Milestones in Chess and how to achieve them.

Milestones in Chess and how to achieve them.

Milestones in ChessMilestones in Chess – a discussion. Rome was not built in a day. The same with Chess achievements – one brick at a time and the chess Mansion is built. We all know that going slow and steady is what it takes to reach a milestone. But what are the Milestones in Chess, the prerequisites and more importantly, how to sustain our motivation and achieve them eventually?

Some important milestones in chess are:

  1. Grandmaster Title
  2. International Master
  3. Fide Master Title
  4. Candidate master and
  5. Decent Fide Rating.

While striving to reach these milestones is desirable, understanding the way to approach these goals is essential, to make the journey smooth and enjoyable.


How do we reach (and cross) Milestones in Chess? What are the ingredients that make up for a successful accomplishment? How can we maintain the momentum that we had, when we first started?

What I really believe in, is the idea that a real journey is no different from a psychological one.  

Where there is fun, merriment and company and the journey becomes less tedious and less time consuming.

  1. So the first step is to make sure that you are passionate about this = Deeply passionate.

By that I mean that your whole day must be focused on this single passion. You can relax and must to but at the end of the day if you did not dwell in your pursuit of chess goals then it is not an earnest endeavor.

  1. Form a group that shares your passion = Together we win.

Join a club or make one if there is none!That way the energy levels will be sustained. Back in those days when I was an amateur I used to invite a lot of chess friends and they helped me when my energy was low, due to stress from other aspects. That was actually a boon for me as if I had not had these friends to push me up I would have quit and stagnated, resigning to my fate.

  1. Teach someone = Moral responsibility.

Yes… it may be strange to hear but teaching someone will give you a sense of what you have understood fully and what you have only a superficial understanding of. You will be morally responsible and that will bring sincerity to your efforts. I gained a lot by teaching some younger players a few things about chess training software and in return I was daily increasing my knowledge by conscious reinforcements and boosting my energy levels.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions = Fearlessness.

Sometimes a stronger player will take the pains to teach you something ONLY if you bother to ask. Just try it. I have met quite a few good souls who later on turned out to be good friends in my chess journey!You can try it out in your club or during a tournament.

  1. Don’t be afraid of criticism = No Ego.

Sometimes players who are far younger than you will chide you for your game quality – take it in your stride. After all, that kid is giving you a free lesson! These nifty tips will be in your memory for a long time.

  1. Spend some time doing self-study = Gaining momentum.

That is the most important tip I cannot stress enough. Too many students of mine need to be weaned off the spoon feeding that they undergo as beginners. When they reach a certain level they must be forced to study on their own for sometime daily. This will give them a sense of achievement that will drive them to higher pursuits. A coach can only act as a battery charger. The ‘capacity of the battery’ is what you will be increasing by self study. Its your prerogative.

  1. Meditate daily. It is the hidden compass in your life that will constantly guide you on your path.
  1. Take a break, once a week.
  1. Exercise regularly. While everyone knows that exercise is a good idea, the scientific evidence about its benefits in the old age is there for all to see. Remember that Chess has to retirement age. So if you love chess you will be playing it for a long time to come and for that you need to be healthy.

I hope you liked this article. If you can do me a favor spread the word. Let us help the chess players who are struggling. I know because I was also once there in that plateau.

Editor’s picks for further reading:

Mind is much more powerful than you think 

Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess – hacking your chess brain.

Empire Chess is offering a huge discount on digital and hard copies! Make sure you get the deals while they last.




Smart Chess Training

Smart Chess Training

Smart Chess Training 

Smart Chess Training – How to improve your Chess by working smarter not harder.

chess_logoINTRODUCTION: I have been asked many time by aspiring players and their parents about how to improve at chess, usually after they stagnated and came to me for help. Then there are beginners who know the basics but are clueless about what options are there, or even what type of study material to start training with. Very few players know about the Smart Chess Training techniques. Let me explain.

Most of the beginners and parents start doing something merely by looking at others like learning endings or openings and then wonder why they do not win games. I decided to write this article to help players who are aspiring to improve their chess playing ability and who do not have access to a professional coach or the time for a rigorous disciplined study.

Smart Chess Training

Success in chess is proportional to hard work and study, but it is more about smart chess training according to me.

Keeping targets short and reachable: It is important to have a focus while training, decide what you are trying to achieve and then choose that training relevant to your area of study. For eg., if you are aiming to become a Grandmaster, you must work really hard and long at your game. But if you are aspiring to first become a strong player and remove your weaknesses then you are going to reach there without fail. That is my guarantee.

