Nicolas Celedon Hernandez’s Detailed Study Plan (Part 1 of 2)

Note: This post contains Chess.com affiliate links, and ChessGoals may receive a commission if you click the links.

The ChessGoals Club forum on chess.com has been active with members posting about their study plan progress. One of the best examples of an extremely thorough study plan is Nicolas Celedon Hernandez, aka coriollis. Nicolas has been following the Beginner Study Plan for about 15 days and posts an update every day to help hold himself accountable.

In this post, we will highlight Nicolas’ study plan updates for the past two weeks, and also see how he finds takeaways from his games.

Study Plan

His study plan consists of alternating blitz and rapid weeks. I’m going to highlight some of his posts and walk through his progress thus far. I’ll put my notes in italics going forward.

Week 1 – Day 0

Nicolas starts at a 988 rapid rating and 709 blitz rating on chess.com.

Alright let’s go.

Day 0 stats:

  • Rapid: 988 (peak 1253 a month ago)
  • Blitz: 709 (current lowest)
  • Daily: 1264 (only 3 games finished)
  • Puzzles: 1686 (current peak)

Week 1 – Day 1 (Rapid)

  • Daily: Started 4 games (had 1 already in progress) [The plan recommends playing five daily games and checking them daily.]
  • Puzzles [Most days, the study plan recommends doing 5 puzzles. Nicolas is going for extra credit here.]
    • Completed 7 standard puzzles (as many as I could in 10 mins.)
    • Played 4 puzzle battles (3 wins, 1 loss)
  • Live games & analysis:
    • Game 1 (not much to see) [This is a nice five move victory!]
    • Game 2 [This game shows Nicolas’ notes if you click on the analysis button at the top. I was impressed on day 1 he was already being so thorough with his notes.]

I’m really happy to be back to 1000+ in rapid. Now let’s work to keep going up.

Week 1 – Day 2 (Rapid)

On day 2, Nicolas started putting his takeaways right in the forum posts. I think this is a great idea because other players can learn from his takeaways as well.

  • Daily 
  • Puzzles
    • 10 mins. of standard puzzles
    • 3 5min. puzzle rushes (13, 13, 15)
  • Live game & analysis:
    • Rapid Game (draw)
      • Most important takeaways: don’t get overconfident even in winning positions, don’t get tilted when losing advantages, and more specifically, look out for perpetual checks.

A little disappointing, but my rating didn’t go down, and focusing the lessons from each game into a few sentences is really helping me.

Nicolas Study Plan
Week 2, Day 6

Week 1 Overview

He adds a weekly overview in addition to the daily posts to summarize how things are going. Nicolas was able to get his rapid rating back over 1000 for the rapid week. In week two he will be focusing on blitz games.

Stats:

Week 1 Summary Stats

Happy with my weekly result. Playing only one serious rapid game per day allows better analysis of each. Started to take daily games seriously. My higher puzzle rating now requires me to think for a couple of minutes in each puzzle, and my puzzle rush rating skyrocketed.

Week 2 – Day 1 (Blitz)

A couple common things I hear about the ChessGoals study plans are 1) Blitz is hard for me because I’m not used to the speed, and 2) Is blitz chess really beneficial? I have heard it can be bad for your chess. In ChessGoals data, blitz has proven to be a very effective way to help with chess improvement when paired with game analysis. I have hypothesized this is due to the efficiency of the games in combination of having takeaways for each game.

In week two, we see Nicolas summarizing multiple takeaways for every game. This will be great for his improvement going forward.

  • Daily 
  • Puzzles 
  • Live games:
    • Game 1 (loss) 
      • Blunder because I played too fast.
      • Miscalculated the number of attackers and defenders and allowed for white to control the center.
    • Game 2 (win) 
      • Still playing too fast, not developing and forgetting to develop pieces and losing pawns.
      • I get nervous very fast against 1.d4.
    • Game 3 (win)
      • Still learning a lot about closed positions
      • I suspect sometimes I go into auto-pilot mode in blitz and miss both mine and my opponent’s chances.
    • Game 4 (win)
      • Guy tried to cheese me, but stuck to principles and won.
      • Made an unsound sacrifice (probably because of watching too many Morphy games), but my opponent’s inexperience made it worth it.

Blitz has always been difficult for me. Time to force myself to get more comfortable with it.

Week 2 Summary

We will jump ahead now to the week 2 summary. Nicolas is really doing a great job sticking with the plan, and he’s seeing some results already. We don’t recommend reading too much into the rating changes until 4 weeks or more though due to fluctuations.

Stats:

Week 2 Summary Stats

Huge improvement of my mindset when playing fast games (also a nice rating boost). Slow puzzles are now a lot harder, and it’s easy for me to become a little frustrated when I answer a couple wrong, so I have to change my mindset when solving problems (being diligent in considering options and continuations, even if the process is slow), and I’ve noticed sometimes I go on autopilot when playing puzzle rush (and my score suffers for it), so I have to be very conscious of the fact that playing is not (only) for fun, but requires concentration to really be useful.

School starts again tomorrow, so I’ll probably have to limit myself to do only what the program says for each day (and no more chess-related stuff, but without missing anything from the program and without skipping days, obviously!) as these last few weeks I’ve been either playing non-stop or watching chess videos non-stop. From what I’ve heard, maybe forcing myself to not do chess-related stuff all day will help some things in my brain really settle in (at least that’s what I’ve heard from pop science sites).

Anyway, happy to finish week 2. I’ve rarely been as disciplined in any other activity; rediscovering chess has lately been one of the great joys of my life, and I do feel myself getting a little better each week. Let’s keep going!

Part 2 Coming Soon…

Recently I asked Nicolas if he could help explain how he comes up with takeaways to help a new member. Stay tuned for the next post which will be Nicolas on takeaways!