Following these 12 Tips to Become a Chess Champion
Winning at chess on the under 1800 level is not as hard as it sounds. The outcome of most games is decided by serious mistakes or blunders. If you want to consistently win at his level, there are certain rules you need to follow and the skills you should master. You don’t need to have an extraordinary talent, photographic memory or ability to calculate 10 moves ahead. Everything is much simpler. To win chess games you simply need to follow the 12 tips given below.
#1 Learn to develop pieces quickly
Everyone tells you that opening knowledge is super important and to win at chess you must be a “theoretical player”. Indeed, you should have some idea of how to develop pieces. You should also have an understanding of how to proceed after those pieces are developed (depending on how much under 1800 level you are). The key to any opening is developing pieces to the right squares, faster than your opponent. If you can achieve this step, it means you’re a leap closer to winning the game, The Chess World cites.
#2 Open with a pawn
|Photo: The Chess World|
Move the pawn in front of either the king or queen two squares forward. (Only on its opening move can a pawn move two squares.) This opens pathways for your bishops and queen to enter the game, notes Scout Life. They move on an angle and can’t get out onto the field of battle if pawns are in the way.
#3 Get the knights and bishops out
Before you move your queen, rooks or king, move your knights and bishops toward the center of the board. You want to get these pieces out from behind the pawns so they can attack.
#4 Castle early
Castling early is another very important key to winning more chess games. Castling is not only safeguarded your king and transports it away from the center of the board. It also activates your rooks, prepares them for entering the game and controlling both the back rank and open files. It is the only move that allows improving two of your pieces at once! Learn to castle early in the game and that alone will help you to avoid any complications.
Some amateur players make the mistake of not castling, in favor of picking the opponent’s pawns or developing other pieces. That often may lead to a strong attack against their king, and they pay a hefty price to recover.
#5 Control the center
Controlling the center is by far one of the most important chess strategies you can think of. Many beginners don’t realize what’s so important about controlling the 4 central squares: e4, d4, e5, and d5. In reality whoever controls these magic squares controls the game. The control of the center is closely related to one of the key chess concepts – space. If you have more space it means you have a greater ability to relocate pieces for attack and defense. That also means that your opponent is lacking that exact privilege and is a disadvantage.
Control of the center gives you something much greater than just the ability to relocate pieces at your discretion. Most importantly it provides easy access for your pieces to both sides of the board, leading to a powerful attack, which in turn may translate into winning the game. If you are in doubt and don’t know what to play in any of your games, remember that controlling the center is typically the winning strategy.
#6 Think more than one move ahead
Thinking one move ahead is sufficient for winning at chess, as long as you think only of the best move. Unfortunately, most chess players don’t know what move is the best. Therefore, they are forced to calculate a few moves deeper to make sure they are taking into account all reasonable possibilities. You don’t need to calculate 10 moves ahead (although if you can, it is great).
You should try calculating 3 moves deep in all positions. That depth is adequate to avoid most of the tactics under 2000 elo players are facing. In fact, if you always calculate 3 moves ahead, you will win many chess games!
#7 Learn to pin, fork and skewer opponent’s pieces
The pins, forks and skewers win more chess games than all other chess strategies combined. That’s why it is important to identify those and quickly find them even in complex positions. Here is a quick reminder of what the great 3 stand for.
The pin is a situation when an attacking piece is threatening to capture another piece that cannot move without exposing a more valuable piece. This is a powerful tactical element because it temporarily paralyzes an opponent’s piece, preventing it from fully participating in the game.
Fork is a situation when more than one of the opponent’s pieces is being attacked by a single piece at the same time. It is a strong tactic because it often leads to loss of material, especially if it evolves a check.
Skewer is very similar to a pin, but contrary to a pin the positions of attacked pieces are switched. In a skewer a more valuable piece is attacked first. If it moves away, a less valuable piece will be exposed.
Practice finding those key elements in different positions and you will be on your way to starting winning at chess!
