There are many tools that you can use to improve your chess online, and some of them are free. Nowadays, the information that you can find on the internet is incredible, there are even chess trainers.
A chess trainer is an important tool that practically every chess player of this generation has used. It’s become something really useful when it comes to training certain practical areas in chess.
Many chess trainers offer different methods to improve, some of them are paid though, but they sure give good results. As always, all you need to get the best results is a good method to train.
Remember that being your own chess trainer is a double-edged weapon, it has a great advantage and a disadvantage:
- When you study chess alone your limits of improvement are the ones that you put to yourself.
- But there are high chances that you commit mistakes with your training, unless you are well-informed on this matter.
So, in this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about chess trainers and how to use them. The complete guide on what chess trainers are, how to use them, and actually improve using them.
What is a chess trainer?
A chess trainer is a program, webpage, or method that you can use to train chess in a certain matter. This could be tactics, strategy, positional understanding, calculation, prophylaxis, or any area of chess.
Most chess trainers are found on the internet, but others are from books. There are chess tactical and strategy books that include exercises, and explains the way you have to use the book.
For example, with tests, and different practices, like using a chronometer and try to solve the puzzles at a certain time.
However, there are chess trainers that you can find online, or programs that you download and use on the computer. For example, the ChessBase’s program Fritz is a great option to improve your chess.
It provides you with multiple platforms to play chess, take lessons, and there is a tactical and strategical chess trainer. In this case, you will have to pay, but there are other options.
The chess.com tactical trainer is the best you will find on the internet, it’s just simply so well-done. It counts with features like an adjustable trainer on the tactical topic you want, and the puzzles increase difficulty based on your rating.
How are you supposed to use a trainer?
Some tactical trainers are really easy to use, as they explain exactly how you are supposed to use them. However, when we talk about “how to use them” is learning how to adjust the chess trainer to your necessities.
Not everyone learns the same way, some require different methods and approaches, there are many factors. So, the best way to make the chess trainer suit you perfectly is to get a chess coach to guide you in this matter.
However, if you can’t do this, then here are some advice from a chess coach that will help you get the best from the trainers:
- Train for a reasonable time: You don’t want to push yourself so hard, this is the worst thing you can do. Training your tactics and strategy for one hour every day is more than enough, chess is not everything in life!
- Make sure that the training is adjusted to your level: Sometimes we train with materials that are beyond our understanding, meaning you are not prepared for it. People tends to think “oh, this isn’t for my level, but I’m the exception, I can do it”. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that, be patient, everything comes at the right time.
- Measure the time you take: Maybe you have a great tactical vision, but you are used to get a lot of time. Taking 20 minutes to calculate a 3 moves variation is not practical at all, is like doing nothing. Limit your time, put pressure on yourself and be practical.
- Consult with coaches: This is the best that you can do, if you can’t pay a chess teacher at least try to consult one on certain topic. You can look for advice on forums like Reddit, and chess.com, or you can contact someone you know.
Little you will do if you don’t know your objective, you can’t get to the goal if you don’t know where it is. The chess trainer is to keep your practical skills becoming stronger over time with constant and fun work.
This is achieved by solving puzzles mainly, although there are also other strategies like replaying games and learning theory. But the most important part is pure practice, which is going to make us learn the patterns and others.
A chess trainer is simple an assistant in your progress and helps with the development of practical skills. However, you can’t focus on chess trainers completely, remember that our chess study has to be diversified.
Don’t forget to take the chess books and review their information which is also good. For example, the chess book Attack and defense by IM Mark Dvoretsky is one of the classics on this matter.
This book not only gives you many puzzles to solve but also explains in great detail the process that goes along with the solution. This is something that online chess trainers haven’t been able to match and makes a difference in learning.
The benefits of using a trainer
We have talked a lot about the benefits of having guidance when you are studying chess. The practices that you do by yourself need to be practiced in certain methods and with certain pedagogy.
