Chess, a strategic and intellectually challenging game, is played and loved by millions worldwide. The ancient game, dating back over a thousand years, allows two players to test their strategies and tactics on a 64-square board. Whether you’re new to the game or just looking to improve your skills, here are some essential tips to help you navigate your way through the complex labyrinth of chess.
Understanding the Basics
- Learn the Rules: Understanding the rules of chess is the first and most critical step. Familiarize yourself with the board, the pieces, how they move, and the game’s objective. Remember, the aim of the game is to ‘checkmate’ your opponent’s king – this means the king is in a position to be captured (‘check’) and there is no way to remove the threat of capture on the next move.
- Piece Value: Recognize the value of your pieces. In general, a pawn is worth one point, a knight or bishop three points, a rook five points, a queen nine points, while the king is invaluable. Knowing the value of your pieces will help you make better decisions when you’re contemplating trades with your opponent.
- Control the Center: The four squares in the center of the board are of prime importance in chess. Controlling these squares with your pawns or pieces allows for more mobility and can put your opponent on the defensive.
- Develop Your Pieces: In the opening phase of the game, try to develop your knights and bishops to strong squares where they control the center and prepare for your king’s safety by castling at the appropriate time.
- Don’t Expose Your King: Your king’s safety is crucial. An exposed king is vulnerable to attacks. Usually, it is wise to castle at some point during the opening phase to ensure the safety of your king and connect your rooks.
- Plan Your Moves: Having a plan in mind is always better than moving pieces randomly. Even if your plan is simple, such as controlling the center or developing your pieces, a plan can give your game direction.
Getting better at anything usually requires the same things. Learning and practicing. Chess requires the same, only with Chess, the amount of learning and practicing needed to climb the Elo rating ladder is immense. Just getting over 1000 Elo can take months of practicing every day.
But what do you do if you feel like you’re not improving? I feel like that all the time. So I made this list to help us out. In this article, we’re going over seven tips on how to get better at Chess sooner rather than later.
1) Learn Openings
I’ve played with a few people that thought they were good at Chess. They’ve been playing for years. But the reality was, they weren’t good… at all.
That may sound harsh, but it’s not. It’s the truth. Why? Because they haven’t even taken the time to learn an opening. They didn’t know any openings at all. They were stubborn. They thought they were too good to “learn hash openings”. This of course, is ridiculous thinking and should be eradicated from your mind. In fact, studying opening and every other aspect of Chess is even more important than playing. But we’ll get to that below.
I played a couple hundred games on Chess.com before learning any openings. After I sat down and learned an opening, I increased my rating by 200 points within the next two days. I learned the London System and only practiced that opening. I got better, I improved, I saw patterns. All of this rapidly excelled me past the Scholar’s Mate crowd.
2. Use Arrows
Did you know that you could draw arrows on the chess board editor as well as when playing online? Not all Chess websites allow this, but on Chess.com, you’re able to.
As you’re playing, right click and drag your cursor to a square you’re thinking about. You can draw multiple arrows. Doing this is a great way to visualize what will happen next after making the move you’re considering.
3. Play Longer Games
Which brings us to my next point on how to improve in Chess. Play longer games. No Bullet Chess. No Rapid Chess. Stick with Classical Chess.
4. Watch Games
I watch a lot of games online of the best players in the world. Furthermore, I watch good players analyze them themselves and commentate on said games while going through them. This has helped tremendously.
One of my favorite Chess YouTube Channels to watch to watch is Agadmator’s YouTube Channel. If you haven’t seen him yet, check him out. He has one of the best Chess YouTube channels out there. Which is why he’s also one of the largest. He simply goes through games played by top rated players from the past and the present. He’s great. And since he’s a high rated player himself, his insight on the games has even more value.
You can also watch Chess streamers like Hikaru Nakamura and Qiyu Zhou (akaNemsko). Both are Grandmaster players and stream almost every day. It’s amazing to be able to watch players at this level for free.
5. Analyze Games
One of the primary benefits to getting a Chess.com membership is so you can analyze 100% of your games. After every game you play, analyze it. This puts the game through one of the best Chess engines that exists, Stockfish. Stockfish analyzes the game and you can go through the game, move by move. It tells you what you did right, where you went wrong, and so forth. You can also download Stockfish on your desktop or phone and import games there. For more information on this, you can read the complete guide on how to use Stockfish.
Doing this will train you to remember past inaccuracy moves and blunders so you can hopefully recall these mistakes in future games to prevent making the same mistakes. Doing this every time will inevitably train your brain to be more precise and become a better player.
6. Read Books
Do you remember me mentioning above that studying Chess is even more important than playing Chess? This is where reading books comes into play. Check out the complete list of the best Chess books that exist.
7. Join Chess.com
There are just a few different websites to chose from of where you play Chess online. I tried them all and I chose Chess.com. It has the most amount of players, the most tools, and the most resources to learn from and improve as a player.
For more information on the Chess websites to play on, you can read the guide where we did a full comparison of Chess.com vs lichess.org vs Chess24. You can also read the Chess.com review to get all the details you need to know.
8. Join a Chess Club
One of the big reasons that Russia has the best Chess players is because they work in a team. They don’t try and improve all on their own. They learn and practice with each other. This magnifies their output in skill as you feed off of each other energy, determination, and motivation.
I hope this list of tips and tricks on how to get better at Chess helped you. If you liked this post, you may also be interested in other Chess guides like how to stop blundering in Chess.