Friday, May 27, 2016

Improve Your Chess with GM Mesgen Amanov

GM Mesgen Amanov
I recently discovered Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov's website, Improve My Chess. I was impressed with the quality of his videos, so I contacted him to see if he would like to share some information about himself here.

He graciously accepted my invitation. We cover a few areas including his early development as well as some of his best chess results (including an annotated game highlighting his preparation and in-game thoughts). We also discuss some general training advice and GM Amanov shares why he started coaching and Improve My Chess

I found GM Amanov to be very friendly and open with his answers. I hope you enjoy his responses.

Unless otherwise noted, the words are GM Amanov's.

Early Development

I started playing chess when I was 5 years old. My dad taught me, he was about 1800-2000 level. I was just playing against my dad all day, didn't really have any chess schedule or lessons, just played for fun. In my school chess was a curriculum, it was like any other class, math or literature etc. So was going to chess class once a week, obviously I was beating everyone in my grade, so it was again just for fun.

When I was 10 years old, my father passed away. I thought everything is over, but luckily I loved chess very much that I decided to go the chess club and study chess with more advanced kids.
Learning chess in Turkmenistan (this is where I am from) was very different from USA. We didn't have private coaches, we didn't even know it was possible. We learnt in a group of 6-12 kids from a local coach. We had good coaches, mostly from 2200-2400 level. So from age 10 to 15 I was in that chess club, withing those 5 years I became 2200. 

To be honest I feel like becoming 2200 wasn't hard at all. I only say that because becoming 2500 from 2200 is about 5 times harder than becoming 2200 from 0. 

I went to college when I was 15-16 years old. And being 2200 is like nothing special at that age if you want to become professional chess player. So at age of 15 I started seriously studying chess and by saying seriously I mean 6-8 hours a day. How is that possible you may ask me while attending college? So let me explain: I went to Sport and Tourism University in Turkmenistan, majoring in chess coach (yes, we have that major!) :) 

Subjects were easy for me, my favorite was sport psychology, physiology and human anatomy. That allowed me to study chess all day. When I graduated university I was 19-20 years old and became International Master. I played bunch of International chess tournaments including World Youth, Chess youth Olympiads, Asian Championships etc.

Becoming a Grandmaster

At age 20 I came to USA to play in tournaments, I was still International Master. I studied enormous amount of chess here in Chicago with my friend GM Yury Shulman in average about 8 hours a day. 

Then I had to leave to play Chess Olympiad in Dresden in 2008. This was my most successful tournament, I had 7.5 points out of 8 with the performance of 2730! (FIDE rating). In 2009 I became a Grandmaster. 2010-2012 were by best years in my chess career. Those were the Years I professionally studied chess 6 hours a day.

In 2011, I had great performance between May and August. I got second place at Chicago Open (May) with more than 25 GMs, and Sargissian Gabriel from Armenia got first place. In July, I got third place at World Open with more than 30 GMs, first and second was shared between Kamsky and Michael Adams. In August, I placed second at the Metropolitan Invitational with more than 10 GMs, Michael Adams got first.

So after 2012, I was teaching more and more and my rating slowly started to drop. At some point I couldn't take any new students. I was completely booked, therefore no time to study chess on my own. Just teaching. 

The result of that is my rating dropped more than 150 points! My peak was 2614! And now I am below 2500. It is impossible to even keep your rating on the same level without studying. I feel like I know much more, but my calculation is not as deep, same as my concentration. Perhaps I will play again, but as for now my priority is teaching.

Bryan Castro: Mesgen shared the following game with us. Besides his excellent chess moves, pay particular attention to his comments as he provides much insight into the opening preparation and in-game decisions of a grandmaster. All of the annotations are GM Amanov's except in a couple spots where I make an observation.

Some General Thoughts about Chess Training

There are indeed many books written on openings, but I don't really think intermediate level players spend a lot of time on openings. Some teachers think so, but the level of opening preparation is pretty low here. But I agree that Middlegame and Endgame are more important to study first.

Bryan Castro: Here I had commented that a lot of amateur players focus a lot of their study on tactics.

And yes you are right people "spend" too much time doing tactics. Why is that wrong? Because chess player have to develop other areas of chess understanding. Going over Grandmaster games, study endgames manuals, play training game more often, learn about positional chess etc. Doing just tactics is just wrong.

Bryan Castro: Based on his background in sports psychology and physiology, I asked him about training mentally and physically for chess.

Attitude and Psychology in Chess

Psychology in chess is so important, sometimes even more than any preparation. If you go to the tournament in a good mood, motivated, striving to play best moves and ready to fight till the last move your chances on doing well are very very high. I've seen my students preparing so much, worrying about the tournament and when the time comes to play a game, they make very simple mistakes, blunders and no deep calculation, because their worries blocking everything. 

