Improving your chess rating requires both in-person and online practice. It's simply not enough to play casual games at your local chess club or with online strangers who are only moving once every few hours or every few days. Sure, all practice helps, but you'll need to focus on tactics for the greatest return on your time invested in learning the game.
There are two ways to look at your chess game. Most people want to play better chess and increase their ratings. While it's true that one will help the other, they are really two different ways to improve your game. Playing better is subjective. Some people are content to play well within their rating, while others want to play up to play better. You won't necessarily increase your rating just by playing better within your comfort zone.
Tactics Are Patterns: Study and Use Them
Increasing your rating is tactical. Tactics help with building confidence in your skills. Confidence in what you are seeing on the board, calculating moves by anticipating how your opponent might move his piece, and planning how you will respond all help increase your rating because you eventually will be winning more games.
You don't have to anticipate more than three or four moves ahead. That's plenty. Most of us don't look past the next move. But you do need to look for patterns on the board. For instance, one chess piece attacks two or more pieces at the same time. It's like tines on a fork, hence the term "chess fork." A chess fork can involve any piece on the board: queen, king, rook, pawn, bishop or knight.
Common Fork Tactics
One common chess fork happens when your rook attacks your opponent's king and knight. Learning such fork tactics can help you draw or win your game. The more tactics you learn, the more confidence you will have to challenge players in the next higher rating.
But you won't get anywhere by playing it safe. Play up whenever possible. Challenge yourself. Get to local or state tournaments to get a feel for the competition. Take private lessons. Find online chess coaching sites that have their online chess coaches play in real time until the game is over. Ask them to share their tactics. It won't be long until you increase your confidence, your skill, and your rating!
To learn more, contact an online chess coach.