How to study chess in lockdowns?

In March 2020 as the world was heading for a lockdown, so was the chess world. Apart from the frustration that playing over the board was no longer possible, I saw it as an opportunity to work on my chess game and to come back very strong when normal life would resume. However, my good intentions did not really materialize and when I was able to play over the board again, more than 17 months later, I was by no means the strong player I would have liked to be. Now that Europe is in lockdown again and the possibility to play chess is seriously limited, it is time to do better. How can you stay in shape during lockdowns?

 

  1. Make a training schedule and stick to it!You get better by working on your chess. This is hard without tournaments and league games in prospect. Nevertheless, one should put in hours of hard work. The best thing to do so is by making a weekly training schedule and fix moments for chess training in your list of activities. In these circumstances, your training schedule should not be too ambitious. If you are too ambitious, you will not achieve your goals and this will lead to a loss of motivation. Set moderate goals, work on your chess and improve your game step by step.

  2. Play some serious chess online and analyze the games

    Playing too much online blitz is for most people a big pitfall. Playing online is fun, but also addictive and in many cases the learning curve will not be that steep. When you spend a lot of time playing online, this will lead to less available time to study and improve your game. This doesn’t mean that playing online should be avoided altogether, but you should try to learn something from your online games. The best way to do so is by playing games with a slightly longer time control, for example games with a time control of 15 minutes + 10 seconds per move. In those games you will have time to think about your moves and you will be able to take some time for calculation. By analyzing your games afterwards, you will learn from them and improve. My advice would be to play online once a week and spend another evening analyzing the games.
  3. Keep in contact with friends and team mates 

    During the first lockdown OTB chess was far away and we could not expect to play anytime soon. Hence, I lost motivation and it was easy to refrain from any serious chess study without negative consequences. Later, with a group of friends and team mates we decided to take part in an online team competition. This not only was a lot of fun, but it also lead to competition between us, opening preparation and some mutual analysis. I felt like this gave a boost to my attitude towards chess, both mentally and chess wise. I would really recommend to do something similar to keep the spirit alive.

For me, it has been hard to study chess without the perspective of OTB chess. I think right now I am not a stronger player than I was two years ago, whereas I could have had a lot of time to study and improve. However, I feel like I have been able to make the adjustments I have outlined above and I think it helped me quite well. Let’s see in the next tournament whether we can see some results!