Chess is a beautiful game that can teach us a lot of things. It can be fun for enthusiasts and be a professional sport for those who want to take it up seriously. Though it might appear slightly tough to understand at the beginning, once you get the hang of it, Chess is actually pretty fun!
However, a question that many newbies face is this, how do you study chess?
When trying to learn a new skill, not knowing where to start and how to go about it can make the entire process quite frustrating. The same applies to Chess too. Knowing how to study Chess from the beginning can not only ease your journey, but it might also take you there faster!
Read this article to understand how to study Chess in a simple way.
Build a Good Foundation
Just like a building requires a strong foundation underneath, similarly in Chess, you must have strong fundamental knowledge. When your basics are strong, there is hardly anything you cannot handle.
Be it a surprise opening or a complicated middlegame, when your core concepts are clear, you will be able to navigate any position with relative clarity. So what are these basic concepts? Some of them are important things like centre control, piece improvement and placement, understanding pawn structures, tactical and positional skills etc.
With plenty of practice and practical application, beginners can easily build this foundation which will later enhance the additional skills that they will pick up.
Have a decent understanding of Openings
As a beginner, learning Chess openings can be quite daunting. When you look at grandmasters’ games, you see their in-depth opening preparation with multiple variations. This can cause panic in your mind as openings are slightly difficult to understand at first.
However, you need not worry! Once you know the core concepts of development in openings, the entire process starts to get smoother. If you follow these simple steps – developing central pawns, developing minor pieces towards the centre, castling, developing queen and centralising rooks – you can safely navigate the opening phase without having any in-depth preparation.
However, once you go to the intermediate level, you must prepare at least 2 openings from White and 2 from Black. The options will give you flexibility and you won’t be predictable!
Practice Checkmate in 1 and 2 moves
The point of the entire game of Chess is to deliver a checkmate to your opponent’s king. To do so, it’s always helpful if you know some mating patterns and related ideas.
By solving puzzles of checkmate in 1 move and 2 moves, also known as mate in one and mate in two, not only do you learn checkmate patterns, but you also train your brain to find such moves on the board. Knowing patterns beforehand is especially helpful in positions where you have time pressure and have a high chance of erring. For more information, read the full guide on how to solve chess puzzles.
Though it may seem basic and very simple, practicing these puzzles will benefit you in the long run. Otherwise, you may play a brilliant game but you might just miss out on the checkmate!
Learn Tactical Concepts and Solve Puzzles based on them
Knowing key tactical concepts is of utmost importance as it helps you spot moves that exploit your opponent’s mistakes. Precise tactical play usually ends with either side being materially up. Hence, concrete knowledge of these concepts is important. Some of the important ones are –
- Pin – When a piece of lesser value gets stuck between the attacking piece and the attacked piece of greater value.
- Fork – When the knight attacks two or more pieces at the same time.
- Double Attack – When you attack two pieces at the same time and it is almost sure that you will win either one.
- Double Check – When two pieces simultaneously give a check to the opponent’s king which forces the king to move.
- Overloading – When you put more pressure on a piece of your opponent that is already multitasking and cannot handle more tasks.
- Removing the defender – When you threaten a critical defending piece of your opponent which will free up space for your attack.
- Sacrifice – When you give up material temporarily to gain material of higher value in the future or to deliver a checkmate directly.
- Discovered attack – An attack that occurs when the piece in the middle moves away and another piece of yours attacks something.
These are some of the many tactical concepts that you must learn and practice frequently. They greatly help in identifying patterns or tactics in the middlegame which can impact the result of your game in a positive way.
Know important endgames and basic mates
Knowing how to make certain mates with a simple combination of pieces is a must. Imagine this – you work very hard in the middlegame to win a rook and by the endgame all your pieces are exchanged and you’re just a rook up. If in this scenario, you don’t know how to deliver a checkmate with your king and rook then wouldn’t that be simply heartbreaking?
That is exactly why you must know the following basic mates:
- King + Queen vs King
- King + 2 rooks vs King
- King + 1 rook vs King
- King + 2 bishops vs King
- King + knight and bishop vs King
Along with this you must know some famous endgame techniques like the Lucena position/ bridge building technique, Philidor Position, the Reti Endgame, the Vancura defence etc.
Knowing how to deal with these complex endgames will give you a significant edge over your opponent. This is especially true for endgames since many beginners quite often ignore their endgame study and focus more on openings and middlegame.
Identify and Practice with different Pawn Structures
Pawns are the only pieces that move unidirectionally. Once you move them forward, they can’t be retreated. Hence, knowing different pawn structures can help you navigate different positions and handle them perfectly.
Be it the isolated pawn structure, the hanging pawns, the passed pawns, the maroczy bind, the doubled pawns, the stonewall structure, the dragon structure etc. – being aware of these important pawn structures and knowing where to place your pieces in them will give you a great advantage over your opponent.
Another thing you can do is arrange positions with one of these pawn structures and practice playing them with your sparring partner. Learning them is one thing, but actually playing them and getting familiarized with the setup has its own superior benefits!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you study Chess systematically?
Make a note of the important concepts you must learn and master from a trusted source like this article for example. After doing that, you can start covering them one by one using content available online. If you are working with a knowledgeable coach, then he or she will guide you perfectly.
In what order should I study Chess?
The following should be the order of study for a beginner – Fundamental concepts, Basic endgames and mates, Opening development and then middlegame tactical concepts. Once you complete the above and gain sufficient knowledge, you should proceed to learn advanced Chess concepts.
How much time should I spend studying Chess?
It’s not really about the quantity but the quality of your Chess practice that matters. You can spend 7 hours a day practicing but still not improve if you are not doing it correctly or in the right direction. You can study for only 2-3 hours but still achieve great things. Hence always remember, quality > quantity.
Is it worth it to study Chess?
If you want your level in Chess to grow, studying and practicing more is the only way you can do it. There’s no shortcut to success. So unless you put in the effort, you won’t get results. However, if you are playing Chess just as a hobby, then enjoy it to the fullest and you might not need to study then.
Is studying Chess a waste of time?
Nothing can ever be a waste of time if you are truly passionate about it. If you have a strong will to study and improve your Chess skills, you will definitely have to take the required efforts to do so and put in the quality hours.
Studying Chess can be quite frustrating if you don’t learn it the right way. I hope this article provided you with quality information with which you can kickstart your Chess-learning process!
Always remember, practicing in the right direction and studying important concepts is way more important than simply putting in the hours without a proper plan. In order to study Chess, you must have a clear roadmap as to how you will reach your target level.
If done the right way, learning Chess can be quite fun! So what are you waiting for? Start your journey to get better at Chess today!