Many chess players have wondered if they can become a grandmaster in chess without a coach. There is immense satisfaction in being able to say you did it on your own.
Many people place a great deal of value on successfully meeting a challenge through hard work, discipline, and commitment. As a result, our self-confidence sky-rockets and spills over into other areas of our life.
The simplest answer to the question if you need a chess coach is no. Some players have become a grandmaster without using a coach.
GM Danny Gormally, GM Mark Tseitlin, and GM David Howell are all self-taught grandmasters. You don’t need to be the next Bobby Fischer and take on the entire Russian chess school, to become a grandmaster without a coach like he did.
Thanks to their trailblazing efforts, you can follow in their footsteps too. You will need some natural talent but you can make it a long way with your passion and hard work.
Important Factors To Consider
The first thing you must consider about becoming a grandmaster in chess without a coach is the impact this will have on your life.
Chess is a rich and complex game many people love but what you must always keep in mind is that at the end of the day, it is a game. No game is bigger than your life even if there are times you might think chess is your life.
As you work towards your goal, remember there will be many challenges along the way. With this in mind, it’s important to remember you are doing this because you love and enjoy chess.
If you find you aren’t having fun then it’s time to reflect on your thoughts about it. Can a change in your attitude bring back the spark and joy you once felt?
⏬ This great course will help you deepen your understanding of chess and gain more from your chess training.
A coach can speed up your progress by helping you uncover your weaknesses quicker. Two people analyzing a chess game are likely to see more than one person.
Usually, the more people working on a problem the sooner a solution will get discovered. Chess coaches help others overcome these challenges and can suggest proven solutions. This is helpful but not indispensable.
This doesn’t mean you need a coach. What it means is you must understand the journey is likely to take longer.
Ask yourself how will this impact other areas of your life? Will it impact your fitness routines? What impact will it have on your work?
You could surprise yourself at how fast you progress and that’s great! Reaching your goal sooner feels much better than taking longer than expected. Allowing more time will reduce the pressure on yourself too.
Building Your Path To Chess Success
Now you have considered the impact of becoming a grandmaster without a coach it’s time to focus on chess. No doubt you have heard the wisdom, “When you play without a plan you’re planning to fail.”
This wisdom also applies in equal measure to how you approach chess before you sit at the board. A chess coach has many years to work on his plan to help students improve.
You will have to create a plan for your student – you.
First Steps To Become A Grandmaster Without A Coach
The first question you need to answer is where to start? This depends on how far you have progressed and if you are aware of any areas in particular that are weak.
You might know you get a good position in the opening but lose points through weak endgame play. Then your starting point is likely to be learning more about the endgame.
A good place to start but not obsess over is the opening. You should have a basic opening repertoire, but you shouldn’t spend much time studying openings at a deeper level until you’re at least 1800 Elo.
Indeed, some top coaches such as GM Susan Polgar even recommend waiting until you’re around 2000 Elo. Spending endless hours on opening theory won’t make you a better chess player.
Although it might surprise you, playing 1.b3 can serve you well against amateurs and strong players. FM Yuriy Krykun used it to get his rating to 2370. Take a look at his course 1.b3 Secret Weapon.
Remember, your goal in the opening is to reach a comfortable middlegame where you are confident you know how to proceed. Also, remember to make a note of how you feel in different positions.
There are many resources available to you now. Many strong, titled players have produced courses to help you improve and many have YouTube channels with free content.
YouTube and online streaming are great ways to gain knowledge from titled players because you get to know them before you invest in their courses.
Choosing to follow a titled player who enjoys gambits will not work well for a positional player. You can give the openings they play a quick test in rapid games online.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In light of this, take some time to research different presenters.
Moreover, this will save you time, money, and make studying their courses more enjoyable.
Make use of the helpful tools at lichess.org. You can see how successful you are playing each opening with the white pieces, what areas of your game need improving, and lots more.
This informative article will help you learn “5 Ways To Use Lichess To Improve Your Game” and Lichess is always completely free.
Moving Ever Closer To Becoming A Grandmaster Without A Coach
Putting your middlegame studies on hold for a short while is helpful. Invest a few hours in brushing up on essential endgames and you could see a noticeable improvement in two weeks or less.
The Endgame Renaissance collection offers top-quality instruction for many skill levels and will help you save many games over the years.
Outplaying your opponents in the endgame is easier than you might imagine, especially at the club level. Although you might get outplayed in the middlegame you can use your improved endgame technique to earn a draw.
How many of your opponents will fear going into an endgame ahead in material? Imagine their surprise and your delight when they realize too late you will draw.
