Re: Hi


It is really hard to improve.   I crossed over 1800 around 1985 mainly because I was good at tactics and speed chess but had few others skills.   I  stagnated there until 1988 when I moved to Lafayette Indiana where I lived for 39 months.  While there I played chess at least a couple times per week at the Purdue Chess Club and outside of the club as well.  It helped me that the Purdue Chess Club had really strong players.  I also used to practice against computers and memorize whole games.  I also studied king and pawn endings pretty thoroughly which has helped me enormously.     I saw my rating rise up to 2079 and then go down.  This is the point where I should mention that ratings then were inflated compared to ratings now.  The USCF has made major changes to their rating system, and the bottom line is that is my 2000+ rating now is much tougher to get than my 2000+ rating back then.


After moving to Utah in 1993 my rating dropped all the way to 1800.   There was a feeling in Utah a the time that Utah players were way underrated.  This isn't as true as it used to be. 


Back around 1999 I decided to make a big push to get to Master by memorizing 200 opening lines in 200 days.  This took more like 2 years and did not help me one bit.  It was a waste of time.


It was after this I began to feel that studying tactics was the better approach.   I studied the book Sharpen Your Tactics and some other tactics books and very quickly went from 1800+ to 1900+.  The amount of tactics study necessary to make this work is somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes per day, but I have seen other people have much more impressive results by studying 60 to 90 minutes per day.


Only recently I have been able to go from 1900+ to 2000+ by doing the following …


I like studying whole games and go over them repeatedly while trying to guess the moves.  I have spoken with a near master in Louisville who does the same thing.   This particular player went up a hundred points over the last year or two.


I am a huge believer in repetition because I think that the human brain is inherently forgetful. 


Getting a good source of games is difficult because there are so many sources out there that it is information overload.  It is hard to know what is the best to study.  I am going to suggest The Art of Positional Play and Logical Chess Move by Move.


But first I would start with the games on my website at:





I still tend to spend too much time studying openings even though I think that studying games is more useful. 

Best wishes,

John Coffey 

1 comment:

  1. You have to be very sharp to achieve even a class B rating by today's standards. Expert level is rarely attainable for most. Whatever your rating be proud of it, it is well earned. Day-to-day, chess must remain less important than life. I've enjoyed the game for more than 50 years.

    Mike C, Nebraska, USA