As we have said here many times, a well-prepared and well-thought study will mark a difference from chess players.
What does the chess trainer do?
A chess trainer is a tool, something that you will use to help you improve by taking different exercises. Online chess trainers are really good and offer many methods to develop your skills.
A chess trainer is almost like a method, just an organized way to study chess to improve efficiency. Many masters use regular chess trainers, for themselves and even for the students they have.
You don’t actually need a program to study chess, but it sure makes the process a lot easier. When you organize the study you will seize the time better, and the learning process becomes a lot more enjoyable.
Of course, chess trainers also have their ways to use, which is not as simple as starting to solve puzzles. The chess trainers nowadays allow you to tweak and configure many different things, and they must be seized.
We will give you a practical example of how to use a chess trainer efficiently…
When you are improving in chess, one of the most important parts of it would be analyzing the games. This is done to spot punctual mistakes, and the chess trainer can be configuring to work on that mistakes.
For example, if you want to learn a certain topic or train on a certain pattern, you can configure the chess trainer. So, all of the content or exercises you are given are specialized on that pattern or topic.
This can be really beneficial to overcome mistakes that you have spotted and work on your weaknesses. This is how you can specialize the chess trainer to work on yourself, this is how you really improve.
It’s a usual practice when chess coaches want to talk about a certain topic or give a certain class. But in this case, is done by a machine, you can access all of these features in chess.com or other similar websites.
There are others chess trainers that will allow you to read eBooks with a virtual board on your computer. This is very useful for people who don’t want to practice with a real board, or that does not want to get a chess teacher.
How to seize the chess trainer even more?
As we have said, there are practices that you can do to improve the learning process, remember that method is important. However, a virtual chess trainer is not everything in the world, you can rely on it to develop your whole tactical sense.
Here are some of the specific areas where the chess trainer is useful and plays a fundamental role in progress.
Reinforce your knowledge
Once you have studied an opening, have reviewed some tactical or strategical patterns, you will want to reinforce them. It’s not enough with simply reading it, or just doing one exercise or two, working on the skill again is imperative to develop it.
So making some exercises on the topic you have seen is a great idea, at least for a week. This way you are reassuring that the idea is nailed on your head, and you won’t forget it.
Also, it can give you a taste of how you can apply them in a practical game, which is another problem that you might encounter.
A chess coach
Probably you don’t like too much the idea of getting a chess coach, but it really is an asset that you can use. A chess coach will serve as that person that you know you can always ask for help, and consult when you get stuck.
The chess coach will also give you good advice on how to use the chess trainer correctly, or even set it for you. This way you can be more sure that you are getting specialized training that is really working for you.
Having a chess coach will always be a good investment, no matter what you do, and I can assure you the experience will be better. But you have to get the correct chess coach for you, we have articles about that here!
Make your study diverse
Many of the students I’ve taught commit the mistake of centering their attention on practicing only what they like. This tactic isn’t fructiferous, it’s like wanting to keep your body in shape and just working out your arms.
Using a chess trainer will put many different tools and content at your reach, you don’t have an excuse to practice the same. In chess, you must have the skills to play in any kind of position, the more preferences you have, the more your weaknesses.
Make sure to sort the topics out in your studies, and get different training regularly, get out of your comfort zone!
There are a lot of sites that you can use, some for different topics, and you don’t need to use just one of them. However, in this case, we will give you two options, the most complete, and nurtured there are online.
In case you have some money to invest in your training, you should definitely go with chess.com. This site simply has a lot of content, an insane number of lessons, drills, articles, and puzzles to help you.
It also counts with statistics that assess your level in real-time, and in the case of tactics, these adjust the difficulty of the puzzles accordingly. This is extremely comfortable, that is why many masters are approved as the best chess tactical trainer there is online.
You can also access some more of its features, like the analyzing board, which will help you a lot to see your deficiencies in-game.
This is the other option, chess.com’s greatest problem is that you have to pay a subscription to access the content. This is not the case in lichess, actually, this page is famous because everything is free here!
