CalChess High School co-Champion and the Bay Area's newest master, 12-year old Yian Liou, wrote the following essay. He shares his own experiences about what it takes for a promising 1600 to reach 2000.
As a talented young 1600, it is never easy to become a 2000 player. For me, getting to 2000 meant that I had to be able to beat 1800s when I was 1600. By 1900, I needed to win almost all games against lower rated while earning good results against 2000s. That is much easier said than done!
Foremost, are the aspects of your game. You have to work on your openings with books or Chessbase and prepare them to face specific opponents. Playing on a chess server against stronger opponents helps you get used to the opening traps, ideas and so on. You should work on tactics just in case your opponent doesn’t see a trick to win material. I recommend a program like CT-Art or an Internet tactics site. Also work on the positional aspects of the game, meaning where to put your pieces and how to find ideal squares for your pieces and pawns. Do exercises from a book for that. It helps to develop a good intuition, which means you know where in general you should move. Finally, since you have your opening and middlegame done, go to the ending. You should study theoretical positions like rook and pawn vs. rook. Get Silman’s endgame course, or if you are very serious, Dvoretsky’s endgame manual.
Since you can do well against higher rated opponents with the advice I have above, now turn to the next challenge: beating lower rated players consistently. Lower rated players, in general, will blunder material and you can win easily. However, what happens if they don’t? In this case, you have to outplay them, make them more and more uncomfortable until they finally blunder. The technical aspects of the game are now good, but now we move on to the psychological part of the game.
What I mean by psychological is the skill to stay focused during a long game and not get tired. To keep your physical strength during a game, I suggest some type of physical activity that requires you to exercise your whole body. For me, it is soccer and tennis; other sports like swimming and running are good too. These sports will help you stay sharp as a game progresses. To focus during a chess game, you must also be patient and take your time. These skills take time and cannot be learned immediately. Once you learn those, you are ready to be a 2000 chess player.
Yian reached 1600 USCF during Labor Day weekend in 2006 (at age 9) and became an expert within two years at the 2008 Pacific Coast Open. Exactly a year later, he earned his master certificate at the 2009 Pacific Coast Open. Apparently, Yian did something right over the years! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the readers. --fpawn