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6 Tips for Breaking Out of a Chess-Playing Plateau

From master chess players to hobbyists, everyone knows how frustrating it can be to plateau. Even though you’re practicing regularly, your win/loss rating isn’t going up. You study chess for increasing hours per day, but it doesn’t seem to help. What can you do?

1. Continue Your Practice

Many chess masters believe that plateaus are natural. Players will plateau for some period of time and then suddenly jump ahead in skill, but that plateau is necessary. The brain collects additional information over time and then changes to integrate this information.

Continuing to practice a scheduled amount of time is important. Try not to play less because you’re getting discouraged, and think about it more as time put in than win and loss.

2. Take Time Off

If you have been continuing your practice for a long time and seeing no results, it may be time to reboot your brain. Taking a break from your training as you continue your chess lessons can help you reset and relax, and it’s a particularly good idea if you’re starting to feel fatigued or resent the sport.

You don’t want to start to condition yourself to hate chess; that could just form a mental block against improvement. Enjoying something is the best way to improve at it.

3. Go Through an Intense Training Period

If taking a break doesn’t work, consider gearing up and going through even more intense training for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Bumping up your level of training or taking extra chess lessons can also break you out of the rut. Talk to your chess coach to set a specific plan for your training.

Though this may appear to be contrary advice, the key is to break your brain out of its habits. You want to alternate tactics and plans in order to shake your brain up and encourage it to think in different ways. Thus, when one strategy fails, think about using an extremely different tactic — just like you do in chess itself.

4. Watch Other Games

Sometimes you need to break out of your own strategies and tactics entirely. Rather than just practicing on your own games, watch players in other games entirely. Watching players play against each other can give you more information than playing a game yourself, as you’re seeing the tactics of both players.

Don’t just focus on studying the grandmaster chess players either; try to watch players of all skill sets. You may recognize patterns that are in your own games, or identify things that they are doing wrong that you could be doing incorrectly as well. Be particularly open to strategies you haven’t studied before.

5. Review Your Moves

Online games are a good way to improve because you can look at your losses and see where your strategies or tactics could have improved. After a match, review both your and your opponent’s moves, and try to track back to where you think you could have changed your strategy. This practice will give you more insight during future matches. Ask your chess coach’s advice as you review.

6. Get Some Master Lessons

Sometimes you may have weak points in your skills and tactics that you aren’t personally seeing. A master chess teacher could be a great help in this case. A skilled chess coach has the experience needed to identify your problems and advise you on alternative strategies that you might not have considered. Online chess lessons can be taken any time, so they can fit into anyone’s schedule.

Plateaus happen. But they don’t last forever. Like any sport, sometimes you just need to find a different way to approach it. A plateau usually means that you have stagnated in your tactics and need to move forward. To learn more, consider some online chess lessons with Chess Teacher.

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4 Skills That Chess Lessons Teach Children

Children who have a knack for the game of chess go a long way by building their skills, improving their ratings, and taking everything they learned to tournaments and other large chess matches. Personal one-on-one chess lessons offer the chance for a child to improve their skills, build on their weaknesses, and create better strategies for winning.

Along with actually improving at the game of chess, your child will have learned skills which they can use in everyday life. These skills help with home life, school, and everyday interactions with other people. Read on to learn about these skills and ways to increase your child’s chess rating at the same time.

1. Critical Thinking

Chess offers the chance for players to learn critical-thinking skills. Chess isn’t just a move-by-move type of game. Players must think of different scenarios for each piece and possible strategies to follow as the game goes on. In some cases, players plan their moves several turns in advance and then adjust their plans as the opponent counters their moves.

The critical-thinking skills learned on a chessboard may be used in the everyday life of a child. Whether the child is doing homework or in a tough situation, the thinking skills allows them to act while still understanding the consequences of their actions. This understanding may help your child reduce their impulsive urges and contemplate what’s to come.

This thought process is expanded naturally through chess and chess lessons. A chess teacher has the ability to teach a child the best ways to harness these critical-thinking skills and use them in life and the game of chess. The more your child practices chess, the more these skills will improve and be implemented into everyday life.

2. Other Perspectives

Along with critical-thinking skills, learning and growing through chess gives your child a chance to see the world from other people’s perspectives. As your child moves each piece on the chessboard, they learn how other players will react to their moves and their opponent’s perspective.

