I have come to the realization that there comes a time in every improving players game where we try to apply all we have learned yet we end up losing more games than we win. The improving player needs to realize that reading more chess books, learning a new opening or practicing obscure endgames is not going to improve their game.
The improving player’s game will be better served by simplifying their chess and going back to basics. Here are five things we can do that should lead to improved results:
1. Improve your thought process. Make sure you look for checks, captures and threats on every move, and always consider what your opponent is trying to accomplish and what move they would make if it would be their turn instead of yours.
2. Improve your ability to analyze. Consider at least three half moves before making a move. If the position leads to a forced tactical continuation, and you are unable to calculate until the position is quiet, then choose a ‘safer’ strategically based move that will require less analysis and calculation.
3. Do not force the situation and instead play for small advantages. Ensure that there are no weaknesses in your camp, while at the same time scanning for weaknesses in your opponents side.
4. Calculate several candidates before making each move, and always expect that your opponent will play the best move. Remember that once you found your move, try to look for a better one (unless you are in time trouble).
5. Play less blitz games. Blitz is the number one reason we develop bad habits which hurt our thought process. Blitz causes us to not analyze and think the position through. Play longer games (at least G15/5) instead of blitz, these longer games will allow you to work on your thought process and analysis skills. Once those bad habits have been eliminated, you can then return to blitz play as a much stronger player.