Chess is a great game, and to master it takes a lot of time and practice. Although the goal of chess is pretty simple and straightforward—to take out or capture your opponent’s King or to create an attack in which the King will be captured regardless of your opponent’s next move—a position known as “check mate.” Some of the best and most renowned chess players in the world would be quick to tell you all about the various strategies of the game, and how it is necessary to think two to three moves ahead to become a true champion. However, before you can master some of these advanced moves and techniques you will first need to learn some of the basics—the fundamentals that even the best chess players in the world also had to learn on his or her way to greatness.
In the following article we will cover a few of these basic chess strategies and moves that, when learned and performed correctly, can help you drastically improve your game.
Basic Tips and Strategies
Here are just a few tips, moves and strategies that can help you become a better chess player and surprise your friends.
The center of the chess board is by far the most important section. Why? Because when your pieces begin to occupy the center of the chess board it creates many moves from which you can choose—moves that can take you forward towards your opponent’s most crucial chess piece: the King.
If you watch some of the best chess players in the world, one thing that is fairly common to all of them is that they try to take control of the center of the board from the very first move on. In doing so, they can keep the pressure on their opponent while opening up additional strategies with their various chess pieces.
Get All Your Pieces Involved Early
Some beginning chess players make the mistake of relying on just a few of their chess pieces, leaving the others stuck in their starting position. However, if you think of your chess pieces as a military unit advancing on an opponent, wouldn’t you want all of the soldiers in that unit to be involved? This same notion also transfers to chess. To be the best possible attacking force on the board, it is crucial that you bring all of your pieces into play from the onset, from the pawns, to the bishops, to the knights to the rooks.
Failing to get all your pieces into play allows your opponent to take control of the center of the board. And once your opponent begins to dominate the center, he can then start attacking and swapping out your pieces one by one. Instead, you should take control of the middle, and you can only accomplish this by involving all of your pieces.
Switch It Up
When starting a game of chess—or in the midst of a game—it’s crucial that you do not move the same pieces multiple times in a row. This goes along with getting all of your pieces involved, because when you move one of your chess pieces—say a pawn—multiple times in a row, what you are actually doing is giving your opponent the opportunity to develop all of his pieces in the middle of the board at a faster rate than you can because of your chosen strategy
Of course, there will be some instances throughout the game when you are forced to move the same piece twice in a row. This may be done in order to prevent getting captured or to set up a later move. But generally speaking, the less you move the same piece consecutively, the better chance you will have of involving all of your pieces quickly and taking control of the center of the board.
Castle Your King Early for Protection
Keeping your King in a safe position is one of the most fundamental rules and strategies in the game of chess. And of course, while you are doing everything you can to protect your King, the next thing you should be doing is creating weaknesses around your opponent’s King.
For this reason, it is imperative that you castle your King at the first available opportunity, moving it away from the center of the board where most of the action happens to one of the corners. This move also creates another advantage by bringing your rook to the center of the board, which you can then use to put additional pressure on your opponent’s King and the pieces trying to protect it.
Hold Off on Moving Your Queen
Anyone that has ever played chess knows the power of the Queen—the chess piece that can move in all directions and the most important attacking piece on the board. However, for beginners just learning the game of chess, it is very important that they restrict the Queen’s movement very early in the game. Some players will attempt to move the Queen too early for an inconsequential attack, but this can put the Queen in danger very early in the game when most of your opponent’s pieces are still on the board. Moreover, if the Queen is not captured, a player may lose his tempo and advantage in the game by backtracking and trying to get the Queen back into a safe position.
Although this is one of the first and foremost rules that beginner chess players should follow, there are occasions when this rule can be bent a little. For instance, if the opposing player makes a huge mistake and exposes his Queen or another important piece, you can then move your Queen early to start an attack based on that mistake.
Using Your Rooks
The rooks on a chess board can be some of the most difficult pieces to develop early on in a game. This is because they can only move vertically and horizontally. When moving these pieces, which start at the opposite ends of your back line in chess, you should always be anticipating where there will be open columns or rows, and move them to those columns and rows at the earliest opportunity.
The rooks can do very little damage from their starting position. This is one of the reasons why it is so valuable to castle your King as soon as possible. Also crucial is to get your rooks involved early, and to think a couple of moves ahead to position those rooks on squares in which they can do the most damage to your opponent.
Think Before Moving Your Pawns
There is no escaping the fact that you will have to move your pawns when playing a game of chess. These 8 foot soldiers represent the front line in your attack against the opponent’s King, and they serve to protect the other more versatile pieces on your board. Because of this, many beginner players view pawns as being expendable, and move them freely without thinking about the consequences. This can be a huge mistake.
There is a very good reason for “thinking before you move a pawn.” Can you guess what that reason is? If you said because “they can’t move back,” give yourself a pat on the back. That’s right, pawns can move forward only, and only one space at a time (after the initial move). And unlike other pieces on the board, they cannot retreat once they have been engaged. So before you move your pawn, try to think long and hard about the consequences. Just remember, after moving a pawn, you cannot undo any mistakes.
Exchange “Bad” Pieces Quickly
Last but not least, let us talk about the concept of exchanging bad pieces on a chess board. A bad piece is a piece that doesn’t have a very bright future. In other words, it’s a piece that will either be soon captured by your opponent, or a piece that has very little value to you based on the makeup of the board. Let’s assume for a moment that you have a bishop sitting on one of the dark squares. Now consider that all of your pawns in front of your bishop are also on dark squares, thus preventing your bishop from attacking diagonally—the only manner in which the bishop can attack. Because this piece now has very little value to you, it may be time to set up a situation in which you exchange that bishop for a chess piece of equal or better value, say a rook or a knight.
Another way to look at the “bad” piece strategy is to imagine both an open board—a board with plenty of squares ahead of a certain piece—and a closed board—a board in which a certain piece is blocked in from one or more sides. On a closed board, a bishop might be considered a bad piece in need of exchanging. That’s because the piece can only move diagonally, and those spaces are blocked temporarily. However, a closed board does NOT make a knight a “bad” piece, because a knight is the only piece that can actually jump over other pieces. This makes the knight a very valuable piece on a closed board, but not as valuable on an open board, where a bishop could do more damage.
By evaluating your pieces in this way you can get the most out of your piece exchanges, and create an army that is perfectly suited for the board you have created.