5 training rules for chess professionals

The past few weeks have been a marathon, a marathon in which I was the only participant, a marathon in which I was my only opponent. Living a life in which you don’t have a steady job to go to in the morning is not easy, you have to deal only with your own person and learn to analyze yourself like you’ve never done before. And on top of that you also have to make a living, which adds some wood to the fire. But that’s exactly how the life of a chessplayer looks like, and I’ve made my decision a while ago that I want to pursue my passion in one way or another.

In the past few months since I graduated college I was the closest to what a chessplayer should look like than I was ever in my life. I didn’t really know what being a professional means back when I had various deadlines to meet for academic purpose, nor when I was a teenager and I was spending most of my time on things other than chess. I am still far behind on teaching myself the work routine that top players have, but I feel that I am on the right path. Given what I just said, I still think that I would have done most things the same way and choose the same paths in life.

I will now make a list of things I’ve learned about myself and about what a chessplayer should do to be successful (this works only for me, you are welcome to try it)

1.       Work hard.

Chess is something you have to put intense work all throughout the year. Breaks not only mean fewer hours of practice, they also mean that your motivation, confidence, and concentration over the board will suffer heavily. And this will diminish your performance, guaranteed.

2.       Play hard

Well, maybe not that hard but you need to give yourself some time to relax. A chess player is constantly under intense stress, this will often result in fast burnout, loss of motivation, and overall will lead to underperformance. Read a book, watch the sunset, or simply take a walk to admire anything that can be admired in your environment, it works trust me. 

3.      Create a team

Chess is an individual sport but unfortunately I doubt anybody can reach a high level by training on their own. I can’t emphasize enough how important the support of a team is. That is because of the different styles you are exposed to, the different ideas, and the support that a team mate will give you during a tournament. Partner up with good friends, it is important that there is always a good vibe during training.

4.      Have a clear plan for the day

As chessplayers, it is very easy to fall into an unorganized routine. I find myself very often spending hours at the time on watching games, reading random articles, or simply analyzing openings that are not part of my repertoire. There is limited time in which you are productive during the day, find it and use it well. For me personally, writing down the working plan in my notebook for the next day helped me be more productive and achieve more goals than I used to before. It also adds some needed pressure to achieve those goals, at night when you are writing what you have to do next day you don’t want to see that you have not achieved what you projected the previous night.

5.       Exercise

Physical exercise is probably one of the most neglected “must” by a chessplayer. Fortunately many young players are understanding this and are slowly changing the trend. Chess has become an endurance sport, especially in North America where you almost always have to play double rounds. This is extremely tiring and a good physical preparation can play a decisive role in crucial moments. If you don’t believe that it improves you chess, you can be sure that it improves your health, so do it! Here is a great website to get you started on that workout routine, if you decide to do it, I guarantee you will not fall out of the routine easily.



These rules are just some stepping stones that work for me, you make your own rules and craft your own training routine. I hope that these ideas will help you with that!

I am now leaving you with some pictures from my adventure in downtown San Francisco, as well as from my recent blitz tournament at the Mechanics Chess Club, in which I took clear first with 9/10 points. This is the oldest chess club in the United States, hosting many world champions throughout the years.

Now back to work, next weekend I will be playing the G30/G60 National Championship, which will be my last warm up event before Millionaire Chess that will start on October 9th   20140912_193830 28 20140912_191426 20140912_185256 20140912_190659 20140912_190308 20140912_184047 20140912_183956 20140912_17490820140912_181419