Originally posted by skims
OK thanks for the suggestions!
I need to draw up a study plan for myself (~ 1 hour per day), sinc I'm just returning to the game after an absence of about 18 months, so need to first get back up to my previous level
Any suggestions for a good study plan?
What methods do people use on here to improve in tactics/middlegame play?
I have, at least for the summer, a consistent 3-5 hour study plan. It DOES require a fee, as do most lessons in other arenas.
1. Sharpen Your Tactics! I do 15 problems, in order. This is an excellent tactics book, seems that it would fit you perfectly if you don't already have it. It only has about 1100 problems, but there it provides at least 500 hours of study-time. This takes me 30 minutes / day. You can find the book probably for 5$ on amazon.com.
2. Because I am focusing on tactics, as you are, I spend 1 hour on the Tactics Trainer found on chess.com. Unlike Sharpen your tactics, this server does not present a theme of combinations; rather it provides random combinations that are based on how well you perform. You get a Tactics Rating, and all of the problems there are rated, similar to the chess tactics server. However, you are NOT rushed on this server!
. It is possibly THE BEST Tactics Server online. You must be a paying member of the site. Keep reading my post though, I assure you it is worth paying to join that site. If you wish only to use the chess.com tactics server for 1 hour / day, I recommend a 25$ annual membership there.
For you, this above is a very solid 1 hour study-plan. But you gotta do it everyday to notice improvement soon!
3. I do 1 lesson out of Silman's Complete Endgame Course. (15 minutes).
4. I watch 1-2 online chess videos. Again, if you subscribe as a full member on chess.com, you will find videos by FMs, GMs, IMs, etc. They are 20-30 minutes long and go over all sorts of topics, from Rook Endgames, to analyzing games from the GM perspective. One of the best way to improve your game. The internet chess club (www.chessclub.com) also has videos analyzing GM games. To be eligible for this feature (and many, many more) it costs 95$ / year on chess.com, 60$ / year on internet chess club. (30 - 60 minutes).
5. Next, I complete 10 lessons from 1 course in the program CHESS MENTOR. You can either find this online (type it into google) and purchase it, or, even better, become a premium member on chess.com because they have the biggest version of chess mentor. Basically, it is a program written by chess grandmasters and IMs like Jeremy Silman. There are hundreds of courses that cover everything you can imagine. Visit this link to find out more: http://www.chess.com/chessmentor/courses.html. (30-60 minutes).
6. I also make use of cludi's chess blog. He used to be a user here - he has moved to chess.com. Lots of good stuff there - the best of which is the Test Yourself Videos. He sets you up with a GM game and you try to pick the next move, then he shows you the move that the GM made and you're evaluated. This takes a solid 90 minutes.
7. I will soon be moving on to reading "The Art of Attack" in chess. This is a book that teaches attacking themes and a few defensive strategies. I plan to get through it by the end of the summer.
8. Also will be going through "Pawn Structure Chess" by Andrew Soltis. This is a pretty advanced book going over how to reach 15 types of pawn structures and how they have been played by GM's. I also hope to finish this one by the end of the summer.
MAXIMUM TOTAL TIME: 6.25 hours / day.
TOTAL INVESTMENT: 100$ for the summer and ~500 hours of the summer
Finally, typically on weekends, I'll play a few games on the internet chess club.
If you wish to find out more about a chess.com membership, or more specifics about my study plan, PM me. My OTB Standard Rating has moved from 1500 to 1700 and I have used this study-plan for just 2-3 months. My goal is 1800 by the end of the summer.
By no means is this an easy plan! I also work a part-time job so I admit that it is about impossible to stick to it every single day. In reality I only get an average of 3 hours / day. In the fall I will have to concentrate more on my studies...but I am considering going the distance in chess rather than going for a super-degree.
Sorry for the loooong post hopefully you can adapt some of the ideas though. My endgame and tactics have already made significant improvement.