Most chess hustlers learn by playing over and over again without any study. The only real study they get is from informal chess lessons given by other chess hustlers. With that said, strong hustlers do study using books and YouTube videos. They also solve chess puzzles from time to time.
If you ever had an opportunity to play against chess hustlers then you know that they are not pushovers, surprisingly a lot of them are pretty decent competitors. This is why you may wonder how they actually learned to play chess?
If you ever tried learning the game as a beginner you know it can be quite difficult even with free youtube tutorials, but these hustlers have managed somehow mostly without online tutorials.
I think this can be helpful for you if you are struggling in your journey to learn chess, the methodology that these hustlers implement may give you an idea.
But overall, just learning how other people do it can be a good educational opportunity that is just interesting and not necessarily practical. Here is what I know about this topic. Without wasting too much time, let’s get going.
Chess hustlers learn through experience
Chess hustlers get the bulk of their learning through experience, they continually play until they witness some major improvement.
What is the normal trajectory of someone that is trying to learn chess? Most beginners will study the rules and figure out the concepts by having someone teach it to them.
Most chess hustlers experience this too, but they are more on the practical side since they actually make capital by playing chess and not just learning.
Most of them would start by actually playing it even though they are likely to be horrible at the beginning. They would learn the rules as they go and pick out the best strategies as they play.
In other words they will play and learn rather than learn and play, most chess hustlers start in this manner since it is just the fastest way to learn (though not necessarily the best way to learn).
They will continually play against both weaker and stronger opponents and over time, develop their strength primarily through experience.
Chess hustlers learn from other stronger chess hustlers
Chess hustlers primarily learn by associating themselves with other chess hustlers who could teach them about the aspects of the game. They usually have other people that they can talk chess with.
If you ever picked up an interest in something you are always going to be better if you have someone to share that passion with. It will keep your interest and will make you stay in the game longer.
Even better is if there is someone in your group that has actual expertise in the game and can give you reasonable tips, which is the case with chess hustlers.
They eventually learn chess because they have someone to talk with whenever they have concerns, and they can easily get their answer from other experienced hustlers.
A lot of questions from beginners are actually opinionated and are something that you cannot just search on google, having someone to talk to has its perks.
Chess hustlers learn by playing against each other
Chess hustlers usually play against one another and give tips on how they can improve their game. Interestingly, their more experienced colleagues act like a coach that will help them improve.
Most of the time they are, of course, playing against visitors who are willing to bet their money to have a game of chess or two. However that is not always the case.
Sometimes there aren’t as many visitors in the area that they are residing with because of seasonality, there are just some days where there aren’t as many potential opponents.
In these cases, it is more beneficial to play against other hustlers than never play a game and never win any money. In other words, the competition will make weaker hustlers eventually improve their game.
Learning through the competition is actually what makes professional chess players so potent, there is no reason that chess hustlers will not learn the game more by competing against each other.
Chess hustlers occasionally take informal chess lessons
Just like with professional players, hustlers also occasionally consult someone who has a higher caliber than they are to improve their game.
They would usually not consult titled players though since the fees are much higher and they usually cannot afford it. However there is someone they can go to where the cost is minimal.
There are some informal people who learned to play chess well that are willing to offer coaching services (non-professionals), some chess hustlers buy these services and elevate their game to a new level.
There are many potential individuals that could make up the population of those who offer these services, maybe they are another chess hustler, or an unusually strong untitled player (which do exist).
These people can learn more about the game than they could have by just playing, although not all of them buy these services.
However I have seen some people offer such services (even without a title) and some chess hustlers testify that they have taken their services and learned something (not sure about the quality of the lesson though).
Chess hustlers learning through chess puzzles
I know this may sound weird and it may not apply to all chess hustlers, but some of them really like solving chess puzzles. At least from what I have seen from local hustlers in my area.
Some chess hustlers learn the game by continually solving puzzles in the newspaper (which is more outdated), or with a book that is all about chess puzzles.
The one that I have witnessed is in the newspaper, it is a local brand that gives chess puzzles in one of its sections every edition or so. Some chess hustlers learn by solving them.
I can imagine that some will prefer books though since they don’t have to buy multiple newspapers to keep solving puzzles, but I think it is much rarer.
