Want to help?

I certainly won’t reach Grandmaster without lots of other chess players helping me along the way. If you’re interested in helping, read the suggestions below.

1. Play against me. I’m interested in playing serious games and analysing them afterwards, and am on both the biggest chess servers, ICC (as OxidisedLizard) and PlayChess (as Will Taylor). I can also play on other servers, or in person if you live nearby.
2. Study with me (overlaps with 1). If, for example, you’re interested in the openings that I play, or want to work through other topics that I’m studying with me, we could do so in person or online.
3. Teach me. If you’re a stronger player than me and want to share any of your insights, I’d be very grateful.
4. Criticise me. Constructive criticism of the games that I post here is always useful.
5. Donate/lend chess materials. If you have chess books or DVDs which you think I might find useful, you could lend or give them to me.

40 thoughts on “Want to help?

  1. I am from Venezuela and may be you play more than me. However, I can help you of Heart. I study theory and in chessbase 9 I am organizing opening theory of the books My great predecessors of Kasparov. I send you for e-mail if you contact me on ericleo1980@hotmail.com . Of course, may be you has this but we can to dialogue about books, ideas, searching with the computers. I trust in you.

  2. do you play openings that quickly lead to endings for example the Fischer exchange variation of the ruy lopez. Playing w and ending in mind from the opening leads to a more positiional approach to the game. Are you prepared to play tedious positions of positional mnrvng. What are your strengths-you weaknesses. Can you bring your weaknesses up so that you are on an all around level. How much are you willing to give up personally to achieve you goal. Imagine that you achieved it! Would it be worth the sacrifices that you made to get there.

    1. I don’t play the exchange Ruy Lopez as white, but do sometimes face it as black. I’m not entirely sure what my strengths and weaknesses are, but at my current level all aspects of my game can be improved a great deal.

  3. My name is William and I live in Denver, CO, USA. I am 37, and consider myself a semi-professional online gamer and tournament enthusiast.

    In the span of 6 weeks (from Mid June till early August 2010), I have gone from USCF 1489 to USCF 1701 — My only loss in 10 games has been to NM Brian Wall., the other 9 were wins. I do have some experience with the Spanish exchange, but I tend towards 1 d4 & KIA, the Scandinavian vs 1 e4 and Dutch vs 1 d4, 1 c4, 1 Nf3. I feel that by helping you, I help myself so even though I maybe weaker than you, we can draw strength from each other as we BOTH improve.

    I would also suggest you recieve Brian Walls free E-mails. He puts out anywhere from 1-9 a day on certain days containing analysis and games. Send an E-mail to BrianWallChess3@taom.com to sign up.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    1. Hi William. Congratulations – that’s very rapid improvement, and I hope it continues.

      I don’t play many of the same openings as you; I’m an e4 player, and play e5 against e4 and KID against d4/c4/Nf3. If you have accounts on any of the online servers I play on we could meet up and play some games and analyse. I’m ‘Will Taylor’ on PlayChess, ‘OxidisedLizard’ on ICC, and also play occasionally on others.

      I’ve sent an e-mail to Brian Wall.


  4. Hi Will,
    I’m a chess blogger based in Italy. I’ve just written a post on your project and I’m interested in the challenge you took, more posts on this will probably follow. Could I ask you some questions? If so, would you mind contacting me at sphaso@gmail.com ?

    Thank you and good luck!

  5. Hi Will,

    You’ll get a GM title in no time. =) I’m also planning on getting a title in chess. Although i’m only planning on getting an NM title. I think Silman’s books are very good in terms of teaching serious players on how to improve their games and on how to go about studying chess. Have you tried Kotov’s “think like a grandmaster” ?

    You can also look at http://www.ebookee.com in looking for more chess materials.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Haha, I think it’s be at least 10 years, if it happens, but thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 I haven’t read Kotov’s book.

  6. If you haven’t already, find all the games from chess tournaments you have played in the past, and enter them into a database on ChessBase. It is time consuming, but it will make it much easier for you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

    Additionally, I suggest you have a look at the 3rd edition of ‘Chess for Tigers’ if you haven’t already.

    Finally, you might want to have a quick look at http://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl, which has very useful and instructive information on openings and improvement in general.

