5 Myths about Getting Better at Chess Most Players Believe

5 Myths about Getting Better at Chess Most Players Believe

Today I will present you 5 the most common chess myths about getting better at chess.

Is it true that reading chess books will increase your ELO?

Do you think playing enormous number of chess games will make you a master strength player? Let’s find out!

Myth 1: If you play chess as much as you can, you will become a master

Although playing regular chess games is one of the elements of success , it is definitely not the only one. Maybe not even the most important one. It does not matter how many games you play, it matters how well you play: quality over quantity concept.

Playing many games and making the same mistakes over and over again will not lead you to becoming a better player. Maybe you will learn a thing or two here and there but globally, quality of your chess will not change just from playing games.

In order to improve at chess a systematic training approach is necessary, I have covered it here.

Myth 2: Reading chess books will increase your ELO

Chess books are a great source of information and are definitely very important for chess players of all levels. The main problem with chess books or any chess materials for that matter is that there are so many of them, it is hard to decide which one to study.

In order for your ELO to increase, you need not only to learn the information presented in the book, but also to be able to apply it in your own games. If you cannot apply your knew knowledge in real games, the book is no good for increasing your chess performance. This is what will increase your ELO.

Myth 3: Strongest chess engine will help you with game analysis

The problem with chess engines is that many people are not using them in the right way. Many players assume that plugging in the game into a chess engine and looking at changing + and scores in the analysis window after each move is a sufficient enough analysis, the one that will lead to learning from your own mistakes and improving quickly.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case. The only analysis that will help you to learn from your mistakes is your own, move-by-move, scrupulous one. The point I’m trying to make is simple, chess engines should help with the analysis not do it for you. After you finish with your own game analysis, you can check with the engine for the things you might have missed.

Myth 4: Studying more openings is what most chess players need to become stronger

Many chess players totally love studying openings. It’s almost like training biceps in the gym (for the ones who don’t know, this is the most favorite muscle group to train for most people). Day by day, chess players sit down and study long variations of their most favorite opening line 20 moves deep. They are almost experts in these lines, if they manage to remember them. The problem comes if somebody does not follow the line they have studied.

Then fiasco comes. One grandmaster said that a chess player needs to start studying chess openings only when he reaches about 1800 ELO. Since most chess players are below that level, there is no need for them to spend time on the initial phase of the game. If they want to improve, they should focus on tactics, endgames and the attack.

Myth 5: Winning chess games is what makes you a stronger player

We learn the most from lost games. The games that hurt us the most are the most effective teachers. We remember won games for few days, but we can remember that game we lost for months. So actually, losing games and learning from your mistakes is what makes us stronger chess player. One chess master once said, I have lost more games that you have played in your life, after defeating his opponents.

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall .. what matters is how many times you stand up, shake it off, and moving forward. – Unknown


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Don’t forget to share your own myths in the comment field below!

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Updated 01.06.2024


Richard Davis:
Hi everyone. Just noticed a mistake in the text. "If you cannot apply your knew knowledge in real games," "knew" should be "new".
revtimothy Nevins:
I tried to play a game today and i lost but i am not as good as i use to be
In my opinion chess is like life means your attitude in life reflects in your games, so simply one can say a determined, focused and winning greedy person can have a much more better prospect than a careless and easy going person in his journey towards becomming master no matter what methods they are employing, attitude counts.
There is something called 'plateau' at chess. For different players it's different, but it's a playing strength (rating or level) at which they can get stuck and cannot improve any further, without proper training.
Varun Batra:
Perhaps 'Choose your opponent Wisely'
Varun Batra:
Write a dedicated post for them 'Choose your opponent carefully'I hope that post will be able to help such players. However I never heard of such player who isn't improving even by playing more games.PS: I am not chess master. Chess is something I play when I am not coding.
Hello Varun Batra, you opinion is perfectly valid. These myths are complex and cannot be explained with d simple answer, also it's different for different players. For instance, one player can play a few thousand games and reach Master's level (exceptional talent) while another player (most people) can play their whole life and never reach that level. Therefore studying is required to improve for most.
Thanks for your comment, P.N.John. You're right about this one, but for some people losing a game a the biggest motivator to study chess. They want to improve, come back and to win that guy who checkmated them:)
Varun Batra:
Myth 4More opening means, you know what to do without wasting time on analyzing each move. You can even win material and put pressure right from beginningMyth 5Win increases motivation to reach at top and do whatever it takes to win next games.
Varun Batra:
Myth 1:Chess has millions of combination so if you play more, you will be familiarize with more positions. Practical knowledge is better.Myth 2:Chess books contains very practical positions and some very great and easy encountered mates or middle games. So more you study them more are the positions you are familiarizing with. You must have heard that 'this is a draw' or 'white is winning'. Obviously this is because positions or material left has been studied.Myth 3:Chess engines are programs that can study & analyse chess thousands of time faster than human and giving you better line or if you have made bad move is done in seconds so more chess engine you play with to analyse, it is more likely to have 10-20 options in position while you might be able to do only few - 1-3
You have to want to get better even more than merely wanting to win the next chess game.That will drive you to books,learn stuff that you can use to analyse own games,reflect on weaknesses and make progress...
Hello Varun Batra and thanks for you comment! So far you have only explained your reasoning behind Myth 1. Let me tell you that many chess players play for decades (20-30 years) and they play a lot of games without increasing their ELO or improving their game. :-)
Varun Batra:
I firmly believe that all mentioned points here are invalid but analyzing own game however analyzing through engines are also gives some help.Practice makes man perfect, more you play means more are the chances you remember things and you are more into getting at better and strong position. I suggest that a descent poll on it. I disagree to all of them. Sorry!
Hello John Tennon, we came to the idea of passive vs. active knowledge.
John Tennon:
Books don't increase your ELO, your good games do!