Top 10 Tips to Become a Better Chess Player
Everyone wants to know how to improve, and your own, particular weaknesses will always need to be addressed.
Here are 10 super important tips to becoming a great player! This article is for CeaselessSpark, HeroicPatch, and everyone on ChessKid, 1qzbs . who wants to get better at chess!
1. Play a lot of (serious) chess and review your games!
You can analyze your games by yourself, with a friend or your opponent, with a coach, a family member, or post it here!
2. Practice tactics! (Here on ChessKid!)
How often do you work on puzzles? I recommend 10 a day, but you can also set up a routine where you get a certain number correct per day. The point is, chess is 80 percent tactics! Wink
3. Limit your study to the "really important stuff." Learn only the critical endgames and learn only a few openings (well).
It can save you time and energy knowing basic winning techniques, and knowing when you should just call it a draw.
As an example, here is a game by CeaselessSpark. If he or his opponent had known that generally opposite colored bishop endgames are draws, they could have saved themselves more than 30 moves! Agreeing to a clear draw earlier will prevent time and energy wasted on extra moves.
Also, knowing about this endgame can help you decide how to trade in the middle game, and Ceaseless could have possibly tried for a win by keeping more heavy pieces on the board.
Conserving your energy is especially important in a tournament when you have more rounds to play afterward.
People can get pretty obsessed with openings, variations, and theory. It's great to memorize a few lines -- and better to understand the positions and ideas behind them. But do not go overboard with this stuff! There are other things to study so balance your time...
4. Ask, "What's the threat?" and "Is it hanging or protected?" after every move!!!
Wow, three exclamation points? That must be a really important one.
5. Be open to criticism about your games.
Listen to your coach (if you have one) when it comes to analyzing. Try not to be defensive and just accept that there are different perspectives, and your coach is trying to help you by pointing out where you went wrong.
If you don't have a coach, try to criticize your games yourself. When a blunder occurs, take responsibility for it!! This will help you in the future, I promise. (Basically, with every mistake you could make in life! Own up to it!)
6. Use all your pieces.
After developing, get your pieces to better squares. Use your pieces harmoniously in an attack. Teamwork!
7. Ask for advice from better chess players. Then, take it or leave it!
Ask things like, "What's your favorite chess book for my playing strength?" Or, "What do you think I should I study if I am good at X and bad at Y?" Or, "Whose games should I be analysing?" And, "So, what are those critical endgames I should know?" Etc.
8. Don't be afraid of ghosts. Be aggressive and take the initiative.
Sometimes we should just follow our instinct. And other times we have have to fight it! If you are naturally a bit scared (dont-want-to-lose-any-pieces-at-all-ever-not-even-trade kind of person) you might have to push yourself to attack. If your opponent is not actually threatening anything, there is no need to run away!
Take a look at this game where former World Champion Kasparov has White. There is only ONE MOVE out of 40 where he retreats his queen (by one square). Every move Kaspy is pushing forward! OK, you can't always do that, but you get my drift...
9. Memorize a famous chess game. Start to memorize your own games.
This will help your visualization (and obviously memory) skills, and impress your friends and family, too! Pick from any world champion or current top-ranked player. Look through some articles or videos -- we have a lot of amazing games stored up here. As you're going through the games, see if you can guess the next best move!