Keeping a Chess journal is a good way to measure and track your progress. There’s a saying in marketing, “measure what matters” and also “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
Keeping a journal will also motivate you to improve faster. Being able to see your progress throughout the years can make the difference between climbing the FIDE rating ladder and staying at 1000.
What Makes a Good Chess Journal?
Many players find it beneficial to record their games on paper or digital format, such as a Google sheet.
Essentially this is a Chess score sheet. Include the basic columns that are universal in all games, whether you’re playing white or black, etc. More suggestions are below.
What To Record in Your Chess Journal
You can buy a Chess Journal, but we recommend you make your own so that you can customize it to what would help you the most.
There are some things that are universal that every Chess player should record. Such as:
White vs Black
Ratings of Players
Time Remaining of both players
Ending position of all pieces on the board
Result (win or lose)
Here are some suggestions for secondary columns based on your preference.
Board graphic (every seemingly irrelevant detail can have an impact on your play)
Blunders and other critical moves that made a big difference afterward for better or worse.
Thoughts during the game, move by move as well if you wish
Emotional state during the game
Time used per move (so you can go back and see how you managed your time based on the position
What you learned from this game
Positions to watch out for your future games
If you decide to go with a digital version, you can also add a column for PGN’s. This will allow you to upload the PGN of your games into an analysis tool to crunch the data in your games. Scid is an excellent tool that allows you to upload PGN’s to analyse your games.
There is no perfect Chess Journal for everyone. At the end of the day, what makes a good journal is one that will benefit you the most.