Climbing the Rating Ladder: 1000-1200

This is a series where I play lower-rated players and comment on optimal chess strategy both broadly and specifically to the rating level in question. Here we rise another rung and tackle players in the 1000-1200 rating range on

Part 1 (Up to 1000):

Links to games:
Game 1 vs. thunderryan:

Game 2 vs. tonygual:

Game 3 vs. aqa57:

Game 4 vs. lenard_austin:

Game 5 vs. geox:

Game 6 vs. Penix888:


  1. No doubt a natural born teacher on any level from very basic to advanced. Love how he encourages and does not belittle the much lower rated opponent

  2. 7:32 doesn't it make a little more sense to take the knight to damage the pawn structure?

  3. 52:48 Come on man! 😀 it took me 30 seconds to find a way to get a bishop or a knight, but rook? There is no way to do that!! Took me extra 10 minutes 😀 .. and then I hit play and immediately you go on with: "well actually he could block and I get bishop" 😀 – youre lucky he blundered and your words came true 😀 (just jk of course, great video and analysis. But I was stumped for a long time)

  4. I have watch a lot of chess games but John fluid delivery doesn't distracts the actual game with great reasoning stragey throughout! Best on YouTube so far IMO!

  5. what's the problem with accepting the second gambit at the start of the first game? The commentary after the game didn't focus on that.

  6. Bro 13:38 the static stuff on the screen made me jump! Thought my phone was fried 😂😂😂! Nice video man, im definitely binging this entire playlist, you explain things so well. This was exactly what I was looking for. Consider me a sub 🙂

  7. just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate these videos. Why? So many chess youtubers are focused entirely on chess theory. As a beginner I don't particularly care yet what every single opening move is called and what the step by step sequencing should be like, I just want to understand why and how a move makes sense, and you do a great job of illustrating that. Every piece you move I usually understand why it is smart, and you dont overload my brain with too many technical terms, but instead give practical explanations and helpful "rule of thumbs"

  8. OK got to 1:03:50 in a match after watching this… he went Ke6 … totally forgot about developing Nc3… I resigned 🙂

  9. John, your explanation of the game is second to none. There are a lot of very smart chess players, but their tutelage is poor.

  10. very good chess player dude, thanks for sharing your wisdom

  11. Never gonna give you up
    Never gonna let you down
    Never gonna run around and desert you
    Never gonna make you cry
    Never gonna say goodbye
    Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

  12. I believe learning some opening variations helps a lot to not lose time in the beginning, but the middle game is always something you need to put some thought in it

  13. What I've noticed is that at lower levels, players are more likely to be incredibly aggressive. When I was like 800, 900, 1000, I saw a lot of scholars mate attempts and when I was really low rated I'd even fall for them, but it was actually really good practice because now I know a lot of those silly little tricks that the players of that level like to play. I also noticed that aside from playing trick openings like that, they'll also go for what they see as instant material gain with little to no calculation, like with that Rui Lopez you played where they took the knight I think his plan was that he was going to win a pawn and I've seen that a lot in the lower brackets because the players are super aggressive and they feel like they have to be capturing and attacking constantly rather than being patient with the position. I think what some people struggle with is that they don't know how to set up a position where they can let the opponent work himself into a bad position with his aggression, and when I learned how to do that better is when I started improving.

  14. You make it look so easy lol. I lose every game, I don't play signed in though so I'm probably playing really higher ranked players than me

  15. Around 34:40 is the first time I’ve paused a video and seen the line that you had in mind! I’m quite proud of myself right now 😁

    Thank you so much for making these videos ❤️

  16. 5:30 Isn't it better to allow white to castle instead of interfering with it? If you allow castling, Queen b6 comes with a check, and thus a definite opportunity to win that pawn. After taking the pawn on b2, there's a double attack on a rook and a knight, both undefended.
    Of course, all of that assuming white castles on that exact turn.

  17. I REALLY LIKE how you explain what your opponent should do and why after you've made your move and are waiting for them to make their move. Thank you.

  18. Can someone tell me what's the book that he mentioned about over protection?

  19. The reason you see so many A3 moves is that they are preventing the popular (and brutal) “Fried Liver” move.

  20. Some other chess masters I know don’t play or explain well with fundamentals, but I deeply appreciate your analysis and balance of solid/trying play

  21. You're an outstanding teacher John! Incredible videos. I follow a lot of different masters and streamers on here but you're absolutely my favourite currently. I learn sooo much from all your vids. Thanks heaps!

  22. Great series these. Come back to these a lot when i need refreshers. You’re the best chess YouTuber – much better then gotham — 😉

  23. These videos are almost nostalgic to me at this point lol learned so much from them back in the day

  24. People don't blunder outright as much at this level and they have a certain base level of logic to their moves. Some players know the main lines and one or two moves in terms of the continuation of the opening they are playing.

  25. Man I’m stuck at 1100 and I never meet players who play a3 in the opening

  26. Pro Tip: Put the speed of the video on 75% or 80%. Almost brings his thought processes to human levels.

  27. The single thing they do more is blunder less and consider threats in general. Right from 600-1300 it's all about reducing blunders and seeing threats and as you go up that skill is reflected in the rating. Eg at 600-800 you blunder a lot but at 1000-1300 it decreases by a large degree

    After 1300 you increase thru more involved tactics ,stratergy and openings . By that stage blunders should no longer be a major problem.

  28. Useful timestamps:
    16:15 Trap against the King's Gambit
    28:18 Move against Ruy Lopez taking the pawn on e5
    35:50 tactic against queen taking pawn on e5
    1:02:31 Game 6 Fried Liver Attack— Two Knights vs Giuoco Piano

  29. 1. b4 is actually sound. Even Magnus Carlsen approves – it‘s also more commonly referred to as the Polish. The Orangutan just arose out of a curious story, that Tartakower talked to an Orangutan and insisted it told him to play 1.b4 in a tournament.

  30. John Betholemew is a great instructor and person, I love his videos. Keep playing your a sure Grand Master 💪😅!!

  31. ive been playing chess for more than month now and i only play the 1800+ computer or live, coz if i lose this way i dont feel bad and i want to keep my 100% winning ratexD Btw, it seems easier to beat 1600 players irl than the computer so far

  32. I don't know if you should play gambits below @200 I mean a lot of players at that level still blunder and have a poor understanding of compensation. You often see a lead in development and they don't take advantage me included sometimes.

  33. 8 years before the Cow opening existed and he says dont play openings named after animals 😂

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