Chess has been a faithful friend to those of us who like to play strategic games and occupy our time with virtual battles to the death, crushing the opponent with outstanding tactics. It’s not all that brutal, of course. When it comes to chess, thinking and planning are of key importance.
But is that really enough to win? What we really want to know is how to get from a rookie to a master-player? How to improve chess skills and not get discouraged? Even if you’re not planning on becoming a professional and just decided to take on a new hobby, read on for some advice on how to grow and get better.
If you are only just making your first steps in the chess world, you will most certainly lose to a more skilled player or a computer. But the thing is, it’s hard to tell what you are doing wrong. That’s the main reason for slow improvement. It’s hard to assess your mistakes objectively. You need someone to point out the right direction, so you know where to move from here. Should you improve your middle game? Should you bet on your queen early on?
Here are some pointers, that will hopefully help your basic skills of chess. So get your chess set ready and let’s get to it!
- If you are a rookie with virtually non-existent skills for chess, learn not only about the moves of different pieces on the board but also about their relative value. How much is the Pawn worth? What about the Bishop, or the Knight? You need this information to evaluate your move and see if it’s favorable, or not. Also, a small piece of advice for beginners, don’t sacrifice your pieces left and right!
Even if you think it’s a good idea, it’s probably not. Master players make justified sacrifices, but then again, they know what they are doing very clearly. For the time being, you need as many pieces on the board as you can get. So block better and sacrifice less. Also, as a side note, keep an eye on your Queen and make sure she’s protected.
- Learn how to perform basic checkmates.
That’s one of the most fundamental skills of chess. If you don’t know how to perform a checkmate in a King and Queen vs long King situation, you might want to read up on that. Naturally, there are hundreds of tutorials online, and videos with commentary that will help you out a lot. Find some Youtube channels for beginners and follow them regularly.
- You have to learn what the basic opening principles are, and also the fundamental tactics. There are so many tactical themes out there. As chess has a very long history and about 2 centuries worth of structured game, there are many accumulated books, articles, tutorials and other materials on the subject. You can learn any tactic you want, which brings us to the next order of business.
- Play a lot.
In order to develop chess critical thinking, you need to acquire the skill. And to acquire skill, you need lots of practice. Another little piece of advice, if you are a beginner, play with both people and computer apps. First of all, playing with people is much more fun, but it has other advantages too. It allows you to explore the emotional side of the game too. Can you tell if the opponent’s move is actually a good one, or is he just trying to intimidate you? Play with friends, and if you have children, teach them the basics, which will improve your understanding as well. And then you can play together! Playing with a computer will toughen up your analytical thinking. The computer will most certainly beat you, but that’s a huge learning ground. It calculates everything. Every single possibility. Start with simple simulations and move on to more complicated ones.
- Enroll in your local chess club.
It’s so wonderful to have like-minded people in your community, who can help you with your chess skills tactics and have a lot of fun! Plus, it will give your game structure and schedule. Most clubs organize weekly meetings, and you’ll have at least one day of the week dedicated to improvement. This will help you acquire not only skills but style as well. If there are any youngsters reading in on this article, try to retire the notion of “chess nerd” from your vernacular and focus on what’s important. Chess might not be the love-of-your-life kind of hobby for you personally, but you will learn a lot, and your mind will get a tremendous boost, enough to fuel you for years to come.
- Don’t lose enthusiasm!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all learn from mistakes. Mostly our own, but not necessarily. Learn how you can break down famous historic games and learn from the mistakes made by the most skilled players out there. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re not moving at a pace you’ve intended to. But the important thing to remember is working hard does not always equal working smart. Don’t get us wrong, we would never diminish the value of hard work, but you have to admit that carefully analyzing your mistakes and learning the tactics can lead to bigger improvement than just playing a lot and not really paying attention to details.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
Even if you don’t have close friends or relatives, who play better than you do, thankfully, you have the whole chess community on the internet to ask. Post your games on different websites and forums and ask people to point out your mistakes and help you eliminate them. Chess requires a big strain on your attention span and asking others to take a look at what you do will help you realize your blind spots and play more efficiently in the future.
In conclusion, we would like to remind you, that if you approach chess with dedication and love, it will exceed all your expectations and be a faithful companion to you in the stressful world. It will provide you with comfort and an opportunity to switch off the outside noise and stretch your thinking muscle. There’s no way but up! Good luck in your learning and remember to keep that chess set at hand & continuing to improve chess skills!