Course review: Next Level Training by Noël Studer

Unique and valuable take on “How to study chess” in the age of information overload.

Full disclosure: Noël graciously gave me a review copy of the course and I agree to do a review of it, and he gave me complete editorial freedom.

I give my opinion on the course both with my “adult wannabee improver” hat and my “performance coach to chess players” hat. The course interestingly straddles these topics by telling you both how to study and what type of material to study (with some books and online resources recommendations). The course is quite unique as we have an overload of available chess material (free and paid) but very little content explains to use that material to study. It is a meta guide to studying.

The Course is structured in the following way

  1. Getting Started/Introduction
  2. How to Study Anything
  3. How to Study Chess
  4. How to Study Tactics
  5. How to Study Positional/Strategical Chess
  6. How to Study Calculation
  7. General Middlegame Study
  8. How to Study Openings
  9. How to Study Endgames
  10. Improve by Playing Training Games
  11. Analyse your games
  12. Construct your Training Plan

A book on the same topic, ‘How to Study chess on your own by Davorin Kuljasevic, is a good book but let down by the very advanced chess material presented. In Noël’s course, the chess material is presented as a direct example of the studying techniques offered and is easily accessible.

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In the chess world nowadays, a large influx of motivated new payers are taking up the game and such a course is a very valuable resource.
The first section on ‘how to study anything’ is good – but I have to give my only criticism of the course: in that particular section the material presented is straight off popular nonfiction and I feel the advice is ‘passed on’ rather than made unique to chess. But he gives good advice nonetheless and it will be useful to people encountering it for the first time.

Noël’s distillation of what training methods work and what don’t is excellent and unique. It’s obvious he has great personal experience with training and learning and helping out students, and he’s clearly passionate about the subject. My personal favourite part is the method for analysing games which is explained in great detail. I also really like the pdf files of material that one can print (I’m a big fan of notebooks and stationery).
All throughout the course, the focus is on chess improvement, therefore all the advice is designed to keep you on rails to achieve this. You can play blitz and bullet, Noël isn’t the ‘fun police’, but he drives home (rightly so) that this will have close to zero impact on your classical chess.

Noël recommends several books and free resources (with detailed explanations of how to use lichess studies for example). He also recommends paid resources (with affiliate links to Chessmood for example) but points out they are not mandatory for improvement. He also explains why Chessable has to be used in the correct way, i.e. not focusing on rote learning but using the video courses for understanding ideas. Overall his advice is very clear and it’s impossible to be confused about his recommendations on what to do or not to do.

The final chapter on how to construct your training plan is a great balance between hand-holding and total freedom. It emphasises understanding your goals and constraints before setting up a study plan.

There is a discord server for the course owners to find people to have a training match with (I will confess that I have not checked the activity of the discord).

The price point is $300 (with a further 30% on sale until the 26th of March). If you can afford it it’s very much worth it. It’s very easy to spend a lot more than this amount on courses and books that won’t be very useful. This course gives very good recommendations for extra material and can save you money down the line. Video content is about 10 hours, and it is very much a course that one will refer to several times, I don’t think watching the material once is enough (definitely not for me), note taking and careful application is required.

Small detail but I had never used the teachable platform before and quite liked it, enough so to consider using it myself for course creation.

You can buy the course here.

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