How to get better at chess 

Find success in chess

Corey Hancock, M.Ed., NCC
Ph.D. student in Counselor Education at UMSL

The real way to become a stronger player.

Hello Fellow Chess Enthusiasts! 

The world of chess has seen a huge surge of interest in response to the pandemic and The Queen’s Gambit, a Netflix series about a young woman on her journey of chess mastery. If you haven’t seen it, you must! 

If you're a total newbie to chess, or even a seasoned player who wants to level up their game, I have created this at-home Summer Challenge to help you get there.  

So, what can YOU do to take your game to the next level?

In my years of teaching chess, I have found that these five categories make all the difference:

Let’s dive a little deeper with a summer challenge. 


Working with others is the most fulfilling way to develop as a player, however, much of the work is done on your own. One of the best methods to measure your progress is by playing online. When you play online you are given a rating that serves as an estimate of your skill level, with higher scores indicating better performance. Here's how to bring up your online rating 100 points by the time we kick things off for the fall semester. ( is my platform of choice)

Follow these 10 Tips:

Playing longer games will allow you to take your time to think things through and to practice new concepts more efficiently. I recommend playing games with 15 minutes on the clock or more.

I have played 10 longer games.

It is not helpful to memorize moves if you do not know the ideas behind them. Let’s focus on
developing pattern recognition first by practicing chess puzzles.

To get you started, consider using the SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) Analysis technique when reviewing your movies. When reviewing a position on the board, you can ask yourself: hmm what are the strengths in this position? What are the weaknesses? What are the potential opportunities? What are the threats?

I have analyzed 5 of my own games.

I have found 3 regulation techniques that work for me.




I have asked myself, “What can I do to improve my pieces” during a game.

Whether online or in-person, joining a chess community has many benefits. There will be opportunities to show off your new skills, to learn from stronger players, and to teach new players. And most importantly, it’s fun!


I have joined a chess community: ____________________________

Find a chess mentor

Finding a coach or another player with more experience than you will help a great deal with your analysis and can serve as an accountability partner to keep you on track.

Chess mentor found: _______________