Improve My Chess Game … how do I do that?
I used to play lots of chess when I was in high school. I also used to represent my school during Interschool tournaments… and lose. I have no idea why I was picked because apart from being good at the game and beating opponents at my own level, I had nothing else. I could never beat those geeks or big guns in the game.
As I played more and more and developed the feel, my skill level would drop further back, losing via careless mistakes and being easily overwhelmed by opponents even though I clearly had more experience playing, then when I started. And then when I was out of high school, I abandoned the game and when I got back to it some time in college, I was good at it again, and after some time playing, my skill level would drop again… What was I doing wrong…
Then recently, about a few months ago, I discovered that some simple concepts that I never really took into consideration seriously really could make a difference in my gameplay. Sure enough, I improved tremendously. I am currently enjoying a 15+ winning streak at chess and I am now able to beat regular guys at the free Internet chess server – something I could never do before my discovery.
I would not brag and say that I am already an expert or master, cause I still lack training and experience, and I would probably still rank very low compared to those brain-frying chessmasters out there from Russia or India, but I have really experience a vast improvement from last time. If only I had adhered to those basic chess concepts during high school, I would have won the tournament or at least finished in the top quarter…
My Basic Chess Improvement Concepts
Before I start, I would like to state that I did not create these concepts but I am using the subtitle “My Basic Chess Improvement Concepts” simply because I think there are really important, and I am suggesting to have these concepts in high priority in your head at all times during the game.
Again, as I said before, I am not a chessmaster or expert and these tips are to help newbies or rookies that are looking to improve. Now, if you are already a chessmaster or expert, there is no point reading this, as you might either already know this or have other even better strategies to beat this.
Alright. I will try to keep the explanations simple. There will be points to adhere to during all 3 stages of gameplay:
Stage 1 – Opening
An important phase of the game to play correctly, that let me improve my chess game. The concept is simple: Get your pieces out. You probably have heard this many times, and followed this rule, but still lose? Having all your bishops and knights out just to get them eaten up? Well, that’s just half of the concept.
The full concept: Get your pieces out with minimal blockage.
If you don’t get your pieces out or if they are out but cannot participate in gameplay, they are as useless as a flamethrower underwater. Always make sure your pieces are out, and they are attacking / pointing to the center (not in the center).
Attack and defense – If you are playing white, do not play defense, get your forces out until you find an opening, then attack. If you are playing black, defend until you either find an opening or your opponent is a step behind you in development, then you attack.
Pawn moves – Do not move many pawns up. There is a trick that is to use your pawns to block your opponent’s pieces. That trick maybe powerful at first glance, but once the pawn formation is broken, and you have not developed enough of your other pieces then you will be in deep trouble when your castled opponent is out and attacking. So, just move enough pawns to release all of your attack forces and that’s it. Your pawns would then be movable later on during middle or end game.
Most important – Beat your opponent in development. Get your forces out and movable (not blocked by pawns) and fast. If your opponent is wasting moves like moving his rook’s pawn in case your bishop goes up or something like that, instead of developing his bishop/knight or castling, you are one more move ahead. Wasting moves is the best way to lose.
Stage 2 – Middle Game
If you have done well in the opening, you will not have such a hard time in the middle game. So, in the middle game, all you need to do would be to find an advantage. This can be in the form of:
Material – if you are winning by 1 pawn, it’s quite enough. If you can exchange all other pieces on the board, and reduce the game to King and Pawn vs King, it’s an 80% chance you will win and 20% chance you will draw! So if you are winning by a rook or knight or better still – queen – then it’s a good sign to finish it. Exchange everything and reduce it to the smallest number possible and you will win, aka an imbalanced algebraic equation.
Position – if you have many mobile (unblocked) pieces targeting at many strategic squares, and your opponent has blocked pieces, like bishops blocked by pawns or undeveloped rooks in the corner, you can plan a strategy to either capture more pieces or aim for a checkmate.
Domination of the board – If there is a straight open file with no pawns, place your rook there to conquer it. This is also an advantage. With domination, you can aim to win material and get a number 1 advantage (mentioned above). There are killer tactics to do that, but I will not cover on that because that would be a very wide topic.
Remember, once you get an advantage, finish the game via checkmate if easily possible, or take the game to the next stage ASAP – End Game.
Stage 3 – End Game
This is no easy task. There are always 2 scenarios here:
1. You are winning
2. You are losing
It isn’t easy to find out which one. Number 1 or number 2? Ideally, if you have more pieces you will have an advantage and you would be winning. But sometimes, that is not the case. You may have a rook and your opponent may have just one bishop and a pawn, but that pawn is nearly reaching the finish line and grabbing the queen’s bathrobe at your kingdom, and your rook is trapped somewhere, and you have no way to stop the pawn… you understand what I mean?
So, during endgame, if you are winning by pieces, just try to reduce everything to your king and your forces vs enemy king and you should be winning. But be careful. Sometimes your forces aren’t enough to win, for example, a lone king and a knight can never checkmate another king, so it would be a draw.
If you are winning by position, try to checkmate or capture opponent pieces using killer tactics like forks, X-rays and pins, to turn the tables. You will have to study on this to get good at it but actually, you can implement these tactics once you find out about them.
If you are losing by position, try to force a draw, like multiple checks ie. checking your opponent, preventing him/her to launch any attack. If your opponent cannot stop your checks, the game is drawn. You can also try to capitalize on mistakes, then use killer tactics to turn the tables but that would be harder. Another way is to get repeated moves. If a move is repeated 3 times consecutively, the game is drawn.
If you are losing by material, and you are reduced to a king, try to get a stalemate. But this one is really hard and the odds are stacked against you.
So the opening and middle games are important to ensure you get at least some fighting chance in the end game, if you are able to get there.
Wow, I never thought I would be creating a hub this long, but it’s here anyways. Final important tips. Be alert at all times. Careless mistakes can hurt you bad! And be flexible. If you are pushing a strategy that will not work, it will cost you dearly. The best way to play chess is to stick to the concepts and the opportunities for strategies will come to you automatically.
Have fun, and I hope you can improve. I am a casual chess rookie who found out how to become a better rookie and to win more matches, and I wish you the best of luck!