Before we get down to the meat of this article on how to improve in chess, consider the following:
When we learn chess, the very first thing we are taught is how to move the pieces. After that, we pick up a basic chess book and learn about some very basic stuff like chess notation, basic tactics, basic mates, etc. HOWEVER, rarely are we given any advice on how to think in chess.
Almost everyone ends up with a self-taught chess thought process. What are the chances that we would learn an effective method for thinking? VERY SLIM! I’d say close to none.
That’s precisely the reason why amateur players don’t improve in chess that much.
Chess is a thinking game. True, there is some memorization required especially for opening book moves. You also need to learn how to recognize patterns – very true for basic tactics and endgames. BUT primarily, chess is a thinking game – your decisions…whether to move this or that, which end position is better, which lines to calculate, etc., these are the things that matter the most.
Those patterns we recognize and opening books would only serve as ‘assistants’ to our chess thought process. So why are you not focusing on your way of thinking?! If you don’t fix this part of your chess arsenal, you cannot expect to improve your chess game a lot.
The Basics Of A Thought Process That Will Help You Improve In Chess
You may be asking: “Alright, I’m convinced. BUT what makes a good thought process?”
Strong players – International Master, Grand Masters, etc., don’t approach the same chess position strictly the same way. HOWEVER, there are some similar components that we’d do best to adopt:
Knowing The Opponent’s Motives: Before starting to asses the board and choose your move, ask yourself: “What is my opponent’s move? What are the threats and advantages brought his move? What are the disadvantages?”
Overall Board Situation: If there are threats, then think of ways to meet it. If there are none, then its time to check the terrain – what are the tactical and strategic trump cards of both sides? Do I recognize any pattern here? Is his or my King safe? Etc.
Candidate Moves: Based from the information you have gathered above, it’s time to pick our candidate moves – moves that take 象棋入门教学 advantage of our strategic and tactical trump cards, moves that thwart our opponent’s plans, etc.
Calculate: When you calculate and evaluate positions at the end of every line, consider the MOST forcing moves – threats, captures, checks, first as these could bring sudden changes to a variation…changing its evaluation. You don’t want any surprises cropping up!
Sanity Check: This is a term coined by National Master Dan Heisman. And I like it! Once you have chosen a move and you are ready to play, sit on your hands and ask: “Is my move insane? Does it lose a piece right away?”
If you see a good move find a better one. GM Smirnov also has a nice piece of advice during this phase of the thinking process: “Look away from the board to refresh your vision. Look back again and play the move in your head. Does it lose right away? Does it fall to a simple tactic? If NOT, then play it!”
Improve in chess by improve your chess thought process – that’s the very first step!
I’m NOT a huge fan of studying reams of opening theory. I don’t find solving chess problems that hardly occur in real play to be of practical value. HOWEVER, I’m a strong believer that when you know how to think right in chess, all of those other stuff you have read – tactics, strategy, lessons from annotated chess games, would be easy to incorporate.