How Many Hours a Week Should you Study or Practice Chess?

If you are new to chess then you probably have a lot of questions. One of the things that I struggled understanding when I was a beginner is the amount of hours I should put in for practicing.

When I was just getting started, I didn’t really care about the hours, I just played and studied as much as I wanted.

That is because I am a kid with a lot of time in his hands, most people don’t have this luxury. Most have a personal obligation to attend to which can get in the way. In other words, most people need to be efficient when they do have the time.

They need to know the recommended time range in which they can see a lot of improvement without committing too much.

If that is what you’re looking for then this article is perfect for you, I will be talking about it. Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Why is learning this important?

You see, not everyone has all the time in the world to master chess. Most people have jobs and other responsibilities, something that takes a lot of commitment with time.

For most people, chess is just a side hobby, something you spend time on whenever you have a free schedule.

This is why we want to identify the bare minimum, basically the amount of hours that we need to put in order to become better.

Of course some people would want to get better at chess, but they also do not want to sacrifice their personal lives. Learning the best amount of hours to put in during each week will allow people to see improvement yet not compromise anything.

We need a good range where we can see improvement yet not get too engrossed with chess.

There is a consensus on how many hours you should put each week, it is about 2-3 hours a day. 

How many hours should you spend a week?

Allotting about 2-3 hours a day for practicing or studying chess can go a long way. So if we are talking about per week, this will be about 14-21 hours combined. Two hours is enough to develop your intuition.

Playing under one hour a day is not recommended, most of it will go to the short term memory instead of the long term memory.

You see, chess players need to develop their ability to sense patterns in any given position. If you give a random position to a chess master they can probably instantly tell the 2-3 decent moves available.

This is not because chess masters are just some big brain beings, rather they have developed their intuition by ingraining so many patterns in their heads.

Developing your own intuition takes a lot of games, probably in the hundreds. 2-3 hours a day doesn’t seem a lot, however, if you do it everyday you will play or study a lot of games.

Let’s say you prefer the rapid time format, two can probably give you a good 6-8 games of rapid. If you prefer blitz then it would be even better, it can give you a good round of 12-15 blitz games.

If you study in between, you can still get a lot done in 2 hours. I think even with analysis you can get at least 5 games of rapid chess in two hours.

This will be enough to develop your pattern recognition, and you will become stronger over time. The most important is of course consistency, whether you are able to stick through this routine for some time. 

Why is 2-3 hours per day (14-21 hours per week) recommended?

You may wonder why this specific time (2-3 hours) is recommended. As I have discussed before, most chess players are not really professionals. They have a life outside of chess that they need to attend to, they need the bare minimum.

This is why the recommendation is not only for two hours, it is also recommended to practice and study for 3 hours every now and then.

Some would want to improve faster and are able to put in more hours, the 21 hour per week recommendation would work on these individuals. You may wonder why it is not recommended to study or play for more hours?

The answer is the law of diminishing returns. As you put in more hours, the amount of improvement that you will gain per hour would significantly decrease, the most you can gain are in the first two hours.

This is why the two hours is the bare minimum, a time range where you can get a lot of improvement without committing too much.

14 hours a week is a very efficient week, you will learn a lot depending on what you study. Many chess players have become significantly stronger by just following this rule. 

Can you still be good at chess even if you only practice under 7 hours a week?

So what if you only study or practice for about one hour a day (7 hours a week)? Will you still see the improvement that I am talking about?

From my experience the answer would be no, you wouldn’t be able to develop the pattern recognition that strong chess players have.

Most people also agree with this statement, only practicing or studying chess for 1 hour a day would not see much improvement. You see, the practicing routine of most beginners is not really that efficient.

What happens is that over time as you study more, you become better at studying. You will be able to identify what you should work on and what to dismiss. 1 hour a day would not give you enough room for trial and error.

Most of it will also likely be just “games for fun” which is not wrong, but don’t expect a significant improvement.

In my experience, 7 hours per week doesn’t really give much. You can still do it of course if you aren’t only looking to have fun, but this article is for those who want to improve.

So no, I don’t think you should shoot for a training routine of 7 hours per week. 

Does the recommended number of hours per week change as you become better?

This is an interesting question, the answer can differ from player to player. In my opinion, the practicing hours shouldn’t really change even as you become stronger.

Sure, you can put in more hours if there is an upcoming tournament to prepare for your opponents. But this is not what I am talking about, on the regular where you don’t have to participate in any event the 2-3 hour rule should still apply.

You can of course overshoot and study for more than three hours, but take note that there will be diminishing returns. If you don’t really care about that you can go ahead and practice anyway.

Taking a break is of course important as well, you can take a break in a day or two and maybe add some more hours on the day that you do play.

This is also another way to go about it, just figure out which time frame you are the most comfortable. 

How many hours per week do grandmasters study or practice chess?

Grandmasters probably study around 3-5 hours per day, which would be around 21-35 hours a week.

You might think that this is a good practicing routine, if grandmasters put in this much hours then you should as well right?

Wrong, grandmasters are professionals in chess and they literally play for a living. Most don’t have other jobs and as many responsibilities outside of chess, they can tolerate this much hours.

But what about diminishing returns you ask?

This of course also applies to grandmasters, however they are literally professionals. They will need any small advantage that they can get, if putting in another hour can give them a little edge in the opening they would probably do it.

Should you do it as a non-professional?

I don’t think so, you don’t have to study that much. Plus these grandmasters are already better at chess than most people in the world, they have a higher learning capacity.

Since they have more knowledge related to chess, they are able to absorb more information about chess.

Someone that is just starting wouldn’t get as much from putting in more hours, only a grandmaster would be able to.

So yeah, although grandmasters put in more hours, it is not recommended for most people to imitate this routine. 

Conclusion 

You should study or practice chess at around 14-21 hours per week. This would be around 2-3 hours a day.

This is a perfect time frame since you will be able to develop your pattern recognition, in other words, your intuition.

Developing your intuition takes time, a 14-21 hour per week training routine can get you there. Studying more than 21 hours per week is not recommended since you would be subjected to diminishing returns.

The most gains that you can get begin from the first 2-3 hours of practicing. And although grandmasters put in more hours, they are professionals that play chess for a living.

Most people don’t have to put in as many hours in order to develop well, 2-3 hours per day is enough. That is all for this article, thank you for reading. 

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