How To Practice Chess Alone – A Comprehensive Guide


Woman practicing chess alone

Chess is a game of strategy. One might think that playing it alone would be pointless, but in reality, practice makes perfect. There are many ways to practice chess by yourself and train your brain to become a better chess player.

You can practice chess alone by utilizing interactive tutorials, play against other players online, analyze games after you have played them and study openings for hours on end.

Improve Your Tactical Vision By Solving Chess Puzzles

A great way to learn chess alone is by solving puzzles. Chess is said to be 80% tactics – so it is a crucial skill to spot tactics fast. Tactics in chess are pins, skewers, forks, and many other patters that help you win material immediately.

A good idea is to have a book with chess puzzles. This can be great because you can review puzzles that you have already solved. By doing this you get better at spotting the patterns and this will help you greatly in games.

If you don’t have a book on chess tactics you can also always find chess puzzles to solve online. Just Google “online chess puzzles” or “free chess puzzles online” and you will get plenty of puzzles and tactical exercises that you can practice alone.

Another way to practice tactics is to sign up at chess websites like Chess.com or Lichess. Both sites have apps so you can sit and practice solving tactical problems alone on your phone or tablet. There are free versions available but if you want to have full access without limitations you can sign up for a paid account.

Improve Your Game By Practicing Interactive Chess Tutorials

A great way to practice chess by yourself is to follow interactive chess tutorials. Even in the free version of Chess.com you can take interactive tutorials but you will be limited to a certain amount each day or week.

There are quite a few benefits to practice chess this way.

  • The tutorials also have exercises so you get to practice yourself.
  • You can chose different skill levels so the difficulty is tailored to you.
  • You can practice certain themes
  • The tutorials cover everything from tactics to openings, endgames and general chess strategy.
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Just find your own skill level and start practicing. One way to get started is to just dive in from the beginning. Depending on where you are skill wise they might be too easy in the beginning, but you will be sure get everything covered and at the very least let the basics sink in.

You can also find certain areas of your chess game that you feel needs improvement and start practicing that. This way you plug leaks in your game and ultimately get much better by practicing chess alone.

If you do not feel like signing up to get access to these kinds of chess tutorials you can also find free chess tutorials online. They probable won’t be interactive though, but definitely still much better than nothing.

Interactive chess lessons are fun and educational. They are also very effective because of the exercises. You are not just told what to do and when but get specific positions served where you need to practice applying what you learn yourself.

Analyze Your Games to Learn From Your Mistakes

A great way to practice chess alone is to analyze your own games to find leaks in your game and learn from your mistakes.

One way to do this is by going over the game you just played. If you played at a chess website like Chess.com you can have your game analyzed instantly, and you will get great feedback on which moves were good and what was the best move in each given position.

You can go back and forth between moves trying to figure out what you did wrong, and why your move wasn’t the best in the given position. Again try not to just watch the best moves in each position, but instead really force yourself to figure out why this move was better than what you played.

If you don’t think the feedback is good enough you can also load your game into a chess engine like Stockfish and have it analyzed there. Then you can be sure that the moves shown are actually the best choices. That being said the quality of feedback from a site like Chess.com is actually quite good, so it might not be necessary go beyond that. At least until you reach a certain level of play yourself.

Play Against The Computer

Today modern chess apps are very customizable in which type of computer opponent you want to practice against. You can chose to play against a very tactical player og more quiet player and you can even change setting to force the computer to play a specific opening or variation.

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This is actually incredibly helpful. If you play against another human online you don’t really know how early game develops. Against a computer you can get to practice that certain opening that you are working on right now. Then you get used to patterns developing from the openings and quickly improves you understanding.

Playing against a computer also gives you other helpful options. You can get help and hints as you play. Especially if you’re a beginner this can make all the difference. You get to see the best moves in any position. To get the most benefit out of this you should not just see the move and move on.

Take your time to understand why this specific move is the best. Is it a defensive move or an attacking move? Does it setup a certain tactic? How does it improve your position or weaken your opponents position? Always practice finding the reasons why this move is the best.

Playing against a computer you also usually have the option to take back moves. This way a blunder does not have to ruin an entire game. So, as you can see there can be many benefits to playing against a computer and it is therefore a good way to practice chess alone.

Read Books About Chess Strategy and Tactics

You can practice chess by yourself by reading and playing through books about chess strategy and tactics.

A great way to do this is by reading a chess book and then playing through the games in it. The books usually have high-quality annotated games where you can see how certain tactics are played out, which makes for perfect practice material if you want to improve your tactical vision. Just read about one tactic from the chapter at hand before continuing on with the game and try not to move any pieces until you’ve finished all of them.

This will help make sure that everything sinks in so when it comes time to play against another player or solve puzzles they won’t be as hard anymore since you know what’s coming up next.

The strategy side of things is also important too – after all, without good strategies there wouldn’t be any tactics.

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Studying different chess opening like the London System is something you can do alone as well and it’s not that hard if you have a good book. One way to get started with this approach is by looking up online what kind of openings are played at high level games and then try them out yourself. You might find some great ones just from doing research on your own!

Watch Chess Tutorials on Youtube

Youtube has become an invaluable ressource for the chess student. Many Grandmasters and International Masters teach chess and show their own games while they play – explaining their thought processes.

Some good videos focus on explaining certain topics or openings. These can be good introductions to a subject. Especially if you learn better by watching someone explain rather than reading about it yourself. Just skim the comments and ratings to make sure the content is actually good.

You could also watch Youtube videos in the popular format of so-called speedruns. This is where a GM like Hikaru Nakamura or Daniel Naroditsky opens a new online account and plays through the ranks. They start at the bottom against the very weakest of players and move up to better players as they win. In the process they stream each game and analyze what they play.

This format is extremely helpful. They show you a lot that is usually not covered in chess books. How do you deal with opponents making bad moves? How to best punish bad moves? Stuff like that which is great to know in you own games when you play weaker players.

One tip could be to pause the videos and try to find the moves before the pro show you the correct move. This again is because it is best to get actively involved. Don’t just passively watch the videos, but practice your own chess thinking to get the most educational value out of watching the videos.

If you want to improve your chess game, then start practicing. The more time spent practicing the better your skills will become! There are many ways to practice alone – from solving puzzles and interactive tutorials to playing against a computer or watching instructional YouTube videos. All of these options provide excellent opportunities for developing tactical vision and improving strategic thinking. Which one sounds like it might be best suited for you?

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