Chess Strategies and Tactics to Drastically Improve a Beginner’s Gameplay

Effective Chess Techniques and Thought Processes

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This post is for someone who already knows the rules of chess and is looking to increase their skill level. If you are looking to begin your journey into this monarchical warfare, click here.

So, you learned the rules, started playing, and now maybe you’ve found an opponent who is kicking your butt. Maybe you can tell they’re not that great, certainly no Bobby Fischer, but they have some nugget of knowledge that you don’t, something that puts them is a different class. Maybe you’re looking for some tips for online chess against that pesky computer. Either way, grab a seat and get your pen and paper ready, because school is in session. By the end of this, you’ll hopefully have learned something new and will be able to turn the tables on your next opponent. This article is designed to teach you some strategies they might practice; their mindset on the board. What may be secrets to you just might give you the edge so that you’ll have their king begging for mercy rather than your own.

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Lesson Number One: Always Look Several Moves Ahead.
This should be an obviously one, but I think it’s an important place to start to make sure you understand this basic yet vital component of chess. I don’t mean one or two moves. Several. Your opponent is doing the same, trust me. You need to look at the board, see what you can do, and what your opponent can do. Think if I move here with this move, I can be there in two more. What can he do to prevent it? What is he trying to do? How can I stop it? This should be your brain the whole game. Always have a backup tactic (or three) just in case your favorite doesn’t work out.

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Lesson Number Two: The Value of the Pieces.
A common way to think of the pieces is in points. If you have more points, you’re “winning”. Pawns are 1 point. Bishops and knights are 3 points. Rooks are 6 points. The queen is 9 points. There is some disagreement among the point value of the bishops and knights. Some argue that they are not worth equal value, including myself. I think the knight is closer in points to the rook rather than the bishop. It’s sneaky. It’s the only piece that can jump other pieces and move in a non-straight path (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally), and people often overlook this! Bishops are confined to a single color. One can only move on the black square, the other only on the white. This can be quite a weakness.

Lesson Number Three: The First Few Moves, Control the Center!
On the subject of the knights, it is important to “control the center”, and they are great pieces for this. You control the center, you control the board.

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Your first few moves really count. An old chess wizard once told me, “Your first four moves should always include two pawns and two knights.” Not a bad strategy. My typical first moves involve getting my two knights forward and inward and moving my two center pawns forward two spaces (if possible). This is a great strategy because the pieces all protect each other, you cover the center of the board, and might free some pieces which move diagonally (bishops and/or queen). You will also have a strong defense which will turn into a strong offense in no time. Start planning your other pieces based on your opponent’s moves.

Example 5
Lesson Number Four: Castle Early.
I won’t spend too long on this. The earlier you can castle, either side (though I prefer queenside), the safer your king is. It’s also a good way to free a rook. Preferably, you’ll have not moved the pawns in front of the king. If you must move them, position them diagonally in respect to each other with your king in a safe spot.

Example 4

Lesson Number Five: Never Move Back, a Waste of a Move.
Chess is a game of moving forward. It’s war! To move backwards is to waste a move, giving your opponent an extra move that you can’t take back, and possibly the advantage. Don’t do it! Look for another move. There often is one, and it might better than the one you were originally looking at.

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Lesson Number Six: Corner Pieces Whenever You Can
One way to ensure you can capture a piece is to corner it where it has no options. Leave it will no path for escape, and make sure there is no weaker piece that can block its threat. Take those out first. This point brings up my last tip, which is:

Lesson Number Seven: Doubly Threaten.
Two of your pieces to the opponent’s one, or one of your pieces to the opponent’s two (putting the king in check works well, especially if the other piece is of high value like a rook or the queen). This is a powerful and highly successful tactic. Less experienced opponents will often only notice one of the two pieces being threatened, and this will give them a sense of safety or make them think they see something that you don’t. Thinking that, they make the wrong move, and now, you have the upper hand. Remember how I mentioned the knight being one of my favorite pieces? You put one of them in the right spot on the opponent’s side, and you can threaten a rook and king (they must move the king, and you get the rook), or the queen and a rook (they move the queen, and you get a rook; or they don’t see the queen being threatened and foolishly move the rook).

Well, those are my greatest chess tips. If you haven’t thought to apply all of these, I’m certain that your chess game will certainly improve by doing so, drastically if you aren’t applying many of them. I love the game of chess, because of all of the possibilities. It sharpens your mind and provides you with a fun challenge when you can get a formidable opponent. It has many parallels to life and many lessons to be learned just within the concept and the pieces themselves. Be off, knight! Lead your kingdom to victory!

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