Stuck at 800? What to do?

Has your child been stuck at 800 rating? Maybe they’ve played a lot of games online, but they’re still stuck in that range. One day they gain +50 points and lose it all on the next. This can be very frustrating, especially as a parent! You see your child working hard but there seems to be no measurable improvement.

You begin to wonder when your child’s game should improve.

What could be the root cause of this stagnation? Let us look at some of the important tips to get out of the 800 range.  These ideas are based on our experience of working with kids.

Tip #1 – Play limited games

This might sound counterintuitive at first, but it’s actually very important. Often at this rating, children play a lot of games. But this can be counterproductive after a certain point. Usually what happens is that children start on a winning streak. The more they win, the more they continue playing. And there comes a point, where they make a mistake and lose one game. They get upset.

So they issue a rematch determined to defeat their opponent…

But then they lose again.

They start making emotional decisions in their game. Also after a certain point, their concentration level starts to dip. And this is how a winning streak becomes a losing one. This is exactly how one might gain and lose 50 points in a single playing session. Here the problem is making emotional decisions and the depleting reserves of concentration.

The solution is to play limited games. Set a specific time period. Usually 1 – 1.5 hour for playing is more than enough.

Tip #2: Stop Dropping Pieces or Pawns for Free

You’ve to know which pieces are hanging. Sometimes the opponent plays a move from one corner of the board, which attacks the other piece in another corner of the board. A lot of players at 800 level don’t notice this. And as a result they drop pieces for free.

The problem here is a weak board vision.

The cure is to be conscious and alert. You’ve to know what your opponent is threatening, and which of your pieces or pawns are attacked.
Also solving tactics helps in such cases. If the problem is big, you’ll need to work with a good coach. Through their experience, they can usually weed out such problems in a game.

In our academy, we have such coaches. They’ll help your child improve their board vision by giving very specific exercises to solve. We also provide regular feedback on your child’s progress. To get in touch with our coaches, drop us a message in the enquiry form. Or you can also tap on the chat button and Whatsapp.

Tip #3 – Play the best moves and ignore the rating!

Often we see children getting afraid when they face higher rated opponents. They might have the skill, but they don’t believe enough in themselves. Now that’s self-sabotage. Half the battle is lost here. Fear and self doubt have crippled the ability to play a good game. To overcome this, children must learn to ignore rating while playing the game. A good idea is to just focus on the board while playing. Don’t pay any attention to the opponent’s rating.

Just play the best moves in any given position.

The great Bobby Fischer sums this perfectly with his famous quote –

“I don’t believe in psychology. I believe in good moves.”

Tip #4 – Solve puzzles

No serious chess player can overlook solving puzzles. Solving chess puzzles takes out the pressure of making the moves at the spurt of the moment and presents just the situation. This is fantastic element in learning Chess. Children can spend as much time and effort they can and solve the puzzles. Puzzles train the eye and brain to recognize the positional patterns.

A child learning chess should try to solve at least 15 puzzles a day. This helps them not to spend a lot of time thinking what to do, instead they can recognize the pattern and react instantly while playing a full game with another opponent.

Chess Puzzles

The above picture of the book contains some 5,334 examples, primarily dealing with mate, mating attacks, or forced endgame wins. Mr. Polgár, the father and personal chess trainer of the renowned Polgár sisters of Hungary, has provided over 1,100 pages of brilliantly organized didactic and practical paradigms to equip the reader with the weapons needed to play power chess. Before the advent of computers, chess players have to be highly dependent on these books. Now online Chess websites like Chess.com, Lichess.org, Chesskid.com etc makes it easy to solve unlimited puzzles with or without help. At Saswath Academy, we use these websites while teaching too!

Tip #5 – Stop repeating same mistakes

If one is stuck at 800 elo, they’re most likely making the same mistakes again and again.
Here it’s important to find out that specific mistake.

  • Are they making the same blunder over and over again?
  • Are they forgetting about developing all their pieces in the opening?
  • Do they miss tactics often?

These are some of the most common mistakes at 800 level.

Mistakes don’t have to be chess specific. They can also be off the board issues like confidence. You have to become aware of them before knowing what corrective action to take. Here the role of a good coach becomes important. When a coach goes over games, they’re likely to spot a pattern of play. Through this, they can draw a rough map of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Once they’re aware of the weaknesses, they can work on that specific area.

For chess specific mistakes, the solution is to teach an important concept in that weak area and give exercise positions based on that to solve. For issues like low confidence, techniques like visualization and positive self talk can be useful. In the Soviet school of chess, finding mistakes and rectifying them was one of the most important things recommended to the pupils. No wonder why players from that region are so strong!

Different people are stuck in the 800 rating range for different reasons. It’s hard to give a one fit solution for all, but the above tips are useful for most stuck in this range. It’s also what we recommend in most cases in our academy.

To get a more personalized chess training plan, book a call with our coaches. They can pinpoint the exact mistakes in your child’s game, and develop a training plan based on that.

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