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10 Tips to Get Better at Chess

FIDE rated chess player with more than 15 years of experience in Chess

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I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.

- Marcel Duchamp

Chess is a game with ancient history and which is widely known to improve your creative as well as logical skills. It is both fun and challenging. So learning chess is definitely a good idea.

Do you already know the basics of chess and is struggling to get better at a certain point even after playing a lot of games ? Here are some tips to improve your game and reach to the next level.

1.Know the Basic Moves and Rules

The first thing you need to do to learn chess is to study the movement of pieces, general rules of capture of pieces, pawn promotion, en passant, castling etc. You can study these from standard books, YouTube etc.

If you are planning to attend professional tournaments then don't forget to learn the rules about illegal moves, touch piece, use of clock etc.


2.Learn to Write Chess Moves

Writing the moves of yourself and your opponent is a must for professional chess tournaments including FIDE tournaments. This will help you in analysing the moves later as well.

The tricky part here is to learn to write the moves without loosing focus on the board. For that you need a lot of practice in writing them.

3.Study Basic End Game Moves

I have seen a lot of people who play well at the beginning and middle portion of the game but get confused on how to checkmate with the pieces they have. the good thing about end games is that as the pieces are low the possible moves can be predicted to a limit and you can study them with a little effort.

Learning pawn endings are a must for any professional chess player. Checkmate with two bishops, a knight and a bishop are some rare and tricky ones.

5.Learn from the Masters

Getting to know the thinking process of world chess champions will certainly improve your view point. How can you do that ? You guessed it right, through reading famous chess games. You can easily find famous games and the reasoning behind each moves online.

This will let you know on what the masters do differently than you. Get into the active learning mode while looking into the moves. Think as if you are the one playing instead of the master. Then compare your move with the paper. This will improve your thinking process ad act as a feedback mechanism.

4.Analyse Your Games

When you see a good move look for a better one

- Emanuel Lasker

Once you finish a game analyse the game well. This includes analysing opponents moves and reasons behind them , the alternative moves that were possible on a crucial situation and outcomes based on that, finding strong and weak positions etc.

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There are many online tools available to analyse the accuracy of your moves nowadays. This will help you in identifying common mistakes you make. But don't rely on Digital tools too much, instead try to analyse yourself first.

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6.Try Solving Chess Puzzles

Puzzles are the ones which asks for best moves in a given board situation. This is common and can be found out in common chess books, apps etc. This will help you in finding the best moves in a situation.

The beauty is that after solving many puzzles you will find out common things that push back from seeing the best move like fear of losing pieces, fear of attacking etc.

7. Don't Give Up Easily !

“No one ever won a game by resigning”

– Savielly Tartakower

So you lose some pieces due to blunder and want to resign ? Well wait ! Don't lose hope. The opponent can make mistakes too which can turn the board. So don't just resign if you have still pieces which can attack the opponent or at least take things to a draw. Opponent has less time compared to you ? Then avoid exchanges and play as long as you can !! Expect the unexpected.

8. Keep an Eye on Opponent’s Moves

Sometimes we get so indulged in implementing our strategy that we forget to give attention to what the opponent is actually doing. So always be cautious especially when the opponent does the following

  • Makes a move which does not make sense : At first you may feel that the move was made without any thought. But often times it is not like that ! There will be some hidden agendas behind the move. So have a closer look into it.
  • Sacrifices pieces : If you think you can capture that piece which is chilling without any support that might be a trap. Professionals don’t do that usually. So before capturing that check whether your King is safe and there are no losses.
  • Offers Draw : This is something to look for. Assume that the board s in a balanced position or even the other player has an advantage and the opponent suddenly offers a draw. Nine out of ten times this means that the player saw some moves which will cause our victory. So even if the player is more rated than you don’t say yes that easily. Look into the board and find those moves !!
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9. Develop your Pieces and Control The Center

The thing you need to primarily focus on opening is to develop your pieces such that you get control over the center so that your pieces can easily. Some things to note hear are

  • Do not trade if it helps opponent to develop
  • Do not trade lesser developed pieces with your active pieces.
  • Try to isolate opponents Pawns.

10. Play with stronger opponents

“You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win.”

- Jose Capablanca

I can hear you , if you play with stronger opponents then chances of failing is more, but each failure will teach you something new. Playing with weaker opponents may give you the dopamine of winning but losing the games are the way to get better.

I have personally seen this in professional chess players. Rather than winning over a weaker player they prefer losing to a stronger one.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Merin Tom

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