Learner Series #3

David is a good friend, former student, and has gone from 1100 blitz on lichess to 1550 in a matter of 3.5 years!


How old are you and how long have you been playing chess?

I’m 46, been playing since maybe when I was 10 and played against my dad.  He never let me win!

How many hours per week do you spend on chess?

Three or four hours a week.

Chess website usernames?

dsjoerg on chess.com and lichess

What’s your current skill level or rating?

1409 chess.com rapid, 1728 classical lichess, 1358 USCF.

PLAYING OVERVIEW — describe where you play, time controls, how often, etc


I live in New York city — for two years I played OTB in a weekly tournament at the Marshall Chess Club. That was 90+30, three-four hour games starting at 7pm.  I would be the last board to finish, 10:30 at night, and still vibrating with adrenaline from the match. Hard to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep after that!

More recently I’ve been playing OTB with friends at the wonderful Chess Forum.  5+5s.


Chess.com 10+15 for my “serious” games, and 3+2 for a casual quick spar.  And 1+0 when I have two minutes to kill! Lichess is great too, although lately I’ve been on chess.com more.

STUDYING OVERVIEW — talk about what sites you use, how often you spend, tips

Tactics & Strategy

I’m a programmer so I built my own study tool and started using it this summer.  Since then I’ve gained 150 rating points, I’m pretty excited. I train on the toughest positions from my own slow games.  The goal is to play any move that isn’t a blunder. If I find a good move, then I won’t see that particular position again for a while; if I fail, I’ll see it again sooner.  I do about 15 minutes a day of this kind of training.

I used to do ChessTempo every day, that was fun too.


I made my own repertoire PGN files, one for white and one for black, and uploaded them to Chessable where I practice on them daily.

Game Analysis

Lichess analysis is good, sometimes I used raw Stockfish, or chess.com analysis too.


I don’t really do anything much with endgames these days!  For a while I was hooked on blitztactics.com’s Endgame Practice.

OTHER USEFUL TIDBITS — Do you watch streams/videos, play variants, any unique things you do that others can learn from?

I made a virtual chess coach app called “Learn Chess with Dr. Wolf”.  That’s where I do my training now. If you’re rated below 1500 you might find it useful.

When in doubt, open with the Bongcloud.

In the summertime I do a weekly chess get-together near the beach.  It’s mostly kids who show up. They get into it! One of my daughter’s friends is 12 years old and she and I are very equally matched, it’s a knife fight every time.  My older daughter would rather play anti-chess, which is fine by me! It’s a fun game with plenty of strategy.

I use an app called Streaks to keep track of the things I want to do each day.  I have a slot in there for Chess. To keep my streak going I have to do at least twenty minutes of chess training activities — playing a slow game, training on positions, or openings.  Playing faster games doesn’t count, that’s not training that’s just messing around. I’m on a 36-day streak now, it feels pretty good!