So what is ‘Smart Chess Training’?

Before we talk about the smart way to learn or train in chess we will discuss in this first part of the article the traditional approach to the syllabus of chess knowledge that every player must learn. Only then will we understand the smart way to chess training in proper perspective.

Classical Chess training has four main areas of study. Each of these areas provides the requisite knowledge and skill to a decent chess player.

Let us know them first.

1. Tactics

featured imageTHE most important ability of a chess player is to be able to visualize a certain number of moves without touching the pieces. This is called visualization or calculation in chess. The more we train our calculation the further ahead we can see, with greater accuracy and speed.

Tactics are common motifs in chess that can generally win the game. Some examples of tactics are “forks”, “skewers” and “pins”. The more a player studies these types of patterns and puzzles the easier it is for them to pick-up on these “quick winning” techniques during a real game and also set some traps for an opponent.

Solving tactics puzzles is the fastest way to improve as an aspiring chess player and is a core skill to master. You need to know them cold when they occur. And for that you must be familiar with many tactical devices like the back of your hand.

Tactical visualization requires two elements: Present – focus and Past – pattern recognition.

Advanced Tactics require the reverse-thinking abilities too. In fact the sooner you get to grips with reverse-thinking the better. Simply put – reverse thinking is the ability of deciphering why a certain tactic is not working and then setting about making it to work by removing that cause.

Some books that need to be read again and again: These are my personal favorites.

Practical Chess Exercises: 600 Lessons from Tactics to Strategy

Improve Your Chess Tactics: 700 Practical Lessons & Exercises

1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, 21st Century Edition (Fred Reinfeld Chess Classics)

1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate (Chess lovers’ library)

Sharpen Your Tactics: 1125 Brilliant Sacrifices, Combinations, and Studies

2. Strategy

chess brainStrategy is what is known as the real meat of chess strength. It is that knowledge which is used when there arises a need to choose, between what you want to do and what the position wants.

Strategy is the understanding of positional aspects present in any position that guides a player in formulating a future plan of action. For example one of the simplest strategy a beginner learns is that “we must never put our knights on the edges of the board”.

Strategy requires patient analysis and studious planning. It is more about conversions to a win.

Recommended reading:

Looking for Trouble: Recognizing and Meeting Threats in Chess

Practical Chess Exercises: 600 Lessons from Tactics to Strategy

The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy

How to Reassess Your Chess, Fourth edition

Chess Strategy for Club Players

3. Endgames

How to prepare for Chess Tournaments?Endgames are the study of positions consisting of very few pieces, usually without queens, such as pure Rook endings –or- King and pawn endings.

Studying endgames teaches the potential power of the pieces in isolation and with other pieces. The study of endgames aids brute force calculations as with fewer pieces on the board it is easier to visualize.

I believe endgame study is important to an aspiring chess player. Players who study the endgame tend to blow players away who do not study the endgame, even in positions that should be lost of drawn just because of a little understanding. But remember that the syllabus for the endgame training is not the same for every strength category.

Endgames require understanding of concept and memory of certain important thumb rules.

Suggested Endgame Work material:

Van Perlo’s Endgame Tactics: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sunny Side of Chess Endgames

100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player Improved and Expanded

Domination in 2545 Endgame studies by Genhrikh Kasparyan

4. Openings

babyStudying of individual openings and move orders is more of a tool only if a player is already extremely strong. It is of no use for a beginner. My simplest advice is – forget opening study if you are rated below 1800.

However the study of opening principles, and the different generic plans and structures relevant to any opening is beneficial. Make sure you have access to a coach who can guide you properly in this regard or quality training material if you do not have access to such a coach.

Openings require memory and general understanding abilities. Also the art of transpositions is a must.

Suggested reading (with a coach preferably):

How to Reassess Your Chess, Fourth edition – (also for openings)

The Kaufman Repertoire for Black and White: A Complete, Sound and User-friendly Chess Opening Repertoire

Chess Openings for Black, Explained: A Complete Repertoire(Revised and Updated)

Chess Openings for White, Explained: Winning with 1.e4, Second Revised and Updated Edition Chess Opening Essentials: The Complete Series (Volumes 1 – 4)

In a future article part I will be discussing about SMART CHESS TRAINING for coaches.


Note: the links in this page are affiliate links.

Power of the common Pawn – Chennai (Tiger) Express

Power of the common Pawn – Chennai (Tiger) Express

Power of the common Pawn – Chennai (Tiger) Express


Power of the common PawnThis was one brilliant game of technique played by Vishy Anand, that shows how positional understanding is the foundation of all tactics. Its not often you get to see a game that literally keeps you mesmerized. There was some inefficiency by Wesley So but that does not take the credit away from Anand. A champion has to be brave and this is what Anand demonstrated – he showed the Power of the common Pawn today in Shamkir 2015.

