Intermediate 2 Study Plan

Intermediate 2 Criteria

The intermediate 2 criteria is for players with a chess.com blitz rating between 1400-1699. For other rating systems see the ratings comparison.

Expectations

For steady improvement, we suggest intermediate 2 players to put in about 7 hours of chess per week. A reasonable range is anywhere from 4 to 10 hours per week.
Following our study plan and working about 7 hours per week, you can expect to gain about 100 points annually, with a reasonable range between 25-175 points.
There are still a quarter of the intermediate 2 survey participants who gained over 175 points in a year!

Main Study Plan

Play Games (~65% of the time)

Blitz Games (~35%) – Top gainers at the intermediate 2 level play slightly above 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 remainder of your  playing time should be on games that are 10 minutes or slower.
Use these rapid games for your game analysis (see below).

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 intermediate category spend 5% of their time in daily games compared to 18% 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.

Tactics (~15%)

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. Improve Your Chess Tactics by Yakov Neishtadt is a good book specifically for players in the intermediate 2 rating range with over 700 exercises grouped by tactical theme.

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.

Game Analysis (~5%)

Own Games – After each game, go back and retry your mistakes. Try to notice any key takeaways from the game.

Master Games – 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 beneficial at the intermediate 2 level, but definitely not required. The average annual rating gain for intermediate 2 players with a coach was 120 points (8 players) compared to 105 points (86 players) for those without a coach.

Have a chess.com blitz rating between 1100 and 1699? The ChessGoals Intermediate 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 (~5%)

Chessable – Chessable is the top interactive way to work on your openings at the intermediate 2 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 Move by Move series is the most popular individual series at the intermediate 2 level. I’d recommend perusing the Everyman Chess Move by Move 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. There are two recommended books at this level. Artur Yusupov’s award-winning training course is a good option to reach 2200. For intermediate 2 players, we recommend starting with the first book in the series. The other recommended book is How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman. This classic is the most popular strategy book for club level players.

Chess.com Strategy Articles – Chess.com strategy articles by IM Jeremy Silman and others are highly regarded at the intermediate 2 level.

Youtube – Many streamers target intermediate and advanced players in their game analysis videos.

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. 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.