Phase 2: Tactics and General Principles
Rating Range: 900-1200
Recommended duration: 6 months
This may be the key Step, because if you take the important points in this Step lightly, the steps forever after will seem slow and stifling.
After taking in your first two books, here on in limit yourself to about three books at a time. We suggest books on tactics (because that is key), a game book to pick up general principles, and a “talky” book to learn general principles and other guidelines.
The key is to do basic tactical motif problems over and over (doing them seven times is good!) until you can get them almost by sight.
Don’t spend more than 5 minutes or so on any problem; the goal isn’t to solve them correctly, but rather to get as many problem and solution patterns into your brain in a short a time as possible. If you spend too little time doing a problem, then you won’t remember the problem pattern at all. If you follow any advice at all from this Chess Development Plan, then learning basic tactics well, just as you would learn your multiplication tables, is the single most important thing.
Richard Teichmann, one of the world’s great players in the late 19th century, said “Chess is 99% tactics”. He may have been exaggerating a little but, if so, it wasn’t by much, so keep this relative importance in mind.
2. Understanding Chess Move by Move by John Nunn
This is a great book to learn general principles. Virtually every move is explained using words that everyone can understand. Jargon is avoided as far as possible. Almost all the examples are taken from the 1990s and show how key ideas are handled by the grandmasters of today.
The emphasis is on general principles that readers will be able to use in their own games, and detailed analysis is only given where it is necessary.
3. Chess Training for Budding Champions by Jesper Hall
This book will help you in many ways that don’t appear in other books, like analysing your own games, how to calculate, how to study and how to use a computer. This book is also important to prevent you from getting into too many bad habits.
If you are also playing lots of slow games, by the time you finish these books (and assuming you have done heaps of Tactics several times in a short period), you should be well on your way to a rating of 1100-1200 or much more.
At this point we recommend you read these articles on ChessCafe.com
Also read these articles;
To greatly assist with your tactical thinking processes we recommend How to Calculate Chess Tactics by Valeri Beim.
Keep working on your time management and thought process until you can pace yourself to use almost all of your time every game at any slow time limit – but don’t play too slowly, either!
Next page: Phase 3: Developing Positional Understanding