The 2nd Vugar Gashimov Memorial took place in the Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir from 17th to 26th April 2015. The participating players were: Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Vladimir Kramnik, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Adams Michael and Mamedov Rauf.

Magnus Carlsen won the 2nd Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerhaijan with 7/9 a point clear of Viswanathan Anand.  However Vishy produced some of his best games here and notable is this one as told earlier.

Carlsen finished a point ahead of Viswanathan Anand who had an interesting event. Anand was also impressive as he remained undefeated, though he also had ample chances to win against his arch nemesis Carlsen in the first round.

We can learn how chess is played from up-there. The perspectives are sure to raise your understanding and your elo too. A game that I liked a lot is shown below.

A brutal technical win over Wesley So by the Chennai Tiger Vishy Anand. It was all about endgame finesse and understanding. And the Power of the common man, er… the common pawn.

[Event “Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015”]
[Site “Shamkir AZE”]
[Date “2015.04.21”]
[Round “5.2”]
[White “Anand, Viswanathan”]
[Black “So, Wesley”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C77”]
[WhiteElo “2791”]
[BlackElo “2788”]
[Annotator “Kish”]
[PlyCount “89”]
[EventDate “2015.04.17”]
[SourceDate “2015.02.07”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Nc3
d6 9. a3 Nb8 10. Ng5 $5 Nc6 {[%csl Gd4,Rg5][%cal Rc6d4,Gf3g5,Yd4f3] Taking
advantage of teh fact that the Knight on f3 is missing in action albiet
temporarily.} 11. Ba2 Nd4 12. Ne2 {Exchanging the Opponent’s active piece.}
Nxe2+ 13. Qxe2 h6 {The courage of a chess player. A very intuitional sacrifice
(that happens only when you look at the position from a bird’s eye view) and
one that is purely positional rather than tactical. Wonder what the engines
must be thinking about this move. It is what I call a human-like move!} 14. f4
$5 hxg5 (14… exf4 {seems to be an idea for another day. However I think
Anand must have simply moved back the Knight to f3.} 15. Nxf7 (15. Bxf4 hxg5
16. Bxg5 $19 {Seems to be bad for White.}) (15. Nh3 $13 Bxh3 16. gxh3) 15…
Rxf7 16. Bxf7+ Kxf7 17. Bxf4 {Nothing tangible for White again. So there seems
to be a lot of ways where Black could have kept White subdued}) 15. fxg5 {
Pawns on the 5th rank and beyond, are powerful and work almost like a piece in
terms of strength. That is what makes a player stand out when he can
understand the fluid nature of how the power-balance can shift subtly.} Ng4 $6
{What is that Knight doing?} 16. g6 {There goes the battering Ram! This pawn
is on steroids and seems unstoppable! That is the ‘Power of the common pawn’.}
Bg5 $5 (16… Nh6 $5) 17. h3 $1 {At first sight this looks like a move that is
kicking the Knight. Look deeply and you will see that the h-pawn is raring to
join its friend on g6! This li’l fella is planning for the future!} (17. Bxf7+
Rxf7 18. gxf7+ Kf8 {gets nothing for White!}) 17… Bxc1 18. Raxc1 Nh6 19. Qh5
$1 {The Queen comes in for the kill. A menacing move that takes adv of the
power of White’s active pieces.} Be6 20. Bxe6 fxe6 21. g4 {There is that pawn
rush to attck and soften Black’s fortress. Poor Black is helpless even though
he is a piece up.} c6 $6 {Anand thought this was a mistake during the press
conference as I guess it is not doing anything about the impending aftermath.}
22. Rxf8+ Qxf8 23. Rf1 Qe7 24. g5 Rf8 25. gxh6 Rxf1+ 26. Kxf1 Qf8+ 27. Ke2 $1 {
No more checks!} gxh6 {Subtle pawn play by White. Conversion from this
position is an entire game altogether. It is here that Anand had to shift
gears and play delicate strokes. No mad rushing here.} 28. Qg4 Qf6 29. h4 d5
30. h5 d4 31. b4 $1 {Bringing the point home. This requires finesse on the
part of the White player.} Kg7 32. Qf3 Qe7 33. Kd1 Kg8 34. Qf2 Kg7 35. c3 dxc3
36. Kc2 Qc7 37. Qc5 Kg8 38. Qe3 a5 39. Qh3 axb4 40. Qxe6+ Kf8 41. axb4 Qa7 42.
Kxc3 Qa3+ 43. Kc2 Qa4+ 44. Qb3 Qa7 45. d4 1-0


Never under-estimate the Power of the common Pawn !