    1. I have entered lots/most of my games, but still have some to go.

      ‘Chess for Tigers’ is a book I haven’t got, but it looks interesting. I’ll look into ChessPub.

  7. One other thing I should mention.

    Play as many OTB tournaments as possible, without hindering your post-graduate studies or other aspects of your life. One study on ChessBase.com showed that most Grandmasters had played over 700 FIDE-rated games in their chess career.

  8. Hi, it’s Steven. We played in round 4 of the British Rapidplay this year. Just wanted to say that the website looks very good and to wish you the best of luck with getting to GM. A ten hour schedule is similar to what I try to do and the sessions you have with Eggleston will be a big help I imagine. I noticed that you said you have a chesscube account? Feel free to add me if you like – my username is elstephano. Like I said, good luck with the project, I’ll race you to the title and might see you at the classic, I’m heading down tommorow.


    1. Hi Steven. Thank you. I’ll add you – I’m WillT on ChessCube. I noticed you at the Classic, but didn’t say hi as I hadn’t seen your comments. Will

  9. Hey Will, You know you made it big when you have supporters from Australia!

    Do you play on Chess.com? If so, add me, so we can train against ach other, Im looking for a sparring partner myself! http://www.chess.com/members/view/White_Phoenix

    If I may give some advice. You’re at a level which is similar to mine but I’m 3 years younger than you, therefore I’m gonna have to advise you, if you truly want to reach GM level you’re gonna need to double you’re training time because you’re gonna reach your peak pretty soon at 25 or so before you stagnate, I believe Twenty hours a week is appropriate. Its not realistic to continue studying, mandarin, Go, Guitar while balancing chess and your studies.

    I mean Chess is a game which many have tried to gone professional but still fail to reach the coveted title.If you want to be serious about your GM Title, 3 hrs a day is minimum! I mean Botvinik recommended 5! So no offense but 10 hours a week is (excuse my language) for pussies.
    If I may recommend so, you’re gonna need a coach and not an online one either.Obviously you may not have enough resources but being coached by an IM/GM to prepare your opening repertoire will help you heaps. Other than that I think you’re on the right track, the tournament games will definetly make you stronger!
    You’re first barrier is to break 2000 I hope you achieve that in the next rating list!

    Aim for stronger oponents play against 2200s regularly and be fearless ! here’s a link to my games against a national master which I lost, 4 to 6 with 2 draws in blitz.Its somehwere in the middle.

    Finally, I’m aiming for the International Master title myself, so lets get serious :)

    1. Hi Clive,

      I have a chess.com account, and have sent you a friend request – though I play there infrequently.

      The other hobbies have definitely taken a back seat – for example, the only time I’ve played Go all term was last Thursday. I will probably be aiming to study about 30 hours a week during holidays, which make up a significant percentage of the year, but for the moment 10 hours a week during term time seems a realistic target. If the workload decreases next term (which I hope it will), I’ll increase it. As for coaches, I’m currently having a 2 hour lesson with FM David Eggleston along with 2 other students of similar strength every week during term time.

      Thanks for your advice, and good luck with your own target.


  10. You can buy “Rapid Chess Improvement” by Michael de la Maza and “Sharpen Your Chess Tactics in 7 days” and “Improve Your Chess in 7 days” by IM Gary Lane.

  11. Don’t waste your time with ‘Rapid Chess Improvement’. ‘Sharpen your Chess Tactics in 7 days’ is a great book.

    If you are up for a challenge then work through the Quality Chess Puzzle Book.

  12. Hi, i am french student of physique and i discoverd your blog yesterday. I am very interested. My level is 1820 elo in france. And i want play with you in ChessCube, if you want.

  13. Hello Will,

    I hope all is well. I have found some in depth in chess theory. I know everybody wants to give you information as seen on your website.

    My theory is based on layers, organization and numbers. Less time is used which is an added bonus.

    As you progress, I would like observe your games and write about it. This might add more to the theories.

    Adam Bulchak

  14. Hello Will,

    Best of luck with your goal.

    I’m keen to improve my chess too and would be interested in studying with you and/or playing against you. I live in London. I have a subscription with playchess at the moment. I also use chess.com.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      I’d be keen to play/study with you. I’m not in London very often, but do have a PlayChess account (Will Taylor) and also a chess.com account though I hardly use that. I’ll send you an e-mail.


