A new player does not need to learn double pins.
A 1200-rated player does not need to analyze 20-moves deep Najdorf variations.
During each level of ratings, we should build out rough guidelines to improve based on our chess understanding.
If you’re just starting to play chess, learning complicated topics that does not apply to your games will only overwhelm and provide more anxieties than enjoyments.
So what should students learn at different levels.
Let’s separate player strength into three groups based on USCF ratings.
- Under 500
- Under 1000
- Under 1500
I’ve been working with many U1000 and a few U1500 players, and the important themes that I’m seeing are as follow:
-Reduce blunders, especially giving up free piece
-Learn basic tactics and checkmate patterns (1 move)
-Pay attention to captures, make sure you see two on one opportunities
-Elimination of defenders
-Prepare mate and tactics (2+ moves)
-Focus on important targets
As you can see, there are more strategic themes for U1500 then the lower rating groups.
Tactics is still very important for U1500 players. however, the opponents they are playing against will have just as much tactical prowess, therefore learning more strategic knowledge will be advantageous.
Let’s discuss Focus on important targets briefly here.
Many newly-1000 players would play the passive looking move Rab8, protecting the b7-pawn.
For stronger players, b7-pawn here is not important. The main focus now is to activate one or both of black’s rooks.
After scanning the board for 10 seconds or so, a stronger player would immediately see Rad8 and then Rxd2 taking control of the 2nd rank will soon take control of the game.
On the other hand, for the U500 players, even if they did play Rad8, the game may still take a few twist and turns to get to an unknown outcome
To summarize: players at each level should focus and improve on certain themes.
It’s good for newer players to see the the higher-level topics, but it’s much more important to hammer down the fundamentals.