Chess Training for Amateurs

The Program

The following system is geared towards adult beginners with an ELO rating of 1200-1800. It is a modified version of Irina Mikhailova’s schedule which she used at the Petrosian Chess School. [1]

I have left the schedule flexible so that it can be modified based on the time you have to dedicate to chess study. For my own use, I plan on devoting 1 hour to chess at least 6 times per week for a total of 6 hours of chess study per week. If you want to add more time, simply multiply the hours per block. For example, I am using 30 minute blocks, so 1 block of study endings is equivalent to 30 minutes. If you want to devote more time simply multiply 1 hour X block for each theme.

Below are some of the differences between the original Mikahilova schedule and this version:

• Less emphasis on opening study.

• Spread across more days, but fewer hours of study per day. This is a 6 day program and the original was a 4 day program.

• Is geared towards a lower rated working adult.

• Strong emphasis on endgame studies, and contains a study endings theme which the original version did not.

• Strong focus on tactics training as the original.

• Incorporates the shortcut version of Michael de la Maza’s Seven Circles training.

• Time has been allocated for analyzing your games.

• Solving strategy session revolves around going over annotated master games.

In a nutshell, this program contains 4 of the things most chess coaches say are critical to improvement:

1. Going over annotated master games.

2. Repetition of tactical puzzles to burn in pattern recognition.

3. Playing slow games of G/30 or greater.

4. Analyzing your games, to find out your mistakes and preventing their reoccurrence.

Another benefit of the program is that it also grants structure and maximizes your chess study time.

Study Schedule

Study Schedule

When performing the modified 7 circles training, I recommend that you use the difficulty level method, and begin with the level 10 puzzles. The first cycle will take you through the first 200 puzzles, which will range in difficulty from 10-20. You then begin the next cycle with puzzle 201, etc. I tried to keep the time per puzzle to 20-50 minutes since my block time is 30 minutes.

Seven Circles Shortcut

Seven Circles Shortcut

If you follow the schedule it should take you approximately 4 weeks to finish 1 cycle of 200 puzzles and 1000 puzzles in approximately 20 weeks.


Tactics: CT-ART 3.0, Chess Tactics Server

Study Endings: Silman’s Complete Endgame Course, Just the Facts by Lev Alburt

Solve Endings: Silman’s Complete Endgame Course, Personal Chess Trainer.

Solve Strategy: Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953

Study Strategy: Reassess your Chess by Jeremy Silman, My System by Nimzowich

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