Chess is one of the most complex mind games out there, and it can offer a lot of advantages for mental health over the years. Chess grandmasters often have a very high IQ.
However, you surely must never say that you’re not too smart to become a good chess player. Anybody can learn it and become better at it, and there’s always the option to play against the computer at different levels if you feel intimidated by the thought of playing against another human being.
Last time I presented a few simple rules to make your chess game more offensive. Today I want to offer a few basic tips for those who are beginners in playing this amazingly beautiful game:
When you move a piece
Each time you want to move a piece in chess, whether you’re playing the game online or with a physical board and pieces, you first need to be careful of three things. Surely there could be more things to consider, but today I’m presenting the basics. Here they are:
1. Is any piece of the opponent “looking” at the same square where I want to put my own piece?
That’s the first question that you need to have in mind unless you don’t want to give your opponent a piece for nothing. If neither of your opponent’s pieces is not “looking” at the square, meaning that it can’t jump on it right away and capture your piece, go ahead and put your piece there if that’s what you want!
But if a piece of your opponent is looking at the same square, make sure that as soon as you put your piece there, you have another one defending it! And second, make sure that you would be willing to trade that piece of yours for the one of your opponent!
For instance, let’s say you want to put a knight on the center of a board, which is usually a great position for all pieces. But you realize that an opponent’s bishop is looking at the same square. You also have a pawn looking at the same square where you want to put your knight. If you’re ok with swapping a knight for a bishop, then sure, go ahead and put the knight there! But if a pawn is looking at the square and you want to put your knight there while you have only a pawn looking at the same square, that certainly wouldn’t be a wise move. You would lose a knight and only gain a pawn. A knight is much more powerful than a pawn!
2. Does the square left uncovered clear the way for an opponent’s piece to make a “deadly” move?
Any piece you move will automatically leave a square uncovered. You need to make sure that your opponent can’t make a powerful move exactly through that square. For instance, it would be a mistake to move a bishop when that would clear your opponent’s path to take your queen.
It may sound difficult, but it’s quite easy. Before you make a move, just look at the pieces of your opponent and try to imagine them going through the square that you want to leave uncovered. You’ll immediately find out if he can attack any of your valuable pieces.
3. Would the move leave another piece unprotected?
Remember what I said that it’s a bad idea to give your opponent material for nothing? Don’t move a piece if it’s the only one guarding a rook that would immediately become the target for a piece of your opponent, for instance. I can’t just put it easier than that!
So when you want to move a piece, taking into account what other pieces it protects is a “must”!
When your opponent moves a piece
There are three things that you need to be careful of here as well, and they’re pretty much the same principles as when you need to move a piece for yourself. They’re just “backwards.” Don’t worry, you’ll figure out what I mean by that immediately!
1. Is my opponent attacking anything?
If your opponent moves the queen to attack your rook, for instance, you obviously need to save that rook. You can do it by seeing if you can capture the attacking piece, by blocking the attack with another piece, or by moving the rook out of the way. The best move is obviously to see if you can capture the attacking piece.
2. Is he making a discovery attack?
Second, you need to see if the opponent’s move clears the way for another attack at one of your pieces. A lot of beginners lose precious material this way, such as rooks or even the queen. He can even put you in check this way by launching an attack on the queen at the same time, which is obviously a great move. So watch out for those discovery attacks as good as you can!
3. Does he leave any piece unprotected?
If your opponent’s move leaves one of his rooks unprotected, for instance, it’s time to go capture or threaten that rook if you have the possibility!
ALWAYS attack the center
You should always place your pieces in positions where they’re the most effective. In other words, where they cover as many squares as possible! That means in the center of the board. Failing to attack the center even from the beginning of a game can get you all cramped and unable to move your important pieces, which is a sure recipe for losing in chess.
These were my tips on how to play chess as a beginner, and I would be glad to find out if you’ve learned something from them. Feel free to write in the comment section below!