#8 Keep all of your pieces protected at all times
|Photo: The Great Courses Daily|
Keeping your pieces protected is a very good practice. Amateur players disregard this very important rule and pay the price. Even if it looks safe to leave your knight hanging on the side of the board, you should think twice before doing so (although there are exceptions).
In chess, things rapidly evolve and it is very easy to miss tactics. One popular strategy involves the combination of multiple checks leading to forking two of the hanging pieces on opposite sides of the board. In such a case, they cannot be both defended and one eventually falls. If you want to win chess games, you should learn to keep your pieces and don’t give up something for anything.
#9 Preserve your pawn structure
Many players think that pawn structure only plays an important role in grandmaster games. It is not the case. If your pawn structure is weak, even on under 1800 level, you will be at a disadvantage. Weak, separated or doubled pawns cannot defend themselves and require constant protection from other pieces. If pawns are not sufficiently protected, they will fall. And we all know that it is very hard to win at chess if you are 2-3 pawns down in King and Pawn endings. That’s not a situation you want to be in.
To avoid this grim scenario, always consider pawn structure changes when you:
– exchange pawns
– advance pawns
– exchange pieces
Healthy pawn structure is a huge plus not only in the endgame but in the middlegame as well. By not having obvious weaknesses, you will make your opponent’s job of compromising your position much tougher.
#10 Always look for possibilities to attack
One of the common mistakes club players make, they are passive and don’t look for a possibility to attack. Even if you are defending, you should always search for a counter-attack. It is much harder to beat a player who not just defends, but also plays active moves and create trouble for his opponent. You should build a habit to ask after each and every move “where can I attack” and “what are the weaknesses in the opponent’s position”? If you want to win, you must learn to launch and execute attacks. It is not easy, but it will come with practice.
#11 If you are playing black, it does not mean you’re at a disadvantage
|Photo: The Economic Times|
Many club players think that if they play with black pieces they are playing to equalize, or in other words, playing for a draw. It is somewhat true in professional chess. However, in under 2000 chess, playing with black does not mean you are in a big disadvantage. Most games on this level are not decided by tiny advantages obtained in the opening.
As I mentioned earlier, the games are decided by differences in material, serious mistakes and big positional errors. Unless you are 2200+ rated, don’t worry too much about the color of the pieces you’re playing. You have equal chances to win.
#12 Learn to play forcing moves
Forcing moves are those moves that force your opponent to take action. For example, if you check your opponent’s king, he must get out of check. Thus the check is a forcing move. If you capture an opponent’s piece, he most likely needs to take it back. It is also a forcing move.
Why forcing moves are important in chess?
The forcing moves simplify the calculation process, and therefore reduce uncertainty in the game. If you see how you can checkmate your opponent by constantly checking his king, it is much safer than if your combination does not involve forcing moves. It is much easier to keep things under control when you only need to calculate a single line. Therefore if you want to win at chess, you need to learn to identify the forcing moves and apply this strategy in your games.
Develop your knowledge of strategies
Once you reach advanced-level play, you will need to start each match with a core strategy in mind. Core strategies concern general attempts to control portions of the board that will set you up for effective endgame tactics later on. You should also learn about more specific strategies like the Nimzo Defense and the Sicilian Defense which will provide more precise directions for how to move early on in the match. Even if you don’t use these precise strategies, you should learn about them so you can recognize their use by your opponents.
Spacing strategies refer to attempts to obtain the largest amount of board coverage to limit your opponents' maneuvering options. Spacing is not about pushing individual pieces as far forward as possible but about slowly moving several offensive pieces into your opponent’s territory advancing pawns for defense and support.
A lot of core strategies focus on controlling the center. The center refers to the four spaces in the middle of the board (D4, E4, D5, and E5). Specifically, these strategies focus on moving pawns toward the center spaces with offensive pieces supporting them.
If you find yourself in a defensive position, exchange pieces to open up more space. Exchanging refers to sacrificing and then trading pieces of equal value.
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