For example, if your child’s piece is moving in towards the King, then they will begin to understand the move options another player has to protect the King. Seeing another person’s perspective allows a child to have empathy in everyday life and see the motives of others.

In school, a child may use this skill to understand the actions of others. At home, a child may use their new understanding of other’s perspectives to understand why parents may need a little help with the chores around the house. Learning to put themselves in the shoes of another chess player really helps open up the mind of a child.

3. Patience

Chess is often a game of patience. Rushing to make your move could result in a lost piece or a possible checkmate. Through chess lessons, an instructor teaches your child to relax and take their time. Your child will learn how to wait things out and see all the options.

Naturally, patience is needed in many aspects of everyday life. Children may utilize their patience skills in waiting for meals, completing homework, or waiting for a chance to watch television. Patience may not come naturally, so learning this skill from a tutor helps build patience skills.

4. Building Goals

Another big part of taking chess lessons is setting goals to improve a child’s rating. After an initial consultation, a child’s goals are set for future lessons. By setting the goals, the child has something to work toward, build upon with each lesson, and achieve.

Creating goals outside of chess helps a child learn responsibility and builds responsible habits. Goals in everyday life may be something as simple as saving money or improving grades. Setting goals helps a child in so many aspects of their life and gives them a lot to look forward to.

Help your child build all of these skills by taking advantage of the chess lessons available at CHESS TEACHER. Contact us to learn more about our classes.

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4 Times to Exchange Pieces Evenly in Chess

Chess is a game of strategy and skill. To improve your rating as a chess player and win more matches, you need to have the ability to think quickly and make decisions that will benefit your endgame most.

Throughout any chess match, players are constantly capturing and giving up pieces to one another. This process is referred to as exchanging. An exchange of pieces can occur in many ways. A player might capture pieces that are worth more than the pieces they give up to an opponent. A player might also give up pieces who are worth more.

Oftentimes, an even exchange takes place. This occurs when the pieces being captured by each player are relatively equal in value. When the opportunity to make an even exchange presents itself, you must decide if the exchange is in your best interest. Use these four reasons to help guide your decision when it comes to even exchanges during upcoming chess matches.

1. To Gain an Advantage

The player that is in control of the game is said to have the initiative. Having the initiative is vital to a winning outcome. Getting the initiative takes careful thought and consideration to develop the positioning of your pieces in a way that puts your opponent on the defensive.

Opting to make an even exchange of pieces when you have the initiative can weaken your ability to make an attack later on. However, some instances occur where making an even exchange will increase your advantage in a clear way. When this happens, make the exchange whether you have the initiative or not.

2. To Free Up Space

Throughout the course of a chess match, you may find some of your vital pieces trapped on a small section of the board. Cramped positioning can make it difficult to launch an effective strategy.

Because it is much easier to move fewer pieces within a small area, opting to exchange pieces with your opponent could free up the space that you need to move your pieces more effectively.

3. To Weaken Your Opponent

Another valid reason to consider an even exchange of pieces during a chess match is to weaken the pawn structure of your opponent. You have some important considerations to make before completing this type of exchange.

Evaluate your opponent’s positioning and ensure that you are capturing a piece your opponent can only recapture in a way that will leave him or her with double the number of pawns. Having more pawns as the game progresses can hinder a player’s performance, so making an exchange that leaves your opponent with an excess of pawns can be to your benefit.

4. To Maintain a Material Advantage

The player that is ahead in material (meaning that player has captured pieces worth more than the pieces his or her opponent has captured) can benefit from making an exchange. By eliminating some of your opponent’s pieces while you are ahead in material, you can give yourself a further advantage when it comes to strength and your ability to move pieces across the board.

Because you have the stronger force when you are winning in material, reducing the number of pieces your opponent has to work with can make it easier to launch an effective strategy that will help you win.

Chess is a fun and mentally stimulating activity that can be mastered with practice and proper instruction. If you are looking to improve your chess rating by learning more about effective chess strategies, schedule a private online lesson at the Chess Teacher. We’ll help you improve your skills and better enjoy the game.