If you don’t want to pay the subscription, lichess is also a respectable option too. Here you can find a chess trainer that also offers puzzles and exercises based on our level.
It would be good to use it as a chess trainer and have some friends over lichess to help you train what you just studied.
The different kinds of trainers there are
There are many chess trainers, every program that is built to help you improve in chess is considered a chess trainer. For example, chess apps like the “Magnus trainer” are chess trainers, that is why there are so many kinds of it.
- Online chess websites: All of the sites that count with the chess trainer functions, such as tactical trainer. These websites offer you the training features in many different ways, like analysis board and some others. The catch is that most of them are going to ask you to pay some subscription or donation to have full access their features.
- Chess apps: Different chess programs designed for phones that allow you to train your chess wherever you are. Some of these apps are really useful, checking them out is recommended.
- Chess programs: Some chess programs and GUIs can be used as a chess trainer. Some of them are free and some of them are paid, but anyone you got you can use with an engine and you are ready to go. The most popular is Fritz made by ChessBase, but you can also try Arena if you prefer a free GUI.
- Books with different practices: You can also try to get a book that has a guide on how to read it. These are usually read with chess boards, to reproduce the moves and analyze the examples. This practice can be really beneficial, and personally, I believe it is the best “chess trainer” you can use.
How to use the computer correctly so you get better at chess?
You can use a computer to play with or analyze your games, playing the computer is important to improve technique. Playing the computer will give you the precision to play at certain times of the game.
Playing the computer is important to work on your precision and reduce your mistakes in-game. It can also be used to practice your favorite openings, and play the lines you want to know.
Another interesting practice is analyzing grandmaster’s games and extracting the ideas and plans that you have seen. This is the tactic that even chess books apply, but you can see the commentary from the masters.
However, as the book “Think like a grandmaster” by Kotov states, is better when you analyze games on your own. This way you will improve your calculation technique, and you will literally learn how a grandmaster thinks.
A good way to learn is by analyzing a game and calculating variations in that game, then compare your moves with the computers. This is just to see how accurate you play, and you will also see the way the computer plays, to familiarize yourself with it.
This practice can report you really good results, many grandmasters at the top-level study like this.
What should I expect from using a chess trainer?
Many people have the misconception that they will learn everything about chess with a chess trainer. This is something that we have to talk about before you fall into that mistake.
Remember that a chess trainer of tactics, strategy, or other is nothing more than practice in your training. Just to keep your tactical vision and calculation in shape. You can’t rely on the chess trainers to do all the job, still, there are other kinds of study.
For example, the conception of positional concepts that you don’t know yet is something you can’t do with this. You will have to rely on the old books on this one as it is normal.
But just using a chess trainer every day by itself will not make you improve that much. Tactics and strategy are important, but they are complements of a compound of skills that must be trained in a different way each.
It’s like working out on different muscles of your body, and you have to know how to train each of them.
A chess trainer or chess lessons?
Chess lessons are important, if you are a chess player you have surely taken at least one lesson in your life. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a chess lesson in a club, but it could have been online, or by simply watching a video.
If this is your case, and I’m sure it is, you know the value and why chess lessons are really important. This is why there must be a balance of both, you need to take chess lessons and use a chess trainer every day.
If you can do both always better, but it isn’t necessary, and this is another topic about making your training comfortable. I recommend you organize your training, and establish what you are going to train on in different schedules.
We have said that a chess trainer, at least for tactics and strategy, must be used every day to stay in shape. In case you don’t like the idea of studying with the computer, you can “create” your own chess trainer!
For example, the book “Fundamental Chess Tactics” is a great piece of work that counts 336 pages by Antonio Gude. This book can be used to train your tactics, Antonio Gude is one of the best chess writers there are.
This author explains very well how you are supposed to study his books and gives you a method to use them. Studying this book is really one of the best, all you need is a chessboard and a book, that you can get on Amazon for a fair price.