  15. Hello Will,
    I have had an abscence of 11 years from playing chess since I was 16 and have been taking chess up since 2009 and as its almost 3 years since I picked it up I have made a bit of progress but it wasn’t until august this year that I played in a Hastings rapid play and won with a performace rating of 217. And that was just from 1 lesson of coaching with my trainer and since then I have had 2 more sessions.

    I’m not about winning chess, in fact I’m getting rather bored of competition as I don’t even get satisfaction from winning, but just love studying the game as I have so much I have not seen with an 11 year gap.

    I was around 130BCF when I started in 2009 and in 2010 in a rapid I beat a 180+ at half hour each. I have beaten a 190 after a year and half. But in the Hastings rapidplay I beat a british chess legend, my coach and so many of my heros.

    My point is for someone like you is that its nice to see someone who wants to improve rather than wanting to win but in order to improve, you should speak to my coach. He does charge a large fee, but it is worth it. What my coach shows me is how to think in certain positions and how to go about winning and the most important lesson was the one where he see’s so many people under 175 who choose the same wrong drawing continuation whereas they should be using a different technique to kill the opponent.

    I am someone who is only 159 he has re-iterated the points he is trying to make and constantly makes it clear unlike a book where you could just read a sentence like “bishops are stronger than knights!” but the reader doesn’t apply what he/she is learning to the game.

    I think it maybe worth your while talking to my trainer or any trainer for that matter. He is rated 211 this year and has beaten IM Bates.

    I like the fact that your reading “My Great Predecessors” and I love the detailed analysis. The books my trainer recommends will make you open your eyes to chess and make you love the games because your understanding will be even higher and you’ll appreciate the moves and plans.

    Good luck!


    1. Hi Angel,

      Thanks for sharing your story, and congratulations on your win in the rapidplay you mention. I am currently looking for a trainer. You don’t actually mention your trainer’s name in your post.


  16. The best way to improve is:
    PLAY games -standard time control. Try to play players higher-rated than yourself.
    IDENTIFY your weaknesses- go through the games afterwards. Analyse them with your opponent/ with a coach/ by yourself. If you lost, see why you lost. See what mistakes you made.
    LEARN. Once you have identified your weak spots find appropriate training material (or, even better, a good coach), and study the weakest aspects of your game.
    The more you do this the more you improve.
    Also its a good idea to play online blitz games- 5 minutes each is probably best. This improves your tactical vision.
    Finally so as to not be discouraged have smaller goals. Instead of gm try candidate master as your goal. Work towards that. If you get there and want to study further set another smaller goal like FM.

  17. Hey Will, It’s been over a year now and while I shot up to 2051 I’m embarrased to say I’m now stuck at 1900….Sigh

    But here are some books which I found really helpful

    Jonathan rowson ‘Chess for zebras’ is a FANTASTIC book as is Silman’s complete endgame course
    (Its more useful then karsten muller’s FCE because you can absorb the contents faster I know because I have both and I find Muller to difficult to absorb)

    Both are free to dowload online and after that I can only recommend that you look at your fav openings games by your favourite GMs and drench yourself daily in tactics like chesstempo or chessemrald.(The latter is good for increasing strength almost immediately)
    BTW I’m also finding it really hard to improve with 2nd yr chess is starting to get draining…
    I really hope you reach your GM goal!

    1. Hi Clive,

      Well done on your climb to 2051 and good luck getting back up there again.

      Chess for Zebras does seem to get excellent reviews, so I may try to read it after finishing Reassess your Chess. Chess for Tigers is another animal-themed book which has been recommended but in the past but I’ve not yet got round to reading. I don’t have Silman’s endgame course but am thinking it may be useful to read it before having another go at Dvoretsky (and then Muller after Dvoretsky).

      I have used both of those tactics sites before, but I also have CT-Art 4.0 which I’ve not yet completed.

      Thanks for your suggestions/encouragement and good luck with your own chess goals.