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4 Benefits of Online Chess Lessons

If you’re interested in chess, you can improve the way you play in many ways, allowing you to reap benefits like increased focus, creative thinking, and improved logic. Learning chess also allows you to join clubs and play in tournaments, which many people thoroughly enjoy.

If you want to learn to play chess, you have multiple options, including online instruction. Sign up for online chess lessons so you can get help reaching specific chess goals and expand your methods and techniques.

As you consider what type of chess lessons you should sign up for, learn about the advantages that come with online lessons.

You Get Personalized Instruction

If you choose to learn chess online, you will have one-on-one learning time that is focused completely on your needs. An in-person chess class offers broad tips and practice games with a group of students, but you’ll reach your goals faster through one-on-one learning. You’ll have the full attention of the teacher, the teacher will answer all of your questions, and the entire time will be devoted to your specific needs.

If you’re worried that online instruction won’t be as effective as an in-person class, think again. Using modern technology like webcams and clear audio, you can easily learn through both real-life chess sets and digital chess games on the screen. Both methods help you visualize boards and make proper moves.

Because you get your teacher’s full attention during online instruction, you’ll get their expert opinion on your playing style. As you start your private chess lessons, one of the main advantages is the initial diagnosis. By playing games or recapping other games, the teacher analyzes moves and pinpoints common patterns. Chess players tend to fall into the same type of pattern or strategy. Through an initial diagnosis, a professional will be able to point out where the issues occur.

From there, the online lessons will focus on steps for improvement. With your teacher’s help, you will improve quickly and evolve as a chess player. If you choose to learn chess on your own or go to a larger class, you won’t get this individualized diagnosis of your playing problems and a plan to help you overcome them. You may miss out on chances to improve, which will negatively impact your ratings.

Along with the initial diagnosis, chess lessons will continue to point out weaknesses and ways players can improve. Focus is put on each area of the game, including the start of game, breaking the board up, and achieving a variety of checkmates with different pieces.

You Can Improve Your Ratings

Chess players are organized by their rating, and a higher rating is one of the main goals chess players look to improve upon. In one-on-one online chess lessons, you and your teacher can focus on the specific things that will improve your rating. With individual help from a teacher, you can advance and dramatically improve your rating in the game.

Between lessons, you may compete in various competitions. Before and after each competition, your online teacher can analyze your rating to see ways to help it rise in the long run. They will then offer your lessons that focus directly on improving your rating based on your past performance.

You Can Learn From Home

Taking chess lessons from home comes with several advantages. You may feel more comfortable in your home environment, you can learn chess from any room in your home, and you may find scheduling lessons easier. You also don’t need to worry about driving to a separate location for chess lessons, which means that not only are you saving time by staying home, but you’re saving money on gas as well.

Additionally, when you’re done with your lesson, you have the option of immediately playing at home or through online games. All in all, you can’t beat the convenience of online lessons.

If you want to improve at chess, give online lessons a try. Contact us at Chess Teacher to set up lessons and allow you to thrive in the world of chess.

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How to Select Chess Lessons and Get the Most Out of Them

For the chess student, there is no better way to learn the game than by taking lessons. However, merely signing up for lessons is not all that you should do. Here’s how to find chess lessons that will help better your game — and how to prepare for each of your lessons.

Find a Private Chess Instructor

Start by finding a chess expert who offers private chess lessons. While there are many videos and group lessons available, these are only slightly helpful to the individual chess player. Private lessons are where you’re able to get one-on-one attention and personalized instruction.

When selecting a private chess instructor, you should look for someone who:

  • Has strong FIDE and USCF ratings
  • Studied under an International master (IM) or Grand master (GM)
  • Tailors lessons to individual students’ knowledge and playing style

A single lesson with a professional player who has studied from the best will offer more insights than several group lessons where multiple players’ questions must be answered.

Sign Up for Multiple Lessons

Once you find an instructor you like, sign up for multiple private lessons with them. In each lesson, you’ll gain insights to implement in future games. To solidify your knowledge base, try out a few of the things you learn, and then revisit them with your instructor. Also it is a good idea to sign up for for the longest duration lesson you can handle. The more time spent learning will bring much quicker results. Once you see your rating climb higher, you will see putting in the time gets you to your goal in a much shorter time frame. Time spent learning equals better strategy and overall stronger game play. Always remember your teacher shares your happiness as you improve, because your both share the same goal, making you the best chess player you can be.

