Sadly, there are still a lot of Charlatans and get-rich-quick schemes in Online Chess improvement. They all have one thing in common: they try to make Chess improvement look very easy.

Their marketing will suggest that buying their product or course will give you a very easy way to improve. Only by watching some course, you will basically instantly improve and your worries are over.

Let me tell you the ugly truth: Chess improvement is not and will never be easy.

Make It As Simple As Possible

What you are really searching for in your Chess improvement is to make it more simple. Some of you might think: but wait, aren’t simple and easy the same thing?

I have thought so too for a long time. But there is actually a huge difference between these two words.

Difference Of Simple And Easy

Easy means something that is achieved without or with only minimal effort. It is the opposite of difficult.

Simple means something that is uncomplicated. It is the opposite of complicated.

Do you need an example? Here you are:

Doing every day 1 push-up more than the day before is a very SIMPLE workout plan. There is nothing hard to understand or complex in it. But on day 100 you have to do 100 push-ups. That is far away from EASY.

Let me give you two different Chess training plans. One is simple but far from easy, the other one is easy but not simple.

  1. Every day from 5 PM to 6 PM 1 hour of studying with Yusupov’s book series (starting from book 1, working all the way up to book 10).
  2. Whenever I feel like I lie on the couch and watch some kind of chess video.

In the first one, there is nothing to misunderstand. The time is set and also the what to train is straightforward. But the hourly training will be far from easy! You will need to strain yourself daily.

The second one is much harder to understand. The time and nature of “training” are not clearly defined. You might already lose yourself in some other youtube video before even starting the “training”.

What is clear is that the “training” is supposed to be easy. Lying on the couch and watching some video is done with a lot of ease.

I guess you get my point. You won’t get anywhere if you prioritize the easy way.

But obviously, we all are lazy and would love to find out about some secret easy way. And that is what scammy ads play into. But again, take my word for it: there is no quick way to easily improve in Chess.

How Can You Make Your Training Simple?

Now that you hopefully understand that easy improvement is only a lucid dream for most of us, we can get to work and make your training as simple as possible.

What I see with most amateurs is that their training routine is way too complex.

Mixing several online courses with books, trying out one opening after another, and not having a clear time plan for training are some of the worst mistakes I see.

So how do you get from this point to a simple routine?

  1. Find some time slots during the week that you reserve for focused (difficult, not easy) Chess training.

    I used to prepare my training week on Fridays (Saturday+Sunday were off for me). Start with an amount that you will be surely able to do. Consistency is key. If you want a more detailed guide, then read how to set up your training plan.

    Also include a slot for weekly reviews & setting up the next plan.

    The most important thing: get the Quality of your training right.
  2. Set up a space designed for working on your Chess.

    I used to train, sleep & do organizational stuff in the same room for years. But this doesn’t make it simple for your brain to process that you are now actually working on Chess.

    So try to find a corner in your apartment designed for Chess. If you have such a place, your brain immediately understands it has to work now whenever you sit down. If you don’t have that space, then use your immagination.

    Make always the same tea when studying Chess. Or plug out the internet to reduce disturbances. The important thing is that you send a message to your brain entailing: now it is time to focus.
  3. Reduce your information intake.

    The more different sources and opinions, the more difficult it gets to have a simple plan. There are many ways to improve your Chess. But you should not always change your way because somebody does something different.

    Focus on 1-3 sources you really like and trust. Then follow their suggestions for at least 6 months. Only then you can really see if that is a good fit for you. Find out whom you should trust and whom not in this article.
  4. Reduce the amount of books, courses and openings you work on.

    For most Amateurs, playing one opening well is more than enough. You don’t need to know more openings (if somebody tells you anything else, that is most likely a sales pitch for their new course…). Try to keep the amount of books & courses you work with very limited.

    You don’t want to be unsure what exactly to study when you sit down for your training. It should be as simple as possible!

Resources That Make Things Simple

Yusupov Book Series

Because I am so fond of simplicity, I always love to recommend the Yusupov series. These are 10 amazing books that include tactics, endgames & middlegame training. As the openings are outdated, I would skip the opening part in all of the books.

As I learned from a recent Twitter thread, already the first book is pretty hard. A good starting point is probably a 1500-1600 FIDE rating. You can read here which one you should take on first (orange-blue-green).

The simplicity of having only ONE book series to work with for a long time can give you so much mental space to really do the training right.

If you really want to get an opening course next to it, then do it. But only get ONE for each color and give the opening time. Learn how to play the opening, don’t just memorize moves. You can learn how to analyze openings yourself here.

Winning Chess Series

In case you aren’t yet 1500-1600 FIDE, then you can go with another great series: the Winning Chess series from Yasser Seirawan. Again the simplicity of learning from 7 books by the same author with the same style is amazing.

There is also a Chessable course on one of the books in the series. Although I prefer doing the work with Book & actual Chessboard, this is certainly also an option (I get the feeling it is optimized to make things easier, not simpler…).

ChessMood

ChessMood will make your Chess learning Simpler.
ChessMood PRO offers a variety of amazing Video courses for all levels. Highly recommended!

Another resource I love to recommend is ChessMood (I am an affiliate, so I get commissions from purchases through my link).

Contrary to most other online sites, they are very fond of telling you that Chess improvement won’t be easy. Read GM Avetik’s article on becoming a GM as an example.

With a monthly membership, you get access to all video courses.

And all of them are designed for long-term growth. Instead of focusing on making them easy, they focus on making them effective!

There are also community tournaments where you can apply learned knowledge in practice and monthly webinars.

There is only one repertoire to learn and then you can learn about endings, how to use your pieces, important classical games, and much more.

You will have all things in one place, which is making your training so much simpler!

If you want other Chess resources, then just visit my resource page, which I update frequently.

Non-Chess Resources

I have been greatly influenced by Greg McKeowns Books: Essentialism & “How To Master Essentialism”, with focus on his first book

  • “The Art Of Effortless results” with focus on his second book
  • I’m applying the things I learned through these amazing books & conversations not only in Chess but everywhere in my life.

    And funnily enough, a much simpler life makes things also easier in the end. With more brainpower for the real important things, you will flow through life much easier.

    Sincerely,
    Noël