Having a good playable mouse, decent internet connection, fitting theme layout (of board and pieces), managing the time, and limiting pre moves are the ways to win more online chess games.
Online chess presents a very different setting from what is traditionally encountered over the board. There are many good chess players online that is not as great over the board.
This just proves the difference in the two environments. What if I tell you there there are ways to improve your winning chances in online chess games specifically? There is actually, and I have heard about all of them.
There are certain adjustments that players can make completely unique to online play which I will be talking about. I heard about these and decided to just make an article about it. Hey, I think it is a good topic, which led to the creation of this article.
Here are the things that I have heard about:
1.) Customize the settings correctly
Most people that play online gloss over the fact then they can customize the settings to suit their experience.
And I can definitely relate since the default mode (in lichess and chess.com for example) provides what most people are looking for.
But some people are actually more comfortable in certain modes than others. Maybe you can customize the position of the clock, animation of the piece’s movements, or disable the premoves to better suit your needs.
2.) Match your theme layout
The theme layout refers to the combination of piece and board designs that can be mostly changed also in the setting.
Having a terrible match can definitely throw someone’s game in some way as a form of distraction.
Of course that is for your visuals to decide just make sure that you know that this function exists so you can actually change the theme layout.
3.) Do the chess trainings
The thing with online chess not available to a normal set of play is the chess training (general information that helps chess improvement).
Most people ignore the fact that they have access to these materials not being able to use it to its full potential.
These mediums are easily digestible (most people who play online have limited time) and would dramatically increase your likelihood of success.
4.) Play chess rush
This is another feature that is only available online (although there are puzzles offline too) that will increase tactical strength.
This would really save you a lot of time since you don’t need a lot of set up to actually participate in this one.
You just need an account and a little bit of your time to develop tactical visualization (which in turn increases your online wins too).
5.) Analyze your own games
This is a huge missed opportunity that most people are already forgetting—which is analyzing their own games.
This is really important in any aspects of improvement which is you are actually learning from previous mistakes.
This makes you realize the things that work from those who don’t and allow you to fill the gaps in order to become a better player.
6.) Use the free online engine analysis
Most online chess platforms provide opportunities for participants to use their chess engines for free.
And these engines are not to be taken lightly too they are very strong usually which can give you some precise recommendations.
Using this option after every game you play online will naturally help you improve over time.
7.) Learn to manage your time
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not but most people who play online usually have one similarity, which is they can’t properly handle their time.
I do not mean playing incredibly fast nor incredibly slow, just having a sufficient understanding to use what is actually needed.
This would boost your online winning rate since you are playing in a field where people don’t usually manage their time (which over the board players do).
8.) Specialize in one time control at a time
If you are like me who’s playing for entertainment (although periodically competitive) then you may not necessarily have to focus on longer games.
You see different time controls warrant different approaches, if you play everything all at once it will be very difficult to win.
However I strongly recommend to at least play the rapid format as a beginner since that will give you the most learning without having to play for too long.
9.) Try to play against stronger opponents
This one is slightly harder to apply in online games since there are limited options to choose who you want to play (and their strength).
However there is an invite functionality that you can use to play against a stronger sparring partner that you have met along the way.
This also means that the stronger you are the likelihood of facing stronger player increases, therefore more challenges for you to develop.
10.) Limit premoves
Premoves are instantaneous moves that you can set before the resolution of your opponent’s move which saves time.
The problem with this is there’s a likelihood that something beyond expectation may come and a premove seals a blunder.
There is even an actual strategy to win pieces when there’s too much premove in bullet games. I suggest limiting its usage to endgames (specifically pawn pushes).
11.) Do not play on pilot mode
This is a phenomenon that frequently occurs online that applies to most people playing which is going on this “pilot state”.
The retention time that we have on the internet in general tends to make us pay less attention to things that we do including chess.
This makes it freely available for people who are willing to think things through since most opponents don’t really exert that much effort.
12.) Do not rely on speed, improve your play instead
This is something that you will notice literally 1 to 3 games you play most of the time (below 2000) which is they rely on speed especially on faster time formats.
Some of them are not even good at chess at all and are just trying to throw their opponents off with their instantaneous movements.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to develop fast calculations just do not sacrifice quality play in doing so (this will make you win more online games).
13.) Avoid disappointments from dealing with cheaters
As someone who has been playing online for years I can tell you that even I link my confidence to my actual win rate.
The problem with doing this is eliminating the possibility of facing cheaters which uses an engine where of course would definitely win.
See all of the ways people have cheated in chess in this other article I wrote.
This would hamper your confidence which could have negative effects in your future games (so don’t feel too bad about losing and just move on).
14.) Do not play when having a losing streak
This is a complimentary suggestion from the previous one which is not forcing games when having a bad day.
We all have a bad day that calls for a little bit of refreshment every now and then and you should listen to yours.
I personally have suffered a lot of backlash (on my rating) for playing online when my mind wasn’t present at that moment in time.
15.) Do not use the chatbox for thrash talk
Thrash talks are great in any competition since it creates a drama that attracts viewers but not in chess.
Viewers are the least of your priorities and having a beef with someone distracts you from things that actually matter.
Most people that you will get to meet are transactional anyway (one time only) so ganging up doesn’t make sense and will only get in the way.
16.) Do not rage quit
This is a result of frustrations leading up to perhaps a blunder or positional mistake forcing a player to resign altogether.
I highly encourage you to pursue playing even a lost game since it will force you to formulate more advanced calculations that will help your development.
And there are even instances where a blunder actually turns into a good positional sacrifice which you will fail to see by just resigning immediately.
17.) Avoid releasing frustrations on the environment
In order to win more online games it is extremely crucial for you to develop emotional toughness not just on the game but outside of it.
It’s really hard to move forward to the next game by being physically invested in the previous one (ie. shouting, throwing things around, etc.) which you should definitely avoid.
I suggest cooling your head down a bit if you feel really into it by eliminating any visual aspects that could remind you of the thing that throws your cool off.
18.) Use a decent mouse
This is an issue I’m sure that you have most likely observed encountered by every online chess streamer ever the so-called “mouse-slips”.
These are unintended moves that get thrown from having an inaccurate functioning mouse which could of course cause defeat and headaches.
You don’t need to purchase really expensive and highly branded mouse just enough to better suit your needs.
19.) Play when there’s a stable internet connection
This of course separates over-the-board play from online engagement which is the factor of poor internet connection.
It’s just really hard to play the same after suffering the annoying nature of having a frozen time where the pieces cannot move.
Make sure to check the internet connection before playing (I personally search things in google or youtube to test speed) which would allow you to unleash your actual strength.
20.) Be patient
This could mean a lot of things but being patient in general usually translates to better opportunities to wait out progress.
You’re not going to be the best chess player that ever exists only by playing online, most people in the platform have years of chess experience in their belt (even offline).
I’m not saying that you cannot increase your win rate (hence the point of this article) but I do say that quitting before seeing the results is not the way to success.
Playing chess online definitely expresses a lot of barriers (mouse-slips, internet connection, etc.) that affect people’s gameplay in general.
These ideas are the things that I’ve found to be what’s missing in my personal chess lifestyle (online) that have helped me.
Implementing these recommendations will surely improve your win rate for the better (although these are just precursors not the driver of results).
I hope you find the secret sauce that works for you. Sleep well and play chess.