Coach and Study Regime

As I mentioned recently, I have been looking for a coach.  I am delighted to say that I have now found one, and will be working with IM Tom Rendle.  We have had two sessions together so far, which showed great promise, and I hope it will be a long and fruitful relationship.

So far we have been de-constructing my thought process, trying to find the reasons why I frequently either fail to find or fail to choose the right move, and working on calculation.  This was not part of my earlier ‘2100 Plan’ for the simple reason that I did not have the confidence to do this on my own, but knew that I could successfully work on openings and endings alone.  However, it seems clear that managing to improve my thought process would have a positive impact on all parts of my game; with Tom’s help I believe that I can do this, so for now that is what I will be focusing on.

Study schedule

Tom has told me that when he seriously trying to improve, he played around 100 competitive games of chess a year.  This seems like a reasonable figure to aim for; ambitious, but just about achievable whilst working full-time.  Estimating an average of 3 hours per game, that comes to 300 hours, which I will aim to match 1:1 with study, making a total of 600 serious chess hours over the year, or about 12 hours per week (6 hours of study).

In the past, too many of my hours have been dedicated to activities of questionable benefit, like nodding along to a DVD explanation but not really paying full attention, or playing online blitz games.  Going forward I will try to make my tracked hours of study as efficient as possible, doing something the pschologist K. Anders Ericsson called ‘deliberate practise’.  I intend to discuss that concept more in the future, but for now I will just note that it will probably involve a lot of problem solving.  I will no doubt continue to do ‘softer’ chess activities, but these will be in addition to the 6 hours of hard study per week.


I have set up a Google spreadsheet to record my training on, and hope this will be a better way of sharing it than my old weekly progress reports.  If you would like an invitation to view and edit this spreadsheet, pop your email address in the form in the sidebar at the top right of your screen (no need to do so again if you have done so in the past).  Feel free to add your own tab to the spreadsheet if you have your own training goals you would like to be held accountable to.  I will also be doing progress updates on the blog, perhaps every four weeks, and am thinking about other metrics such as online ratings to track for these.


As stated above, I will be aiming to play 100 serious games by September 2016.  Of these, I would like at least half to be FIDE-rated.  I have created another Google spreadsheet to calculate how many FIDE-rated games I would need to play at various rating performances to reach 2100, and this indicates that I would need 49 games at an average performance of 2150 to hit the goal.  (This sheet may be of interest to people as well, since it can easily be modified for your own calculations, so I will also share this with people who sign up above.)

I am intending to play in the ‘Four Nations Chess League’ and the London Chess Classic this season, which together will give me around 20 FIDE-rated games.  That still leaves me 30+ to find, so tournament suggestions or invitations are welcome.

That’s it for now, and please do let me know your thoughts on anything I have written in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Coach and Study Regime

    1. Yes, the ECF has a tournament calendar I can look at, but I’m not thinking only of tournaments in this country – it would be nice to play one or two abroad as well if I have the money.

  1. Great news about the coach and your new training ideas. I’m just wondering, weren’t you planning this project under Ericsson’s theory of deliberate practice all along? That would have made you at least consider blitz games as non-deliberate practice, if not watching DVDs. I’m very familiar with Ericsson’s and other learning theories, i’ve read some of his papers, too.
    By the way, have you been following other deliberate practice projects, like The Dan plan (thedanplan dot com)? I really like Dan, and he is looking really good at 6000 out of 10000 hours of deliberate practice now. It’s still open whether he really can make the Pro Tour, but I think he has a decent shot if he continues to improve in his last 4000 hours.

    1. Hi Simon. No, I first heard about deliberate practice some time after starting this project. A quick search reveals that I first mentioned the phrase in my wrap-up post after the first year (, and the first year has been the best so far study-wise. Study in subsequent years has taken a big hit for various reasons (final year of uni, China, job etc.). Re-reading that post, my understanding of deliberate practice is not quite the same as it was then, either. I’ve recently read a good book called ‘Make It Stick’ by Brown, Roediger and Mcdaniel, which has influenced my ideas about learning, and I’ll write about some of those ideas in upcoming posts.
      I’ve been aware of The Dan Plan since someone (perhaps you?) commented about it a while ago, but haven’t been following it closely.

      1. Ah, thanks for clarifying that! haven’t heard of make it stick, but Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell also covers Deliberate Practice.
        Yes, i’m pretty sure it was me who told you about The Dan Plan ^^ you don’t need to follow it anyways as it’s quite Golf-specific, but it’s nice to know it exists and it can be inspiring.

  2. Hi Will, I am greatly interested in sharing planning tools / goals.
    I also need to organize the over-abundant resources.
    Having a look at your spredsheet might be a good start.
    Good luck in your chess quest.

    1. Hi Andy,

      I’ve now shared the spreadsheets with my mailing list. Not sure if you were on there or not, but if you are you should have an invitation to view/edit it. Thanks, and good luck with your own chess.


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