  18. Hi Will, I am on the same quest as you. I just turned 21 and my rating is around 1900 although I have been shooting up and realistically my playing strength is at 2100 or so already. Basically, if you are still going after the grandmaster title, I would like to work together with you. I know they say that it takes 10 years or whatever to get there, but I think it can take way less time. I plan to be at grandmaster strength within 3 years and then perhaps spend another 5 years for the necessary tournaments. I know what it takes and I’m hoping we can help each other. Let’s do this!
    Here are some tips: You need to know what your goal is. The reason I say this is because too many people are over ambitious with their opening choices. On the flip side, too many people are playing crappy side lines. The best is to target your opening repertoire for a 2500 level. At that level, is best to pick a set-up that you thoroughly understand and it is not so important to pick a theory intensive opening like the najdorf. Make the black repertoire so that all the set ups have common ideas such as carokann/slav, g6/d6, French/Dutch, French/QGD, Accelerated Dragon/Old Benoni. Mastery over setups like these will shorten your study time considerable because all your black openings will revolve around a common theme. Although they are no good for a 2600+ level, you will find many 2500+ GM’s who use them almost exclusively like Joerg Hickl, Eugene Perelshteyn, Vereslav Einghorn, etc. With white, I would stick with Malakov’s advice, a 2700 level player. Be very diverse. All your time should go into your white repertoire. For instance, if you decide to play 1.e4, then learn all the openings there. Or if you pick 1.d4, learn all the variations. It really will not take that long. Just pick a database website like 365chess.com and steal other GM’s repertoires. That is what I did.
    Another tip is, while you are in school, take a book of chess combinations as that is what will take you to master level without anything else. Tactics and combinations can take you to IM strength without even a proper opening repertoire – just look at Pavel Blatny, Peter Petran, and a number of other IM’s with crappy opening repertoires. It’s all about calculation. The upside is that it won’t take that long. As long as you train a bit on your tactics and combinations everyday, it should only take about a year.
    I have lots more tips like this, and I have been doing some serious research on how to improve myself. Let’s work together.

    1. Hi Omar,

      Sorry for taking so long to reply. You make a lot of interesting points. Picking slightly inferior openings which should nevertheless suffice at 2500 level is something that hadn’t occurred to me; it goes slightly against the grain to be knowingly limiting yourself like that, but it does make sense.

      Unfortunately I’m not working hard at chess right now, and am instead trying to earn a living, so I’m not looking for training partners. If that changes I will update this blog; in the meantime, I wish you the best of luck with your own quest.



    As a Club Player I can say GM Igor Smirnov is best chess teacher EVER !!! only his courses give me improve ! I bought his courses , also his free lessons are the best ever 🙂

    GM Igor Smirnov keep saying everyone can be A GM , to be a top 20 player to be super GM to be a world champion etc then you need have talent !

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I haven’t given up chess, and never will. (However, I have given up working seriously on it for the moment as I don’t have enough time.) I agree with GM Smirnov about that, but alas have not been able to prove it thus far. 😉


  20. Hi Will,
    I don’t think I’m nearly as good as you, but I’d be more than happy to play. I’m on Chess.com as BrodyHalliday. I’ll play with anyone in fact.

    1. Hi Brody,

      Thanks for the offer. I haven’t played on chess.com for a long time, but if/when I start playing there again I’ll look you up.


  21. Hi, Will.

    Have you ever used Pareto’s Analisys to discover the truth about your games? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_analysis).

    Chances are that 80% of your game losses came from 20% of the causes like: tactical oversights or blunders, miscalculating, poor opening knowledge, not knowing how to defend well, not knowing how to conduct an attack, poor endgame knowledge.

    After discovering what matter most, you should focus your study on that causes (ex.: making exercises of calculation; studying games of Alekhine, Kasparov, Morphy, Morozevich (attackers); making an opening repertoire; studying certain types of endgames).

    As Lasker said, experience in chess means a knowledge of methods (in russian, priyomes). Many people do not improve because they don’t study hard what matters most, but only other topics or what they like.

    There are some books teaching priyomes like:


    I also recommend the books of GM Andrew Soltis and GM Igor Smirnov video courses.

    Best regards

    1. Hi Luiz.

      I haven’t used Pareto Analysis as such, but have analysed all my games to see how I score in different openings, different types of middlegames, different types of endgames etc. as suggested in ‘Chess for Tigers’ and also in a ChessBase article by Grivas from a few years ago. I did that some time ago though so it’s probably worth revisiting. I’ll add the books you recommend to my list for investigation.



Leave a Reply