Best Chess Study Plan – Year 1

Introduction

The ChessGoals Case Study will compare three hypothetical chess players on their journey to chess mastery. Results for this study are based on past data from about 400 ChessGoals.com survey takers. Let us introduce the players.

Charlie – Best Chess Study Plan

Charlie, or “ChessGoals Charlie” as his friends call him, attempts to follow the optimal study plans laid out by Chess Goals. Charlie is 25 years old, has less than a year’s worth of chess experience, and has a chess.com blitz rating of 660. He is well aware of the Top 3 Mistakes Novice Players Make.

Andy

Average Andy is also 25 years old, has less than a year’s worth of chess experience, and a starting rating of 660. Andy follows the general trend for ChessGoals survey takers. He is not especially efficient or inefficient in his studies.

Eddie

Eddie, aka “Inefficient Eddie”, is like Charlie with respects to age, experience, and time spent studying. Eddie tends to follow the least efficient path among ChessGoals survey takers at each level.

Tracking

We will follow these three young adults year by year as they attempt to reach chess mastery. Each page of the document will represent one year of progress for these players. Any guesses as to how long they will take to reach master? All three players will start by spending one hour per day on chess.

Rating Chart

AgeChessGoals CharlieAverage AndyInefficient Eddie
25660660660

Year 1

The players have completed the first year of their chess improvement journey. Let us check-in with them to see how they fared!

Charlie – Best Chess Study Plan

Charlie played games for 3.5-4 hours per week over the past year. Approximately 1/3 of his games were spent in each category of: slow/rapid, blitz, and daily. No significant time was spent playing bullet time controls. One huge factor that stood out in Charlie’s studying compared to the others was that he spent 1.5 hours per week on analyzing games! Most of this game analysis was reviewing his own games for key takeaways and retrying mistakes. The number one thing that predicts gains at the novice level is analyzing one’s own games. Analyzing games helps form good habits and prevent bad ones from creeping in.

Once these habits are set during the novice stage, it becomes much harder to rewire your thinking to change those habits. Outside of playing and analyzing games, tactics took up about one hour per week of his time. He used a combination of Chess: 5334 Problems and Games and worked on chess.com puzzles each week. To round out his study, he spent a bit of time learning strategy through chess.com lessons. Endgames and openings were very minimal time spent, as recommended in the ChessGoals novice study plan. Charlie saw a 472-point gain in the first year!

Andy

Andy spent more time playing games at 5 hours per week and less time analyzing at half an hour per week. He improved his skills with all the time spent playing, but he formed some bad habits along the way. More time was spent on openings and endgames and less time on tactics. He gained a very respectable 344 points in the first year.

Eddie

Poor Eddie was not nearly as efficient as his friends. He spent more time on openings than he did on game analysis, tactics, strategy, or endgames! We have all heard chess coaches say don’t spend too much time on openings as a beginner, and it’s been backed up by the data. Eddie did spend 4.5 hours per week playing chess, and the same 7 hours total as the others. He saw a 231-point rating bump.

Rating Chart

AgeChessGoals CharlieAverage AndyInefficient Eddie
25660660660
261132 (+472)1004 (+344)891 (+231)

Let’s graphically track how the three players gained rating points over the years as well: