Why learning chess tactics is good for beginners

When another piece attacks the king and the king has no possible move to escape, this is checkmate. It’s the aim of the game.

However, it’s not as easy as that – you can’t checkmate your opponent without preparation, and this is where strategy comes in.

But how would one side be able to take the other side’s pieces without sacrificing your own?

The Magnus Carlsen tactics trainer on Chessable

The Magnus Carlsen tactics trainer on Chessable

This is where tactics come in. Most new players focus on strategy more rather than learning about tactics to keep their pieces alive and take their opponents.

Why Tactics Are Important?

Many beginners opt to just sit and wait for their opponent to let his guard down or take advantages of his mistakes like leaving pieces unguarded, this will enable you to take your opponents piece.

If you have some basic knowledge about playing chess, you will know how easy it is for the two sides to trade pieces by using simple strategies: your knight takes your opponent’s bishop, your opponents pawn takes your knight, and you’ll be even.

By using tactics in chess, if – for example – you can create a scenario where your knight takes down your opponent’s bishop while ensuring your knight stays safe, you will have a definite edge that will probably prove to be decisive.

If the number of pieces of one player is more pieces than the other, he will most probably be the one to win the match; between good players, if one player has even the advantage of a single piece it will be enough to cause the disadvantaged party to resign.

What To Do When Strategy Fails?

Let’s just suppose you have a good understanding of the opening and you have had a good start but your opponent is still giving you a hard time, so now in the middle game the position is locked. What should you do now?

This is where tactics show their true worth to help you open your position make some exchanges, sacrifices, manoeuvres or some moves so that you can play according to your strategy.

Now let’s suppose there is another scenario where you have played very well. You have acquired a good strategy and let’s just say there is an attack from queen’s side now you have a positional advantage or have taken the initiative.

Now what you want are Tactics that will enable you to carry out your strategy exactly according to your plan.

For beginners focusing on Strategy from the get go, it’s highly recommended that you make learning chess tactics your top priority to help you survive matches for longer.

This will also help you have a good time and accumulate more practice and considering you’ll be playing people around your level from the start learning good tactics will give you a better shot at victory.

Chess Openings for Beginners!

Developing a chess opening repertoire can be very confusing for new and intermediate players mainly because they still lack the knowledge and experience to develop their own chess opening repertoire. There are several steps involved in developing a chess opening while reading books like My First Chess Opening Repertoire will help you develop a chess opening repertoire fast but before you start you need to take into consideration which kinds of openings you’ll be playing.

Select Openings Based On Your Goals

If you just want to play Chess for the fun of it or simply the challenge then using sticking to a simpler chess opening is the right idea since you’ll have to decide how you’ll be playing as you go. On the other hand, if you’re determined to advance your game and play competitively then learning engine proof openings is highly recommended because you get the best positions with the mainline openings. Players that are just starting out don’t need to focus too much on their style but rather they should start out by enjoying the game and slowly getting involved with playing chess competitively.

Read Good Books On Openings

Knowing is half the battle which is why you need to learn from the right sources. The problem with most chess opening repertoire books is that they either offer too little, are too complex or just become outdated too soon. Additionally, no one that’s starting out will want to invest enough time to read a massive book. You need to look for good chess opening repertoire books that are simple, offer great value and keep you engaged. A good example of a chess opening repertoire done right is My First Chess Opening Repertoire written by Vincent Moret, which offers some of the best chess openings for white that casual or beginners will definitely want to learn. I highly recommend this one.

Plan Ahead

A strong opening will get you a long way in the game but if you can’t maintain the advantage through the mid and end game then you’ll likely to end up losing. When you play an opening you need to plan ahead and come with a proper line to follow through the mid and end game. A great way to improve your mid and end game is to study complete master games, for instance, all the games from the World Cup, and then within your opening repertoire and try to integrate them into your own play style so that you can maintain the advantage you gain and from using an opening and win.

The Ruy Lopez for Beginners

Whether you’re new to Chess or a seasoned player, you must have heard about the Ruy Lopez. As far as openings in Chess go, the Ruy Lopez is one of the most profound, complex yet basic openings in chess. It leads to an open game that means both sides playing gain a lot of experience. This is one of the main reasons why it’s regarded as one of the best openings for beginners for chess. Learning the basics of the Ruy Lopez is comparatively simpler than most other openings and doesn’t take too long. Having checked out the free Short & Sweet: Ruy Lopez over at Chessable, I thought I’d add my own two cents with some of the basics for the Ruy Lopez that every beginner should know.

