Chess Tips

Here are some chess tips for various areas of chess. Use them as a rule of thumb, but always remember to assess the specific of the position to make sure that your rules of thumb are valid in that position.

Opening the Game

  • Open with either 1.e4 or 1.d4 unless you are an intermediate player, these days there is a large selection of chess openings but stick to these two. These two moves stake an immediate claim in the center and help you to develop early pieces by opening diagonals for your bishops. There are other good opening moves, but until you understand chess more, try these two moves.
  • Develop your minor or light pieces (bishops and knights) before developing your heavy pieces (queens and rooks). Your heavy pieces will play a bigger role as the game progresses, but often become targets for your opponent if you develop them too early.
  • Try to castle within the first 10-12 moves. Although there are specific opening sequences where the king castles later (or not at all), try to castle early until you understand when and why to ignore this tip.
  • Avoid grabbing too much material early on in the game unless you are certain your opponent is not setting up a trap. In some openings, the opponent will sacrifice a pawn in order to gain a lead in development or an attack. These can be very dangerous. However, sometimes your opponent is just making a mistake!

Middlegame

  • Try to put your rooks on open and half-open files before your opponent does. If your opponent gets there first, then contest the file by putting your own rook on it.
  • Try to put your knights on outposts where it cannot be attacked by opposing pawns. Knights on outposts near the center of the board on the 5th and 6th rank are very powerful! Try to prevent your opponent from doing this.
  • Your bishops are long range pieces, but they can be hampered by your own pawns. Try to put bishops on diagonals where they will not be blocked, or move (or exchange) your pawns to give your bishop more room to attack and defend.
  • Your queen is best used in combination with your other pieces. You can line her up with your rooks on open files or with bishops of diagonals for a powerful battery. 
  • Although your queen is very mobile and powerful, it can get trapped if you get too greedy and venture too far into your opponent’s camp. Make sure you have a way out if you grab a pawn!

Endgame

  • Although the king can become a target in the middlegame, in the endgame it becomes a powerful fighting piece. Bring your king into play once the danger of being checkmated is gone.
  • You will often need to promote a pawn (to a queen or other stronger piece) to win in an endgame, make sure you do not lose your pawns when you are winning.
  • If you are losing, trying to exchange your opponent’s pawns. There are many chances to a draw a losing game if they cannot promote a pawn.
  • If your opponent only has a bishop (and pawns), try to place your pawns on the color opposite of his bishop. For example, if he has a light-squared bishop, place your pawns on dark squares.
  • Rooks are often best placed behind passed pawns – both yours and your opponents!

General Tips

  • Try to understand the reasons behind your opponent’s move. Chess is about pursuing your own ideas while taking into account your opponent’s.
  • Play moves that align with the situation on the board. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, but you should take into account the situation on the board. For example, if your opponent is attacking your king, your moves should in some way either defend your king or create a greater threat that your opponent cannot ignore.
  • Always assume that your opponent will play the best reply to your move. Don’t play a bad move on purpose hoping that your opponent will miss your threats.
  • Winning AND losing are a part of chess. One cannot improve without losing games in chess. The key is to learn from your losses and mistakes!

Conclusion

There are many more rules of thumb when it comes to chess. Chess is too complicated a game to simplify down to a bunch of generalities, but we need a place to start. Hopefully, this article provided you with some good chess tips upon which you can build!