Chess training – why playing alone isn’t enough

Work towards a goal

This article will try to give you some insight into a chessplayer’s everyday reality, and why playing tons of games simply won’t make you the best player you could be. And that’s what we want, isn’t it?

“Be the best version of yourself” 

Work towards a goal

is a well-known saying, and that’s the version I will try to encourage you to reach (at least within chess…) with this article!


Only playing games won’t cut it

I want to start by saying this:

Playing a lot of chess games will teach you a lot! Especially early on, pretty much each and every game will teach you something new!

Homework is needed

I know this from experience, and I could show you many, many (I’m not sure which number to put here, cause it could simply be anything!) examples of players who went from knowing nothing to becoming very good players with nothing but playing.

But, you need to do some “dirty work” as well. I know it’s not really as “fun” to sit down to study the game as it is to play it, but if we want to get better, that’s what it will take.

Where to start

This is a difficult one, and quite frankly, you can go many ways here. By reading this article, you probably know a few things about the game already. You know how the pieces work, their value, how time controls work, and you’re probably quite familiar with the checkmate.

What we need now is a sound playing repertoire. Depending on what level you’re at, you will probably want to immerse yourself in the following to different degrees. My suggestion is that the first topic you learn a few things about, is the opening.

This is simply because everything later in the game, happens…*dan, dan, dan!*…after the opening! So you need a sound opening and some criterias, if you will, to follow in the opening, to even have a game to play in the later stages.

If not…

Well, the chances are you might just get wasted by someone who has actually done their homework on this topic!

The opening

There are tons of ways to go about when trying to figure out the best way to start a chess game. That’s why I suggest – if you’re at a beginner level – you focus on 1.e4 being your first move. If you’re not familiar with the annotation, this means moving your e-pawn from the square e2 to e4 on the first move.

After this, you follow my advice from my other article about getting out of the blocks. Get more pieces out onto the board, and get your king to safety. This alone should ensure you have a decent game for at least quite a while.

Books or “books”

After this, you might want to start doing some actual study!

In the old days, we’d sit down at our own wooden chess table with a book. Here you’d find tips and guidelines for how to play the opening, where to put your pieces, and what the thought behind it was.

Although the philosophy is still the same, today we more often than not sit down at the computer, hence “books”. Easy and quick access, and most of us view this as our office or go-to-place already, so why not just do our chess training here as well?

Not only do we have access to more things through our computer, it’s also a lot faster! You can learn a lot more and a lot quicker here. There are many aspects you want to learn about the opening, and with opening trees, quizes, and so forth so easily accessible on your computer, I recommend this as your number 1 training ground.

Learning different openings

After a while – or maybe just right off the bat, depending on your hunger for the game – you will both want and need to expand your horizon. You need more weapons in your arsenal.

If you’re already an experienced player (I’ll let you decide what “experienced” means to you) when you read this, you might know a thing or two about 1.e4. At the beginner level it’s quite common to see these first moves:

1. e4      e5
2. Nf3    Nc6      (N means knight, simply because the K is…guess!…yep, the  king!)

From here there are many ways your game could continue. The most common way would be Bc4 (moving your bishop from f1 to c4). But you could also go Bb5. Or Nc3. Or d3…


As you can see, already after just a couple of moves, we could have a lot of different games already! So, this is where you need to study a bit (I’ll put it nicely, cause I’m a nice guy!), so that you come prepared for how to face different replies from your opponent. The thing in chess is, that if you’re opponent know the opening way better than you, there’s a decent chance they will get the upper hand right away.

We won’t dig too deep here – as the opportunities are pretty much unlimited (did you know they say there are more possible moves to a chess game than there are atoms in the universe? Wild!) – but of course there are tons of other openings too. We have just looked at the starting move 1.e4 in this article. Of course there are others as well, the most common being:

  • 1.d4
  • 1.Nf3
  • 1.c4

We will get into these in a later blog.

Where to go from here

If you haven’t already, I suggest signing up with a chessite as your next step. This is easy and free! Here you will get access to a lot of both training and option of playing whenever you want to. Maybe you need a short break from your training, and a quick game would be a nice way to “loosen up”.

If you do this, please feel free to share where you sign up, and maybe we’ll sqaure off on that platform one day, or I can watch one of your games if you want!

If this article was in any way helpful to you, or you have any questions about the topic, feel free to leave a comment below!


Happy learning,


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8 thoughts on “Chess training – why playing alone isn’t enough”

  1. I am so much challenged to learn chess as quickly as possible because, the girl that I’m courting is adept at playing chess. And your article has inspired me to dig more and learn more about this exciting game, a game I wish I have learned earlier when I was just a kid. If only I have learned this game early on, then probably I am already an expert by now.

    By the way, you mentioned about a chess site near the end of your article but you didn’t provide a link for me to check. Can you share that link through a comment reply here?

    1. Hello Gomer,

      so glad to hear you feel inspired, and that’s exactly what I want from someone reading my article! Even though you wish you had learned it sooner, it’s never too late, and you will never regret it from this point on! 🙂

      You can sign up to several sites for playing chess, but I will provide you with the two I play the most at:

      If you want to later on, let me know your chosen nickname, and I’ll be happy to follow you!



  2. Oh, thanks for providing the links! I’m looking forward to mastering this wonderful game and nurturing further my relationship with my girlfriend. Thanks again and more power to you!

  3. I must admit I have always found chess a difficult game to learn. I also totally agree that playing on your own also isn’t the way forward.  Your article as helped me over my first hurdle as a beginner and you’ve inspired me to seek better ways of learning.  You’ve mentioned that I can learn from free websites online.  How well can I expect to play using a free site? And could I do better paying for coaching?

    1. Thanks Derek,

      Glad you found it helpful! Chess can for sure be hard, especially if you really want to get better, but don’t really have the will to put in some time away from playing. It doesn’t have to be much even, especially if you’re at the beginner level. Learning a few ideas or patterns can actually be enough to become a lot better. 

      You will for the most part have to think for yourself in a chess game anyway, so you really just need a little bit of learning to point you in a certain direction, or get you past some hurdles, as you put it. 

      Well, it’s always hard to assess exactly how much better you can get from this kind of training, but it will for sure be enough to make you a better player, given you’re at a beginner level when you start. You’ll probably be able to learn quite a few things even if you’re at the next level. Most to all sites offer pretty good value even on the free accounts. Try this first, and then you can start paying after this if you want to get even better. Because you will (most likely) reach a point where you need some guidance to get even better. 

      Hope this helped, and hope I’ll see you at the tables one day. Let me know if you sign up! 

      All the best, 


  4. In all honesty, chess is a game I admire with so much envy because I do not know how to play it and most players are great and critical thinkers. I love the level of professionalism used in playing bit and I’ve watched it being played a lot. I would like to learn how to play but the apps I downloaded were not of much help so I decided to go for a coach. However, reading from this post with the links provided, I think I will try that out first and see if I can improve myself to knowing more about the basics before paying for a coach’s assistance.

    1. Hey  RoDarrick,

      I am sure you will be able to learn the game! In the very beginning I suggest a sort of “back and forth”-approach, where you learn the very basics first (piece movement, some rules – see my earlier post on the subject), then play for some time, go back to training for a while (learn a thing or two about the opening, as suggested in this post). 

      I reckon this is a good way to learn the game, and especially if you want to do so without paying for a coach yet. 

      I will make more content on the topic soon, explaining both the middle game and end game, tactics training, strategy tips, and so on. 

      Let me know if you need more guidance, and until then I hope you enjoy some good chess games! 



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