I just have to mention it here since this is kinda relevant, and I have just witnessed the newspaper one last week.
Chess hustlers learning through books and courses
Some chess hustlers study formally via chess books or a chess course. Some accomplish this by going to the public library or borrowing a DVD from a friend that has a course about chess.
An example of this is a local library that we have near the city that anyone can have access to if they have any sort of an i.d., there are a lot of chess books there free for reading.
Of course I have some competition from chess hustlers roaming around the main square that took some of the chess topics that I want (since they are also trying to learn).
They are likely not going to purchase an actual chess book since it will cost them significant money, so they may go to the local library and read on some topics there since it is for free.
Another would be courses, they may borrow some from one of their friends who has a pre-recorded DVD regarding chess and learn that way. This is also one of the ways chess hustlers learn.
Chess hustlers can learn using the internet
Chess hustlers are not primitive, there are some of them who learned the game using the internet. Though from what I have seen, they usually only study openings online and never really get serious on other parts of the game.
From all the things that I have discussed above you may have noticed that there is a pattern to their behavior, which is they avoid spending money.
This is usually because they don’t want to spend so much money and only get little returns from their hustling, we have to understand that chess hustling is still a form of business.
However there are some out there who do not necessarily do this for a living and they treat chess hustling as a hobby. This means that these individuals can afford to have access to the internet and learning from online sources.
These kinds of individuals are usually untitled but somewhat stronger than your average player and they treat hustling as a side hobby, for these people they can learn chess the same way that we do.
Chess hustlers can occasionally learn from titled players
At around my place, there are certain occasions where a titled player would just visit and play a game or two against a couple of hustlers.
Some would be generous enough to give lessons after their matches and this is where some weaker hustlers can tune in and learn.
I would say that this is pretty rare though since titled players are usually more interested in competitive tournaments than casual chess at the park. However in instances that this happens, hustlers can definitely learn from it.
Especially in this era where chess is becoming more popular online, a lot of titled players (who are also influencers) want to create content for their own mediums so they occasionally play in their local park finding these hustlers.
This is why there are a lot more of these free lessons after the games that are even documented on youtube, I have seen one just a couple of days ago.
Chess hustlers that are retired professional players
Some chess hustlers are actually competitive players that have retired from the game because of their old age. These players have learned the same way other professionals have learned chess.
When it comes to individuals like these, their methodology of learning is the most formal one. They read a bunch of books, have a coach when they are young, or may have even watched some chess courses.
They pretty much learned the same way as you learn chess right now, and so they are a bit more relatable.
If we’re talking about these kinds of hustlers though it is likely that they have never learned the same way as the other hustlers that you regularly see.
This means that the things that I have mentioned above may not apply to them.
Clarification on how chess hustler learn
A lot of people are confused as to how chess hustlers become so strong for someone who plays informally, it doesn’t make sense. This is also probably the reason why you search this particular topic on Google (or whatever search engine you are using).
Professionally speaking, chess hustlers are not really not that strong and it is understandable how they learned the game and got to their level. They played continuously until they got good.
Most of them got by using their experience and some basic study in order to level their hustling, however, their strength is not something that will thrive in competitive tournaments.
They are strong enough to beat your average chess player but will definitely underperform against professional chess players who have a title.
For the most part they have learned chess by playing day after day and learning from their friends, this is a good sign if you want to take this approach. You can still be very good in comparison to regular chess players.
The case of chess hustlers is a good study if you want to know how far someone can take their chess by just experience alone (with minimal serious study). So some of you are probably wondering how they actually learn.
Chess hustlers mostly learn how to play chess by associating themselves with other hustlers. They would all compete and give tips to one another in order to learn the game more. Chess hustler also improves with continuous play, they build their experience over time.
They don’t have any magic that would boost their ability exponentially in a short period of time, in fact, the way they do it takes more patience. Playing until eventually becoming better just takes a longer time.
However the takeaway that you can have from reading this article is the ways they try to learn the game, maybe you have similar limitations and are wondering on how to overcome them.
Anyway I hope this has been an educational read, I have exerted a lot of effort in writing this article. Hope you enjoyed it, sleep well and play chess.