Chess requires consistent practice and an objective state of mind to keep on getting to the next level. Unlike other sports where presuming that you’re the best may give boost your self-confidence and push you to greater heights, doing so here is probably going to do more harm than good. I’m not saying that believing in you is bad, on the contrary we should believe in ourselves but similarly to other activities, doing something over and over again will get us to where we want only if we employ the right methodology. But which training technique is going to make us improve and should we all have the same approach to become stronger players ?
Opening knowledge is quite primordial when it comes to getting a decent middle-game position and our comfort level with the position we get. For instance at club level the dragon is quite popular at and the likelihood to reach some Tabiya is pretty likely. So you’re an e4 player and you’ve noticed that you’ve been getting this exact same position in the Sicilian and you decide to do some homework, which is a wise thing to do since the Dragon is a dangerous opening.
After a while you memorize a couple of more moves and you go back to your local club and end up with a nagging edge around move 20. But how did that happen ? Remembering moves and just re-playing a line in which White ends up with a slight advantage has allowed you to get good position out of the opening but now what ? And is this chess is supposed to work, just pure memorization ? Anyway your clock is ticking and we must dive back into the game as the you’re out of the opening in even deeper water.
Now you and your opponent traded a few more pieces, you’re a pawn up but the position looks even more unclear to you as you’re not familiar at all with this situation since you’ve never played so good against Jeffrey. Then what are the conditions to be considered an experienced and knowledgeable competitor who is able to convert some sort of advantage into a winning endgame. Well since there are less pieces at this point of the game brute calculations and forced lines should be popping in and out out of your brain. Whether it’s figuring out the best way to bail out of a dangerous situation where your opponent’s pieces are dangerously aiming at your King or thinking through how to rightly put in motion the combination of moves that will allow you to simplify the game into a simple and much better endgame, calculation will be a big part of the equation.
At this point your clock is ticking down to a few remaining minutes and you’re struggling to even remembering if you know how to win this rook endgame. A pawn up but it’s your king is somewhat far away from it and your opponent’s King is getting closer and closer to your only hope for winning. Well in times like that experience may be of importance as far as not feeling overwhelmed by the time pressure and just losing your ability to play right, but more importantly your knowledge of endgame is quite primordial, and nothing better but to do endgame puzzles for that.