance of physical preparation for double-round days (bike mostly for me)
- Listen to Perpetual Podcast while on bike
- Find chess friends with similar goals
- Find a chess coach that suits you, but also challenges you
- Play a lot, real life games (classics, rapid, blitz)
- Be public about your chess goals
- I play a classic tournament at least once a month now
- Set ambitious goals when my goal was to get from 2100 to 2200 I couldn’t make it for over 10 years but when I changed the goal to IM, I made it in 3 years (plus one IM norm)
- I started my Facebook page and YouTube channel
- Review new games every week for my opening lines
- Add to Chessable if the lines included interesting ideas
As we said, some of these tips are fairly obvious – for example it is well known Magnus Carlsen takes being fit very seriously. But we particularly like the idea of making your chess goals public which Andrzej has just done by setting up a Twitter handle (@From2100ToIM) to chart his journey as well as his YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Here’s an example of his work:
Last night I played 18 blitz games. Today I wrote down all the openings which were played to review/add them to @chessable pic.twitter.com/lh6ZhejBfu
— From 2100 to International Master Andrzej Krzywda (@From2100ToIM) June 22, 2018
Andrzej’s Chessable choices
- Queen’s Gambit Declined: A Grandmaster Explains
- The Hyper Accelerated Dragon: A Full Repertoire for Black
- Accelerate The Dragon
We also love the idea of making space in your day for chess, even if you are a 38-year-old dad of two. Andrzej said he’s not a morning person but has forced himself to get up early and put in an hour or two before his family wakes up. And it’s worked.
Chessable plays an important part in his routine too. Racking up points and adding lines to his repertoire have helped him a lot.
No doubt it is very impressive and Andrzej’s story is an inspiration to all of us. His age, having kids, having a job are all excuses people (including myself) use for failing to improve.
But Andrzej just woke up one day and decided he would refuse to use excuses anymore. He shows if you really dive into improving your chess, you definitely can do it.
So come on, let’s do this together.