The Heart Of Your Journey
Your training plan to become a grandmaster without a coach is taking shape. You’ve cut down on the time needed to study openings by choosing the safest, most suitable repertoire and you’ve improved your endgame skills.
At the very least you’ve got confidence a small mistake won’t cost you the game. This gives you a solid foundation on which to approach the heart of the battle – the middlegame.
A good way to decide on which course to choose is to look at the course content because there are few courses where every chapter will focus on something you wish to improve.
Don’t discard an entire course because of one chapter. For example, a course might have a chapter on how to play against the King’s Indian Defense.
This might not seem helpful if you play 1. e4. Still, you could look at transposing to this line when faced with the Pirc or Modern Defense.
Some Courses To Help You Become A Grandmaster Without A Coach
There are many wonderful training courses available to the improving chess player. One of the most popular courses for a club player wanting to improve is the Anna Rudolf Master Method.
This course includes a very effective method for learning a new opening and will serve you well for the rest of your chess career. There is a lot more to the course which includes detailed coverage of the middlegame and endgame too.
You will also learn how to construct a sound plan and how to unleash powerful attacks. This is a great foundation to build upon if you’re a strong club player wanting to progress to the next level.
This course will help you lay a solid foundation while improving your game immensely:
Some courses target strong club-players and others help beginners. No matter how good you are a course emphasizing the basics is beneficial.
If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your chess study you will find the excellent GingerGM Method a good choice. The sound advice and time-saving tips will prove very helpful if you lead a busy life.
This is a sound course where GM Simon Williams, aka the GingerGM, shares what helped him on the path to becoming a grandmaster. The course will teach you to make noticeable progress in as little as one hour of study per week.
If you have limited time this course will help you get the most out of every minute:
Another very good course that is overlooked is GM Danny Gormally’s “Secret’s of the Middlegame”. There is a lot of sound advice on middlegame play from a GM who became a grandmaster without a coach.
The middlegame is the heart of a chess game. Siegbert Tarrasch said it very well when he said “Before the endgame, the gods have placed the middlegame.”
There is nobody better to make learning chess fun and more enjoyable than Danny Gormally. As the name “Secrets Of The Middlegame” suggest this is a course devoted entirely to the middlegame.
Do you know why the d3 bishop is a great attacking piece for white and how to use it effectively? Once you understand how dangerous it can be you will be glad you know how to exchange it too.
Another very important middlegame strategy, not often taught, is how to use the queen effectively. This course also covers a range of other subjects including attacking with the h-pawn.
So, be willing to invest a lot of time to incorporate all this wisdom into your own game. You will be well rewarded for your efforts.
A very underrated course which will give you lots of invaluable advice to improve your middlegame play:
Studying sound, little-known courses gives you an edge because you will learn secrets others are unlikely to know.
When planning your training you can let others do a lot of the work for you. With this in mind, purchasing a collection put together by a GM is one way to cover all the bases.
One very popular collection is the “Club Player’s Manifesto 2K” designed to take you from 1500 – 2500.
Which chess player wouldn’t like to take their rating well above 2000? The Club Player’s Manifesto is another excellent course emphasizing middlegame concepts.
The time you invest studying this course will significantly improve your rating.
For those below 1500, there is a very helpful course by GM Susan Polgar – “The Polgar Chess University Mega Bundle”. The course covers chess strategy, chess tactics, and attack.
Included are lessons for all three subjects at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Because you will learn information at your specific level you can apply it immediately to your game.
A great middlegame course no matter what level you are at now:
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Final Words On Becoming A Grandmaster Without A Coach
The path to becoming a chess grandmaster without a coach is challenging. You will learn a lot about yourself as a person and a chess player.
Approach the challenge with the intention to have fun every step of the way. Setbacks can leave you feeling frustrated but expecting them will allow you to refocus on overcoming the setback sooner.
Give yourself credit for deciding to take on the challenge without a coach. The more challenging it is the more satisfaction you will feel when you achieve your goal.
Be patient as you work towards your goal. Break down the big goal into smaller goals.
Never underestimate the value of small but consistent improvements. Improving your rating online by an average of five points a day, five days a week will lead to an increase of one hundred points per month. Over a year this will add up to a 1200 increase in your rating.
Visible progress no matter how small will encourage you to persist with your plan because you will find it very motivating.
You can become a chess grandmaster without a coach. Furthermore, when you do you will inspire another chess player to aim for this lofty goal.
A chess player who might think it’s beyond them because they lack the money to pay for lessons with a coach.