Not enough time, no money, too old, bad memory. Those are just some of the most frequent excuses I hear for Chess improvement.
“It is true, that’s not an excuse” you might say.
Nope. Only excuses. Just give me 5 Minutes and I hope I’ll convince you.
In this article, I will show you why those are actually only excuses and how you can overcome them.
Chess Improvement is no Mystery
Getting better at chess is not easy. But it is rather simple. You don’t need to resolve a super tough equation or have an epiphany of Einstein’s Level to raise your chess rating.
Here are two very simple equations about Chess improvement everyone should be able to follow:
Good Training + Time = Improvement
Focus + Good Resources + Training the right way = Good Training
No rocket science.
As Focus can be improved, some good resources are even free and you can learn how to train the right way, Good Training is possible! For everyone.
Now let’s dismantle the excuses one by one.
I Don’t Have Enough Time
Time is limited. So I totally understand if you say “I don’t want to use my sacred time to study chess”. Fair enough. But then why are you on a Chess improvement Blog?
Saying “I don’t have time” is an excuse. The question is: do you want to make time for chess training or not?
I’m sure you still spend some time on Social Media, Watching Netflix and scrolling your smartphone. No shame on you, I do those things too.
But whenever I want to improve something, I know that I can make time. If I don’t make time, it is not important enough.
Now you might say “But I have kids, a full-time job, and really no time”.
The kids’ card is great. It usually works.
Not anymore though.
I have a student in my course who worked full-time and raised 11 Children (yes, it is true). He still MADE time for chess study.
Again, saying “I prefer spending time with my kids, I’m not ready to spend time on chess” is totally valid. You decided that you would be able to make time, but it is a trade-off you are not ready to make.
Amazing! You evaluate different options with the time you have and actively decide against Chess study. Nothing bad here.
But do not say “I don’t have time”. Because it simply is nothing more than an excuse.
I Don’t Have Money
99% of Chess content is free.
Yes, paid courses are helping you to move faster.
But you can still improve without spending a penny.
On Lichess you can:
- Play Games
- Analyze those games
- Solve tactical exercises
- Create your own opening repertoire
totally free of charge. Already quite something!
You are reading those lines for free. I have 70+ other articles aimed to help you improve your chess on this blog.
There are thousands of helpful YouTube Videos waiting to be watched. Streamers who answer your questions. Discord Servers to find like-minded people.
You are truly living in a time where Chess improvement does not have to cost a penny.
“It’s not resources but resourcefulness that ultimately makes the difference”Tony Robbins
I’m Too Old
Your brain might not work as it used to some decades ago. But still, you can train and improve.
“How dare you young kid, you don’t know what you are talking about” you might think.
Well, not true.
I’ve written an article about my student who won 100 rating points in one year at age 70. We had 1 Training session a month and he studied 5-10 hours every week.
And it was enough to make a big difference in his results.
So nope, you are not too old to improve. Yes, things might go slower, but improvement is still possible.
My Memory Is So Bad
Probably the excuse that triggers me the most.
Here is why:
90% of chess improvers don’t even need a great memory. A rating of 2000 is attainable without having to memorize any long opening lines.
But much more important:
Your memory is trainable! As Brain Coach Jim Kwik likes to say:
“There is no bad memory, there is only an untrained mind”Jim Kwik
Our brain is plastic, which means when we train it, it gets bigger. The key word here is TRAINING.
It won’t get bigger by binge-watching Netflix. You need to put yourself to the test.
Yep, this might be exhausting, but absolutely worth it.
By the way, the Grandmaster writing these lines has a Traumatic Brain Injury. I have days when I can barely focus on simple small talk.
I still raised my rating by around 100 points with that injury and started this chess blog & coaching business.
It would be very easy to say “I have a brain injury, I can’t work with my brain”. That would be the moment I lose control over my own life.
Not what I want. So I focus on what I can control and do my best possible work whenever my brain is in an ok shape.
Excuses Set You Up For Failure
I hope you now agree that any of the above sentences are just excuses. It is really vital to be able to look into the mirror and say: “stop using excuses!”.
Because those excuses will set you up for failure. Telling yourself your memory is bad will make it more likely that you are forgetful.
AND you take away the possibility to improve.
“I don’t have time” is the free pass to spend your time on things that don’t matter.
In the moment, the easy option feels good.
But you’ll never look back and say
“It was amazing to binge-watch all of Netflix and not ever use my brain”.Nobody, ever
So put yourself out there and try to be a better version of yourself every day.
Don’t be afraid of failing.
I never regretted aiming high and doing everything in my power to become the best chess player I can be.
Yes, I would have liked to be European Champion and have a rating of 2700. You might say I “failed”.
But in the process, I won several Swiss Championships, became the youngest Grandmaster in Swiss History, met some amazing people, and started a successful Chess Coaching business.
All of that would have never happened if I simply told myself the easy excuse:
“I have a brain injury, I can’t work with my brain”
So in the end, I’m way better off “failing” to achieve my high goals than sitting on my couch and using the same silly excuses over and over again.
Here is to no more excuses. Enjoy the process,
Want to keep on reading? Here are three Mindset Articles you will love:
Effort -> Pain -> Improvement Cycle: Why It’s Worth It
Overcoming the ‘But I’m Unique’ Mentality In Chess Improvement
This advice is what people need to hear. Thank you very much.