Being worried and sometimes scared is a big enemy that you need to overcome first. Before any tournament I am trying to cheer up my students, so they understand even if they lose a game, it's not the end of the world, it's just a game of chess. 

I am always encouraging them to play brave chess, attacking chess. If there is some interesting idea that they see, but afraid to proceed because of the result, I make sure to explain that experimenting is always good, it is a creative process. If their idea didn't work, at the very lest they learnt and next time they would know when to execute such idea or not. 

That's why it is important not to stressed out yourself before upcoming tournament, instead be excited about it and look forward to some fighting chess!

The Importance of Fitness and Chess

To be a good tournament player it is to be in a good physical shape. I often recommend to my students to read autobiographies of the famous chess players, like G. Kasparov, V. Anand, M. Carlsen etc.

These exceptional world Champions are in great physical shape. Gym 3-4 times a week, soccer and tennis 1-2 times a week, jogging and simply walking on the fresh air, all that helps to stay focused during the game. Endurance is very important especially for them, because their tournaments are very long. 

Here in USA, tournaments are short 2-4 days, but you play 10 hours of chess in one single day, that is very stressful for our organism, that's why our body has to be prepared.

I myself all my life have been very active in all sports. I used to do gym, swimming, table tennis, basketball, running, soccer, martial arts, volleyball, arm wrestling -- basically everything because I was in the Sport University, now I do gym, swimming and table tennis. Those are my favorites. 

Becoming a Chess Coach

In 2012, I opened chess academy in Glenview, IL. Idea is that kids from 6 to 18 years old could get together and study in a group. Over these 4 years I had about 20 Grandmasters (not just GMs, teaching GMs, it's a big difference) giving lectures in my academy. I was watching them all and tried to become even better learning from them. Some of them are OK teachers, some of them are really good. 

In 2015, I felt that it is time to share with the world with my teaching experience. Why did I feel it was the time? Within those years I raised so many Experts and Masters and couple International Masters, raised one World Champion. All my private students are the state Champions. So I didn't need any more proof or push to start something that will change dramatically teaching of chess.


In September 2015, me and my partner Gary Aranovich, a very talented idea developer, computer guru and just a good friend, launched the program. 

Now after 9 months since launching we've received hundreds of amazing feedback. Chess players truly expressing their desire to work more and harder on chess. If chess players are not serious about their improvement my program is not for them. But if someone is seeking in real improvement my program will help 100%. I can see it for myself how our members becoming stronger and stronger, I just see it by their rating. 

My chess philosophy in teaching is very simple: to make my students happy. If I deliver the best lessons with the right information, to make sure my students understand the subject, to make sure they will be able to use it in their games.

What do I enjoy most about my teaching? To be honest...the results. I enjoy when my students say to me: "Mesgen I did so great at the tournament!!!" with a huge smile on their face. Nothing else matters to me,  I just want them to be happy.

The best way to contact me is through official page: there is link "Contact me" 

This was a big interview, but very sincere. I could write much more, but the reader's time is precious. If you are that reader who wants to get better at chess and increase his/her rating, go to my site, sign up for free lessons and see it for yourself.


Thank you, Mesgen, for your generosity in the time you spent responding and sharing your thoughts with us. Through interacting with GM Amanov and watching his videos, I have found him to be friendly and sincere in his desire to help his students improve.

In this interview, GM Amanov shared many useful tips for improving our chess, including:
  • The importance of consistency in our study and training
  • Having a positive attitude and perspective before our tournament games
  • The importance of fitness and endurance for tournament players
  • Having a balance in our chess training and not focusing on one area to the detriment of others
  • Insights into preparation for an opponent

I hope you will check out and see if the program can fit into your chess training schedule. The instruction is top notch - his students' results speak for themselves. 

Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed this interview with GM Mesgen Amanov. If you have questions for GM Amanov, please contact him at or feel free to leave comments here and I will forward them to him.

If you did enjoy this article, please share it with others. Also, check out my other interviews with masters. Until next time, I wish you good luck and good chess!


  1. outstanding interview and i saw free lessons from amanov it is great.

  2. I am 100% commited to taking his course. This past weekend i saw 3 concepts that arose in my games from GM Mesgen from his site i dont buy any program except his because of how he teaches in the free videos. My rating was 1751 because i have the skill. But i suddenly hit a wall. And my rating dropped to 1524 within this past yr. And now that i have his program and saw the concepts he teaches in my games. I am going to keep the program. After only 2 months of his lessons im convinced i will reach my all elusive 2000 rating. Btw my rating is now 1540. So im going up slowly but surely. U wont gain the points right away but if u stay the course u will definitely increase ur rating lime im doing. Thank you Mesgen. Sincerely, Ezequiel

    1. I'm glad you found a program that you like and are seeing some early results. Like any program, it takes consistency and effort. I wish you the best of luck!