Frequently Asked Questions

Study Plan Questions

Overall Design

Q: Are the plans designed for over-the-board or only online play?

A: The plans are geared towards improvement across all time controls. We asked survey takers which rating they use to track their progress and used that as the yardstick for how much they improve. In this post, we show that about 50% of participants use blitz, and 50% use rapid, classical, or correspondence as their metric for improvement.

Q: I’ve heard blitz chess is not useful for chess improvement. Why do you recommend so much blitz in your study plans?

A: From working with the rating comparison data we found that ratings across time controls are highly correlated. Improvement in different time controls should usually translate across other time controls. The data also shows that playing little to no blitz will underperform spending 15% or more of your chess time on blitz. We plan to have a blog post on this later because the question comes up often!
My non-data answer is that blitz chess is efficient because you can play more games in a shorter time period, quickly analyze them for takeaways, and improve intuition. Is a 6-hour classical game more valuable than playing say 30 blitz games with analysis and takeaways from each? I think both are valuable.

Q: Why is the opening study percentage so low?

A: Studying more openings is fine, but make sure you are doing all of the other activities first. There is an opportunity cost to spending too much time on openings. As one’s rating increases though, it does become more important to gradually increase the time spent on openings. See How Much Opening Study Should I Do?

Substitutions

Q: I don’t like playing bullet (or fast blitz) because it makes me anxious or I have poor results. Can I play a slower time control?

A: Yes, definitely! If your goal is to improve at classical chess and many of your events have a 5-second delay or a small increment, you can replace all bullet and blitz with 5+5 blitz games.

Q: Can you recommend a good endgame book?

A: Any of the 3 Best Chess Endgame Books will have you covered up to master level.