Further Reading –

Kish Kumar is a passionate Chess player and coach at Golden Chess Centre and loves teaching the various aspects of Chess. When not involved with Chess he is busy life-coaching! Connect with him here 🙂

Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess – hacking your chess brain.

Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess – hacking your chess brain.

Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess – hacking your chess brain. Why esoteric? Because it was not known publicly till now. And why hacking? Because we are using action instead of passive knowledge. And why are using this book to hack our chess training? Read more…

For whom is this article useful: For aspiring chess players with a penchant to learn new techniques. Not for the beginners and children below 7 years. Also for coaches who believe in trying new techniques.

Why only Chess Informant books: Any good book will do but my experience with the Informant was first-hand so I can speak with confidence and honesty. Also I believe that they have an edge as they have only the fresh and latest games for every quarter publication.

What will you gain: You will save a lot of time. You will hack your learning technique to climb faster in the ELO ladder. These may not have been mentioned in any book, atleast none that I know of.

So let’s get started with the esoteric art of learning chess


Chess Informant - the Esoteric Art of Chess Training

If you are here reading my blog post, you are a chess player on the path of improvement (atleast not a non-chess player, since all chess, players like to learn to improve their game). In addition, if you have been in the chess field for some time, you must have come to know or heard about the word ‘Informant’ or ‘Informator’ in the Chess book scene. Chances are you might have even glanced at the book in a tournament stall and either took a few minutes to go through it by flipping a few pages, or looked at the pictures and thought that it was a niche book for a thoroughbred professional – who was up there in the 2500 rating range which you were/are not. You might have even thought of quitting chess, if this was what you were going to be taught when you became stronger.

How wrong and misinformed you could be, (or I was…) !?

However, I won’t blame you for this. That is the initial impression that I had too, when I saw it, some 18 years ago. So I must start with a revelation here.

My actual chess improvement started only after I had included the informant in my regular chess discussions and coaching classes, some 15 years ago – when I was aspiring to come to terms with not just the opening stages of the game, but almost everything that was problematic: my repertoire, my Strategy, my tactical skills and my endgames.

On hindsight, I am wondering why I did not look at this book when I started seriously researching about innovative chess training!

Here are my suggestions – Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess :

Chess Informant - Art of Esoteric Chess Training 1. People learn from mistakes and smart people learn from others’ mistakes.

Don’t make the same mistake as I did. Therefore, if you are a 1200 – 1500 player, I suggest you to look at these informant books with your trainer, in a way that suits your playing strength as outlined below.
I will be detailing my experiences with these informants and if you follow me you may be able to save some time and remove some misconceptions in the way.

Chess Informant - the esoteric art of learning chess2. Myth – Too many variations and diagrams that look like a PhD thesis submission.

First, take a deep breath. And do as I say.

Look at the diagrams one by one. Now look at the move printed below it. Usually this move would be given a symbol of either a ‘!!’ or a ‘!’ or in rare cases a ‘!?’. That is where the fun starts. Go to a real chessboard and stick up the position as you see it in the diagram. DO NOT worry about the game or annotations for now. Fire your brain’s neurons and understand why that move was considered GM class. This is where a good coach comes in.

Warning: When I first did so, I made the mistake of looking at the diagrams and then blindly looked at the continuation given in the book. And I thought that was enough. I was partially right – since I was initially learning at a rapid pace. Then when I hit a wall I came back and chewed the positions again, this time slowly.

Chess Informant esoteric training3. The secret on how to really juice up the esoteric chess knowledge from such diagrams:

They will measure your understanding over a period of time. I found that these diagrams were there for a purpose, but not all the explanations given in the book will help you.

It depends on your chess understanding or rating range.

In fact, there are no verbal explanations; only moves and these moves only skimmed the surface of the chess ocean. They were/are like a guidepost for the reader – to help him when he re-visited the book, after a period of time. In my case, I remember I found one strange fact EVERY single time I revisited the diagram:

I was able to see NEW layers of Chess wisdom each time I saw these diagrams.

The secret was that I got to see a new facet of chess knowledge every time I saw these diagrams. It was as though, whenever I added knowledge to my brain my eyes were endowed with special vision lenses. I could see a new layer of hitherto hidden information portrayed in these diagrams, whenever my brain absorbed stuff and my knowledge increased.

Words will not be able to describe this phenomenon, but you will understand where I am coming from, when you sit down and do as I did. In your case, I suggest a revisit after 2-4 months. You will notice that the diagrams speak a new language after such hiatus.


Chess Informant - the esoteric art of chess learning4. Listen to the book and the positions, at first. Each position is a story by itself.

Now when you do read the moves succeeding the diagram you will notice that they do not always mention what you discovered on your second sitting or third sitting. At best, they will tell you what is obvious initially, atleast for an approximately 1900 + rated player to see. And that, is because if they catered to all rating ranges then they would miss the quality of analysis.

learning5. One size cannot fit all. It is up to us to choose what we want from the ocean of chess treasure.

In other words if you are a 2000 ELO player reading these Informants you will not see the diagrams similar to the way a 1500 rated player sees. To explain it further – If you are rated say 1500, just ask a 1200 player what he sees in any diagram. Almost invariably, he will say something that is elementary for you.


If you are stagnating in chess I suggest you to read my previous article – Secrets of Positional Chess

And if you need a dose of motivation for chess training – Separating the wood from the trees.



If you are interested in shoring up some hidden techniques, practice the Chess Informant – the esoteric art of learning chess method.

And dig deep.

Any informant will do; for that matter, the more recent ones are better for many other purposes that will be outlined in the later articles. It depends on your chess understanding or rating range. Whatever be your strength or class you will get something of value.

The trick is to innovate your learning. So – hack your learning process with the Informant.

Order your copy of Chess Informant 126 here
Order your copy of Chess Informant 125 here
Order your copy of Chess Informant 124 here.
Order your copy of Chess Informant 123 here.
Order your copy of Chess Informant 122 here.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or any experience to share, I am always willing to hear them. My email is ‘chessgolden’ at the rate of Gmail dot com.

*****Empire Chess is offering a huge discount on digital and hard copies! Make sure you get the deals while they last.

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Mariya Muzychuk is 15th World Women’s Champion!

Mariya Muzychuk is 15th World Women’s Champion!

Mariya Muzychuk 15th World Women's ChampionMariya Muzychuk is the 15th World Women’s Champion! Congratulations to her for a stupendous performance. In the last game of the match, Natalia Pogonina needed a win at all costs, and she needed a miracle once again in the tournament. Unfortunately, she had Black, and Mariya Muzychuk only needed a draw! Muzychuk pretty much clamped down Natalia in the deciding game. And a new champion was crowned on this date (see her smiling pic on the left).

The grueling Women’s World Chess Championship took place from March 17 – April 7 in Sochi, Russia. The knock-out tournament was attended by 64 players, including the former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), the three-time Russian champion Valentina Gunina, the World Vice-Champion our own Humpy Koneru (India), our other strong contender Dronavalli Harika, as well as other leading grandmasters. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was could not make it for personal reasons, but as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix she will still be able to challenge the new champion to a match duel.

In a tournament that spanned approximately two weeks, it was getting crazier and crazier each passing day. The Indian challenge was well carried by Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika but in the end a little bit of luck was also needed. What is commendable is the dream run that Harika had. What poise! What stamina! I wish her many more years of top-notch success as she is one who deserves it fully. The World Women’s Championship was indeed a revelation for her!

Harika first to semis!

The level of tension and fight can be understood by the fact that of the four matches left, three were to be decided in the tiebreaks! Harika Dronavalli was the only player to avoid that fate, as she defeated Meri Arabidze. Both Humpy Koneru and Natalia Pogonina were able to win in the tie-breaks, with the Russian winning her game with her trademark entertaining Benko Gambit.

Did Harika Dronavalli find her energy using the Ancient Indian Yogic pose called Vajrasana?

Harika in Vajrasana pose I remember seeing here in Chennai during the WinTV Chess tournament where She was accompanied by her Parents. She has not changed much! Anyways, now that the secret is out of the bag I think many female players in India will follow her and we may get to see a lot more Vajrasanas in Chess! I was gung ho when I saw here leading along with Humpy and when she faltered I was sure Destiny had planned better things for her.

One thing is for sure – anything that helps is needed and welcome in these pressure cooker situations (see Nakamura’s pic below)!  The World Women’s Championship tournament was indeed nerve wracking for the followers and the players!

Look what our local media had to say about her run in the WWCC – D Harika: Nerves of Steel in World Chess Championship



Nakamura SunglassesOn a side note do you remember Hikaru Nakamura’s Sunglasses?

Let’s hope Harika sets a benchmark in Indian Ladies Chess Scene and we get many more champions who will carry the Indian Torch forward! Thank you Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika for making us proud!


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