Review Your Own Games

Before your lesson, review your own chess games. Look for a handful of games that posed a problem you didn’t understand. Don’t focus on mistakes that you clearly see were bad. Instead, seek out games that had unfamiliar openings, difficult tactical issues, or unusual end-game scenarios. Have copies of these games on hand during your lesson.

Whether you and your instructor have time to review these games will depend on what you cover during your private lesson. If there’s time to go over previous games, then your questions will help your instructor tailor their advice to specific situations that you are seeing in games. You can even replay these games with your instructor’s advice to see how the end result changes.

Watch Your Instructor’s Games

Many chess instructors stream at least some of their games. Spend some time watching their games — rather than playing your own. You’ll be able to see their moves, and you’ll also get to hear their thought process while playing.

Watching your instructor’s games will help you better understand how they think. You’ll also get a chance to see how they utilize the advice they provide in lessons during their own chess games.

If you’re interested in private chess lessons, then schedule one-on-one lessons at the Chess Teacher.

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Help Your Child Improve by Learning 3 Chess Rating Systems

If your child plays chess, their primary goal is to improve their rating, or their relative skill compared to that of other players. The better your child plays, the higher their Elo rating, which is the measuring system used by both common chess-playing websites and internationally recognized chess organizations like the World Chess Federation (abbreviated FIDE, based on the federation’s French name) and the US Chess Federation (USCF).

As a parent, your goal is to help your child achieve their goals — and you can do that by becoming familiar with common chess terms and strategies that will help your child’s rating improve. Keep reading to learn some basic verbiage common to the chess world that will keep you an active player in your child’s chess advancements.

1. The Elo Rating System

The Elo rating system was invented in the mid-1900s by an American physics professor and professional chess player named Arpad Elo. It’s currently the most common player rating system in chess, as well as in competitive board games and sports like football, basketball, baseball.

The Elo rating system is a little complicated for the average person to understand, as it’s based on a mathematical formula that calculates the likelihood of one player defeating another as a percentage. As the parent of a chess player, the main thing you need to know is that the rating system also assigns a number to each player based on how many games they’ve won or lost.

The higher their rating, the more skilled the player—and the more difficult they are to beat. If you beat another player, you add their Elo rating number to your own.

In most chess competitions, your child will face off against a player with a similar Elo rating. If your child wins, they’ll accrue a higher rating and advance to play against chess players who also have higher ratings.

2. FIDE Categories and Live Ratings

Each official chess group uses Elo ratings slightly differently. For instance, the FIDE schedules tournaments based on its own categorization system, and the federation also release ratings a little differently than other groups.

Elo Categorizations

FIDE tournaments are divided up based on categories ranging from 14 to 23. Players in the 14 category rate between 2567 and 2600; players in the 23 category rate between 2801 and 2825. As players beat other players in their category, they become eligible to play in the next-highest category.

Live Ratings

Officially, the FIDE releases a monthly list of their highest-rated players using the Elo rating system. The highest rating ever achieved was by famed chess player Magnus Carlsen, who, in May 2014, topped out at 2882.

Unofficially, chess enthusiasts rate FIDE players after each game, assigning the players new ratings after each win or loss in a FIDE competition. (Incidentally, Carlsen boasts the highest live rating and the highest official rating).

3. USCF Classifications

Under the USCF system, beginners start out in Class J, which includes players who rate from 0 to 199. From Class J, players advance by a figure of 200 points from Class I to Class A. For instance, Class I players have a rating of 200 to 399, while Class A players have a rating of 1800 to 1999.

The USCF classifies players who rate 2000 or above as experts, those 2200 and above as National Masters, and those 2400 and above as Senior Masters. Those who rate between 2200 and 2400 and have played at least 300 games where they’ve rated over 2200 are classified as Original Life Masters.

Your child earns a higher rating as they play and win more games—but it’s hard to keep winning tournaments and other competitions without a competent, confident teacher who can coach your child to victory.


If your child plays chess and wants to improve their rating, consider working with National Master Brandon Ashe. My USCF rating is 2320 and my FIDE rating is 2209 — so you know I’m perfectly qualified to help your child improve. Schedule a live online training session with your child today.