Advanced Study Plan

Advanced Criteria

The expert criteria is for players with a chess.com blitz rating between 1700-1999. For other rating systems see the ratings comparison.

Expectations

At the advanced level and higher, triple digit yearly rating gains are more difficult.
We recommend putting in 10 hours per week on chess, with a reasonable range between 5 to 15 hours per week.
Following the chess goals study plan and putting in the time, you can expect to gain about 60 points annually. A reasonable range for annual rating gain is 5 to 105 points.
There are still a quarter of the advanced survey participants who gained over 125 points in a year!

Main Study Plan

Play Games (~60% of the time)

Blitz Games (~30%) – Top gainers at the advanced level play about 50% of their games at blitz time controls.
Blitz games build intuition and are an opportunity to learn from a large variety of positions.
Retry mistakes after each game and think concretely about the critical moment(s).

Rapid/Slow Games (~30%) – The other half of your time should be on games that are 10 minutes or slower.
Use these rapid games for your game analysis (next section).

Daily Games – Daily games don’t give the same focused effort as having a clock, but they can be beneficial for some players in addition to rapid/slow games. The upper half of rating gainers in the advanced category spend 4% of their time in daily games compared to 11% for the lower half of rating gainers. 

Bullet Games – I recommend bullet and daily games for recreational purposes. Bullet games can potentially create bad habits. 

Game Analysis (~10%)

Own Games (5-10%) – This is going to be where a majority of your game analysis time should be spent.
To really take it seriously, create a database of your rapid/slow games and store notes about your mistakes.

Master Games (0-5%) – The top source for master game review is the chess.com Amazing Games collection. You can also find good YouTube channels, books, magazines, and databases with games to analyze.

Working with a coach – Working with a coach is definitely beneficial at the advanced level. The average annual rating gain for advanced players with a coach was 116 points (12 players) compared to 25 points (56 players) for those without a coac

Tactics (~10%)

Intuitive Tactics – Spend at least half of your tactics time working on quick tactics.
The strongest chess players can instantly recognize patterns, and that’s a skill you’ll keep building as you approach chess mastery.

For training quick tactics in a competitive format, Puzzle Rush or Puzzle Battles on chess.com are both fun options.
The top apps for solving tactics are Chess.com and CT-Art 4.0 by Chess King.

The Woodpecker Method, developed by GMs Axel Smith and Hans Tikkanen comes highly recommended.
The idea behind The
Woodpecker Method is to keep solving the same set of puzzles, aiming to solve them faster and more accurately with each pass.

The Woodpecker Method book can be purchased through Amazon or using the Chessable Woodpecker Method course.

Deep Calculation Tactics

Practice tactics that challenge your calculation. Aim to spend between 2-5 minutes per puzzle.
Chess.com puzzles, ChessTempo chess tactics and lichess training are the main websites for training tactics.

Have a chess.com blitz rating between 1700-1999? The ChessGoals Advanced Study Plan is designed specifically for you. The twelve week plan will take the guesswork out of how to improve. Spend between 4-8 hours per week covering the core components of the plan. This study plan includes modifications at the end to run for future 12 week plans.

Here are the main contents of the study plan:

  • Typical chess questions
  • How our study plans helps
  • Why use our plans?
  • Layout of the plan summary
  • Day 0: Getting Started – Initial steps to prepare for the 12 weeks
  • Alternatives – Free and alternative options for each activity
  • Tasks Explained – How to study each task
  • 12 Weeks of printable plans for tracking
  • Final thoughts

Openings (~10%)

Chessable – Chessable is the top interactive way to work on your openings at the advanced level. The Chessable Openings page lists courses with authors and recommended skill levels. Pick a repertoire for white and black and enjoy the learning process!
 

Books –  There are lots of resources for chess opening books. The Grandmaster Repertoire series is the most popular individual series at the advanced level. I’d recommend perusing the Quality Chess Openings page to check out some of the different repertoire books.

Databases – To take your opening repertoire to the next level, check out the section on databases in the Expert Study Plan.

Strategy (~5%)

Strategy Books – Even in today’s digital era, published chess books are the best way to train strategic play. Paperbacks or digital versions of the books are both great options. Artur Yusupov’s award-winning training course is a good option to reach 2200. For advanced players, we recommend starting with the Beyond the Basics (2nd) level.

Chess.com Strategy Articles – Chess.com strategy articles by IM Jeremy Silman and others are highly regarded at the advanced level.

Youtube – Many streamers target intermediate and advanced players in their game analysis videos. A few good ones at this level are:
Daniel King’s Power Play Chess
– ChessNetwork

Endgames (~5%)

Similar to strategy, published endgame books are still the best resource for improving endgame play.

Theory – Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is the endgame bible for players in the <2000 range. The book is split into sections based on rating difficulty level. This adds extra enjoyment as you work through the chapters, feeling confident that you know your endgame fundamentals up to the corresponding rating range. 100 Endgames You Must Know is another good resource, so if you already have that book you can pass on Silman’s Endgame Course. The 3 Best Chess Endgame Books goes into more details on the top endgame books.

Practice – Make sure to play slow/rapid games with an increment. Chess.com’s Endgame Practice is also a great way to move through different endgame techniques.

A combination of Silman’s Endgame Course, playing games with increment, and endgame practice on chess.com will get you there! Chip away at the endgame practice a little bit each week.

Advanced Chess Learners

Learner Series #5: Antoine improved by about 100 points at the age of 32.

Learner Series #6: Peter attained the title of USCF expert at age 39.

Learner Series #7: SmithyQ is an adult who improved from 1899 to 2054 in a one year time frame.