The main concept behind the Ruy Lopez is to advance the White Bishop. The Bishop opens many possibilities for the game while pinning down the Black’s Knight to the King immobilizing one of Black’s key pieces. You can also develop the bishop to b5 to attack the Black’s Knight. Even though many openings focus on taking the f7 square early on, the Ruy Lopez takes a slower and methodical approach. The Roy Lopez takes it’s time to extend the length of the game while slowly building pressure to attack black’s king.

Alternatively, you can also develop the Knight first. As white, use the King Pawn (the Pawn in front of the King) and place it in the center, leaving black a few options to counter except to counter in the same way. Develop a knight to attack the pawn black played. Naturally, Black will have no option except to defend the pawn with a knight. Now it’s time to develop the bishop to b5 to create a harmony between the Knight and Bishop to attack e5 allowing white to prepare to castle at the same time. Obviously, there are there are many more variations of the Ruy Lopez that are played since it is one of the oldest and best openings for beginners.

Being the oldest also means that there’s a high chance that your opponent has also heard of it which is why it’s always recommended to play it with caution. For most beginners, the Ruy Lopez might seem like a slow and boring opening – which it is – but drastically improves the chances of your coming out with a win. You can’t play a lot of surprises with the Ruy Lopez but for a beginner starting out you should be able to easily gain some valuable experience and some wins to motivate yourself.

Summer of Chess & The Return of Kasparov

The St. Louis rapid and blitz tournament was no doubt the chess event which was the most popular this year. It even caught the attention of those people who think about chess sometimes when they come upon a puzzle in the Sunday column of their local newspaper. Kasparov’s return after 12 years of inactivity was no doubt like an attempt to defy the laws of nature which garnished the attention of almost everyone that knows about the game.

But his performance was less than satisfactory, to say the least and it was only on the last day of the tournament that he actually managed to get his game straight. So what happened? We will need to begin with the basic nature of comebacks like this. The first major comeback took place in 1992 when Bobby Fischer came back to the game to play after 20 years of inactivity! Fischer did manage to confidently win the match (17.5-12.5), the win was truly Pyrrhic, which totally stained his legacy. For that generation, Fischer was considered as a chess God a level that was above his peers but during his days of inactivity that clearly changes.

This comeback by the 54-year-old chess player, who is also regarded by many as the all-time No1 even ahead of Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen, caught the interest of people around the world, it attracted six-figure internet viewers who reportedly watched the live video. The match was no doubt very interesting too, Kasparov showed some of his old skills with deep strategic plans yet for most of the event simply could not or would not handle his clock time sensibly. Kasparov took 22 minutes to his opponent’s four in a 25-minute rapid game and spent two of his five minutes for blitz on a single move. He was mostly down to a few seconds at the end of his games.

The legend had the threat of ending up in lasts place for a while but apparently, on the final blitz day he got into the zone and got through his last eight games unbeaten, performing his Najdorf Sicilian with a magnificent dominant knight dance on the dark squares and made everyone recall his memories of the vintage years.

Experienced chess players who watched the final day were frustrated and tantalized by this match. Only if Kasparov was as practical and sharp on the first three days also like he was at the end, he could have bagged a top position. He could have even gotten third place behind Aronian, who was powerful throughout the series, and Sergey Karjakin, who ruled the blitz.

So, what went wrong? Those who followed the tournament have the absolutely clear answer to this question: apparently Kasparov’s time management was completely off. Perhaps this is why its so important to stay on top of chess openings theory which is hard to do unless you are a professional. He stayed a long way behind his opponents mostly and in the game against GM Liem he even set a sad record when at one point he had less than four minutes vs. 22 minutes of his opponent, which was really shocking. In the end, Kasparov has 16 points in total and gave some really fine plays in this tournament which was likely his last participation in competitive chess for another few years at least.

