Personal Note on Learning New Things: Case Study on Chess

I started playing chess when I was a kid, but not regularly. Several years later, after watching the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix in January 2021, I began playing chess again. With the pandemic situation, outside the working hour, I restricted my activity in crowded places and I found chess can be a fun activity to do.

How the Journey Goes

In my initial games on chess on chess.com , I used “fazlurnu” as my username. After several games, my rating was below 800 which is around the average rating on chess.com for a game of rapid chess (10-minute time format). I thought I could improve so I keep on playing.

Rapid Time Format Rating Distribution on Chess.com

Two months later, in March 2021, my rating went to 1200. After that, I took a pause on chess because it was too time-consuming and started to distract me from important things. I closed my previous account.

On June 1st, 2021 I created a new one, with a username of toko_material. Within 5 months after opening that account. I reach 1636 for Rapid chess, which is higher than 98% of all the players, or in other words, the top 2% on chess.com.

My Rapid Chess Rating as of November 9th, 2021

I realize I made some important approaches on my chess journey, allowing me to go from average in the beginning, to be in the top 2% at this moment. I am sure it can be used as a reflection to study or master new things.

Here are some important notes.

Know the Basics, Know the Theories

When I started with the average rating, I had no clue of the theory in chess. I only knew only the rule, like how the pieces move, what is a checkmate, etc. As my rating shows, if you know this then you are an average.

Luckily, chess.com provides learning features where you can study several theories related to chess, starting from opening to end game. One theory that opens up my mind is the value of each piece is not the same. With this, you know when to trade certain pieces. You can even trade two knights and a bishop for a queen and the game is not losing for you.

The Value of the Chess Pieces. During the beginning of our chess… | by The  Chess King Shop | Medium

Another theory is the advantage of knight and bishop. You may see that both pieces are equal but in certain situations actually one of them is worth more than the other. Take a look at a closed game below, the bishops are obviously useless since their movement is restricted by the pawn. In this condition, a knight is better than a bishop.

Open vs Closed Chess Game - The Chess Website
A closed game

There are many more theories in chess, learning them gives you a lot of advantages compared to those who don’t. Of course, you can discover the theory by yourself from months or years of experience, but you should avoid reinventing the wheel!

Learn from the Professionals

There are millions of chess players in the world and some of them are in the highest-ranked position. Luckily, in this age, you can watch their games and learn from them!

Personally, I prefer watching Agadmator Chess Channel on Youtube. Antonio, the host, is a knowledgeable chess player and with sharp analysis and fun jokes. He analyses world-class chess players’ moves by using the help of chess engines.

In the picture below, Magnus Carlsen, the world chess champion, sacrificed his queen for two bishops and a knight when fighting Anish Giri. In the end, with excellent pieces coordination, Carlsen won the game. This proves the theory that a queen is worth as much as those three pieces and you can win the game with that queen sacrifice.

Magnus Carlsen vs Anish Giri match review by Agadmator

I have watched countless videos from Agadmator, I think it is a good help to improve my reasoning in making moves during my chess games.

Practice, Practice, and Practice

It is no secret that practice improves our performance, as the saying goes “practice makes perfect.” Repetition helps me to learn, evaluate, and understand chess more.

I have been practicing chess almost every day since June 2021 and I think it is one of the reasons for my improvement. Surely there were times where I lost my games, but with evaluations and having a small break, I can bounce back to the track.

With practicing, I personally think I develop a kind of memory. I do not need to think a lot, but I know that the move I am going to make is a good one and it will work. Analyzing the pattern, or choosing which trade to make, will also be easier.


This chess journey has taught me that mastering a new thing is always possible. I went from average to top 2% chess player on chess.com within 9 months, something I did not expect when I started to play chess regularly.

I am sure, with a good strategy, anyone can learn new things and master it within a relatively short period.

As the saying goes, “Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”.

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