Learning Chess

Posted December 24, 2020 by  ‐ 2 min read

Having the right approach is the key to fast improvement

I have used much of my time in life learning new skills. You could say I’m a skills collector. I’ve learned many skills: cooking, career, acroyoga, yoga, skating, and juggling to name a few. And now… chess.

I got into Chess after the popular Netflex series: Queen’s Gambit. A few friends started to challenge me and so it began.

When learning anything new and complex you need the right recipe for success. When I started playing, I took random online courses, watched YouTube videos, and played hundreds of games. It’s a great way to get familiar with the game but it’s not a great approach for improving.

Getting a new approach

So, I reached out to a master, literally, a Chess Grand Master for coaching. I asked the two important questions: 1. What is my big picture roadmap for improving? 2. How do I learn from my mistakes? The answers were completely eye opening.

Counterintuitive feelings

The approach is a bit counterintuitive. I’m not able to decisively win more games. My chess rating is not climbing. There’s a cognitive dissonance between what I’m doing and my results. That’s why it’s counterintuitive.

What’s changing then? Most of my time now is spent not playing chess but doing chess training prescribed by my coach. My understanding of chess fundamentals is growing. It’s a very slow burn. Everyday, I chip away at it, slowly increasing my awareness. Then suddenly one day, as if by magic, I’ll level up.


Before I got coaching, I had no confidence that I could be good enough to beat all of my friends or win a local tournament. I have confidence now. The training exercises are enjoyable. I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. The only thing that separates me from being a local champion is time.

Generalizing the principal

The key recipe is Good Approach + Training = Success. This experience of a proper approach and the counterintuitive feeling is commonplace in my experience for lasting growth with any skill. I kind of laugh in the back of my mind as I lose chess games because I’m cooking with the recipe for success.