Kasparov came out of retirement after a period of 12 years to participate in this event. Kasparov has gone as far as to claim that his comeback was mostly to help promote the Grand Chess Tour, and he thought it worked – which we can all say for certain, it did! Thanks Garry!

The Indian village that played chess!

This is not really a beginner’s chess post but I just had to write about this. Chess is such a phenomenal game and due to many believing it originated from India, a major power in South Asia is more than familiar with this game. But imagine can a game like chess save someone’s life? Surprisingly, yes! This is exactly what happened to the residents of Marottichal, a village in Thrissur district of Kerala are the example of this phenomena. Almost everyone in the village, irrespective of age and gender, is a player of chess and alcohol is the last thing which comes in the villagers’ minds

In the latter half of 20th century, the main occupation of the villagers was brewing the liquor. In addition, they were also addicted to drinking the same locally brewed alcohol. Soon this addiction started showing disastrous effects on the people’s lives and they realized that this habit must be stopped to save their community. So they decided to stop brewing liquor by convincing the officials to raid their village and stop this illegal occupation.

But there was another problem they had to face; they had no other hobby than drinking. They had to find a new interesting and harmless hobby to focus their attention. This problem was solved by C. Unnikrishnan, then a 10th-grade student.

He read about Bobby Fischer, who became a grandmaster at a younger age of 16. This inspired Unnikrishnan and he decided to learn chess. He used to attend chess classes in a nearby village. When he became a good chess player, he decided to share this game’s skills with others and convinced the other villagers to learn and play the game as a hobby. He gave free lessons on chess in his home.

The villagers who were dealing with the after-effects of drinking; readily accepted this game and soon, chess grabbed their attention and passion. Now, villagers will be seen either playing chess or thinking about tactics and moves. Almost 600 people have been trained by him in 40 years, many of them have won state and national level chess tournaments.

Chess has become an identity of Marottichal. According to Sreenivasan, president of the local Gram Panchayat – an organization for self-governance in Indian villages, about 90% villagers are chess players. Last year in August, Marottichal has been announced as the only “chess-village” in India. Grandmaster and five times World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand congratulated the residents’ efforts for creating such distinction.

Because of increasing enthusiasm of villagers for chess, Unnikrishnan had to shift his chess classes from his home and now he runs a restaurant where everyone interested in chess is welcomed and many people, playing chess can be frequently observed in the restaurant. Unnikrishnan once said in an interview, “Chess is my passion. Once I start playing, I forget everything. It’s kind of an addiction.”

The villagers give all the credit of their community’s success in chess to Unnikrishnan. In 2013, a Malayalam movie “August Club” has been made which shows the love and passion of the villagers for the chess. What an amazing story!

5 Beginner Chess Tips to Prevent Typical Mistakes

Chess is one of the most engaging games played all over the world. Be it a professional or a newcomer anyone can improve at chess by practicing but that doesn’t mean you can’t start off good. We reviewed some of the most basic mistakes rookies make. So that you can avoid them when you start playing chess.

Making excessive moves with Pawns

In the opening, make fewer moves with the pawns, and they should cover the center of the board and take control of the game. By moving too many pawns in the start (a mistake made by the rookies) the development and gameplay of Knights and bishops are delayed and also the King is left exposed for too long. One should move few pawns in the start. Develop the more powerful pieces “Bishops and Knights” and then use the pawns to proceed in the game and save your important pieces.

Weakening the Castling

During the opening, we place our pieces strategically around our king to form a castle of sorts to make the defense of our king strong and we try not to over crowd the board in one place. The pawns should develop with the knights and the bishops playing parallel. The queen should be a part of the castle and must not be prematurely developed throughout the game.

Keeping pieces undefended

As I have mentioned before, do not overcrowd the board by placing too many pawns at one place but do keep enough pawns around every single piece to make sure the defense is strong enough against enemy’s moves.

Proper castling of each and every important piece at the right time is the true essence of a game played by a chest maestro.

Giving up too early

Chess has a large number of defensive resources. The tough you keep your resistance the higher are the chances you have to steal away half a point or you might even get a chance to steal the whole one. Even if at any point in the game you feel that you are in danger, you should stay calm and look for chances to make counter-plays or any chance to save yourself from losing the game. You should stay calm and stand your ground, you shouldn’t forget that your opponent is also human and they also tend to blunder time by time.

