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HOWTO: Become a Better Chess Player


chess

  1. Learn how to play. You can’t get better if you don’t know the rules or how to move a piece correctly.
  2. Join a local chess club. Be social and free with chess. Don’t make yourself feel good by playing people that clearly are worse than you. If you have to to make yourself feel better after a loss, chess is not the game for you.
  3. Learn the value of the pieces. A pawn is worth one point. Knights and Bishops are worth three points each. A Rook is worth five points. A Queen is worth nine points.
    • Do not sacrifice material unless you have a clear win. For example do not sacrifice a knight for a king side attack unless you are sure you can win.
    • It is not advantageous to trade a Bishop (worth 3) and a Knight (worth 3) for a rook (worth 5) and a pawn (worth 1) because the Knight and Bishop are more powerful than a Rook and the pawn will not come into play until the very end of the game.
  4. Always develop bishops and knights. Pawns are overused and overextended, and often the developing pieces don’t get developed. Then, your opponent will usually put a bishop through your pawn structure.
    • Moving too many pawns weakens the castled king side and opens you up to attack. Moving too many pawns usually will weaken your endgame pawn structure.
  5. Understand how you play. There are two main ways that people play. Some have a strong defense, and aggressive people that use this style can be incredibly deadly. The other type capitalize. They instantly seize hold of any mistake that their opponent makes, developing quickly and leaving with an open position. Neither is the better, although the main population are more sturdy that capitalizing.
    • It is easier to attack than to defend. Some like to play gambits where they sacrifice a pawn to get an attack because they find that they win a higher percentage of games.
  6. Enter your first tournament. Go there feeling like you are going to kick butt in this series of games. Forget the rating. Forget the scores. Just get out there and play the best you can, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  7. Get a rival. Find someone that is better than you and “compete” against them. Play them. Go to the tournaments that they do. Slowly get used to their playing style and use it against them and other people. Don’t think of this “rival” as someone to do better than. Don’t beat yourself up if you lose. Play them again. And again. And again. Do this until you have learned their style and how to counter it.
  8. Study your favorite GM (grandmaster). Study, play, study, play. Learn how to use their techniques, and how to counter them.
  9. Read one of the top 10 books written about chess. Here are a few good books:
    • Logical Chess move by move” by Irving Chernev. It teaches you how to attack the king in the king pawn openings and how to play positional chess with the queen pawn openings.
    • My System” by Aaron Nimzovitch.
    • Think Like a Grandmaster” By Alexander Kotov. This book explains how to analyze variations so that you can play the middlegame at a much higher level.
    • Judgement and Planning in Chess” by Max Euwe. A classic book that explains how to judge a position based on space advantage, combinations, endgame advantages, king attack and pawn structures.
    • Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” by Bobby Fischer. A classic book that teaches chess tactics for the beginner.
    • Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur” by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. This book explains how a master beats an amatuer by making the right move based on a positions needs.
    • Practical Chess Endings” by Irving Chernev. 300 endgames that start simple but end difficult.
    • 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate” by Fred Reinfield. A classic book that will help you to see checkmates and calculate the variations.
    • Ideas behind the Chess Openings” By Reuben Fine. Explains the strategies behind the openings so that you can remember and play them better.
    • 100 Selected Games” by Botvinnik.
    • Basic Chess Endings” by Reuben Fine. A thick book that is a classic and explains all types of endings.
    • “Point Count Chess” by I. A. Horowitz. A Classic book that rates 32 positional features and teaches how to convert these 32 advantages into a win.
    • How to win in the chess endings” by I.A. Horowitz. This book explains endgame strategies without complex variations.
    • Chess Fundamentals” by Jose Raul Capablanca. This book teaches the opening, middle and endgame strategies.
  10. Learn the basic endgame rules. End game Strategy, “If ahead in material, exchange pieces not pawns. If behind in material, exchange pawns and you can force a draw.”
    • Without pawns you must be at least a rook up to force mate, the only exception to this is that two knights and a king cannot force mate against a lone king.
    • The king is a powerful piece, use it to block and attack pawns.
    • Bishops of opposite colors draw most of the time because neither side can advance pawns without losing them. A rook pawn and bishop only draw against a black king if the bishop is the opposite color as the queening square.
    • Bishops are worth more than knights in all but locked pawn positions.
    • Pawns and Bishops become more valuable as the game proceeds so play to keep them.
    • Many games with all the pawns on one side of the board end in a draw. 90% of master games end in a draw where all the pawns are on one side of the board because the master with the less pawns will exchange pawns and then sacrifice a knight or bishop for the last of the pawns. If you are left with just a Bishop or Knight you cannot force mate.
    • Rook and Knight or Rook and Bishop many times can only draw against a Rook.
    • In Queen endings, he who moves the Queen to the center first dominates play.
  11. Powerful Pawn Structures are:
    • An “Outside Pawn” lures the opponent’s king to other side, enabling you to gobble the rest of his pawns or advance your pawns on the other side of the board.
    • A “Passed Pawn” is not obstructed by another pawn and should be pushed. Nimzovitch said, “Passed Pawns must be pushed”.
    • A “Protected Passed Pawn” is a passed pawn that is protected by another pawn. A Protected Passed Pawn forces the opponent to constantly defend against an advance.
  12. Weak Pawn Structures are:
    • Doubled pawns cannot defend each other and are subject to attack.
    • Isolated pawns are weak and must be defended by a piece.
    • Backward pawns on open files are extremely weak and subject to attack by rooks.
    • A King with the opposition can draw against a King with a Pawn.
    • A Rook on the seventh rank is worth sacrificing a pawn.
    • Zugzwang is where if your opponent moves he loses, and is common in Chess.
    • Rook and Pawn endings are the most complicated so avoid them.
    • A Queen can win against 9 pawns if the pawns are not advanced.

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