This can be an efficient replacement for ordinary online chess trainers, lacking that important explanation.
Is it better study with online chess trainers or books?
This is a good question, and I thought it was necessary to clarify this, both are important, but you have to give them their place. A chess trainer can provide you with different opportunities to improve your patterns, but books also have a role to play.
Chess books develop concepts and normally are part of the formation of healthy chess players. Normally, every chess player in the world has an important chess book that marked them and is nothing to be surprised about.
Chess books can give you superior knowledge, compared to the other methods there are to learn, it’s simply something else. Reading a book about chess can help you form an idea of what chess is from a master point of view.
For example, my great predecessors by Garry Kasparov illustrated this point brilliantly. Here you get an insight into how the proficient grandmaster thinks, and the great analysis he does.
This can give you some ideas that definitely exercises y themselves will not, and it will work on different skills in your chess. In my opinion, both are important, and they should be studied equally, each has different methods.
Make sure you study both ways, and with different contents, also to play so you make sure you learn the ideas in practice.
How can I get better at chess fast?
If you really want to improve in chess fast you will have to train, but it isn’t just as simple as that. Here the fact that you have to look for the things that you like the most applies.
If you are really passionate about chess, then, you will have no trouble always be looking at different ways to improve. Many of my youngest students are really eager about chess, to the point that is almost what is always in their minds.
Of course, you won’t actually reach the unhealthy part of this, but if you really enjoy it, then do it. There are many things that you can find on the internet about how to learn different methods to train, I’m sure you can find them on your own.
When you are doing something that you love you can actually feel it, you feel that you will never get tired of it. A chess trainer can keep you hours stuck in a chessboard, or a book, a lesson, a topic.
And the best part of this is that is actually like a free improvement, because you are working, but you are having fun!
How to read chess tactics books efficiently?
A chess tactics book can be read with a chess trainer, for example in the platform chess24. This platform will allow you to solve the problems in a chess book, make sure you check that out!
The benefits of doing it online are that online platforms are a lot easier to set, and the training is a bit faster (you’ll see why). The thing is that you will get to see a 2D board all the time, and you will spend a lot of time in front of a computer, not good!
However, studying chess books also has its pros and cons. When you study with chess books you will get to see more detailed content than what you find online. The quality of the information on the internet hasn’t reached the level of chess books written by masters, that’s a fact.
The thing is that studying with a chess book will be a bit slower. You will have to set the board, the positions you see, maybe use a notebook and deal with pages. This could be comfortable for some, but maybe not for others, but you sure should give it a try.
One of the most important practices for chess masters is analyzing their own games looking for mistakes. This practice allows them to improve their chess drastically and is incredibly beneficial for the people who do it.
The thing is that you can learn how to give to your games that “computers” touch of pure precision. This will improve your a lot your technique, you will learn the importance of the little details and how to take care of them.
Also, sometimes this will be your light in the dark, this way you figure out your mistakes, meaning, what you have to work on. Most of the chess coaches analyze our student’s games to see what they are failing on.
This way they can develop classes and lessons to eliminate those mistakes, who says you can’t do the same? If you start doing this you will see a great improvement in your chess really quickly, and you will start improving really fast.
Of course, remember that everything has its correct method, so make sure you investigate that. Look for books or any information you find about how to study your own games, and what to look for. You can also find someone to help you analyze your games!
Which skills will you improve with this practice?
Many things improve by doing this practice correctly, to put it more concretely:
- Calculation: When you analyze with the computer you will see the tree of variations offered by the computer. First, you calculate, and build your own variation and compare them with the computer’s.
- Precision: You will learn how not to lose advantage, which is important, have you dropped a won game before? Well, you will learn how to keep the advantage, one thing is getting it, other is to keep it.
- Prophylaxis: Some of the exercises will require you to think about what your opponent might do next. This is why you have to think before you do, and this is a real important concept in chess. Something that the chess trainer doesn’t teach.