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.

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.

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!