Poor Time Management

This is a problem which is common among amateurs and the top 10 pro players both. When you start the game off and when things start to get complicated you might start playing superficially and getting nervous, these things will make you blunder and choose wrong moves. To win the game you have to be confident and not waste your time while being nervous and lost throughout the game. Have trust in the moves you make and manage the time in a way which will prove helpful against your opponent.

A new method of beginner’s instruction!

So I came up upon this blog post of Grandmaster Alex Colovic (Top rated player in Macedonia, participant in the Chess Olympiad and chess coach). In the post he announces a new instructive training method where he analyses a position with a club level player at the same time, without the use of an engine. In this manner the chess coach is able to assess where the player’s thinking is going wrong while the memory of the game is still fresh in the player’s mind. He is able to offer tailored advise and provides plenty of instructional moments.

For the video I’ve included above, GM Colovic analysed the game between David Kramaley, co-founder of chess learning site Chessable and a random online opponent on Chess.com. The key takeaway seems to be the case for many of us. Develop a disciplined manner of thinking where you always go through the same steps before making your move. For the player in the analysis this involves always considering ALL candidate moves before moving, not just one or two.

Whether or not most of us can afford our own master-level coach, either way I plan to start applying such a disciplined thinking pattern to my own game and I think you should too. Best of luck in your improvement efforts, dear readers!

The Best Chess Books!

If you want to get good at chess, you better be prepared to read a lot. A good chess player reads a lot of books about chess so that they don’t make the same mistake other players have made when they were improving. Reading books about Chess is the best way to get more knowledge about the game and if you truly like playing chess then reading the best Chess books will definitely be a great use of your time. Having read the top selection of the best chess books by chess masters, I was encouraged to pick my own favorites, here they are:

Collection School of Chess Excellence by Dvoretsky

This is not a single book but rather a complete collection of 5 books. These books are aimed towards experienced players that are hoping to advance their game. The Collection School of Chess Excellence is by far one of the most comprehensive and best chess books ever due to the vast amount of positions, strategies, recommendations and information regarding chess. Some strategies can even give the most experienced grandmasters a good run for their money.

Chess by Laszlo Polgar

Chess by Laszlo Polgar is one of the best chess books ever written. If you’re a beginner and want to improve your game fast, then this chess book is made for you. This book contains 5,334 different chess problems, combinations and games that will boost the tactical capacity of any beginner. Even though this is a great book for beginners experienced players can learn quite a bit as well. The majority of this book is complex enough to give experienced players a workout while keeping them entertained. It definitely worked for me which means it’ll probably work just as well for you.

Zurich International Tournament by David Bronstein

If you’re looking for one the best chess books that are more focused on the story, then Zurich International Tournament is the perfect fit. The Zurich International Tournament held in 1953 was the most meaningful tournament in the postwar years and constrains all parts of the tournament contenders. In the comments made by the author, more focus has been put on the middlegames of each game.

Secrets of Grandmaster Play by Nunn

The Secrets of Grandmaster Play is not a very well-known book but reading it will definitely help you understand how to win at chess and help you become a better strategist. This book is targeted towards advanced players that need to figure out a way to reach the next level of their game to prepare themselves to reach for the title of the grandmaster.

My 60 Most Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer was one of the best chess players of all time, this book has Bobby Fischer’s 60 most memorable games documented which any chess enthusiast will love to read. This book is written by Bobby Fischer himself and covers a rather awesome selection of games, not just the wins. Reading about how Bobby Fischer felt when losing or having a draw is an experience of its own and will surely result in a great read for any chess enthusiast.

I hope you enjoy some of my recommendations, and good luck on your path of chess improvement!

How to teach chess to kids

If you’ve had the idea of teaching chess to your child for any reason, it is no doubt a really great idea and don’t worry…it does not have to be complicated. Of course, it’s not like you can sit with a child and start playing, you have to teach them about the variety of game pieces to consider, how each one must follow its own specific rules allowing it to move and attack the opponent’s pieces on the table. For this reason, you have to take things very slowly, and teach them step by step while making sure they have fun and here’s how you’ll do it.

Get To Know the Pieces

First of all, you should introduce all the game pieces to your young one. You should make sure that he understands them and can identify each piece without any difficulty before moving to the next step.

