How to improve in chess? How can I get better at chess? Can you tell me one trick on how will I improve my game? What should I focus on? How many hours should I practice to get better at chess? I keep on getting these messages from beginners regarding how to get better at chess.
So, today I have come up with an article on 9 basic concepts for beginners on how to improve in chess. As you must have read our article on Golden Opening Principles, you must be aware of how to develop your pieces in the beginning. But what to do next? So just follow the concepts below.
All generalizations are false, including this one – Mark Twain. So, one must keep in mind that the concepts given below are general and useful in most situations. Yet one might find different opinions which can be discussed in the comments section.
Outpost is a concept related to the knights. Knights are short-range pieces, so they need to be developed very quickly. Once you develop your knights to c3 and f3, how can you utilize them? So here comes the concept of Outpost.
Knights are easy to attack as they need to enter the opponent’s territory to attack and create threats. So, when we place our knights on e5/d5 with the support of a pawn from d4/e4. We ensure that the knight stays there until attacked by the opponent’s pawn.
The concept of octopus knight is an evolved version of knight outpost.
Rooks in Open/semi-open files
Rooks are long-range pieces. Their optimum utilization is usually seen in endgames where the number of pawns is less. But should we neglect them until we exchange other pieces? Of course no! We have to bring them to open or semi-open files.
A lot of times these open files help us do the back-rank checkmate. Once you place your rooks on open files, you get full control and your opponent needs to bring the pieces to this open file with protection.
Otherwise, you get to capture free pieces. Also doubling the Rooks to control the open file adds to the benefit. If you double your rooks on an open file, your opponent won’t be able to access that file safely.
Yes! Yes! Castling. I’ve seen a lot of people ignore the king’s safety. Castling should be followed until you get really good at chess where you understand all the subtleties and start keeping the king in the center.
If you notice all the top players castle as soon as possible. It’s important to realize that none of the other pieces value as much as the king.
Not to exchange Bishop for Knight right away
A very common mistake that beginners do is they just develop their Bishop to g5/b5/g4/b4 and swap it with the knights. This looks like a trade of pieces with the same value, but it is not.
This trade means for the long term you will have less control over the dark squares if you swap your dark-squared bishop or light squares if you swap light-squared bishop.
Also, the bishops are very useful in creating mating patterns. A lot of times you will realize that the g7 square of black is weak but you can’t attack it as you had swapped your dark-squared bishop for the knight on f6. I believe this habit of trading bishops for knights is important to curtail.
Once you manage that, your problem on how to improve in chess will be sorted.
Rook on 7th Rank
A Rook is a strong piece in the open file is what we have seen above. Similarly, if we get one rook in the 7th rank, that gives us the benefit of paralyzing the opponent’s pieces. Moreover, a lot of checkmating patterns are developed with the presence of the Rook on the 7th Rank.
As they say, two is better than one, if you manage to get both your rooks in 7th Rank, they turn out to be strong enough to give you minimum draw. A perpetual check with rooks on 7th rank is common and so are lots of mating patterns.
Controlling the center
The Center is the most important zone in the game of chess. Just like in any war circumstances where any army controlling the important checkpoints can get an upper hand, here in chess the center is crucial.
Once you develop your pieces towards the center, you automatically control them. All the attacking and defensive operations are easily possible from the center.
A prophylactic move
A lot of times I have seen players get checkmated in the back rank. So to avoid such a mate, we have a very simple solution. To make a normal h3/h6 move when things are mild and your opponent is not threatening anything.
This provides a luft to the king. A luft means an escape square. This comes into handy when a lot of pieces are exchanged and you are in a position to move your rooks from the 1st rank.
Avoid doubling pawns
Doubling pawns are usually bad. Due to this, the pawns can no more protect each other. Also, the pawn which behind turns out to be a weakness as it cannot be pushed when under attack.
So whenever your opponent captures any of your pieces and you have an option to capture them back, you should think and decide. This is another quality that leads to the question of how to improve in chess.
Capturing towards the center
When you are posed with a decision to capture a piece with any of the 2 pawns, you should capture it towards the center. This helps in maintaining the pawn structure as well as maintaining control in the game.
If you look at the below positions, you will realize that the two options lead to equal material, but the pawn structure is damaged when you capture with a c pawn while the pawn chain is maintained when you capture with a pawn.
So These were some general tips that will help you level up your game and you will be able to take decisions on how to improve your position when you are clueless about what to do. I hope you all learned something new which will level up your game. Overall in this way you know how to improve in chess.