Learn the Objective

Clarify to your child that the main objective of the game is to protect your king at all times. You could show your child an already set chess board and show them a few different ways to keep the king safe. Your child might not manage to come up with really good ideas first. Getting your child interested and thinking strategically is the whole point, and it might take a while.

Play with Pawns

Playing with the pawns will be your child’s first time playing the game, so you might want to make it as much fun as possible. Teach the how pawns move and capture the opponent’s game pieces. You should try playing chess several times with your child with only pawns in play, it would help your child to master the pawns.

Add the Knights

When your child has gained a thorough understanding of the pawns’ play, it’s time to add knights to the mix. Firstly you’ll need to teach them about the movement of the knight. It might prove to be a bit complicated. So, you might start by showing them the movement of the knights around the board without any other game pieces. When your child understands it, you should play a game with only pawns and knights, so that they can master it.

Learn the Bishops

Now you need to teach your kid about the Bishop and how they move diagonally. Teach them how the bishop moves and attack. Play one or two games with only pawns and bishops to let them learn, when they get a hang of it, play with pawns, bishops, and knights.

Add the Rooks

Teach your child about the rooks. Teach them their horizontal and vertical movements around the board and let them understand their movements. After that add rooks to the board and let them practice their moves and coming up with different ideas to play.

Present the King

You should remind your kid from time to time about the king’s importance and that it is the piece you’re trying to protect and capture from the opponent during the game at all times. Tell them the meaning of “check” and “checkmate”. Check means that your king is in danger and you have to do something to protect it, whereas checkmate means that one of the kings has been captured and the game ends.

Meet the Queen

In the end, introduce your child to the most powerful and complicated game piece, the Queen. Show your child how the Queen has the power to move as far away as desired and in all directions, unless one of her own subjects is in her path, something only a knight can overcome!

The blog is back! I’m a chess beginner, so my first post will be a motivational one. How do we improve at chess?

Every chess player can improve his/her game, we might not get all that good that we get the right to play on the same levels as pros, but it sure does make playing chess more enjoyable.

The best thing is that it isn’t really that hard to improve your game; although in chess the learning curves tend to get steeper and steeper the better we get. However, there’s always a way or another idea to add a few more skills to our list of talents and a get a few more points in our ratings. Well, this all is really easy, and that’s the point we are about to discuss here: five easy ways to improve your chess.

Play Like Everything’s On The Line

Psychology plays a huge part in chess, just like every other competitive game. Why are you even in a game when you don’t plan to give in all your effort and attention? Don’t lose and use your casual attitude as an excuse every time. Don’t hold back and always give your 100 percent effort and know that sometimes even pros lose a game now and then. Have pride in your game and the moves you make on the table.

Analyze Your Own Game

To analyze your own game is a really important thing to do. Sometimes it still happens that I play 10 blitz games with same opening moves which I don’t know well enough, one after another. And most of these times I found myself in situations about which I don’t know how to play and I happen to repeat the mistakes I’ve already made before. I could have avoided this whole situation if I would have just bothered to take a moment and think and analyze the game first, it also would have helped me to learn something new and useful.

Role-play Professional Games

There are a lot of great games of excellent players in chess history which we can play and enjoy over and over. That’s the reason behind the invention of chess notation – so that the games would not be lost to posterity. Playing over such insightful games is easy, fun and it also has a great deal of instructional value. You can pick up a lot of things and learn a lot of great things about chess just by replaying the games of better players. And this is the reason why chess databases are so popular. You can very easily find thousands of games to replay and replay the ones which you find interesting.

Play As Much As Possible

Play as much chess as you can, like not so much that you forget your family or lose your job over it, but as much chess as you can in your free time. You can study a lot about chess but all that studying would be of no use if you don’t practically apply it in a game. Even if you’re not up for studying and reading about chess you could just keep on practicing, and you’ll still get better in chess with time.

Try To Have Fun

If you’re just starting out, you’ll feel frustrated about losing too much. Try to have fun and learn as much as you can while playing. Anticipate what your opponent will do but never forget to enjoy chess if you want to improve your game.

Right, having said all that, I hope I can start improving again and get out of this rut, here are some resources I will be using to achieve this: